Updated: Jan 11
Entering The House Of Rituals in central Amsterdam, you are immediately immersed into a world where all of your senses are expanded. Visual delights enchanting your eyes, smells that pull you to unexplored territories, textures and fabrics that you simply need to touch. Time slowly collapsing as you fall deeper into the brand experience.
Welcome ladies and gentlemen to remarkable retail.
YES, it does exist, HALLELUJAH!
During the pandemic, we saw global brands disappear around the world and today one of the most iconic high-streets - Oxford Street, bares the ghosts of brands as holes in the walls. Debenhams, Topshop, Disney, Gap and many more have vanished off that flagship street.
Large, complex organisations require innovation at speed - sadly, share holder management and internal leadership battles/politics stagnated these opportunities.
Cut it up in a thousand ways you'll end up with the same outcome. The brands that have gone failed to innovate and failed to move forward fast enough.
Retail of the NOW requires a vast contrast to what once worked 10 - 15 years ago.
I remember when one could process product, put it on display and watch sell-out happen with little sales efforts.
Going shopping was an activity, spending money at stores was a trend - but trends fade away. The digital age rapidly arose.
10 years ago Instagram was launched, I was 26 at the time
16 years ago Youtube was born
23 years ago Google arrived
27 years ago Amazon came to life
You see a common thread here - technology changed the game - it changed our lives!
Everything we need to know is at the tips of our fingers - including the latest products we want to shop.
Visiting retail sites is no longer a must-do activity.
So why would anyone visit a retail store today?
What is the incentive to travel to a store?
Millennials today are the largest consumer group on the planet!! YES that's right, this generation aged 23-38 are probably your biggest consumer group today.
And guess what?
They are BORED of the retails formats and experiences stuck in 1998.
WAKE UP - take action, take control because if brands don't start to innovate and SERVE their largest audience...then...close the doors now, why hang around delaying the inevitable?
Rituals on the other hand have completely shattered all of the retail playbooks. Certainly at their flagship location, known as The House of Rituals.
The entire location is a sanctuary where your mind immediately calms down, and you can physically feel yourself slowing your own pace as you move through each area. Navigating your own journey of personal wellbeing.
I noticed during my time in the store only a couple of visitors using their mobile phones.
At the time, the store had around 40 people inside (it was early in the day).
I am an observer - I like to absorb how people move, their energies and body language. This tells me when I can help with a purchase decision or start a conversation.
Everything is energy.
Rituals is energy distributed at every single corner of the store.
This retail location houses the worlds very first mind spa.
A retail space hosting a mind studio, a brain bar and body spa, each carefully crafted - and with very reasonable prices I might add!
Your mind is made for thinking; it does so involuntarily, just like your heart beats involuntarily. Practising meditation is about stilling your mind from thoughts or feeling blissful and wonderful. Step into our Mind Studio and find out what type of meditation experience we have in store for you (credit: Rituals website).
When inside this retail store, you feel totally immersed in the brand.
With windows of this size and the temptation of products perfectly blended with props you simply have to go inside, at least to satisfy your own curiosity.
Not only do your senses awaken - your entire biology shifts. Stay with me, because this is some superb retailing that can dramatically change the course of success on the high street!
For every action, there is a reaction. Albert Einstein.
So when you SEE something beautiful you FEEL a sense of 'wow' and you want to see more.
When you smell something enchanting you FEEL a sense of 'mmm' and you want to smell more.
Touching something luxurious you FEEL a sense of 'oooo' and so you reach out for more.
Rituals does this to you - it evokes the senses - and they do it really, really well.
How many stores do you experience these sensations? A handful maybe? It is not many - not nearly enough. Feelings inspire action. People talk too (probably on socials) - about their mind spa session or the meditation menu on offer.
Visit any retailer with a 'stuck' format/experience and you'll see most visitors are engaged in using their mobiles. Head down, scrolling away. Why - because the mobile provides more excitement and immersion.
If retailers want to engage consumers with brands at physical locations, then pay attention to the ones doing it really well - brands like Rituals.
Retailers - giving your audience a reason to visit and a better reason to come back will ensure your longevity on the high-street.
This brand immersion, coupled together with a star cast (ie, employees) is a recipe for continued retail growth and success. Standing out through service offering is a huge differentiator of brands that are surviving vs the ones who will thrive.
Retail employees curate the experience, they are the ones to influence the visitor into an action. The action being a spa booking, trying out a product, purchasing something or simply exchanging a phenomenal brand experience - so when the customer is ready to commit and buy something, they will come to you!