As consumers increasingly spend on experiences, often at the expense of physical products, brands, retailers and real estate professionals must shift their priorities to stake out new relevance in this economy, whether they supplement an experience, add convenience to an experience, or become an experience in and of themselves. Some younger brands are building themselves from scratch for the experience economy, but if they reconstitute their resources, pre-existing companies can also tap into the experiential side of business and its burgeoning customer base. This Playbook accompanies Points of Departure: How brands, retailers and real estate developers are meeting customers on the go.

1) Embed your products and brand in the experience economy

Selling products in the experience economy is dependent on how brands, retailers and real estate professionals capitalize on the intersection of time and space. Think about how your business and products can be part of an experience or stand alone as an experience itself.

  • Where do you see your brand within the experience economy? How naturally do you fit into it? What purpose does it or could it have within this world?
    • As a real estate professional, where do you see your property coinciding with the experience economy? How naturally does it embed within an experience?
  • What types of experiences could your products supplement? Is your product a service, or could it accompany a service? How easily can your service or experience scale?
    • As a real estate professional, how can you work with your property to accommodate new services and experiences?
    • How can you work with brands and retailers to execute these experiences and services within your property?
  • How does entering the experience economy contribute to your brand’s preexisting identity and/or ecosystem?
  • What is your rationale and what are your goals behind improving your brand’s presence in the experience economy?
    • Is it to build out an ecosystem? To broaden your customer base? To grow sales? To give back to your community? To give customers instant gratification? To experiment with new ways to sell your products or to experiment with new products?

As a brand or retailer, your on-the-go shopping experience should be part of a broader, long-term strategy. Identify ways that your brand can utilize the experience economy to usher in stable and scalable growth.

  • How can your curate your retail experience in a way that best represents your brand identity, mission and goals? How can you ensure that your on-the-go retail doesn’t distill or wipe out your brand identity, but builds on it and strengthens it?
  • How can you scale this retail in a way that is financially feasible in the long term?
    • As a real estate professional, how could you help support these efforts by either finding properties with long-term value or extending the value of existing ones?
  • How can you build this on-the-go retail through the lens of customer acquisition and retention?
    • As a real estate professional, what blueprint is most likely to boost foot traffic? Where can you best position brands and retailers that are more adaptable to the experience economy to boost your property as a whole?
    • How can you incentivize brands and retailers to tap into the experience economy on your property, in order to acquire and retain customers?
  • How can you craft your on-the-go shopping experience as a conduit that leads shoppers to your flagship stores? For example, how can you ensure that a customer that shops at your vending machine location will visit your brick-and-mortar store in the future?
    • As a real estate professional, could both of these store types co-exist in the same property? How could one lead customers to the other?

2) Develop retail as a standalone experience

Some of the most successful brands and retailers in the experience economy have become experiences in their own right. Looking at what your customers already do when they aren’t shopping will help evolve your retail experience to become more than just a transaction.

  • How can you think of your retail space as a destination rather than a means to an end?
    • What makes your property different?
    • How can shopping in it be an experience in and of itself?
    • How adaptable is your space to creating new retail experiences? How can you work with real estate professionals to execute these new experiences?
    • Can you renovate your retail space in a way that allows you to introduce new experiences over time?
    • Why should customers visit the store and keep coming back?
  • What data do you have on your customers to develop a product assortment that is most likely to sell in your type of retail space and geographic location?
    • As a real estate professional, how can you work with brands and retailers on your property to provide these geographic-specific and location-specific insights on visitors to the property?
  • What square footage, floor plan and store type—from vending machines to pop-ups, concession stands to traditional storefronts—will encourage the most shopping and maximize cost efficiency for your business?
    • As a real estate professional, how can you work with brands and retailers to develop the most effective floor plans for their stores?
  • Aside from your brick-and-mortar and/or online presence, what spaces does your customer base naturally inhabit?
    • How would you describe the potential shoppers that exist in your space and how can you manipulate them to buy more products? Are they frequent flyers? Concert goers? Hikers?
    • How could you sell your products in these spaces—airports, concert venues, parks?
      • As a real estate professional, how can you work with brands and retailers to set them up in locations that are best correspond to what they sell and how they sell it?
      • If you own a mall property, what lessons can you learn from airport retail, and vice versa? Could you incorporate vending machines onto your property? If so, which brands are likely to bring in the most vending machine sales?
  • What companies could you sponsor or collaborate with to build the experiential potential of your brand?
    • As a real estate professional, what tenants in your property might complement one another to create a new type of retail experience? What outside brands and retailers might you recommend to your tenants for a partnership?
  • How can you ensure that your retail experience is replicable, or pliable so that the experience remains fresh and customers continue to return to the store?

3) Make your brand a liveable experience

Many of the brands and retailers embedding their products in the travel industry are creating a culture that accompanies or surrounds what they sell. Brands like Away and XOJET have magazines and blogs, while West Elm and Equinox are imbuing their brands’ missions and values into the hospitality space. Building and encouraging a community and culture around your brand will serve your business in the long term, and keep customers coming back for more.

  • If your product is a travel commodity, how can you extend its life cycle and increase its value so it remains relevant beyond the travel experience?
  • How can you use social media or traditional media to tell stories about experiences that involve your products or the culture around your products? How can you sell by not selling?
    • As a real estate professional, how can you work with brands and retailers to shape your property around telling these stories and promoting the brand’s culture?
  • How can you create products and services that allow customers to “live” your brand?
    • What services do your customers want, but don’t already have?
    • What types of experiences can you deliver that typify your brand’s mission?
    • With what you know about your core customer base, how could you provide services that strengthen loyalty and bring in new customers?
      • As a real estate professional, how can you work with brands and retailers, providing them insights on people who frequent your property—their interests, preferences and lifestyles—to raise foot traffic?
  • How could your brand enter a new industry or field (i.e. transition from retail to hospitality) in a way that allows you to build on your previous brand’s foundation, instead of starting from scratch?
    • What partnerships are necessary to realize your vision?
    • What resources do you already have at your disposal?
    • What real estate professionals can you collaborate with to realize your vision?
        • As a real estate professional, what brands or retailers do you work with in the consumer goods sector that might translate well to another industry? How can you collaborate with them to grow their presence in a sector outside of retail?
  • How can you optimize customer conversion from product retailing to experience retailing, and vice versa? How much does this matter to the wellbeing of your business?
    • As a real estate professional, how important is it to you that your tenants provide customers an experience?
  • Who is your customer in these retail and experience scenarios? Are you attracting locals, tourists, or both? What are the advantages and disadvantages of attracting one over the other? How can you attract more of both?
    • As a real estate professional, how does the value of your property change depending on whether your tenants attract locals or tourists?
    • How can you work to integrate your property and tenants with the local community?

4) Anticipate customer needs and preferences

Many on-the-go customers find themselves in particular circumstances, some more dire than others. Embedding in the experience economy requires figuring out how to sell your products to account for the immediate gratification shoppers want, no matter where they are. Often, brands have an opportunity before them to expand to new markets and broaden existing ones simply by meeting customers where they already are, and selling them products they already want.

  • If you are selling something that supplements an experience, how do you define the specific needs, interests and preferences of your target audience?
    • Does this audience have limited time, limited funds or limited patience?
    • When the consumers in this audience are in your space, what do they need in real time, and how can you capitalize on these needs while fulfilling them in the most convenient way possible?
      • As a real estate professional, what are the unique qualities of your space that your tenants can monetize?
  • At what price point do you offer experiences or experience-supplementing products?
    • What are the pros and cons of your price points?
    • How can you manipulate the convenience factor to get customers to open their wallets willingly, even if items are more costly?
    • What type of rewards program could enhance customer loyalty or help you acquire new customers?
  • How can you use technology to make your products or your brands more accessible, while also making transactions more seamless?
    • As a real estate professional, how can you provide your tenants with this technology, and even standardize this technology across all tenants?

Think about how your retail concept could fit into an airport or theme park. Potential consumers on a layover or visitors at a theme park find themselves have specific needs at different stages in their journey. Meeting them there—in the right space and at the right time—will reel in more shoppers and grow sales.

  • How can you build around travel to meet customers and sell to them en route?
  • As a traveler in an airport or a visitor to a theme park, what would you want access to at different points in your trip or visit? What level of convenience would draw you in to shopping and finalizing a purchase?
    • As a real estate professional, how can you adapt your property to incorporate retail at optimal, high-density locations? How can you establish storefronts with the brands and retailers most likely to boost sales in this area?
  • How can you curate your retail experience so that customers are more likely to be drawn to it and finalize a purchase? How can you drive more foot traffic to your retail location, rather than solely relying on people to stumble upon it?
    • As a real estate professional, how can you adjust your space to steer more customers into your retail spaces?
  • How easily can consumers access and navigate your retail space on the go? How easily can they make a transaction?
    • How can you adapt your shopping experience to facilitate this process and make it as seamless as possible?
    • What technology and resources do you need to do so?
    • How can you make these retail spaces as cost-effective as possible for your own business?
  • How can your packaging and design best serve an on-the-go purchase or an experience?
  • What products can you sell that best compliment the experience your customers are undergoing?
    • Are they convenience items, essentials, or something else?
    • Will you only sell best sellers from your online or brick-and-mortar locations, or will you experiment with other product assortments?
    • Will all of your on-the-go retail locations sell the same products, or will you modify inventories to reflect a specific retail space or geographic location?
  • Could your products sell duty-free?
    • If so, what type of packaging, special discounts or rewards, and exclusive products can you offer to boost duty-free sales?
    • What training will you provide your sales associates to reflect the retail space you have in an airport?
    • What mini-experiences can these brands and retailers provide to lure in travelers and lead them to make purchases?
  • As a real estate professional, how can you renovate or update your duty-free real estate to maximize for sales?
    • How can you work with airports to acquire data on flyers and what they purchase?
    • What kinds of storefronts are more successful for brands and retailers within your airports, and why?
    • How can the design and signage of the duty-free area bring in more consumers?
    • Where can you place your duty-free retail in an airport so more travelers pass by and stop in? Which terminals will reel in the most purchases?
    • How can you make your duty-free options appealing to both international and domestic flyers?
    • How can you make your real estate flexible so that you can adapt to changing customer-traveler interests?