Experiential Retail is Old News: What the U.S. Can Learn from Asian Retail

 In Advertising, Articles, Branding, Business, Marketing, Strategy

o  A Disney store that caters to adults, featuring interactive mirrors and fixtures subtly adorned with character details.
o  Cat cafés where customers can fraternize with owls while enjoying a cup of coffee.
o  A skatepark perched on top of a shopping mall.
o  A department store with a 2-story basement food market (depachika in Japanese) brimming with a vast array of renowned restaurant, dessert, and niche culinary brands.
o  A Muji Café where customers can peruse high quality, “private label” merchandise and/or sit down to grab a healthy bite.
o  A stationery store where customers can browse the dizzying array of stationery products from all over the world and delight in their newly purchased journal and fountain pen while sipping on a glass of wine.

These are just a handful of not-so-new Japanese retail concepts that have been in existence for quite some time. In fact, in Japan as well as in other Asian countries, these types of experiential retail stores are not the exception but the norm. In such markets, retail businesses are required participate in a dynamic and perpetual cycle of invention and reinvention to stay competitive.

Given the prevalence of such retail models in the East, can experiential retail really be considered the new face of retail? In the U.S., perhaps. However, experiential retail has a long history in Asia, most notably in Japan, where there is no clear distinction between experiential and traditional retail. Particularly in Japan, providing an experience has always been at the foundation of retail. Why is this the case?

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