Storytellers and socialites

Our Creative Director Nick Butcher visited the Retail Expo last week. Here’s what he thought…

The need for storytellers

Having attended several of the talks at last week’s Retail Expo at Olympia London, I was struck by one overarching issue that is facing retail right now – how to address the lost art of actually ‘selling’ to customers by expert and friendly staff members.

Clearly, there are some amazing technologies coming into everyday use that will speed up the shopping process, making it as frictionless as possible. These things should be freeing up staff members. Allowing them to ‘befriend’ us as we enter and provide us with an entertaining, informative and fun ‘human being’ to interact with.

Sadly, this isn’t often the case. How often it seems that we have to seek out a staff member with our questions, only for them to disappear for 5 minutes whilst they try and find an answer. Or worse – they read you the label on the shelf edge!

We believe that we need a University degree course in ‘Storytelling, conversation and human understanding.’. Graduates would be snapped up by brands to become ambassadors and advocates. Representatives who could enthusiastically engage with customers to tell them entertaining stories about the brand and products. They would lead them through an exciting journey of discovery where ‘freebies’ are given, and discoveries are made. It might take 20 minutes, but you can guarantee that those customers that experience a carefully choreographed and designed story will buy substantially more than those who don’t.

Howard Saunders giving a talk at the Retail EXPO 2019

Creating a 'brand playground'

Howard Saunders (retail futurist) spoke animatedly about ‘brand playgrounds’. About needing to ‘fall in love’ with brands and products which is so true, but brands and retailers really need to capitalise on these trends by having the most amazing people and stories to thrill us, entertain us and make us ‘love’ them back.

We get much of this when exploring markets. Passionate people who have a story, who share samples of their produce and seduce you into buying a handmade brownie for £5.

Finding storytellers and natural socialites is not easy in an age of texting. But why not train up out-of-work actors, drama students and people who have a passion for life and for other people. As retail designers, we can give these advocates a great script and the props needed to sell the story so that every visitor leaves feeling like they have had a real experience. Simple!