Experiential Shopping and Retailtainment

The technology boom and pandemic has re-shaped the way people shop. This has forced businesses to attempt to re-shape their physical offering. Many brands and retailers have sought to bring their customers a fresh, and intelligent experience.

Businesses now realise that the hard, in-store sell is not the be-all and end-all of retail. However, brand awareness, and staying at the top of the customer's list is more rewarding.

By giving customers an experience and memories, this will extract a longer lifetime value, leading to engaged and loyal brand advocates.


What is 'retailtainment' and experiential shopping?

This describes when an event or experience is used as a means to boost sales, or brand awareness.

Retail and entertainment, brought together to form retailtainment, was a term first coined by sociologist George Ritzer to describe the growing trend of “entertaining retailing” to attract and retain shoppers. He defines retailtainment as: “the use of sound, ambiance, emotion and activity to get customers interested in merchandise and in the mood to buy”. (Situ Live)

Many larger businesses, who do not have to rely on in-store sales to make up targets, have turned their high street presence into a space for customers to experience and remember, as opposed to browse and buy.

However, experiential marketing is not just reliant on an in store presence, it can also be found out in the streets.

Sports juggernauts Nike have long been proponents of experiential marketing, and have felt the benefit of moving towards in store retailtainment before their competitors.

From pop-ups to in store basketball courts, Nike have touched base in every major city.

What are the different types of experiential marketing? and how do they differ?

Due to its competitive nature, there are many forms of experiential marketing, from out of home and street marketing, to in store and pop ups.
In store

Due to the changing nature of physical stores, many larger businesses have looked to refresh their in store offering. Of these, many have looked at boosting an existing bond between the business and the customer.

British fashion design startup Raeburn have pioneered the art of in store retailtainment. By hosting events, pop-ups and demonstrations, they have felt the benefit of building memories and experiences with the community and potential customers.

Raeburn recently hosted a pop-up in the east of London, to which they invited people to come by and create. They held demonstrations on how to make tote bags from parachutes, and offered a kids t-shirt workshop.

Out of home/street marketing

This can be one of the most impactful ways of boosting brand awareness and presence. By meeting people out in the street, it can lead to a memorable interaction with your brand and one which will create inbound interest, where customers seek your business out on their own terms.

Making use of street furniture such as benches, grates and walls, to bolder and more recognisable brand assets such as the Coca Cola truck.

This method of marketing has brought awareness not just to businesses, but has also been beneficial to charities. 14-18 NOW are a charity dedicated to commemorating the 100th anniversaries of the First World War. They arranged people to 'flash mob' cities and towns wearing uniforms, carrying cards of a named soldier. Watch the video below to learn more about the 'We're here because we're here' project.

Experiential Shopping & Retailtainment Summary
  • With the changing nature of tangible retail, many people are choosing memory over material.
  • Businesses are aware of the benefit of these experiences, as customers will associate these with their brand.
  • Retailtainment can take place both in stores and in the outside space, from pop up shops, to live interactive displays.