Retailing as Evoking Emotions?
A politician, a rock and roll band or a stage performer – they all must evoke the people’s emotions. So does retailer. The difference is the set of the variables (“means of expression”) at his disposal.
In Part I of the article we’ve uncovered the magnetic force for all the women and girls passing by the Tiger stores. Good brands do that – connect to a hidden, other, emotional side of the customers. In our case the store experience evokes something we called a Little Giggling Girl – the playful, happy, uninhibited, often neglected part of ourselves.
Following the Way of the Flying Tiger would give us the opportunity to see what the right buttons to push are and how they could be played in the retail environment.
THE RIGHT BUTTONS TO PUSH
PRODUCTS -> Tiger has found the way for its product to talk – through shape, sounds, also kind of surrealistic labels – any one of you think that the first aid kit is by definition boring?
STORE LAYOUT -> the provisional walls cleverly divide the pretty expensive downtown shopping floor and at the same time bring up the feeling of the different “rooms”, little worlds (some just few square meters big) resembling the amusement park fun-houses. As such might be very easily viewed as a miniature version of Ikea. And this doesn’t hurt.
PRICING -> don’t look for no psychological .99s or .95s, only rounded prices here. Also, no loyalty cards and no price triggers in the shop-windows. But the prices definitely don’t offend. Being smart in that respect doesn’t hurt the Tiger at all. Some of the prices are set well below known value items. Take nice Moleskin notebooks for example. They are being offered in all the bookstores and stationary stores around the globe. The comparable Flying Tiger notebooks are priced way below. And, I assure you that Tiger’s notebooks wouldn’t make you excluded – even within the circles of more aesthetically oriented designers. Tested, hehe.
The other task of pricing is also fulfilled. Namely, giving the rational confirmation to emotional attitude towards the brand. Funny as hell – and not that expensive, right? Right! Feeling of fairness, Right? Right!
THE ASSORTMENT –> You can find a regular offer of the staple products. But there are also others added, constantly changing, providing the flow of new ideas, sometimes useful like notebooks or kitchen amenities & sometimes just so overwhelmingly silly that you just can’t resist them. So, returning visits provide for the extra surprises.
DESIGN & VISUAL MERCHANDISING & MUSIC AND OTHER ELEMENTS OF THE ATMOSPHERICS -> minimalist, light, wooden shelves + tiny details + vintage 1950s pop / rock and roll music filling the ears of the millennials bring about a time machine effect not totally unlike the atmosphere of the Back To the Future movie franchise.
PLAYING THE RIGHT BUTTONS TOGETHER
Notice patterns that trail itself like a thread through all these different variables described above? Let’s recall the patterns with the set of the associations.
Happy, playful, funny, snaky, surprising, silly, simple … All the associations emanating straight from the core of the brand.
The key is that this elements connect together by the principle of coherence – the situation when the parts of something fit together in a natural or reasonable way. And we can progress the definition in the direction of the movement – this brand coherence is not something stable but could be seen more as the waveform. When different elements (variables) interfere with each other, they add amplitude to the wave that connects brand with customers.
THE SIGNATURE DETAILS
In order to hard-wire the brand deeply under our skin, the coherence isn’t enough. Another approach must be added. We can reveal it by making the reverse operation – by smashing the coherent story back to its basic particles. Now, isolated from the whole, such elementary patterns still work as the recognizable, unique representatives of the whole. This is the principle of signature.
Successful brands use the signatures. The shape of Coca-Cola bottle, Adidas’s three stripes, Ikea’s immediately recognizable designs, the names with zeros in the middle like 204, 304 are clearly Peugeots etc. For more famous examples you should definitely check Martin Lindstrom’s book Smash Your Brand.
And the Tiger also works on this level. The humor, minimalist designs, ideas work as signatures of products even if you take them far from the original environment.
THE HARD THAT SUPPORTS THE SOFT
Of course, all the above “soft” elements should be at work at the “moment of truth” – in front of the customer. The shelves must be regularly filled and cleaned, the price tags changed, the seasonal products made available, the music always turned on etc. Just subtract one of them – eg. leave the gaps on the shelves – and all the others will crumble down also.
So, for such “live performance” to really work, the “hard”, the operational efficiency is necessary. And it seems, the Tiger performs well – the goal is achieved when the Little Giggling Girl bursts into laugh and puts the product into the basket. Therefore, the above elements are staged well.
THE POWER OF THE EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCE
When a brand evokes emotions it has a clear advantage over the brands that work (struggle to work) on a mere rational level.
The evidence. See Apple prices vs competitors on the equal technological level. Or compare All-Stars sneakers costing easily 70 € more than the exact same pair of sneakers coming out of the same manufacturing plant available at street vendors. And similarly, the Flying Tiger is not at all a pound store anymore! In the midst of the offline retail scare the Tiger flies swiftly.
Of course, no one is without the vulnerable points. The Flying Tiger not excluded – see: biting online competition, quality issues, growing concerns about plastic content and the company’s response to that, oversaturated markets etc. – but this doesn’t fit into the story with the happy ending.
Following the way of The Flying Tiger we came to the point where we can simplify its success into a formula:
Story that evokes emotions + Coherence in key retail variables + Signature details + Efficient operational processes = Retail success
There are retailers that sell cheaper. There are retailers more elaborate, more lavish, more tech-savvy. There are companies that promote heavier. Much heavier. But there is only one Tiger at this particular moment whose stores assure that the play once again rhymes with the retail.
—— THE END
Part I of this article: The Way of the Flying Tiger Part One
More similar blog articles that might te of interest to you: www.omnibus.si/insights
In case, you’d like to propose some other brand interesting for an examination like this, just let me know. Lesser known & organic products & meaningful brands especially welcome.
THE STORIES OF THE BRANDS GET WRITTEN, THEN IMPROVED
Of course, no two stories are alike. Surely, the story of The Tiger is unique and couldn’t be just replicated. But as in every story, also the connections between variables might be strengthened, unnecessary parts eliminated, mechanisms could be taught. The compelling retail stories are created not calculated! If it’s something within your brand that might need an improvement, I’d be glad to discuss and suggest or even guide you through the process. Let’s get in touch!
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