Retail Innovations Blog Series: Trend #3: Emotional Retail

Welcome back to J.C. Williams Group’s Retail Innovations Blog Series where we celebrate global retail innovation, concepts, and trends! This series is based on our annual publication Retail Innovations, developed in partnership with our affiliate members from the Ebeltoft Group. Throughout the year, we will explore the hot four trends (Smart Shopping, Interactions, Emotional Retail, and Responsibility) showcased in 2018 Global Retail Trends & Innovations and gain insight into the underlying and emerging trends in modern retail.

Trend #3: Emotional Retail

Consumers do not choose a product based solely on its functional value, but rather what it represents and the expressed and demonstrated values of the brand. Emotional retail is all about creating those emotional ties and strengthening brand awareness through intensive storytelling and strong content. Being a retailer or a brand is more than selling products or services, it’s about creating identification and a connection. The functional value of the product or service is subordinate to the representation the consumer identifies with, so consumers’ perception of and identification with the brand is essential for creating a loyal, long-term relationship.

In this blog, we will explore this trend under the sub-trend: Discovery.


Discovery is about opening doors to the brand universe for customers so that they can “discover” the brand: its history, its values, its uniqueness. This often happens in a showroom, where customers go on a “journey” to reveal brand values and identity. Storytelling is an important part of this identification process, giving customers the full brand experience with a focus on its impact on the physical senses.

Nike Soho, U.S.A.

Nike is leading the transformation of sports retail and redefining the purpose of brick-and-mortar evolution in a time of ever-ascending e-commerce. Nike has created a retail format that is part store, part brand museum. The five-storey, 55,000-square foot space is loaded with technology, from 3D decorations to a Kinect-powered basketball court. Vintage sneakers, such as the 1986 Nike Dunk High, are displayed in glass boxes, presenting an abridged history of the company’s footwear, and an interactive feature allows shoppers to engage with a timeline of the company and its sneakers. The Nike Soho store template is being rolled out in tourist locales around the world, with recent additions in Miami, Moscow, and Beijing. Rather than attempting to drive profits in the traditional retail model, these stores’ primary role is a marketing vehicle.


The tech inside the store isn’t meant to be the main attraction; instead, the features are designed to make the shopping experience more personal. In the hoop/basketball area, the Kinect sensors capture movements from the consumer’s body and display them on a massive screen.

Ebeltoft Group Expert Comment

Designed to deliver the best of Nike’s personalized services, from exclusive trial spaces to product customization, the store creates a seamless link between Nike’s digital and physical platforms and is leading the transformation of sports retail. The store defines innovation of the brand and creates an immersive experience.

Orsay, Germany

The vertical multi-channel fashion retailer Orsay converted its 400-square metre store in Dusseldorf into a bright and welcoming omni-channel store inspired by and integrated with its online webstore. The new store concept is the right answer to declining foot traffic and progressive digitalization in retail. Transmission of the new concept to existing stores is planned.

Orsay Flagshipstore Düsseldorf_22a

With this new concept, Orsay wants to provide all services that customers expect in a premium fashion segment, such as personal shopping, events, one-to-one contact with a favorite shop assistant, styling advice, click-and-collect, club loyalty, and more. Orsay emphasizes the online/offline mashup and does so via several touchpoints with the Orsay app and webstore.

Ebeltoft Group Expert Comment

The new omni-channel store concept of Orsay in Dusseldorf interprets its retail technology in a very feminine and emotional way, satisfying the needs of the Orsay target group: young, fashionable women looking for outfits that turn heads. The transformation of the online shop to the brick-and-mortar retail world was a success and concept recognition is very high.

Reserva, Brazil

reserva4 is more than a brick-and-mortar shop, promoting a business model beyond the traditional scope of a clothing store. It is a physical concept of e-commerce, a showroom and gathering place with no inventory, offering digital access to Reserva’s entire collection as well as more than 20 partner brands. Purchases in-store are delivered to a customer’s address by bike – a 100% green delivery.

The physical store is a sustainable, casual space, featuring areas to get together with friends, play pinball, enjoy free beer, dine in a fresh-food restaurant offering coffee, cake, savories and snacks, or be groomed by an on-site barber.

Reserva’s social program 1P5P addresses the problem of 52 million Brazilians not knowing whether they will have food on a given day. In partnership with NGOs, for every product sold, Reserva donates five meals to the hungry in Brazil. This program is responsible for picking up and delivering food where it is needed. Since 2016, the program has donated more than 7 million meals.

Ebeltoft Expert Comment

Reserva has been one of the most innovative brands in Brazil since its founding in 2004. The business expresses a goal to “Give affection to people,” and has a consistent approach to the market. More than a clothing brand, Reserva is a brand of individuals who sell clothes. The store is part of a new movement that reinforces brand positioning and sustains its innovative path.

BUTIQ, Germany

The concept store in Mannheim is the second store, after Stuttgart, for the multi-channel retailer BUTIQ. BUTIQ offers outstanding, creative, and innovative home accessories, lifestyle and food products with unique stories, as well as event space in a café and bar. BUTIQ received the Store of the Year 2017 award in the category “Innovative and Creative Store Concepts.”


Visiting the BUTIQ concept store is a veritable discovery tour. Every product in the portfolio is chosen with great care and exciting stories behind the products are a must. The store does not specialize in product field, because the founders want to offer an eclectic range within a melting pot of regional and international products. The founders are challenging themselves to include at least two new products per week to make BUTIQ and inspired destination worth visiting regularly.

In addition, BUTIQ hosts special events, such as wine tastings with different vineyards, gin and tea tasting, a pop-up bakery, as well as events where customers can customize their own jewelry. Customers get to know designers and producers and experience the unique stories behind the assortment.

Ebeltoft Group Expert Comment

The BUTIQ concept store is a shopping destination worth visiting regularly. The assortment changes week to week in an environment further enhanced by diverse pop-ups, events, and gatherings. Customers are surrounded by exquisite products spotlighting local as well as international offers and enjoy socializing in the bar and café. BUTIQ exemplifies the future of brick-and-mortar retailing.

J.C. Williams Group’s Expert Advice

This is just a small selection of the case studies available in the full 2018 Retail Innovations and Trends, but it can still be seen that emotional connection in the retail world can have a huge impact on customers. Through storytelling and passion, a brand can establish loyalty and a long-lasting relationship with consumers that identify with its values, history, and representation.

See 10 MORE Emotional Retail concepts and more in 2018 Retail Innovations and Trends! Download your free copy now!


  1. Clay Bissett

    I would like to learn more

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