September 19, 2019 / Experience

Community is The Destination

2d skaters

There are no two ways about it; brands that harness a community well will grow in consumer loyalty. 77% of brands believe that an online community significantly improves brand exposure, awareness and credibility, but savvy brands are using digital community to encourage connection in a physical space.

Our trend reporting in the last year has seen tribes redefine how community is stepping into new territories; from a modernised kinship, to an informed globalised perspective to social, to newfound activism, people are finding new ways to interact.

In our industry, we hear the phrase ‘The Death of The High Street’ regularly, yet we see stores flourishing: no longer anchored by shopping malls, but buoyed by consumer commonality. We are seeing ‘destination shopping’ redefined as a haven of like-minded people, facilitated by brands to create community and experience.

There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.

Margaret J. Wheatley

The threads that tie brands to loyal consumers are authentically bringing people together in a space in which they feel connected and seen. Whether through new sustainable brand values, opening up taboo conversations or creating authentic experiences, we have outlined some of our favourite brands and why they have harnessed community so well.

Coal Drops Yard: Carefully curating a range of shops that bring the individuality, authenticity and creativity into a space makes Coal Drop Yard a destination. Harnessing a “Cool Culture” of consumers who want to be in the know, the shopping space carries Instagramable bragging rights and interacts with the Millenial and Gen Z aesthetics. Engaging local creators, artists and retailers, the old coal store is now a flourishing location for designers and shoppers, full of inspiration and character.

Pat McGrath is renowned for her makeup artistry, making into Times 100 most influential people for her work in the beauty and fashion industries. Her makeup line has a loyal following, often breaking diversity barriers and connecting with professional make-up artists and enthusiasts alike. Channelling this into a physical space, PMGL created an opulent and subversive pop-up, that reflected her over-the-top looks that can be tested by her cult following.

I Found It At The Strategist: From publisher to pop-up, the online magazine open a physical store that replicated the inspiration found within its pages. Taking their community into a physical space in New York, igniting their readers delight in finding the perfect gifts at Christmas, into a physical experience that exists beyond the pages.

Lululemon: The athleisure brand puts its wellness values at the core of its physical stores. Regularly holding in-store events, their store staff are in charge of connecting the brand to their favourite local fitness personalities and classes. A hub for local fitness, the store becomes the destination for not only the clothes but also for meeting like-minded friends at classes and wellness events.

Glossier: Having already created a digital cult and online third place for Millennials, the brand is using pop-ups as a testing ground for physical stores. More than just a pretty store, the brand uses its pop-ups to curate communities that are indicative to their identity and ultimately incredibly unique and authentic to the brand.

While the traditional model of the high street may be dying, so many brands are flourishing, finding innovative ways to make stores destinations for their community. Going beyond merchandise to understand consumer values and commonalities that make them feel understood and find a true sense of belonging.

Key Insights

  • Brands should understand their consumers. What do they have in common? How do they communicate? Can you create a destination that enhances that experience?
  • Use digital spaces in conjunction with physical spaces. One is not better than the other; they can inform and bring together consumers in new ways.
  • Think about the local. How can you impact a community and regularly engage with a consumer in a meaningful way?

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