• Retail

Retail Therapy Vs Therapy as Retail

The 90’s was the era of retail therapy where shopping equals happiness. Whatever the problem, buying stuff could fix it and if that stuff was branded, designer or embossed with slogans, even better! What you owned defined who you were.

However, retail as therapy no longer seems to work for today’s millennial consumer. Suffering brand fatigue and a general distaste at blatant over-consumption, today’s consumer is looking elsewhere to find happiness.

This may well still involve spending money, but millennials famously prefer spending on experiences, which give a more lasting sense of fulfilment than a single transaction. These experiences also contribute to who they ARE as a person and not just what they OWN. New ‘therapies’ can include everything from extreme sports to face-gyms and virtual reality nail bars to meditation studios. With concepts emerging almost daily it seems the more bizarre the practice and the more extreme the promised results, the more effective it is.

The modern millennial is more than happy to spend £25 on an hour’s fitness class on the proviso that it will give them a lasting sense of accomplishment.

Many of these new therapies are crossing the pond from the US and more often than not, emerging from California – the home of self-improvement. Vampire facials, infrared saunas and altitude fitness classes are all firmly on the millennials agenda and this is less than 5 years on from when a manicure seemed like a self-indulgent treat.

The service industry is meeting this demand and clever retailers are tapping into the new consumers’ desire for self-improvement. They are ready to spend more and more money on new services to be fitter, prettier and happier versions of themselves. So whilst “retail therapy” might be over, the therapy industry continues to be commoditized and more and more retailers are taking advantage by offering unique retail experiences.

Here are some best in class examples we have seen so far across the globe:

Multibrand Formats

The Wellery, Saks 5th Avenue, New York – a multibrand wellness concept store with concessions offering different treatments. These are all on a pop-up basis so the space can adapt to changing customer needs and wellness trends.

The Body Studio, Selfridges, London – customers can visit the space to purchase fitness equipment and luxury workout gear, take fitness classes, and enjoy health and beauty treatments.

New Concepts

Hot Space – Infrared saunas that promise detoxifying, mental wellbeing and fitness benefits while you sit (and sweat!).

Skin Laundry – 30 minute laser facials promise to zap the dirt from your skin.

MNDFL – NYC’s most popular meditation studio; various similar brands are coming to London soon.

Convenience Offerings

DryBar, DryBy, Hershesons, Barbour & Parlour, Barbour & Blow – blow dry bars are popping up all over London promising a makeover in 30 minutes.

For the boys: Ruffian’s, Teds Grooming and Adam Grooming all provide beard trims, haircuts and shaving treatments.

Hybrid concepts

The Springs, Los Angeles – a vegan restaurant, juice bar, yoga studio, spa, and wifi-enabled workspace that opened in the arts district of L.A. in 2014. A trailblazer for the hybrid concept.

Minfulosophy @ Lululemon, NYC – recently Lululemon announced its new mediation space in its 5th Avenue store designed to give busy city-dwellers a relaxing place to chill out.

Chillhouse, NYC – New York’s first Café-Spa. The goal here is “to help busy urbanites find a few minutes of total zen”.

Sweaty Betty, Carnaby Street, London – this new store is combining their traditional retail offering with a studio at the lower ground floor with a rolling schedule of the best teachers and a trendy/café and juice bar so you can leave feeling rejuvenated from the inside and out.

About the author: Bronnie Edwards, is a former leasing agent in Cushman & Wakefield’s Central London Leasing Team, she is now working for Estée Lauder.




For enquiries about our activity in Central London please email Peter Mace  or call +44 20 7152 5039

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