Contract - Bricks Over Clicks

design - practice



Bricks Over Clicks

25 November, 2013

-By Caleb Mulvena



As online shopping becomes increasingly simple and more convenient—and therefore more of a regular part of our lives—what are the ramifications for the brick-and-mortar store? How can retailers hold on to customers and attract new ones, when clicking on the “add to cart” button is becoming less of a hassle?

Integrating the brand is a large part of the solution, but it is not limited to simply visual aspects such as color, graphics, and aesthetics. Today, designers and their clients must dig deeper and look at the values of the customer and brand strategy, and how these elements can come together to support the design of the space. Our job as designers involves creating an authentic experience that is directly in line with the brand and its values. I will explain how the keys to offering an authentic retail experience are designed according to psychographics and curating a lifestyle.

The psychology of design
One of the first things we must do when designing a store—or any project for that matter—is understand the audience. Who are the people the brand is trying to reach? What are their values? What makes them tick? What communities
are they part of? We need to ask these questions, and then take our findings and see how they line up with the brand strategy. If we don’t understand the customers, we are shooting in the dark.

This is where psychographics come in. Unlike demographics—which categorize groups based on age, sex, income, and other factors—psychographics are the study of values, attitudes, personalities, interests, and lifestyles.
A psychographics-based approach creates cultural groups around shared values and aspirations, resulting in a common language and usually shared experiences. This approach yields a more relevant design that has potential to resonate
on a much deeper level than merely making a “cool” space. The goal is to have each shopper feel like we are speaking directly to them, in a cultural language they understand.

Quite often, clients come to us and already know their audience. For example, with the luxury cosmetics brand Fresh, the psychographics of its key customer base is a shopper we call The Indulger. This person sees luxury products as lavish and indulgent, is attracted to luxury for the unique way it makes them feel, and will make purchases based on emotive messaging. The design strategy for The Indulger was our Kitchen Table feature: a centerpiece table in the store where visitors are encouraged to spend time touching, smelling, sampling, reading, and talking about Fresh’s latest offerings.

Working on a global level with Fresh, we adjusted the design solution according to the market. The Kitchen Table was first introduced in Fresh stores in the United States, where there is a more open, exploratory approach to shopping compared to some other parts of the world. In the Shanghai location, every purchase is a direct result of consultation with expert staff, so we changed the design from an open table, at which shoppers can explore on their own, to a lower consultation table, where guests sit across from staff members for one-on-one consultations. This has proven to be highly successful in this market, and while it appears to be a different approach compared to the American design, it still appeals to customers on the psychographic level identified for the brand.

When implementing psychographics as part of the design, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first is that in some instances—especially with smaller, emerging brands—the design team usually helps the client define its core customer base through a series of in-depth work sessions. When managing client expectations, it is important to note that this is an iterative process with some back-and-forth, rather than a clean, immediate solution. Also, multiple psychographic groups may exist within a single location, and creating solutions that seamlessly appeal to all groups is encouraged.

No longer just a single message
Not too long ago, brands were about one big-picture message. “Just Do It,” “Think Different,” and so on were the catch-phrases we knew, and communicating a singular message in interiors was more straightforward. Now, there is a greater challenge. Customers are increasingly inundated with thousands of messages each day through a variety of media. For companies to truly connect with customers—and to make a trip to the physical store worthwhile—they need to show their value beyond the products being sold.

One way retailers are showing value is by being curators of a lifestyle that is in line with the brand and its core values. So when someone walks out of a sporting goods store, for example, they are connecting with local running groups, nearby cafes, and other resources they learned about while in the store. Retailers need to have a sense of context, so that the brand connects with customers in other areas of their lives.

Mapos recently completed the design of the SoHo, New York store for Icebreaker, which sells merino wool outdoor lifestyle apparel. As an extension of the product offerings, the store has a reading area with books on sustainable design, travel, healthy living, and other topics that are relevant to the customer. This is notable given that retail square footage comes with a cost, especially in New York, but retailers are willing to sacrifice a portion of a sales floor to make a meaningful connection with the customer. Although these strategies seem most relevant to retail design, we are also finding that they are important factors in a variety of spaces and markets—from corporate office to public spaces.

Again, it is not enough to rely on a brand’s colors, logos, and that one big tagline. Customers—or end users in offices or visitors in public spaces, for example—are more sophisticated and discerning than ever before. As the public’s awareness of brand and design grows, so must our approach to creating authentic experiences.

Caleb Mulvena is a principal and co-founder of Mapos, a New York–based, integrated team of architects, designers, and hard-to-label creative instigators that works with clients and colleagues on creative concepts, architectural environments, and experiential branding.




