Retail in Asia

In Trends

Opinion: How brands can go beyond packaging to create profound customer experiences

The word ‘experience’ is often used but seldom understood.

Used correctly, experience can be a differentiator, a sales driver, an unfair advantage, or a memorable moment of delight. 

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Post-pandemic it has become increasingly apparent that consumers crave live connections with other people and the spaces around us. More than ever, we hunger to travel, trawl malls, dine out, and meet friends and family. The value of experiences has never been higher.

Packaging, restricted by its size and embedded on shelves directly next to competition can only communicate so much, the same for advertising.

If brands carefully craft their experience signatures, they can make a deeper impact. Through experiences brands can influence what the consumer sees, thinks, and feels, creating a response that can quickly establish a new narrative, or provide visitors with a renewed perception of the brand.

Veuve Clicquot, for instance, has tapped in to this desire for live connections with great success through ‘Solaire Culture’ their global exhibition.  The visually rich experience immerses visitors in 250 years of the Maison’s history, through the work of nine female artists. The second area of inspiration is female entrepreneurship, a tribute to Madam Clicquot, a widow who turned her family-owned vineyard into a world-famous Champagne brand during a period of considerable political and social upheaval in France. The exhibition has travelled the world, starting in Tokyo, and reaching London via a stop in Los Angeles. 

Source: Moët Hennessy Diageo

The experience manifests itself throughout the space, through the visual identity and communications system, across bespoke packaging, customer service, and digital touch points. A seamless combination of touch points, working together across a customer journey creates a potent impression. 

It even extends beyond the walls of the exhibition: in London, for example, a series of dining and retail events are simultaneously taking place in the surrounding area through brand collaborations. 

L’Occitane, the beauty brand has also joined the act, with the launch of the ‘L’Occitane Hotel’ in Singapore running from June 28 through July 9. Like ‘Solaire Culture’, the experience is a pop-up exhibition, providing greater flexibility and opportunity to go on tour and attract more eyeballs. 

Interactive projections and digital displays provide a window into a world of rich imagery that transports visitors to the countryside of France.

Source: L’Occitane

With a visit taking up to 40 minutes, the experience is more sensorial indoctrination than retail therapy, with value created through brand statements rather than sales at a cash register. 

In addition to digital touchpoints, more intimate interactions occur through hair care mixologists who provide personal consultations. Unsurprisingly, sustainability plays a role with visitors encouraged to return empty packaging in exchange for vouchers.

These two examples show that crafting brand experiences across physical, human, and digital touch points provides opportunity to inspire a visceral reaction from customers, something that is both memorable and shareable (across obligatory social media channels). 

Temporary experiences of this kind provide brands with chance to flex their brand muscles and celebrate provenance and history by transporting visitors to and immersing them in the brands world. 

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For brands that can attract, immerse, and captivate customers, convincing them to share time with them, there is opportunity to position themselves whilst depositioning competitors. 

For the likes of Veuve Clicquot and L’Occitane, experience provides the ideal way to tell their back story and remain current, whilst for other brands who lack the same legacy-levels, brand experience provides the perfect opportunity to author their story, bring themselves to life and establish compelling connections that activate and excite customers.

About the author

Dominic Twyford is the strategy director and co-founder of StudioX, a design and digital agency that specialises in creating brand experiences for clients in Asia.