Brand Strategy Luxury Brands Consumer Goods

Retail therapy: The consumer and luxury goods brands delivering best in-store experiences


By Richard Draycott, Associate Editor

May 29, 2024 | 6 min read

Continuing The Drum’s Retail Focus, we ask marketing experts to tell us which consumer and luxury goods brands are delivering the best retail experience in their brick-and-mortar stores and what they are doing right to attract modern consumers.


Apple's retail spaces unite form and function

Physical retailers have faced immense challenges in recent years as shoppers have taken their purchases online, Covid closed shop doors for months and the global cost of living crisis has forced a decline in footfall and, as a result, sales.

This means that traditional brick-and-mortar retailers now have to fight harder and think more creatively than ever before to deliver seamless customer experiences in their stores. So, which brands are doing it the best in the eyes of marketers?

In the third part of our Retail Therapy series, we focus on consumer and luxury goods retailers.


Louisa O’Connor, managing director, Seen Presents: “Coach, Coach, Coach! It is simply dominating right now, putting participation, play, experimentation and brand immersion at the heart of every experience. Its pop-ups borrow equity from food and beverage, craft and culturally relevant influencers to create spaces that people want to dwell in. Its strategy is to create content playgrounds focused on exploration to totally immerse people in the heritage and values of its brand versus creating more tactical and passive spaces. Its products are brought to life through total brand immersion, with surprise and delight moments at every turn. For me, it is unmatched at the moment.”

Jenn Szekely, president, Coley Porter Bell US: “US luxury retailer Nordstrom has upped the experience ante with a focus on feeding both body and ‘sole’ with the opening of its Shoe Bar for flagging footwear shoppers – a trend seen with other retailers, such as Coach, LV and Ralph Lauren opening branded restaurants. For others, the secret is in offering IRL experiences beyond the e-commerce realms. Retail pharmacies do this well with on-site doctor and health screening services and while Amazon might offer ‘try before you buy,’ Puma scores by letting shoppers test football boots in its Skill Cube simulator at its NYC Flagship – that’s got to be a better experience than testing by just running around the living room.”

Wayne Deakin, global principal, Wolff Olins: “When thinking of leading experiences, Apple and Nike always come to mind. They excel by uniting function and form, featuring sleek modern layouts that make navigation engaging. Apple stores serve as community hubs, offering workshops and hands-on support, while Nike stores enhance experiences with interactive displays, AR, apps and easy access to product information. Over in Asia, we’re seeing emerging brands make waves in terms of post-Covid retail experiences. Musinsa in South Korea exemplifies innovation by blending consumers’ worlds. Starting as an online community, it soon became Korea’s biggest online fashion retailer and successfully integrated store and digital, enhancing the customer experience through new and surprising interactions like its Live Fitting Room, where customers can try on products and capture themselves. It’s a blended future for retailers; online and offline will need to work to their strengths (and differences) to meet and deliver on their customers’ expectations.”


Marc Allenby, co-founder and chief creative officer, Hijinks: “Call me old school, but there’s something incredibly romantic and satisfying about the one and only Daunt Books on Marylebone High Street. That shop instantly pulls me in for so many reasons: the incredible interior, the way the books are displayed, the books themselves and the passionate, knowledgeable staff. It offers a joyful, real-world experience far from the craziness of the world and an antidote to the digital environments we spend lots of time in. Daunt is not reinventing the wheel; it just knows what it does and who it is. Long may it last.”

Ivy Escopete, senior strategy consultant, Cheil UK: “The best retail experience occurs when a brand immerses customers in its unique world, delivering distinctive moments that reflect its identity. There are three retailers that do this really well: Samsung, Nike and Sephora. Samsung’s KX concept store immerses customers by showcasing how Samsung products can integrate seamlessly into daily life and offers customers an opportunity to interact with the latest technology. NikeTown in London features smart mirrors to help customers find their perfect fit with Nike products, encouraging them to test the clothes in ways they would use them in real life. Sephora offers multiple ways for customers to discover the best products for them, with skincare technology, beauty bars and workshops. These brands understand that designing a distinct in-store environment enhances customer engagement, delivering the ultimate retail experience.”

Mackenzie Matheson, search marketing analyst, Digitas: “There’s only so much outdoorsy energy that can be channeled through a screen. REI’s brick-and-mortar locations keep customers coming back on the promise of becoming an adventurer. The smell of rubber boots, the novelty of ready-to-eat camping meals and the daunting rock wall in the center of the store allow customers to vividly picture their next great expedition. Pair the in-store environment with knowledgeable employees who seem driven by what they do and REI becomes not just a shopping trip but a shopping experience. It’s easy to buy camping gear online, but REI storefronts make the purchase an adventure itself.”

Fred Schank, SVP of brand experience, TMA: “One brand excelling in creating unique and enjoyable customer experiences is Lego. It has one of the highest Cultural Resonance Scores, particularly in the Engagement pillar for retail brands (scoring 97/100 with Gen Z). Lego has created entertaining destinations through a combination of interactive play areas, personalization, exclusive in-store products and culturally relevant products that resonate with consumer passions.”

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