Bricks Over Clicks

25 November, 2013


As online shopping becomes increasingly simple and more convenient—and therefore more of a regular part of our lives—what are the ramifications for the brick-and-mortar store? How can retailers hold on to customers and attract new ones, when clicking on the “add to cart” button is becoming less of a hassle?

Integrating the brand is a large part of the solution, but it is not limited to simply visual aspects such as color, graphics, and aesthetics. Today, designers and their clients must dig deeper and look at the values of the customer and brand strategy, and how these elements can come together to support the design of the space. Our job as designers involves creating an authentic experience that is directly in line with the brand and its values. I will explain how the keys to offering an authentic retail experience are designed according to psychographics and curating a lifestyle.

The psychology of design
One of the first things we must do when designing a store—or any project for that matter—is understand the audience. Who are the people the brand is trying to reach? What are their values? What makes them tick? What communities
are they part of? We need to ask these questions, and then take our findings and see how they line up with the brand strategy. If we don’t understand the customers, we are shooting in the dark.

This is where psychographics come in. Unlike demographics—which categorize groups based on age, sex, income, and other factors—psychographics are the study of values, attitudes, personalities, interests, and lifestyles.
A psychographics-based approach creates cultural groups around shared values and aspirations, resulting in a common language and usually shared experiences. This approach yields a more relevant design that has potential to resonate
on a much deeper level than merely making a “cool” space. The goal is to have each shopper feel like we are speaking directly to them, in a cultural language they understand.

Quite often, clients come to us and already know their audience. For example, with the luxury cosmetics brand Fresh, the psychographics of its key customer base is a shopper we call The Indulger. This person sees luxury products as lavish and indulgent, is attracted to luxury for the unique way it makes them feel, and will make purchases based on emotive messaging. The design strategy for The Indulger was our Kitchen Table feature: a centerpiece table in the store where visitors are encouraged to spend time touching, smelling, sampling, reading, and talking about Fresh’s latest offerings.

Working on a global level with Fresh, we adjusted the design solution according to the market. The Kitchen Table was first introduced in Fresh stores in the United States, where there is a more open, exploratory approach to shopping compared to some other parts of the world. In the Shanghai location, every purchase is a direct result of consultation with expert staff, so we changed the design from an open table, at which shoppers can explore on their own, to a lower consultation table, where guests sit across from staff members for one-on-one consultations. This has proven to be highly successful in this market, and while it appears to be a different approach compared to the American design, it still appeals to customers on the psychographic level identified for the brand.

When implementing psychographics as part of the design, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first is that in some instances—especially with smaller, emerging brands—the design team usually helps the client define its core customer base through a series of in-depth work sessions. When managing client expectations, it is important to note that this is an iterative process with some back-and-forth, rather than a clean, immediate solution. Also, multiple psychographic groups may exist within a single location, and creating solutions that seamlessly appeal to all groups is encouraged.

No longer just a single message
Not too long ago, brands were about one big-picture message. “Just Do It,” “Think Different,” and so on were the catch-phrases we knew, and communicating a singular message in interiors was more straightforward. Now, there is a greater challenge. Customers are increasingly inundated with thousands of messages each day through a variety of media. For companies to truly connect with customers—and to make a trip to the physical store worthwhile—they need to show their value beyond the products being sold.

One way retailers are showing value is by being curators of a lifestyle that is in line with the brand and its core values. So when someone walks out of a sporting goods store, for example, they are connecting with local running groups, nearby cafes, and other resources they learned about while in the store. Retailers need to have a sense of context, so that the brand connects with customers in other areas of their lives.

Mapos recently completed the design of the SoHo, New York store for Icebreaker, which sells merino wool outdoor lifestyle apparel. As an extension of the product offerings, the store has a reading area with books on sustainable design, travel, healthy living, and other topics that are relevant to the customer. This is notable given that retail square footage comes with a cost, especially in New York, but retailers are willing to sacrifice a portion of a sales floor to make a meaningful connection with the customer. Although these strategies seem most relevant to retail design, we are also finding that they are important factors in a variety of spaces and markets—from corporate office to public spaces.

Again, it is not enough to rely on a brand’s colors, logos, and that one big tagline. Customers—or end users in offices or visitors in public spaces, for example—are more sophisticated and discerning than ever before. As the public’s awareness of brand and design grows, so must our approach to creating authentic experiences.

Caleb Mulvena is a principal and co-founder of Mapos, a New York–based, integrated team of architects, designers, and hard-to-label creative instigators that works with clients and colleagues on creative concepts, architectural environments, and experiential branding.

 


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