Retail Media – Is Fun Dead?

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Retail media has recently claimed that the fun has been sucked out of shopping.

The move to online commerce, the death of some big brands, staffing and service shortages, shopping mall vacancies, and supply chain issues have all impacted the habits of consumers, who used to view shopping and dining as a fun group activity with friends, family, and colleagues.

After all, getting your buddies together for a trip for “curbside pick-up” or “ordering Door Dash” is a huge departure from the brick-and-mortar experiences of days past.

But some of the steps MULO (multi-location) brands are taking to bring consumers back into physical locations include:

  • Sportainment and eatertainment. Dine and play is one of the trends we’ll be delving into at Place 2023 in November, with perspectives from Craig Winning.
  • Creating unique and creative in-store experiences. For example, Ikea held an in-store “sleepover” to drive traffic and gain media exposure. Other brands are adopting a “store within a store” model (like Kohl’s has done with Sephora), giving people more and varied reasons to step inside.
  • Insta-worthy treats and moments. We’ll delve into this in another article, but features like photo-worthy walls and bathrooms and outrageous designer milkshakes give social media-savvy consumers a reason to come inside, pose, shoot, and care. Check out our article about the new Cane’s in Times Square for another great example of this trend.
  • Offering products in-store before they’re available online is a great way for retailers to build excitement and traffic.
  • Look to the past to create the future. Everything old ultimately becomes new again, and new generations may view old standards as being unique and fun. And, generations who remember past retail and restaurant experiences will be drawn to “oldies but goodies.” You don’t have to look much past the Barbie craze for an example of an established brand that was “recycled and upcycled” to engage all generations and build excitement at both movie theaters and retailers.

A whopping 94 percent of retailers plan to invest in better in-store consumer experiences.

Knowing your consumer, making every visit to a physical location convenient and memorable, and continuously innovating are the three keys to keeping brick-and-mortar alive and thriving. And, ensuring your SEO is optimized so that consumers can easily find what you promise them online is critical.

The reality is that people are still stepping outside their homes. Getting them out of their cars and through your MULO business doors is the ongoing challenge that we all need to consider and embrace — creatively!


Nancy A Shenker, senior editor with Street Fight, is a former big brand (Citibank, Mastercard, Reed Exhibitions) marketing strategist and leader. She has been featured in, the New York Times and Forbes.