There’s certainly no doubt that when it comes to creating immersive retail spaces, New York sets the bar high. From Nike’s iconic ‘House of Innovation 000’ – billed as ‘living retail brought to life’, through to Starbuck’s Reserve Roastery where they claim to ‘massage all five senses’ in an environment designed to make you forget you’re inhabiting a retail space, whether fashion-focused, F&B or consumer-tech, the city boasts some of the most diverse and intriguing, store experiences in the world.
Taking Fifth Avenue as the example, our research demonstrates that its shopper demographic is truly colossal; it welcomes a diverse 8.55 million New York natives and 62 million non-New Yorkers – from US business travellers and day-trippers, to a multitude of multi-national tourists – to its streets every year. Interestingly enough, while international travellers make up only 21% of visitors to NYC in total, they are responsible for 48% of the dollars spent specifically within the leisure category, equal to a whopping $4.12 billion shopping dollars (Travel and Tourism Trends, NYCGO).
This clearly, highly lucrative retail centre had already been earmarked as a prime-target by PUMA’s global retail development team – for Green Room (and our on-going working relationship with the brand), it was to create an awe-inspiring backdrop to devise an experience strategy to emotionally connect with the brand’s target customer; ‘Generation Hustle.’
Identifying the real value in human experience
Well documented over recent years has been the growing expectation of the consumer, and Manhattan is no exception (in fact, it serves well as the rule) in demonstrating that, with increased choice, comes increased levels of discernment, so if you still think that customers are judging your in-store experiences by your category competitors alone, it really is time to ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ – the rules of customer engagement have long changed and people now judge brands by every other experience in their lives, both on and offline.
In a recent blog we identify the 7 essential principles in creating a competitive flagship experience, amongst the principles we stress the importance of building empathy and experiences that align to human values and everchanging needs – the first part in our own challenge was to truly understand the customer and craft something with real purpose, something that would transcend category and ‘broad-stroke’ appeal, to create authentic moments that connected on a more emotional level.
So, back to ‘Gen-H’ (don’t worry you haven’t inadvertently skipped a generation!) – forming part of the Gen-Z cohort, they have fundamental demographic and lifestyle traits in common. Characteristic of all 16-24 year olds, they are born in a world (and age) of hyper-connection and almost limitless access and choice, however, against a back drop of ‘fake news’ and option overload, they have developed a deep-seated necessity for authenticity and sincerity from the things they choose to interact with in their worlds.
To fuel our creative direction, we took a deep dive into Gen-H personas within PUMA’s football and training categories to fully understand their emotional impulses and physical aspirations, also their brand / experience expectations and purchase decision making process.
Across both personas, we found a generation heavily influenced by their sporting hero’s performance, talent and lifestyle, however, there was little aspiration to become a carbon-copy of these idols, instead the use of this inspiration to carve their own path and ‘own’ their own style. This audience were versatile, edgy, disruptive, non-conformist and alternative – their world very much defined by their social experience, almost viewing their social profile as a dress rehearsal for life.
In establishing the most compelling solution that would resonate with both target groups we established non-negotiable design principles that were translated into the experience:
- Individuality & self-expression: expressed through fashion, music, food and fitness; shareability is key!
- Simplicity: Complexity comes as standard; PUMA must simplify choice and help individuals figure out their formula
- Equality: is non-negotiable, we are for all languages, cultures and genders (all humans)
- Inspiration: When the world is filled with choice, an authentic viewpoint is a must; we must capitalise on Gen Z’s receptiveness to brand ambassadors
- Beyond cool: When New York is the backdrop; memorable and cool must be dialled up to the maximum
Ensuring the experience encapsulated all five values, we placed ‘Inspiration’ from brand ambassadors at the core of our creative platform. Our concept ‘Idols Brought to Earth’ was born.
If you can make it there…
What if PUMA ambassadors could personally invite you into the fold – to spend some 1-on-1 time competing, collaborating and celebrating what you love? Not only that but share their insights on what it really takes to become an athlete; their passion and commitment, their training lifestyle and product choices. They inspire and disarm in equal measure through their unique personality and humanity, in an instant becoming a mere mortal – one of us.
Our creative platform integrates PUMA’s brand ambassadors into the immersive experiences, positioning them as ‘training buddies’, rather than inaccessible, elitist celebrities, leaving people that go through the experience inspired, confident and determined to carve their own ‘forever faster’ path – motivated by the fact that we can all be idols… but on our own terms.
The Empire State – Manhattan; where concrete and glass monoliths scrape the sky remains home to countless flagship retail experiences. And now becomes a home for PUMA – the original gamechanger and rebel with a cause.