Metaphor as silver bullet for 4 in-store experiences

Metaphors are about transferring associations from one experience to another.   Metaphors are also embedded as universally held human motivations.   Here are four retailers who have honoured the power of metaphor in designing a compelling in-store customer experience.   In doing so they are tapping deeply held motivations of shoppers.

Tom's...The founder put apparel in the background and created retail space as community centre. It is a place where things are happening.   It might be a yoga class or a movie night.   With its’ welcoming environment, Tom’s demonstrates a spirit of giving back to the community.   In doing so it fills a universal need for gathering and hanging out with like-minded people.   

Sephora...In an effort to keep customers engaged with bricks and mortar locations, this retailer is thinking about retail as ‘hands on’ classroom.   There are designated stations that stream ‘how to’ videos.   Visitors can join glam squad style sessions to get tips and be introduced to new products.  These relevant opportunities satisfy deeply held motivations to learn, create and play.

Kit and Ace...The family business is investing heavily in retail locations that are like hyper-local galleries.   The furniture or fixtures are the work of neighbouring crafts people, the art on the wall by local artists and a chef from next door creates dinner for those gathered at the supper table.   In supporting and showcasing the neighbourhood, the shopper can feel rooted in a place that they are part of. 

Primark...The European mega retailer arrived in North America as a look book.   With a ginormous selection in a ginormous space, the fashionista is inspired to design their look.   The in-store displays encourage immediate sharing of those looks on Instagram or Facebook.   The look book experience means the inner soul is called to express and showcase itself in an environment designed to support a ‘creator’ motivation.

From retail as look book or as classroom, the metaphors inspire design and touch a deeply held human need that gives a reason to pass on online shopping.