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NEW RETAIL EXPERIENCES: BRINGING BACK DELIGHT TO PURCHASE

The years since 2000 have marked a shift in consumption patterns mainly thanks to the advent of the e-consumer. Today more than ever, a growing number of people opt for online shopping: more immediate, more convenient, often cheaper, and with a larger choice... This change "forces" brands to come up with twice as much imagination to find ways to bring thrills and excitement back to their points of sale.

Re-humanization, hybridization, ultra-specialization: here's an overview of some emerging concepts, that are now turning some shops into unique places of experience.

RE-HUMANIZATION
 

In the context of an increasingly standardized offer in a virtualized society, the act of buying is losing its emotional, unique and peculiar side for the consumer.

As an answer to this emotional loss, new concepts emerge. They re-humanize the relation with the object, and re-instate a real dialogue between the product and the shop, in a word: re-dramatizing the act of consuming and giving some meaning to it.

1&2. "Pass the Baton", Tokyo's Marunouchi neighborhood. Photo © http://www.pass-the-baton.com /& www.jeansnow.net 3&4. Project "Remember me", by Oxfam and TOTeM, photo via www.designdodo.wordpress.com

- In Tokyo, entrepreneur Masamichi Toyama created a point of sale where all products are personal, each carrying their emotional value and meaning. The idea behind "pass the baton" ? (photo 1&2) To sell a careful selection of new, as well as vintage and recycled items, with their previous owner's legacy of affect and story. "Passing the baton" from one symbolic weight to another, from one owner to another.

- In spring 2011, a partnership between Manchester's charity shop Oxfam and collaborative project TOTeM (Tales of Things and Electronic Memory, photo 3&4) invited every donor to record the story of their objects, so that new buyers could discover the “history” behind their future buy. Every item had an interactive label, redirecting to its associated audio via a smartphone scan. This concept encourages to consider objects not only for their money value, but also for their sentimental value, re-considering where they come from.

HYBRIDIZATION


Just like the slashers, as reported in a previous article (a new generation of workers, holding 2/3/4 different activities), new shop concepts are emerging throughout the world, where very different universes and activities, sometimes radically opposed, interfere. These unique, eclectic, offset and hybrid spaces are just like their owners. They lead to new, unheard of consumer rituals and aesthetics. 

1&2. Barber and books, SOFO district in Stockholm, photos ©www.dejeunesgensmodernes.com 2&3. Horror picture Tea, Paris, photo via spraymagazine.com 4&5  Tongues, Vienna, photo © www.tongues.at

- In Stockholm, Håkan and Catarina Ström, a 2 years old couple, have decided to combine their expertise in one space. One is a writer, and the other a barber. They divided the well-named Barber&Books (photo 1&2) into two united, yet separate areas. On one side, a true, traditional barber shop, with its knife shaving, hot wraps, neck massages and haircuts. On the other side, a very sharp selection of photography and lifestyle books.

- Guillaume Sanchez is behind the "Horror picture tea, rock pastry shop", inaugurated in Paris at the end of 2010. Awarded "France Best Apprentice 2006", he has worked at Pierre Hermé, Fauchon and Dalloyau. A big tattoos and rock fan, as much as he loves pastries, he naturally combined his passions in one unique space, divided in a tearoom and a tattoo salon.

On the menu: offset pastries, Heavy Eclair (black chocolate éclair with almond croquant), as well as Maca'Ramone (mango-cumin this week) designed just like its logo, with an aristocratic coat of arms, in Ladurée style, displaying a skull-head.

- Finally, “Tongues”, located in Vienna's Theobaldgasse, is a surprising hybrid, combining traditional delicatessen on one side, and a vinyl records shop on the other, with a large choice of electro sounds for DJs.

ULTRA SPECIALIZATION
 

One trend rarely arrives without its exact opposite. Thus, reverse to these overlapping universes, ultra-specialized shops are on the rise. They are born out of a necessity to offer a selection, a true expertise in one specific, targeted domain, in our all too complex, over-saturated modern world of information. Many shops therefore revive the myth of Aladdin's cave… with one single product only.

1&2. Playtype shop, Copenhagen, photo via www.createcph.blogspot.com 3&4. Salsamentum, Amsterdam, photo via www.connyjanssendanst.nl 5&6. She’s cake, Paris, by Sephora Saada, photo © www.shescake.fr

- As Simon Garfield, author of Just my Type, explains: "type reflect, just like the clothes you wear, our individuality". The Playtype shop (photo 1&2), located in Copenhagen's Vesterbro, is specialized in selling type on posters, T-shirts, tables, lights, mugs… But also exclusive digital type, that you can only buy in person.

- The "Salsamentum" shop in Amsterdam specialized in salt: Australian pink salt, Hawaiian Sea Salt, Flower of Salt from Sainte-Hélène and Majorca, Molokai salt… Hundreds of different types are selected from all over the world.

- Finally, in her Paris pastry shop "She’s cake" (photos 5&6), Sephora Saada revisits the classic cheesecake, in a french style. She either combines original flavors such as "Oreo and Strawberry Tagada", Violet flower or "Carambar and candied chestnuts", or experiments with salted pastries such as tomatoes and mozzarella or goat cheese and fresh figs...

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