Monthly Archives: December 2011

Can a Distribution Place (Store?) be a marketing platform?

Today, I was asked “How can a ‘distribution place’ (i.e. The Store) best be used as effective marketing communication tool? ”

This is a really interesting question. What if I proposed that it cannot?

Image 4 commissioned research a few years ago from a major retail research firm. We learned that the consumer viewed the function of shopping as 2 completely different things.

One shopping interaction was all about “distribution” where the value was in lowest price, ease of entry/shopping/exit and appropriate selection. We call this the WalMart approach – a really big distribution box with a lot of stuff, with low prices, in every neighborhood, with easy parking. There is a value here, but it is neither marketing value nor experiential value.

The other shopping interaction was all about “experience” where the value was in the quality of the merchandise, the store experience, the ability to shop with friends and relatives, investing time in the non-commodity experience. Cost of merchandise is rarely a factor, but display quality, and affinity to the brand values is a major factor attracting the shopper.

By definition, this is a marketing platform for the brand’s values. In fact, we see it as critical that the brand create affinity with the shopper within this environment – the 3D selling space.

This is the basis for our re-thinking of the retail design process, all the way from brand positioning to site selection to store layout, to merchandising, to signage – an integrated environmental approach specifically focused to communicate brand values.

The retailers who are succeeding today have accomplished this. Those who have not – particularly WalMart – are enjoying lower or flat same store comps, customer abandonment, and ultimately must clarify with the consumer their brand value.

Image 4 exists to align a brand’s value and project, even embed, it within the store environment. And today, a store means a shopping location – from a tent at an event to a popup shop in SoHo or LaBrea, to a retail mall.