When athletic footwear and apparel company ASICS Corp. decided to create a new flagship store in Amsterdam, the intent was to increase brand awareness and develop brand loyalty, but also to establish a direct emotional connection with its customers. Since its founding in Kobe, Japan more than 60 years ago, ASICS has been bridging sport science and research to create the highest performance athletic products available.
“We want our consumers to get really excited about the brand, connect emotionally with the brand and transmit what we’re all about—a true sports brand that delivers high-quality products using the most innovative technologies,” says Fernando Pina Mulas, head of retail for ASICS Europe B.V., Amsterdam.
The original store design concept was developed by Japan-based design agency Formation Inc. But to adapt the design concept specifically for the Amsterdam store, the ASICS Europe retail team collaborated with Manchester, U.K.-based Wests Design Consultants and Barcelona-based architecture firm Godel Tabora Design S.L. “Our vision when cultivating the store’s design was to create a 3-D extension of the brand’s DNA,” explains Jason West, managing director of Wests Design Consultants.
One action taken to execute this goal is evident in the flagship’s locale. The decision to situate the 6,000-sq.-ft., two-level store on the Stadhouderskade next to Amsterdam’s largest, most famous park—the Vondelpark—was by no means coincidental. Known as the city’s “running park,” the Vondelpark is adored by tourists and locals alike—frequented by approximately 10 million visitors a year, many of whom enjoy walking and running the greenspace.
Upon entering the new flagship, which opened in March, customers are taken on a journey through ASICS’ complete running apparel collection, as well as select products from the brand’s other sports performance categories. Toward the back of the store, customers encounter a large dedicated footwear area—complete with an “Expert Bar,” where educated staff members can assist them in choosing the appropriate footwear. This area of the store also features four interactive shoe advisors, inviting customers to place a particular shoe on a footwear scanner and, using RFID technology, watch a bespoke movie about that shoe.
To further assist customers in their merchandise selection, shelves are outfitted with “shoe talkers”—information cards on each shelf that present the features of that specific shoe, including which performance category it falls into, key technologies and benefits. “All of the visual merchandising has been developed to ensure [that] our consumers [easily] can see the features and the benefits of the products they are buying,” Mulas says. “Special shoe talkers and interactive media will ensure our consumers have a unique experience where high-quality customer service is the key.”
More than just a retail outlet, ASICS Amsterdam is divided into several vignettes and boasts a range of exclusive services, including the ASICS Running Lab, ASICS FOOT ID and the ASICS Running Club.
The focal point of the store’s interior design is its two-story “technological heart,” a glass-and-steel structure central to the space. The top floor houses the Running Lab, where runners can receive extensive body analyses—such as foot shape, leg alignment, running technique, muscle strength and endurance—as well as professional advice on how to help improve running ability and gait. The bottom floor contains the FOOT ID, which offers runners a sophisticated biomechanical profile to ensure correct footwear selection.
An added benefit for its athletic customer base, the ASICS Running Club offers members access to exclusive changing room facilities that include lockers, showers and towel service. “Runners can prepare for a run, and then return to the Running Club to refresh,” West notes. Running Club members also can benefit from ASICS’ Running Clinics, which offer runners of every level guidance from an experienced trainer to help improve running performance.
In addition to being a blueprint for the company to activate its retail presence across Europe, ASICS Amsterdam is also a physical representation of the brand’s philosophy. ASICS—an acronym derived from the Latin phrase “anima sana in corpore sano”—means “a sound mind in a sound body,” a sentiment that is evident throughout the brand’s offerings and its newest flagship store.
Source: DDI, Contract's sister publication