In a society in which we live like spoilt children, disenchanted and often unsatisfied, wanting “more and more and everything at once”, we expect our pleasure and enjoyment to be here and now. The major commercial challenge facing companies today is how to attract the attention of the consumer and build lasting and loyal relationships between customer and brand, in the context of the profusion of consumer objects on offer in an often-crowded marketplace.
The interest we feel in a particular brand and the emergence of an emotional relationship with it increases notably in a strongly experiential environment, especially when there is a close attachment to the place in which the experience occurs.
The consumer’s attachment to retail spaces is a universal phenomenon, reflecting a nexus of emotional and symbolic relationships between individuals and their physical environment, associated mainly with layout, décor and sensory perception. It is also characterized by how central the identity aspect is and by the social links with the other people present on the site. The relationship with the chosen community can often provide a flattering image and accentuate a feeling of belonging. Some people, for example, may seek support, a buttress, from a place corresponding to their ideal self-image, as a way of achieving a recognition or prestige which they do not otherwise feel they possess or which they want to maintain. An attachment may form even in the case of an environment whose values and meaning are commonly shared. In fact, the place becomes an extension of self, and the construction of a background through genuine, emotional and collective experience is required if an attachment is to be built. The non-commercial, emotional and symbolic aspects of the place enhance its perceived sincerity and accentuate a feeling of reliability so that it is possible for a commitment to the associated brand to be formed.
The challenge for companies wishing to attract and reinforce customer loyalty is therefore to create a strong emotional attachment to the retail space itself. The aim is to conceive the form and the substance of the retail experience, merging the two to establish a lasting relationship between the customer and the space, and therefore with the brand. It is also a question of creating this same relationship for the people who work there every day, fostering this same attachment through the creation of more comfortable working conditions and thus optimizing the mental well-being, the health and the productivity of the workforce.
Installing functional elements, giving the forms a purpose and investing the place with its own special character so that its emotional impact can be universally experienced.
Making the place genuine, honest and transparent in order to generate attachment. Creating a feeling of physical and emotional proximity.
Integrating a sense of well being and freedom, reinforcing the impression of feeling at home, experiencing a state of mental comfort.
Reviving past events, stimulating the personal and collective sensory memory. Preserving or including historical references in the DNA of the place, with the perceived familiarity reinforcing the feeling of attachment.