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Experience is Everything

The Harman flagship in New York City. Image © Chris Payne

Today experience, as opposed to ownership, status, or image, is everything, and retailers are experimenting with new ways to attract consumers.

Brands are increasingly setting products apart by offering a premium level of service formerly reserved for the upscale market. The resulting “luxury for the masses” trend makes quality and brand names more accessible and affordable.

As part of the trend towards more luxurious offerings, traditional packaging, often an afterthought for merchandisers and tossed aside by consumers after a purchase, is giving way to more modern approaches. Sustainable and multifunctional packaging is the rise.

Retail centers are evolving as well, as the combination of micro-markets, cashless payments and augmented reality gives developers the power to bring the mall experience to any location in a fraction of the space.

And while new technology is causing consumers to increasingly favor virtual transactions, physical stores remain essential. Not only are brick and mortar retailers attracting customers by enhancing the brand experience across both online and offline channels, but online retailers are seeking to create physical presence for their brands. Watching brands innovate so that they can better integrate the online and offline worlds into a single, holistic experience is truly exciting.

Barry Bourbon AIA, LEED® AP, is a leader of Gensler’s global retail practice and a principal in the San Francisco office. With a constant eye on the latest tools and technologies that connect consumers and retailers, Barry inspires colleagues to stay focused on the rapidly evolving issues facing clients, and to design for the holistic experience of a brand. Never one to shy from a challenge, Barry is an expert problem solver who excels at leading multi-location, multi-disciplinary teams with the tightest schedules and budgets. Contact him at barry_bourbon@gensler.com.

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