Indian retailer ColorPlus saw sales increase nearly 40 percent after Gensler designed and implemented several new retail formats for the company. Video © Gensler
In today’s global marketplace, the biggest brands are crossing borders in search of new customers. In India in particular, there has been an influx of foreign competitors into the retail sector, and local brands are facing tougher competition than ever before. It is imperative that they innovate to survive. One brand that is doing a great job at adapting is ColorPlus, an Indian retailer of men’s casual clothing with more than 400 outlets and two decades of experience.
Within this new context, ColorPlus decided to return to its core beliefs and what made the brand popular in the first place: a true commitment to the overall quality of its products. The retailer’s clothing constitutes something of an investment: each piece promises to last a long time and to express a timeless sense of style. These qualities resonate with its professional, urbane male client base.
To reinforce this commitment to quality, Gensler’s design concept focuses on the brand’s high level of quality, craftsmanship, and authenticity. Bringing this story to life in stores required the introduction of architectural elements that celebrate the brand’s heritage and craftsmanship. A double-height inspirational “gallery wall,” a series of “color shops,” and an iconic “spool wall” feature, composed of different colored spools of thread, highlight the strengths of the ColorPlus brand. Graphic panels tell the ColorPlus story through lifestyle imagery. Gensler also redesigned the storefront with a modern aesthetic inspired by French industrial design and a nod to the factory. The signature storefront is instantly recognizable and scalable to different locations and formats.
Adaptability was a key consideration in translating the design concept for ColorPlus' three retail formats. Gensler designed custom fixtures, including a modular wardrobe “kit of parts,” as well as furniture and light fixtures that could be adapted for a flagship in Chennai (approximately 2,700 square feet), a mall store in Bangalore (approximately 1,250 square feet), and a “shop-in-shop” in Hyderabad (approximately 500 square feet).
Since people in India tend to shop in groups, the design team created a lounge area with seating and maximized fitting-room space. They developed visual cues and a merchandising strategy to help customers create outfits and introduced a “style advisor” to service customers. To facilitate on-the-ground implementation, Gensler partnered with a local architect—Future Design Research Company, based in Bangalore—throughout the design process. The architect’s knowledge of the local market and vendors helped reduce costs and streamline the process by sourcing materials locally.
Since the Chennai flagship and Bangalore mall store opened last fall, sales are up approximately 30-40 percent. Buoyed by customers’ enthusiastic response, ColorPlus is rolling out mall and flagship stores throughout India using Gensler’s design.
ColorPlus is one example of a local retailer retooling its brand to better compete in a marketplace flooded with international competition. Retailers dealing with similar circumstances should stay true to their brand values and heritage and understand every aspect of their customers' lifestyles. Constantly challenging your internal and external design teams to build a strategy that yields a meaningful and sustainable retail identity will lead to positive results.
Image © Gensler
Alison Carr, a retail design director in Gensler’s San Francisco office, considers unexpected design solutions the very best kind. Alison has worked with and pushed leading retail brands towards design excellence, earning a number of accolades along the way. With a holistic and collaborative approach to the design process and a real belief in cross pollination, Alison is constantly moving across studios—and across countries—to bring together the very best of retail, hospitality, and brand design. Not surprisingly, the energy of these unconventional pairings have informed some of the most exciting collaborations and finished results and ensured that the process remains the fun part. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.