Richard Dodgson is founder and creative director at Timebased Events
We have seen a change in what a retail brand encompasses. Consumers have come to expect a lot more from their experiences and seek a more immersive encounter. The is all because of the rapid growth in technology which is changing the way we interact and retails brands are transforming themselves to create new experiences that meet customer expectations. They are challenging the traditional shopping experience and are transforming themselves into cultural hubs. Milan Design Week showcases some of the best ways brands are changing to keep up with a changing market.
Why cultural experiences are becoming important
Retail brands understand the importance of showing the inspiration behind their products. A great example of this is the experiential kitchen created by Tom Dixion, which has been turned into an installation. The interactive kitchen showcases the functionality behind the brand without even showcasing a product. The idea is to show people how things really work and get them involved in the discussion. It is not just about the end product, it’s the process at the heart of it.
Nike also finds the use of cultural events very rewarding. This year they asked several international designers to create installations based on the idea of movement. It is not just about the products anymore but the concepts behind them, this allows consumers to explore the core values of a brand.
The move towards events
Events give brands an opportunity to interact and engage with people in an innovative way. Through cultural collaborations they can create an opportunity for consumers to immerse themselves in. A great example is fashion brand Cos, who have collaborated with Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto to create a ‘forest of light’ exhibition, reflecting the new season designs. They are connecting people with fashion using light as a form of interaction.
Being more than just a retailer
Retail brands are now expected to be more than just retailer. Consumers now seek to be involved in the design journey to understand the inspiration behind the products. It is part of creating brand culture. The Cos collaboration has a strong connection with architecture, so their collaboration with Fujimoto allows them to communicate with an audience by using a medium that both the brand and the consumer is passionate about.
The way retail brands communicate with consumers is changing and events have become a medium that brands can use to transform themselves into cultural hubs to meet expectations. Customers want to immerse themselves in a brand and be involved in their creative journey.