With sixteen halls of displays (up from fifteen halls in 2014), EuroShop2017 earned the designation as the world’s number one retail fair. Yes, you read that correctly: retail fair. While halls four and five featured innovation in the exhibition area, the rest of the fair focused on all aspects of retail.
Nothing approximates the ideal trade show attendee experience so much as the optimal retail experience, relying on elements that include everything from architecture and lighting to staffing/customer interaction and digital technology for both memorable engagement and data collection.
The goal of retail brands to establish long term emotional connections with their customers is analogous to what exhibitors seek to do in a compressed space and time. EuroShop2017 showcased compelling architecture, contextual lighting, and digital innovation—in short, everything that both the retail and the exhibition industries utilize to achieve a satisfactory return on investment and to foster brand loyalty through immersive visitor experiences.
But there’s more. According to the final press release on the EuroShop2017 site,
EuroShop 2017 also highlighted that the top priority for stores themselves was unadulterated emotionalization! Storytelling was at the forefront of many concepts, solutions, and products… Whether it was architecture, design, lighting, or the embedding of state-of-the-art media in the shop fitting, everything has to follow a joint dramaturgy to give customers that certain kick.
Storytelling for successful face-to-face
Storytelling allows you to suggest solutions for your customers by placing them–and their pain points– in the center of of a narrative, one that is bolstered by the built environment. Storytelling engages the emotions and the intellect—and when done well, it is a dynamic force in the face-to-face environment, whether retail or exhibitions. And best of all, storytelling breaks down the resistance to listening to sales and marketing messages.
Online or face-to-face?
More and more, both retail and exhibitions are creating a seamless experience, bolstered by technology, between online and in person. Like traditional B-to-B marketing in which exhibitions play an important role, retail brands seek to establish an omnichannel solution with a consistent content marketing strategy that creates and sustains a recognizable identity in the marketplace.
Finally, we have the elephant in the room: the online experience. How can exhibitions and brick-and-mortar retail compete with immediate gratification, with one-click buying and next day delivery of merchandise–or the accessibility of information that is available online? When it comes to those particular features, they can’t.
What they can and do offer is a personal, emotional experience that goes far beyond features. They provide the opportunity for in-depth, consultative conversations about the product as well as, in the majority of cases, the ability to touch and feel it, and to participate in the storytelling at the heart of the user experience. Or, to quote an earlier blog post here, “Marketing, at its core, is about meeting the needs and expectations of the market. How we do that is mutable.”