Buzz words are everywhere and they add nothing to what you’re looking at.
Community, Experience, Journey and Evolution. Take any one of these words and you’ll have the making of a description of how a new store interior was fashioned. Actually, the evolution word is normally the preserve of the retailer when there’s no real certainty that the money that’s been spent on improving a shop is particularly tangible.
It’s a word that does the emperor’s new clothes job - intended to leave those who might be listening or reading in no doubt that the lack is in them rather than the retailer for not understanding what’s been done.
Journey is used by both retailers and designers who have a long-standing relationship to indicate that while change may not be immediately apparent, it’s because that change has been ‘incremental’ rather than just being change. And perhaps this is a better way of doing things, because it can be used in place of evolution to add variety when talking of a new store.
The result of course of all of this effort is an experience. This has to be the most overused word in the store design lexicon and it doesn’t seem to matter who you speak to, it will be used in some form or another. Hosting a session at a conference organised by Retail Week’s sister magazine Drapers last week, somebody ventured the opinion that experience is meaningless because it is used in so many instances in place of actual meaning. And what is to separate a good experience from its opposite? This is where the term experiential retailing falls down. Every time you wander into a shop it’s an experience, it’s just that it may not be the one that retailer or designer intended you to have.
Which brings us to community, because none of this effort would be worthwhile if it weren’t for the benefit of the community that frequents a store. Look around you the next time you’re in a high street store and ask yourself the simple question ‘does this look like a community of which I am part’? It’s a fair bet that the answer will be no (unless perhaps you happen to be in an Apple store and are worshipping with the other well-heeled disciples).
Flim-flam all of it. From time to time, it’s worth looking at the buzzwords used by a community and asking whether they promote any sense of experience among the community at which they are aimed. Probably not, although it’s a process of evolution and to make this happen has been something of a journey don’t you know.