By Gene Spiegelman, Head of North America Retail Services
In the heart of New York City’s Meatpacking District sits Samsung’s newly opened space that looks and feels like retail. It sits on a prominent corner amidst the bustle of monied tourists and locals. A glass curtainwall beckons street traffic to a brilliant display of technology. But it is called an “Immersive Cultural Center” without products for purchase.
So it isn’t a store . . . or is it?
Simply put, Samsung has crafted a “Third Space” (beyond home and the workplace – which is increasingly the same) that continues the conversation between a brand’s products and consumers. As Advertising Age noted in a look at this trend, “A customer-centric, experience-first approach requires companies to reorganize their logistics, operations, fulfillment, customer service and in-store talent management.”
Big data will provide clues on the stickiness of the concept. Visitors have a number of options to provide Samsung with demographic data. Perhaps the most innovative feature is a tunnel where visitors enter their Instagram handle upon entry and – presto – all of the digital assets associated with the handle are displayed in a literal floor-to-ceiling montage. Participants can once and for all “Be the Selfie.” The quid pro quo is the user provides valuable data, the brand provides a very cool no-cost experience.
Frankly, the direct corollary between visitors and sales is somewhat irrelevant. By creating such a distinct, intriguing yet brand-centric space, Samsung has already won. The media and the curious have beaten a path to the door.
But will it last? Museums have to constantly change exhibits to keep even benefactors coming back. Automotive and audiophile gearheads make routine visits to showrooms drawn by the allure of this year’s model. What will drive the retail experience of the future?
Gene P. Spiegelman has been an dynamic participant in the retail real estate industry for the past 23 years. His knowledge of site selection, development and leasing, and acumen in negotiating complex retail transactions have distinguished him in the field. With extensive experience in both retailer and landlord representation, Mr. Spiegelman specializes in the urban, luxury and specialty retail niche.