Research shows that our brains are instinctly drawn to storytelling. When we learn and connect to a compelling story, our brains release oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin, producing a sense of reward and satisfaction. Therefore, to ensure that the customers get a satisfying experience, retailers need to successfully deliver the message at the core of their store concept.
The most effective way to deliver your message is to focus on only one of 4 key themes consistently and constantly:
- Creativity - If your store concept centers around breakthroughs and innovation then you should use this theme to appeal to your customer's attraction to visionaries and inventors. Most technology companies go in this direction. An obvious example would be Apple. However, a number of apparel companies, engineering companies and consumer product companies have employed this theme too. Diesel Jeans and Dyson are examples of companies that uses the creativity theme in their message.
- Tradition - If your brand or store has a great history you should relay that message. Focus on the proud tradition and particular values that characterize your store and your products. Examples are mostly luxury companies like Neiman Marcus, Patek Philippe and Tiffany's. But also restaurants have employed this theme like The Palm Restaurant.
- Connection / Altruism - This theme should be developed by retailers who strike a connection across a divide—racial, class, ethnic, religious, demographic, etc. These stories push us to help others. Their altruistic nature brings us closer to the brand. Examples of companies that develop that message are TOMS Shoes, United Colors of Benetton and Tom's of Maine.
- Challenge - This theme can appeal to smaller players in a market succeeding against a bigger enemy or a challenge. It is essentially the David vs. Goliath message. Examples are Apple in its infancy when it introduced the Macintosh in 1984. It is a message that can be utilized by smaller independent retailers threattened by big box stores. Finally, it can also relate to charitable and research organizations fighting against social and health issues.
A retailer might display in its store the most creative and innovative products, have a long and proud history, be extremely charitable and be a success story against terrible odds. All of those features will contribute to its success. However, at any point in time, the retailer should have one constant and consistent message to its customers and one well defined store concept. Alternatively, its message will not be clear and none of these themes will be apparent to the customer.
It is important to understand that any retailer, regardless of the theme of its message, should deliver that message in an innovative and differentiating way, developing a unique customer experience. Read my other posts to learn how.