Canal city. That is one affecting interpretation of Amsterdam. However, for our strategy team, it was sneaker culture, sustainability-inspired conversations and feminist-driven design captured the imagination.
Let’s start with the aforementioned sneakers.
Globally speaking, Sneakerheads spend a tenth of their salary on the shoes. Yet, when personal grails are in question, this sum can extend considerably. On average, a Sneakerhead will own 34 pairs. It is an obsession that sees consumers selecting sneakers in the same way an art collector buys art. The movement has been prolific in LA with the likes of Kith, The Hundreds and Bape opening locations this year.
The movement is making waves in Amsterdam, where a sneakerhead could up their DS game within the radius of a few streets. At Solebox, sneaker stories come to life via a store concept that is essentially the cool science lesson at school you never had. Here consumers can find sneakers elevated amidst steam and merchandising mimicking periodic tables. Art takes precedence over at Sneaker District, where the renaissance isn’t just reserved for the paintings situated in store. Beats loud, consumers can kick back in the lounge and hang out. Over at Oquim, basketball holds centre court in the retail experience. Other locations include Patti, Concrete, Maha and Baskets, reinforcing that dropping kicks is an opportune market.
What makes the forerunning brands successful is the way they bridge sneakers with wider culture. Emotive engagement inspired by art, storytelling driven by science, retail must deliver imagination inspiring playscapes that foster emotional escapism. Read our articles about the rise of the soft power sell and why using culture to connect is important to brands.
Lounge areas inspire conversation spaces and social interaction. Of course, designated dwelling spaces invite consumers to spend longer in store. But a key tactic here is that the space immediately transforms to be one where community lies at the heart of experience.
With community feelings on the mind, consumption that inspires conversations for social change was salient in the city.
Espousing the sentiment that good planets are hard to find, Verse invites consumers to join the universe. The store is a one-stop space for consumers who conjoin consumption with ethical impact. Partnering with local, ethical and socially conscious brands, Verse is an example of a do-good brand advocating for a more sustainable future.
At Toms, the retail experience is curated based on giving. Resounding this sentiment, the word ‘give’ is merchandised throughout the space. Notable features include a shoe giving menu and a give sight campaign. Blackboards that read ‘join the movement’ and ‘together we can make a difference, one purchase at a time’ reside on the the store exterior, illustrating the power brands have in shaping consumer behaviour. A space designed on shared values, retail has the capacity to contribute to wider social conversations that are at the forefront of consumer attitudes. A true advantage of physical stores is that they maintain the latitude to be community driven entities that bring people together. When determining KPI’s and measurement of success in a store, emotive engagement is pivotal. It is essential that brands ask themselves what they are contributing beyond product. They must become catalysts for conversation and participate in movements.
Inspiring movements and pushing boundaries, this sentiment was pertinent at T.I.T.S. An acronym for ‘this is the shit’, Sophia Amoruso’s Girlboss would not feel too out of place amongst the millennial pink and LA cool vibes. Boob inspired artwork, empowering slogans, T.I.T.S overall look and feel celebrates womanhood through feminist driven design.
How can you use design to ask questions and inspire social change and impact?
How can you create immersive storytelling by borrowing from culture that resonates with your brand story and consumer values?
Use emotion as a design tool. Think bigger than your brand. How can your brand be part of a wider movement?
Focus on catering to community to drive empathetic engagement and increase consumer dwelling time in store.