Retail Experience

4 levers to create a memorable emotional experience

The science behind experience illustrated by retail examples

Intuition and creativity are key to creating memorable experiences. But as a business grows, and customer journeys and needs become more and more complex, it takes more than just intuition and creativity to create memorable and emotional experiences; it takes science.

Par chance, il existe une science derrière l’expérience.

Daniel Kahnemen, a behavioral science researcher, found through his research that certain key moments of an experience have a greater influence on memory and choice. Specifically, emotional peaks and the end of an experience matter more. Kahnemen calls this trend the “Peak & End” rule.

The “Peak and End Rule” can be explained by two mechanisms at play in the human brain:

  • A tendency to overvalue more emotionally intense moments (whether they be positive or negative). In other words, a peak is memorable.
  • A tendency to remember the most recent events when thinking of a past experience. In other words, the end is memorable.

And these peaks don’t happen by chance.

Dan and Chip Heath, authors of The Power of Moments, identify 4 common characteristics of memorable experiences:

Moments of Pride

are moments where one’s qualities and accomplishments are recognized. However, these moments of recognition and pride are not easy to create: 80% of managers say they frequently express their recognition or appreciation to their employees, while only 20% of employees share this feeling. The same imbalance occurs between brands and customers.

Creating moments of pride in retail demands more than just remembering customers’ names. We can look instead to the “best-in-class” example of Glossier’s London boutique where their “You Look Good” mirror helps customers boost their self-confidence at the same time it helps customers to take trendy selfies for Instagram.

Moments of Elevation

mark a deviation from routine by subverting expectations in favor of a strategic surprise. The challenge here for brands is how to continue replicating surprising moments. To surmount this challenge, the Prêt à Manger chain allows its employees to give away a certain number of free drinks per day, at the discretion of the employee. This helps maintain the surprise effect over time – unlike the routine of loyalty cards or subscriptions.

Pop-ups are also a great opportunity to create moments of elevation and to generate surprise. From luxury houses to DNVBs, pop-up stores are everywhere right now. A few recent pop-ups that have made a buzz: the Gucci & Adidas pop-up in Los Angeles, Ysé’s summer vacation home, and Ule’s botanical pop-up in the Marais.

Moments of Alignment

ecessitate creating links to encourage conviviality, unity, and empathy. These links hold together moments that are shared, such as a staff meeting, a concert, or a competition. They also build on shared values or a common mission or goal. The objective of moments of alignment is to create a profound sense of connection.

An example of a moment of alignment in retail? Look to the brand new Balzac Paris boutique on rue d’Hauteville in Paris. In the changing rooms, you can hear the voice of Chrysoline de Gastines, the founder of Balzac Paris, speaking to you about her values in an intimate and connected setting.

Moments of Insight

help individuals to learn something about themselves or to see the world from a different point of view. This can occur simply by sitting in a café and realizing the subtle but important differences in coffee coming from different regions, like South America or Africa, adding a dimension of insight into an otherwise ordinary and routine trip to your local café. The goal is to share insights in a way that allows customers to discover it by themselves.

In retail, creating a moment of insight means more than just writing a blurb about the fabrication process of a brand’s items or about the history of the designer. It means creating an emotional moment around insights that will help customers to see the brand in a different light. For example, the Boucheron boutique at Place Vendôme gives their insights pride of place, using their windows as theatrical glimpses into the savoir-faire and the history behind iconic pieces and the prestigious history of the Maison.

Moments of Pride, Elevation, Alignment, and Insight don’t appear by magic or by chance- they must be created.

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