MSc Fashion and Lifestyle Marketing Module Focus: Fashion and Lifestyle Retail Experience

MSc Fashion and Lifestyle Marketing Module Focus: Fashion and Lifestyle Retail Experience

By Dr Ruth Marciniak, MSc Fashion and Lifestyle Marketing Programme Leader

The transformation of retailing over the last two decades has been phenomenal.  Most significantly, the sector has experienced growth in online shopping.  Digital and social media channels are used to purchase goods and, post purchase, publicly complain if customer expectations are not met.  Retailers have been quick to evolve and adapt their operations in order to succeed in this dynamic market environment.  Many have adopted a cross channel strategy wherein consumers, for example, may seamlessly browse via a mobile phone, purchase through a web store and return goods to a physical store.  At the same time, through the use of big data, captured via digital platforms such as mobile apps and social networks, retailers gather and analyse data from their customers.  In turn, the data is used to predict trends, forecast demand, provide customers with personalised recommendations and optimise pricing and promotions in real time.

Regardless of channel, critical to successful retailing is to provide the consumer with positive experiences, which according to academics Pine and Gilmore are defined as memorable events that are staged in order to engage the customer in a personal way, whilst at the same time, provide economic value for the company.   Retailers that will perform well in the future will be those that tap into the desires of consumers to be more than mere shoppers. 

The fashion and lifestyle sector offers rich examples of sensory, emotional and stimulating retail experiences.  Such examples range from the in-store café at Tiffany’s New York, called the Blue Box Café, where customers can truly have breakfast at Tiffany’s or the ‘colour room’ at Tom Ford’s standalone beauty retail store in London, where visitors can virtually try on every shade from the lip colour collection through augmented reality

The foundation of the Fashion and Lifestyle Retail Experience module is creative industry practice, set within a theoretical context.  The aim of the module is to explore key concepts and theoretical foundations of experiential retail marketing, that is, retailscapes, both virtual and physical, in creating retail experiences for the consumer.

Shao-Hsuan Lin, MSc Fashion and Lifestyle Marketing student at Coal Drops Yard (Photo credit: instagram.com/bynlin)

What does a student cover in the module?

The experience economy: evolution, theoretical concepts and the demand for experiences.  Retail format development.  Staging experiences that sell – Oldenberg’s Third Space. Retail design and layout.  Retail pops ups, events, flagship stores, concept stores & digital experiences.  Marketing strategies for retail experiences.  Customer experience management and customer relationships. Physical and emotional expectations.  Customer experience in the digital world: virtual retail experiences and customer journey mapping. Transferring the retail experience across geographical and cultural boundaries

What will a student learn from the module?

Students will obtain a critical understanding of the relationship between traditional retail marketing and experiential retail marketing and explore the development of retail experiences as a marketing concept. 

What are the highlights of the module?

Getting out there and seeing at first hand retailers who excel in providing superior customer experiences is an important part of learning and are high points on this module.  On the University’s doorstep, the retail areas of Brick Lane and Spitalfields serve to do this.  In addition, students visit the very recently opened Coal Drops Yard, London’s new progressive shopping district, which houses an eclectic mix of concept stores, bars and public spaces.  This visit is underpinned by a talk from an architect and designer of one of the concept stores.

How will students be assessed on the module?

Students will have the opportunity to provide a creative solution for a retail brand experience.

How will this module help me get a job in the fashion and lifestyle sector?

Given the highly competitive nature of the fashion and lifestyle sector, the need for creativity in retail design and knowledge of how emerging technologies are changing the retail shopping experience is vital.  The sector needs individuals who have the ability to offer both creative and commercial solutions for the customer retail experience.