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January 16th, 2022

Lucy Mister

“A holistic approach to bricks & mortar retail”

WHAT IS A CONTEMPLATIVE STORE?

A contemplative store is a store whose interior is empathetic to customers and anticipates shoppers’ needs. It understands that the past couple of years have been hard for people in more than one way. Mentally. Physically. Socially. Spiritually.

This empathetic retail experience might use calming colours, be without noise, and include furniture that encourages customers to use their store visit as an opportunity to rest and recuperate as they browse.

A contemplative store might also have wider than average aisles or operate an entirely touchless shopping journey to ensure that its customers who are still very anxious about the spread of Covid-19 are at total ease whilst in the store.

Contemplative Stores have brought a much-needed sense of composure and tranquillity to our highstreets, offering consumers a sanctuary and place of healing as we re-adjust to a world inclusive of bricks-and-mortar retail, once more – and take pleasure in the value that it adds.

EXAMPLE ONE – NORDSTROM, CALIFORNIA

Nordstrom has created an environment in one of its Californian stores that goes above and beyond to anticipate its customers’ needs. Realising that shopping is, for many, a social and collaborative activity, Nordstrom has designed its store to contain bigger than average fitting rooms so that shoppers can try on clothes with their friends and gain each other’s opinions. It also features what they call ‘The Apartment’, which is essentially an area filled with sofas and TV’s so that shoppers can seek comfort and entertainment while they wait for the rest of their group to complete their shopping mission.

EXAMPLE TWO – LUSH, LONDON

One of the first stores that come to mind when thinking about a Contemplative Store is Lush’s ever-evolving London flagship on Europe’s busiest shopping street. This wellness haven has introduced several new wellness experiences and activations over the past couple of years to its already fabulous Oxford Street concept store. The cosmetics’ brand invites visitors of its store to “Stop by and get lost in the Lush experience” consisting of over 100 new exclusives, a gorgeous floristry space, a lavish Perfume Library, a transformative Spa, and PlantWorks Coffee – a vegan café overlooking highstreet. Packed with meaningful ‘contemplative’ experiences, Lush has created an alluring Third Place that provides a break from the non-stop hum.

EXAMPLE THREE – TEMPL, JAKARTA

Existing in Indonesia’s multi-cultural capital, Jakarta, TEMPL is a Contemplative Store that takes inspiration from ancient temples. The store, which sells a range of apparel, accessories and lifestyle goods, offers a spiritual retail experience, not least via the addition of a room which visitors of the store are encouraged to use for prayer and/ or reflection. The store’s minimalist design, colour palette and use of materials are intuitive and work towards the retailer’s ambition and objectives of creating a store concept that urges consumers to reset and rejuvenate.

WHY ARE CONTEMPLATIVE STORES GAINING POPULARITY?

There is no doubt that Covid-19 gave rise to the Contemplative Store. It is a store format that provides consumers with the reassurance to return to brick-and-mortar retail and its empathetic approach allows for a deeper relationship to form between a brand and its customers. The Contemplative Store also speaks to an ever-growing subset of consumers that purposefully participate in activities that are thought to improve health and wellbeing.

TRANSIENT OR A NEW NORMAL FOR RETAIL?

There is no doubt that Covid-19 gave rise to the Contemplative Store. It is a store format that provides consumers with the reassurance to return to brick-and-mortar retail and its empathetic approach allows for a deeper relationship to form between a brand and its customers. The Contemplative Store also speaks to an ever-growing subset of consumers that purposefully participate in activities that are thought to improve health and wellbeing. Despite Covid-19 having stuck around for a while, it won’t be such a prominent feature in our lives forever. In fact, in several societies, it has already started to take a back seat as its impact continues to lessen.

Accordingly, upon only taking into consideration the factor that gave power to their rise, it could be argued that Contemplative Stores are transient. But, of course, nothing is ever quite as clear-cut.

Health-consciousness is becoming much less of a trend than it is a way of life. Appropriately, we are seeing a rise in health-conscious consumers who would welcome this type of meditative retail experience as standard. Besides, why should consumers have to revert back to a shopping experience that offers reduced levels of care and comfort? Taking this, and the fact that Contemplative Store formats also play into our increasing inclination to value experiences over material items and seek more meaningful relationships with brands, we predict that Contemplative Stores will exist as part of a new normal for retail.

 

In our latest insight report, we explore a total of 10 new & increasingly popular store formats and discuss whether we believe these retail formats to be transient or a new normal for retail. 

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