It happened unexpectedly, but it’s living proof that today’s commerce is not how it used to be. Repeating the fact is good, analyzing it is better. Last Friday, Uniqlo Montparnasse opened its 10th store in France… at the first lower level of the Fnac (think Best Buy for a US equivalent)… At this store, you are obligated to pass by cultural products to get to the cashmere sweaters and winter coats… Talk about unexpected. All the CDs formerly found there have been moved to the upper levels, allowing the 1040 m2 space to be consecrated for textiles. No question, a commercial endeavor of this kind is a first in France.
In Japan, Uniqlo has been testing out this principle since 2012, launched for the occasion under the name “Biqlo” (…), a brand devoted to electronic products and home appliances. Imagine if you stumbled upon an Alex and Ani boutique in the back of a Sephora or even a Disney pop-up store on the first level of a well-known supermarket. And why not even a Swatch pop-up store in a Paul’s bakery? Are these ideas so disruptive to cherished brands?
The point is that consumption is becoming more and more a matter of lifestyle and from this perspective, regrouping brands from different universes that correspond to the same life vision is not so absurd after all. It’s a safe bet that clients of the Fnac have a lot of points in common with those of Uniqlo.
Making clients pass by a retailer to make them aware of the larger store is a new way of envisaging the theory “shop-in-shop”. Except, the shop in question is not merely a miniature reproduction of the department store aimed at maintaining a certain shopping experience, but a real sales floor with a full range of unique goods. A true “shop-in-shop” which allows each brand in the arrangement to benefit from the other’s customer foot traffic. Not too shabby.
Such partnerships could open up the possibility for events and unprecedented promotional campaigns. Buy two DVDs and whadda ya know, a discount on a wool turtleneck sweater. It’s all about imagination. Once again, recognition of what surprises customers can serve as a driving force in marketing.