A revolution is happening in the retail fashion market. While evaluating the effectiveness of old store concepts, companies are focusing on new projects and strategies that might serve as the main vehicles for accelerating their future growth globally.
Everyone is aware that multibrand stores are suffering. The famous 20-year-old multibrand concept store Colette in Paris has announced it will close by end of 2017. In Italy, the land where independent boutiques ruled the market longer than anywhere else, retailers are trying to weather sky-high rents, reduced daily income, mushrooming outlets and off-price products offered by multibrand e-commerce platforms. On the other hand, multibrand stores have started launching their own e-commerce platforms and operating through omnichannel activities while rethinking their own store philosophy by experimenting with new concepts.
But monobrand stores are not living in easy times either. According to an analysis of the luxury market by Exane BNP Paribas (source: RE Analytics/Luxury Goods: The Retail Monitor: 1Q 2017, May 2017), the number of luxury brand stores opened in 2008 (when no global crisis was expected) registered a yearly growth of 9%, though in 2016 such growth rate fell to 2% and, according to more recent analysis (source: RE Analytics, September 2017) in the first quarter of 2017 it decreased to just 0.2% and slightly recovered reaching a 0.6% growth in the second quarter of the year.
Multibrands as inspiration
In addition, companies feel the need to find new paths by creating alternative store concepts and, of course, by focusing on versatile and multitarget omnichannel strategies. Many insiders and consumers actually continue to believe that multibrand stores are “the place” where customers love to discover brands, learn, share opinions and find advice while deciding–and often buying–what looks best on them.
“I strongly believe in the importance of multibrand stores,” says Michele Bernardi, managing director, Falis 2014, the Italian company behind the recent relaunch of the renowned sportswear brand Best Company. “I believe in the importance of multibrand stores as they continue to work as full steam research engines.” On the same wavelength is Ermes Blasi, sales manager at the contemporary fashion brand Haikure, who says, “In the last seasons I have seen many retailers willing to change their boutique’s offer, risking to include a more varied selection of products and no longer only focused on selling always the same brands. Retailers have understood they have to change their skin and risk more.”
Skilled retailers' ability lies in offering a cool and flexible mix of products that can influence and attract a wide audience of different client types. For all of these reasons the multibrand boutique is definitely becoming an inspiring source–despite difficulties and much talk–for companies that are opening new monobrand store concepts that can be more attractive for a wider clientele by offering a company's entire brand offer.
Adidas in Boston
For example, Adidas recently opened Adidas x Concepts, a new sneaker concept store in Boston, as a collaboration with Concepts, a US long-existing and influential street and skate culture store.
The new store measures about 110 sq. meters and hosts some of most sought after styles and footwear from collaborations with Raf Simons, Rick Owens, Stella McCartney and Kolor among others. Its space is divided into different areas presenting separate merchandised assortments and collections from Adidas’ footwear and apparel selection. The store’s backroom is meant to host rotating in-store experiences, including art installations, DJ performances and events aimed at celebrating sport and culture.
“This partnership symbolizes another level of our commitment to offering a diverse and multifaceted portfolio of unique, retail experiences for our fans,” says Pascha Naderi-Nejad, senior director of Originals at Adidas. “This partnership with Concepts unites us in the development of a new retail identity authentically focused on the consumer experience.”
Asics in London
Also Asics has inaugurated a new 840-sq-meter flagship, its largest one, in London, on Regent Street. It hosts all four of the company’s brands–Asics, Asics Tiger, Onitsuka Tiger and Hagflös–and offers many activities that communicate some of these brands’ key values. Among them there are Asics Motion ID, a smart analysis feature that helps select the best running shoe for each consumer type. Completing this store are robotized shoe delivery systems and kinetic lighting installations beating to the sound of a runner’s heartbeat plus a DJ console and product customization areas.
“Through our flagship stores we want to provide an experience to shoppers on the high street,” explains Michael Verburg, direct-to-consumer marketing manager, Asics. “We want to connect with people and give them a space where they can share our expertise, innovation and support. Each brand under our banner is founded in the belief that an active lifestyle is a healthy lifestyle and Asics can support this through each of its brands. And this store clearly expresses our philosophy,” he continues while pointing out that the company wants to open similar stores in Tokyo and New York by the end of 2017, but also wants to increase the stores only selling Asics and Asics in EMEA from the 26 extant ones to 140 by 2020, showing a counter trend when considering the overall static market situation.
Jack & Jones/Vero Moda in Germany
Likewise Jack & Jones and Vero Moda, both owned by Denmark’s Bestseller Group, have just inaugurated their largest shop, a 1,000 sq.-meter-store in Ludwigsburg, Germany. The purpose of this emporium is to offer a mix of elements including omnichannel communication, varied product offer and appealing interior design. “We want to engage our customers by better connecting online and offline interaction,” says Ricardo Kovar, regional retail manager, Jack & Jones. “This store is a pilot project and it is unique in terms of its size and layout, as it is possible for us to display the whole range of denim and to inspire our customers," he continues.
Christian Lüneberg, head of retail and e-commerce, Vero Moda, adds: “The customer is brought closer to online and offline networking in various ways. Customers, for instance, can order products online from the brick-and-mortar store. The aim is to give customers the option to pick up their online purchases in the shop at any time or to complete their offline purchase from the shop. Through new technologies and ‘click and collect’ technology customers will be introduced to these new purchasing patterns. We at Jack & Jones and Vero Moda have clearly defined that omnichannel is starting with the product. That's why we clearly focus on a comprehensive omnichannel communication–online, offline and through social networks."
Customer preferences by age and location
Offering new possibilities to customers to perceive a varied selection of brands, engaging themselves with each brand’s universe and living omnichannel shopping experiences is not only meant to reach younger consumers and a wider range of targets, but also to help brands better expand globally. According to a study carried out by Altagamma and The Boston Consulting Group in 2016, shopping preferences in mature markets are different from those in emerging ones. If European, Japanese and US senior consumers generally like to shop in small and specialized shops located in the most exclusive areas, the younger generations (Gen Y and Gen Z) prefer to buy in large and multiple categories, while living immersive digital experiences. In emerging markets such as Korea, Russia, China and Brazil, all consumer types (including Silver and Baby Boomers and Gens X, Y and Z) want to buy in large stores based in up-and-coming and trendy locations offering many product categories. They prefer immersive digital experiences and to purchase almost without the help of sales assistants.
New stores like those opened by Adidas, Asics and Bestseller clearly show what many shops of the future may look like.