In today’s competitive business environment, brand value is becoming an integral part of every sector. The retail industries across the world continue to overwhelm with their continued growth, even in times of turbulence in comparison with other sectors.
International brands have entered the Indian market with a revenue growth of more than USD 700 million. A majority of this is because of the evolution of the service sector and the packaging of brands for the consumer. The packaging of the brand should reflect the brand value perceived by the consumer. The look of the brand, the way it is placed in the store, convenience to the consumer and the overall brand experience together make an impact on the consumer’s purchase decision. This can help consumers evaluate the value of the brand; which can lead to business success.
Over the years, the traditional approach of purchasing from the local kirana stores has undergone a tremendous transformation. These stores have also started turning themselves into multi-utility destinations, offering a wider variety of brands. When two retailers are offering the same product to the consumer, it is vital that they delight the consumer during their shopping experience.
For example, amongst the plenty of retailers who sell pure leather bags and leather accessories, Hidesign has been immensely successful in delivering that delightful experience. Other retail brands may offer similar product ranges but without the additional benefits, which consumers seek to have every time during the purchase. Consumers like convenience and comfort offered by the retailer leading to a pleasant experience. Other examples can be brands such as Tata Croma, Landmark, and FAB India; each of these brands has been able to build a top-of-the-mind recall within its segment through great consumer experience.
The spending nature amongst consumers has increased with changing lifestyles and increased wages, which in turn has made the Indian consumer more brand conscious. Today, they are willing to pay a premium for the experience and other intangible benefits attached to an outstanding product.
The prospective entry of foreign retailers will only lead to more competition and better consumer experience. Even in that scenario, the diverse nature of India as a country necessitates the ability to innovate consistently to stay connected with the consumers. This retail experience is primarily composed of two dimensions – service and product. Both these need to be packaged independently for the consumer. Due to adoption of international trends, most of the retailers have developed exceptionally robust systems to design and manage inventory and supply chains in today’s era.
A decade ago, going to the mall was considered as a genuine outing experience internationally. This trend of spending an entire day in a mall was established by multiple brands combining to offer varied experiences under a single roof. Not only could the consumers shop, they could eat, have coffee, browse the internet or read books in a single retail store. This experience has created an aura that shoppers like to indulge in repeatedly. This ideology has hit the Indian consumer, and today, the mall culture in India is rapidly catching on.
International retail industry emphasises on the creative and innovative quotient while packaging the store, product, and the entire consumer experience. The clothing chain called All Saints, which offers men and women wear, has uniquely designed the interior of its retail store by displaying sewing machines all over the walls. This antique look of the store has been a point of attraction for its brand loyalists. Consumers look forward to these brand experiences apart from the core deliverable from any retail brand.
Many other retail brands change their store outlook with any change in their collections, depending on the season. International retail trends have been immensely successful due to their focus on building a great brand experience, and many Indian brands have brought these experiences to India to give an international brand experience to their consumers.
Although globalisation has enabled Indian brands to take lessons in retail brand and packaging design, it is important that brands adopt these trends in the Indian market as well. Varied tastes, cultures, and a distinctly different perspective of a great retail experience will need to be considered when adapting international trends in India.
The Indian consumer gives prime importance to the value-for-money ideology, where they tend to compare the given services and benefits with the monetary value attached. The information rich consumer prefers to shop in an environment indicative of the brands offer. The consumer trusts the brand and the environment offered and prefers to reach a purchase decision within it. Indian retailers cannot duplicate the international trend in their local business mindlessly; they need to understand the local flavour and consumer while adapting these international trends.
While designing the retail brand experience, retailers essentially aim to package the entire experience from the shopping to the product engagement. We need to understand the likes, dislikes, fears and ambitions of the Indian consumer before implementing a design strategy.
For example, Cox & Kings had a coffee lounge designed within the retail outlet. The brand understood the fears of a traveller – from visa cost to other travel details and the coffee shop offered such customers an opportunity to relax. This approach helped Cox & Kings develop trust with the customer, and ultimately led to customer conversion. Another example is the futuristic store concept by Bombay Dyeing. Here, the futuristic image of the brand was aligned to the contemporary look of the store. The showroom space was designed to be bright and minimal and the use of brand colours helped to offer a sense of cohesiveness.
The retail stores design should, therefore, be such that the retailer can establish a direct connection with the consumer. This will lead to an immediate brand trust, and lead to a great brand experience for the consumer that they will strive to come back to again and again. Indian retailers can build successful retail brand and packaging design ideas by understanding their consumer and focussing on their end-experience to create a lasting impression.
The author is Founder, Lokusdesign