Professional Jeweler Archive: Make it Fun and They Will Come

May 2000

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Make it Fun and They Will Come

Successful retailers attract busy and jaded shoppers with entertainment and education


Jewelry stores traditionally have had a bank-like – you might say funereal – sense of decorum, but there’s a growing retail trend toward a livelier format. Not satisfied merely to locate in a complex with entertainment attractions, many retailers want to become entertainers themselves.

Consider the NBA Store in Manhattan, where tourists and nearby office workers use the store’s central basketball court for lunchtime pick-up games.

Shopping malls overwhelmed the retail scene in the 1970s and ’80s because they satisfied consumer needs better than traditional downtowns, says Display & Design Ideas magazine. But traditional malls no longer meet those needs quite so well. Online and catalog shopping looks pretty attractive to busy consumers. If they go to a store, they’re likely looking for an experience, which means they want to be entertained.

A Day at the Mall

Newer malls are built to attract the all-day shopper. The Mall of Georgia, for instance, includes a 30-screen multiplex, a 3-D Imax theater and entertaining retailers such as Galyan’s with a climbing wall. Malls also host live music and festivals.

In addition, individual stores are ratcheting up their efforts. Movie-set designers, lighting specialists and sound engineers play a growing role in retailers’ efforts to elicit reactions from shoppers.

“Retailers have to play up the sensory experience with lighting, fragrance and music,” says James Mansour, who moved from theater to retail design at The Limited. “You want to take the audience through a series of emotions that builds to the feeling of a new experience.”

According to Ecklein Communications, entertainment tenants in retail complexes generally try to achieve one of four reactions from customers:

  • Excitement, sparked by thrill rides, arcades or nightclubs.
  • Playfulness, displayed by game-playing, storytelling, sports-oriented stores and theme restaurants.
  • Contemplation, which takes place in restaurants, movies, art and live events.
  • Education, as businesses concentrate on the arts, books, museums or skill-building.

Linking Products to Lifestyle

Some retailers use a consumer-diversion strategy to provide product information. Through “edutainment,” the store becomes a tool, linking the tangible product to the intangible lifestyle it’s designed to provide.

REI, the retailer of camping equipment and related adventure gear, provides rain rooms so shoppers can test different foul-weather gear. Optical retailer Oakley features laser equipment for diagnostic testing of lenses. And Rockport’s newer stores offer the Comfort Zone, an area to relax, use interactive kiosks to get information on products, read health and travel material, and get feet measured for insertable footbeds.

– by Mark E. Dixon

Jewelers looking to link jewelry to fashion can run in-store videos of the latest fashion shows using jewelry. This model appeared during De Beers Diamonds-International Awards event in Paris in January. She’s wearing an award-winning necklace by Martin Gruber.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications