89% Are Shopping Brick-And-Mortar for Back-to-School

As a new survey created by Accenture found that 89% of parents with school-age children will be visiting brick-and-mortar stores for this back-to-school shopping season.

Top motivations for shopping in-store vs. online: avoiding shipping fees and the desire to touch/feel products.

However, shoppers will be “webrooming” to determine pricing and to find out what’s in stock before spending time to go find products.

That study found that 8 in 10 will be consulting their mobile devices while in aisle.

All more proof that engaging your target as they pre-shop and via mobile is more crucial than ever, but ultimately, final purchase decisions for back-to-school are happening the “traditional way”, in-store.

The Ultimate Luxury Pop-Up Shop: Chanel Meets Aspen

Luxury brand Chanel launched its first state-side pop-up shop this July, in Aspen, Colorado. Karl Lagerfeld showed his distinctively western-style Métiers d’Art Paris-Dallas collection in Dallas, Texas, last December – and now the collection has appeared, publicly showcased in a small modern boutique above the Casa Tua restaurant and club. And just my luck, I happened to be in town the last night the pop-up was open! Giddy. I was on a mission to track it down and that I did.

Without a doubt, this collection felt right at home in Aspen as it did in Dallas. It’s completely over-the-top western Americana, with stars, fringe, holsters (for your Chanel No. 5, of course), belt buckles and boots. The large wood-clad room over the Casa Tua captured the thematic and served as the perfect setting for such glamor. Feather-capped mannequins and the classic Chanel logo in Neon centered around a large fireplace anchored the room. Around the edges, individual pieces from the collection hung and yes, I was tempted to try on the furry/feathered long-sleeve bolero jacket, but at $6,250, I admired it from the hanger. I left only with a well-designed, gilded-edge lookbook, featuring Kristen Stewart as Lagerfield’s muse for this collection, so my designer heart was happy without a hit to my pocketbook.

While I am confident that Chanel sold quite well in Aspen over the 10 days it was there, the pop-up shop is more about exposing your brand in a new light, to a new audience and breaking out of your brand boundaries for a precious limited time, which Chanel did on some levels, albeit somewhat safely in the affluence that is Aspen proper. The next day, I walked by just to see if there was anything left, and it was as if it had been only a dream. A brilliant French dream in the middle of the Colorado mountains. I look forward to seeing where the next one pops up.

Photo credits: Allison Emery

New Grocer: The Complete (Non)Package?

In anticipation of the opening of the new grocer UNVERPACKT in Germany, I thought it would be a great time to share what I think could become the next retail trend — zero-waste grocers.

UNVERPACKT is combines some of the latest global trends:

  1. Crowd-source funding
  2. Sustainable zero-waste philosophy
  3. Retailer-vetting to select the best products for you

Co-founders Sara Wolf and Miena Glimbovski launched a hugely successful crowd-funding campaign, which raised more than double their funding goal. This says to me that many others share the same goals of reducing waste, buying local, and doing our part to improve the environment. The store is slated to open its doors in a few weeks in Berlin’s Friedrichshain Kreuzberg district as Germany’s first package-free, zero-waste market. Products are sold in bulk from gravity bins or cleanly organized crates. Shoppers bring their own containers or can borrow them from the retailer. Products range from conventional lower cost items to organic (food, cleaning and cosmetics). And the retailer has done the vetting for their shoppers, offering only one product per type. They have taken away the opportunity to make a brand decision. It feels a bit like Trader Joes (one of my favorite grocers), minus the packaging.

The retailer making the brand decision for you. This is what I think is the most intriguing situation about this new grocery store concept. The brand decision is being made at the retailer level, not the shopper level. And, the opportunity to give a brand message to the shopper is eliminated with the loss of packaging.

Are we going back to the way our grandparents shopped? Bulk-selling, package-free and brand-free groceries with limited choices? Retail marketers with an eye toward the future should certainly keep an eye on UNVERPACKT.


Kashi Shines at Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass

So I’ve just returned from vacationing at a Wanderlust festival in Aspen-Snowmass, CO – it’s a yoga/music multi-day event that’s filled with all kinds of outdoorsy activities, yoga classes, lectures, organic food and concerts. Wanderlust has become an international series of festivals and with that success comes the integration of partnerships. Gaiam, Garnier, Prana, So Delicious Dairy Free and Camelbak were some of the nationally-known partners, but I have to tell you, Kashi set the bar high and truly grabbed my attention. Even when I’m on vacation, I can’t help but get excited about brands championing on in ways that are fun, cool and most importantly, authentic. Authenticity is the name of the game when a brand is striving to directly interact with its target and that really shows on the experience-level at festivals and conferences; Kashi shined with a presence throughout the event and created an authentic, shareable experience in a sea of vendors for Wanderlust patrons. The yoga lifestyle and Kashi’s mission to create natural, healthy food go well together, so the partnership is an easy one. But Kashi’s execution through experience, along with its stance on food, create the authenticity needed to get buy-in from your target audience.

In the “Kula Market” (think lots of vendors set up in white open tents to sell yoga clothes, crystals and such) at Wanderlust, Kashi stood out from the bountiful rows of tents with its own circular wooden structure, where brand ambassadors would invite you in to take shelter from the sun or the rain, give you new products to try and take with you, encourage you to run around the edge of the structure to strum the tiny windchimes hung like a decorative border of music and also engage you with three activities beyond this haven. There was a Kashi mandala-making station where you could create art with Kashi cereal and grains. There was a chill-out station with chaise lounges, shade and snacks. The third station known as the cube, allowed you to play jungle-gym style on an apparatus manned by brand ambassadors and encouraged you to share pictures of your experience. Given that several of the yoga classes at this conference are geared toward acro-yoga, which is yoga with a heavy-dose of Cirque De Soleil, the cube was a big hit (even if you did have to sign a waiver to play on it). This Kashi-loving section of the “Kula Market” was certainly one to behold and impressive on its own, but that wasn’t all Kashi had up its brand experience sleeves.

Kashi_hut Kashi_lounge Kashi_MandalaKashi_cube

At Wanderlust, yoga classes were held all day in different sections of Snowmass village starting sometimes at 6 am and generally ending by 6 pm over the course of several days. Classes were approximately 90 minutes and could be intense exercises of stretching, rhythmic breathing, dancing, cardio, etc. Kashi so smartly strategically-placed brand ambassadors with milk and cereal bowls or granola bars at class entrances/exits to nourish participants. I observed those around me happily take the cereal bowls and snacks, with great appreciation to help quench the hunger pangs that had struck up during a rigorous class, and I wondered if they would remember this feeling of satisfaction the next time they go shopping for cereal and snacks. The brand experience was so seamless and seemed like a natural extension of the good-for-you experience you had just been through or were about to have. What better way to connect with your target audience (health-conscious, food-conscious people that have the income to afford pricier granola bars) than to feed them before/after one of their favorite activities and create a good memory. A few days later back home, I know I caught myself staring at the different Kashi bars in my local Kroger hoping to find those delicious Chocolate Chia Seed Granola bars that I’d had after a class (no luck, but I did buy 2 boxes of other Kashi bars that I hadn’t intended).

It was evident to me that Kashi had gone above and beyond a symbolic partnership of a brand throwing money at an event, which is what you so often see at festivals and conferences: a brand simply lending it’s name to a venue or putting its logo on an event item without any true connection to the people attending it, even though it’s those people the brand WANTS to connect with on a new level. Throwing money at a partnership is not enough to get your target’s attention in this day and age. But building an authentic connection with your target audience through purposeful partnerships and experiences will make that investment worth it. And Kashi did just that, did it well and I have no doubt will reap the rewards.

Photo Credits: Allison Emery and Halie @Ohh_indigo