Thursday, August 09, 2007

Interactive Shopping for Kids: Make a Bear – Take the Bear (India)

Indian consumers are quickly moving out of the “neighborhood kirana-stores” mindset and getting acculturated to organized shopping malls. Be it the product availability, the experience, the ambience or simply, the lure of an air-conditioned hang-out place – consumers no longer want to spend time outside under the sun or shopping in sweaty shops!

Talking of shopping malls – malls in India have evolved and are no longer just a shopping destination, but thanks to Martin Lindstrom and his work on Sensory Branding, ambience now plays a critical role in shopping. As a result, shoppers want to spend as much time as they can in the malls – shop, eat, drink, sleep, play around, flirt, and do everything else that is practically possible to do in broad daylight!

As these mall-crazy shoppers become parents, they want their kids also to get more used to malls – maybe a bit more than their homes too!!

So, what’s new being offered to them? Retailers, in order to tap this opportunity, want the kid-shoppers to engage with their stores, their products, and the ambience that facilitates (if not expedites) this purchase processes.

According to a recent article in the Economic Times, this ideology is being applied by Shoppers’ Stop in Delhi (Rajouri Garden) and is called the the Build-A-Bear Workshop. It provides an interactive mall-based activity for kids to create their own stuffed toys. This entails higher involvement of the kids in their purchase activity, by making them participate in every stage of the making their own stuffed toys. As mentioned in the article, the store..

“…allows customers — who are referred to as guests — to go through various stages of activity in creating their own teddy bear (or other stuffed toy), including choosing a stuffed animal, stuffing it, giving it a heart, stitching, fluffing, naming and dressing it. And though the toys are priced at a premium level ranging between Rs 595 and Rs 1,295 for a stuffed animal and add-ons such as sound chips, clothes and accessories coming at extra cost — the interactive shopping experience also adds on an element of entertainment for young customers and can turn into a family affair as well.”

Interactive Shopping, as it is called, attempts to capitalize on the involvement level of kids with their toys, and also, address the gap created by inability of shop-o-maniacs to whet their shopping appetite because of their kids. The kids are also involved into something constructive, and the shoppers can get their own time, too – watching themselves in the mirror trying different outfits!

Sometime back, I had discussed the various ways in which marketers market to women. One of them took special note of women with kids and customized offerings for the shopping convenience of their customers. As I had mentioned,

“the store design and the ambience are essential elements of a purchase cycle for most of the women . They consider aesthetic sense as a primary determinant of any outlet, which reflects in its offerings and services. Thus, when it comes to women shoppers, we need to move into an entirely “experiential system” and environment”

Taking a cue from this experiential system, marketers at Shoppers' Stop have done a commendable job in creating an experience around their products, engaging the kids with the product (which, of course, would subsequently translate into sales!) as well as give the shopper her time to purchase even more than she would expect to!

So, next time you plan a visit to the place to buy clothes for yourself, you need not request your neighbors to play cricket with your kids! He may as well go and make a mama bear for himself! ;-)

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