Sensational Retailtainment: the Fount of Surprises for Customers in 2021

Amid the deluge of trendspotting predictions, it is challenging yet imperative to identify directional insights. Beyond doubt, luxury brands are trying every possible way to stay afloat in the post-Covid times. According to PwC research, 48 retail stores in the UK shut down business on a daily basis, while only a handful of 21 chain stores opened in 2020. As a V-shaped rebound in business is one in a million this year, whether luxury brands will sink or swim pivots on an agile omnichannel strategy.

retailtainment, pop-up stores, physical stores, TDF visual merchandising

In this case, pop-up stores can be a newfound way out. Luxury retailers test the waters of new markets through temporary exploratory outlets to enrich their physical presence, giving rise to the concept of retailtainment. Physical stores are no longer just sales-driven but also serve as dynamic portals to enable experiential and entertaining experiences. While we are well aware of the benefits of retailtainment, the question mark hangs on how to cash in on the novel concept.  

How to unlock the magic powers of retailtainment

A sensory-rich experiential model will be the key. The immersive approach foregrounds services and engagement in physical retailing, while the sale of products plays the second fiddle as it is equally achievable through online shopping. In other words, physical touchpoints have to be imbued with the human-centric vibe for interpersonal connection and emotional bonding between patrons and retailers, complemented with a hybrid model to create robust retailtainment.  

Interpersonal linkage

McKinsey suggests that, brands transform physical stores into experimental zones to create strong and enduring emotional linkages. In that sense, physical exploration can hardly be replaceable by online shopping. Indeed, sensory sampling combined with human connection delivers a stronger emotional motivator to drive loyal consumerism. Thus, as “An Emotional Connection Matters More Than Customer Satisfaction” by HBR explains, customers are willing to dip into their pockets for more products and services from the same brands. 

For instance, Christian Dior launched “Dioriviera” pop-ups in vacation hot spots such as Sanya and Ibiza with cozy lounges bedecked with toile de Jouy motif walls and cushions. Patrons can visualize their holidays in such simulated settings to quench their wanderlust Covid-19 lockdown as the unconventional pop-up stores evoked the delights of carefree holidaymaking before the pandemic. Following the success of the pop-up showcases in the Mediterranean, the French house expanded the collection to China with localization. Through sentimentally engaging shopping journeys, luxury brands effectively forge long-lasting ties with customers, merging two identities and values.   

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Human connection  

Humans need social and emotional interaction by nature. In the light of Covid-19 and subsequent requirement for social distancing, luxury brands switched to virtual personal shopping to link up sales associates and affluent shoppers. As evidenced by real-life examples, experiential retailing invigorates the relationship between luxury brands and their patrons through exceptional in-person customer experiences and premium services. Such a human connection is conducive to more fruitful retailtainment and enriches shopping experiences across virtual gateways and physical touchpoints. 

Interestingly, Atelier Beauté Chanel in New York offers an educational tour for well-off buyers to grasp new skincare practices, and enjoy an olfactory feast by blind testing scents to discover their desired fragrances, and learn about the raw ingredients for manufacturing the products.  Through pleasurable one-to-one customer services, salespersons can deliver influential personal advice to customers based on big data collected from multiple stores. Ultimately, salespersons have deepened rapport with customers, strengthening brand loyalty among the clientele and stimulating more patronage.  

Hybrid model  

As another key to productive retailtainment, the hybrid model maximizes the effectiveness of the immersive approach. Lockdowns and travel restrictions have prompted retailers to re-strategize with the design of global pop-up stores. As one of the strategies proposed by Euromonitor International, an independent strategic market researcher, running hybrid events should be a new fashion for retailing. The sense of novelty and exclusivity of hybrid pop-ups generates hype around luxury brands.   

LVMH’s Le Café V, a brand-name restaurant, made an impressive debut in blending catering service and luxury fashion retailing to reach a wider customer base. The hybrid model engenders privileged custom for luxury goods with epicurean enjoyment for select customers. Such product-associated experiences enable brands to amplify their exposure in local communities beyond the limits of online and offline spheres.   

Final Thoughts

In a nutshell, physical touchpoints with interpersonal linkage, human connection and exclusive shopping experiences bear pivotally on customer engagement. In the post-pandemic era, luxury physical stores are way more than just outlets for selling goods, bound to evolve co-creation of patronage and entertainment for potential consumers to explore products and brand values in a fun-filled manner. 

At TDF Asia, we offer flexible visual merchandising solutions in just 5 easy steps. Learn more about creating window displays, product displays, and fixtures for the luxury retail industry. Please do not hesitate to contact our project management team at or give us a call at +852 2116 9583. 

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