Are you transacting in culture?

barbersignI came across this question recently while researching trends that are shaping the retail industry, and find it to be relevant to the conversation about creating next-generation brand engagement in the evolving landscape of consumer mindsets.

Engaging people in strong, relationship-building ways requires delivering something much greater than can be achieved via traditional off-the-rack retailing strategies.  Consider how to create experiences that invite customers to partake in something more than the goods and services that you are promoting.  Think in terms of providing an opportunity to participate in a dynamic culture that you are cultivating.  Before writing this idea off as esoteric, consider it in a more concrete context:  the barbershop.

Vibrant barbershops have been cultivating opportunities to transact in culture for many generations, not simply as a place for a quick haircut, but rather as a marketplace for the elements of exceptional community and culture:  a mixed-generation environment brimming with stories and jokes, plenty of folk news, advice on love and business (solicited or not), and recommendations for restaurants and services.  While a haircut may be what brought you in, it was these seemingly innocuous moments of community social exchange that made going to the barbershop an indelible experience.  These cultural transactions have resulted in loyal customers and peer-to-peer marketing.  With this in mind, consider how you can also create the type of engaging cultural experience that would have customers coming back and spreading the word to their friends.

Here are a few great examples in Los Angeles to take cues from:

Guerilla Atelier is a stately warehouse of furniture, home décor and clothing.  The space also hosts edgy exhibitions, recently showing a collection of lost Warhol portraits, and the visually breathtaking SBTRKT stroboscope.  Founder Carl Louisville plays dual roles in equal parts, both gracious host and curator, warmly connecting and sharing the unique backstory that accompanies every piece in his store.  There’s no way to walk out of this retail experience without feeling as if you’d had a unique cultural encounter.

Sonos Studio LA in the La Brea district features short-term exhibits, events and concerts that cross the bridge between retail, brand immersion, and art.  Recently, artist Mileece installed Sonic Garden, an interactive exhibit of living plants, whose bioelectricity, when touched, is translated to sound and emitted through Sonos’ rich acoustic studio – an audiophile’s playground, and the perfect atmosphere in which to find the premium audio company’s full line of products.

The Venice flagship Tom’s is part shop, part café, and part interpretive experience where customers are immersed in Tom’s signature giver culture.  A large map of the globe adorns the wall of an outdoor seating area that shows all the countries impacted by from Tom’s.  The unique space connects likeminded customers to Tom’s brand of capitalism with a conscience.

Keeping your finger on the pulse of the evolving landscape of consumer mindsets is no small feat.  By creating opportunities for your customers to transact in culture, you can take steps in the right direction towards building an experience that helps your customers connect with your brand in a way that resonates and leads them to come back again and again.

Start the process by striking up a conversation with us here.