Exhibition News May 2019 - Page 17

Analysis T wo recent pieces of research have caught my attention recently. They both concern the retail space and its ability to attract and satisfy consumers. Firstly, there was a survey carried out by digital marketing agency Marketingsignals.com, which found that 85 per cent of UK consumers would prefer to purchase items in-store and 78 per cent prefer to see and feel a product before going online to shop around for the best price. The second piece of research came from RetailEXPO, a Reed Exhibitions show, which found in a new report that The sweet spot 70 per cent of shoppers would shop elsewhere – either online or with a competitor – if a retailer didn’t provide an exciting or engaging environment. Additionally, 64 per cent of shoppers stated that if they’d taken the effort to travel to a store then retailers should make the effort to ensure the shopping environment is exciting and engaging. Seventy per cent would go elsewhere if a retailer didn’t provide an exciting/ engaging environment, and 73 per cent say they would spend more in a store offering an experience, not just a product. The studies come at a time of crisis for the High Street, with big-name chains going into administration, 14 UK shops closing each day on average (according to PwC research), and a net 1,123 stores disappearing from Britain’s top 500 High Streets. To my mind, this research highlights a clear gap in the average consumer retail experience, one that consumer show organisers should be jumping Studies show that retail consumers prefer to shop in-store, but many think shopping centres are lacking when it comes to experience – a clear opportunity for event profs, says EN editor Nicola Macdonald at the chance to fill. Who better than exhibition organisers to provide that unique combination of high-quality brands, physical product interaction and experience that the majority of shoppers are craving? The RetailEXPO event director, Matt Bradley, had this to say about the results of the show’s research: “It’s clear that for consumers physical retailing is increasingly not just about purchasing products. Shopping is a leisure activity, an immersive, social experience that creates an emotional response. “The ubiquity of ecommerce has changed the motivation for consumers to visit in-store meaning retails must create compelling reasons to visit. It’s clear the challenge and opportunity for retailers centres around creating combined product and experience offerings that incentivise and reward customers for shopping in-store.” Of course, there may also be a dormant threat here – many retailers have been surprisingly late to the game when it comes to customer experience, allowing exhibition organisers to sprint ahead in the customer experience race. Yes, there have been a number of innovative brand activations making headlines but, when it comes to a consistently high-quality in-store experience, I feel there is still some way to go. The threat may come in the form of retailers and shopping centres stepping up their customer experience game, or it may even involve launching their own rival consumer events (à la Screwfix Live). But, for the moment, exhibition organisers are uniquely positioned to take advantage of this clear consumer need – as long as the visitor experience continues to live up to the hype. EN May — 17