Re-Inventing Retail as a 4D Brand Experience

Written by Bart Higgins, Partner at ?What If! Innovation

The resources and thinking you relied on in the past cannot give you the holistic vision you need to navigate the complex and dramatically changing world of retail.

Is this the next great economic revolution?

Bricks and mortar retail is being disrupted at an untenable pace, forcing brands to rethink everything from offering to business model. This isn’t a trend or market correction that will work itself out, it’s a permanent shift in consumer behavior that transforms the meaning of “the store.”

  • Fleeting

    Consumers demand the newest, most relevant products, services and content—and their expectations of what this means shift everyday.

  • The End
    of the Ad

    The distribution model and media play is loosing steam. P&G, Unilever, Mondelez, and others all dramatically reduced their annual ad spend in 2016, responding to shifts in consumer acquisition.

  • 10x

    E-Commerce sales growth is happening 10x faster than in-store retail. Consumers have adopted this new reality and are relishing the experience and it’s profound benefits.

  • Power to
    the People

    Companies have lost the right to tell consumers’ stories. Consumers listen to each other, not brands, and they are desperately seeking things to talk about that elevate their standing and the presentation of their value to their community.

So what now?

Consumers’ behaviors and values are rapidly transforming, and this is revolutionizing the way they engage with brands—and what they demand in return. From the front lines of retail innovation we are tracking three major shifts in thinking that can help reimagine the way retailers build and retain meaningful relationships with their bricks and mortar customers.


Transaction to Transformation

Simple fact…acquiring a good is not the draw that it used to be. With the maturation of e-commerce, consumers have little reason to shop traditional retail. To get a consumer into a store, and back again, brands must offer something more emotional and personal than goods and discounts.

?What If! your brand saw itself as the vehicle for personal transformation? Being more vs. having more!


Beautiful Places to Meaningful Moments

In the midst of declining retail growth (and the rise of, why are restaurants doing better than ever? Because consumers desire experience and connection above all else. Beautiful design is no longer the most powerful decision driver in the marketplace.

?What If! you prioritized human interaction above the design and presentation of beautiful things?


Push to Pull

Brands no longer have the permission to tell consumers what to do or how to think—consumers demand a say in the matter. They want to be part of a brand experience that recognizes their creativity, responds to their interests and aspirations, and empowers them to co-create.

?What If! you move from sending messages to becoming a home for conversations between brand and consumers?

We are partnering with the world's leading companies to spark a brand experience revolution.

Today’s consumer seeks more than products, so bricks and mortar retail must offer more than shelf space. We help create meaningful 4D brand experiences, we can help you:

Triangulating Future Forces
Working to understand what the future holds and how your company can adjust to preserve and grow market share.
Forging Big Strategic Redirects
Rethinking your business model and identifying where your strongest growth opportunities are.
Creating 4D Retail Experiences
Designing and developing new spatial, programmatic, digital and human experiences that engage consumers.
Unearthing Game-changing Consumer Insight
Understanding the emerging consumer mindset and defining opportunities for engagement.
Bart Higgins
This POV was written by Bart Higgins

Bart is a partner at ?What If!, leading our 4D Experience practice. His passion is creating, enabling and activating brand experiences. Bart’s work helps build meaningful and lasting relationships between brands and the communities of customers they support.

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?What If!

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