Home The New Case for Good Old-Fashioned Retail Storytelling
April 1, 2024

The New Case for Good Old-Fashioned Retail Storytelling

Discovery of new products and new opportunity was a central theme going into the recent Inspired Home Show. And by all accounts, the show proved to be fertile ground for new ideas that can seed renewed sales growth for the housewares business.

A main measure of the show’s success was its ability to satisfy a wide slate of key domestic, international and independent retailers ready to replenish once-again manageable inventories with the next generation of products. In bringing together B2B sellers and buyers seeking a collective growth reboot, the show also served as a timely stage for retailers to demonstrate how they are developing differentiated, consumer-centric methods in-store and online for giving new products the best chance to succeed at optimum value.

Intensive year-round promotion of discounted pricing is likely to remain a prominent tactic by retailers and an incentive for shoppers, even if consumers begin to express more confidence in the greater economy and their personal finances. That raises the question of whether more retailers, in their renewed zeal for new product and new approaches, will loosen their grip of reliance on discount pricing in the pursuit of creating a unique shopping “experience.”

Experience, in today’s parlance, refers to all things along the consumer path to purchase: need, benefits, trend, style, price, selection, convenience, payment terms, technology, presentation, etc. It is no doubt a complex formula for consumer satisfaction in a hyper-competitive market offering so many options from which product can be purchased. And it has contributed, to some degree, to the continuation of transactional retailing approaches that lean more toward the practical needs of purchasing than the emotional fulfillment of shopping.

However, mounting data indicates even digitally proficient and digitally native generations, now so vital on the home and housewares consumption spectrum, are seeking the gratification of a retailing experience less about picking something from an endless aisle and more about engaging more closely with choices and services crafted to unique preferences and personalities.

What today is called assortment curation by retailers was called assortment editing thirty years ago. What today is called retail experience was called retail theater thirty years ago. These are simply fashionably new terms for time-tested, fundamental retail principles and practices required to win market share by delighting shoppers.

Beyond discussions on the exhibit floor of The Inspired Home Show in Chicago, attendees got vivid reminders during the event that the cultivation of an effective retail experience is still seeded by good, old-fashioned merchandising.

The five global and 32 national winners of the 2024 gia (Global Innovation Awards) awards exemplify how retailers across the globe, many of them independent retailers, connect with their customers through carefully selected assortments presented in visually inspiring and purposefully directive environments.

“It is not a beauty contest,” retailing consultant Henrik Peter Reisby Nielsen said during a presentation with other gia judges on retail merchandising in the show’s Inspiration Theater. “It’s about rethinking, reinventing, exploring and playing around with new things… It’s (about) how you’re being innovative, how you’re daring to dream big, and reinventing your business.”

Noted retail branding strategist and developer Adrienne Weiss, in another Inspiration Theater presentation, said successful branding is effective storytelling. “The brand is like a country that has its own rituals and customs and visuals,” Weiss said. “There’s an emotional and intellectual idea at the heart of every brand. That means there’s a feeling piece and a thinking piece.”

At a time when home and housewares retailers are primed to discover new products and new opportunity, that’s an idea that never grows old.

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