Saturday, 9 February 2008

GRAPEVINE - Shopping for the Experience

Photo Credit: xiefangman@yahoo.cn on flickr

I remember when I was a child being taken to a large out of town shoe shop, and I remember the particular shop so vividly, because right at the back there was a slide. Of course, entertaining children in the retail world is not a new concept. From trolleys they can drive at the supermarket, to train sets in the bank's waiting area. But what about the adults? Increasingly women shoppers look for entertainment, and much more than just the promise of objects they may want to buy. Shopping after all lies in the domain of leisure as well as being a neccessity for the home and family.

Topshop's flagship Oxford Street store is a prime example. Fashion shows, a Nail Bar, a cafe... all techniques to keep the shopper in store for longer, and nearly always these events or attractions are set at the back of the store in the hope that shoppers will fall in love with some fantastic product on the way to the 'entertainment'. It sounds like I think this is a bad idea, but actually I think its great. In the past shops were an important part of the community and were a social hub for women. These attractions bring us together again, albeit for the mutual benefit of the retailer.

Now perhaps this type of thing has always happened, but it seems to me that the scale of events is getting bigger and bigger. HMV has played host to a full blown gigs to launch a bands new albums, Shopping centres have their own fashion shows, and even the little stores are getting in on the action with knitting and craft shops running clubs and classes. Diversification is a key way that stores are trying to tackle the increasing popularity of internet shopping and gain back some of that important market share.

Women don't shop so much because we NEED to anymore, but because we WANT to. Much of what we buy is throwaway. Cheap as chips stores like Primark have led to many women not caring if they only wear an item once... it only cost £3 after all, that's less than a sandwich in some eateries.

Most men however still have to be dragged out, so next time his favourite band are playing at the music store, or there are some attractive ladies at the shopping centre modelling lingerie, use it as the perfect excuse for some retail therapy and chances are he won't say no!





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