Retail Design and the Experience Economy: Where Are We (Going)?

By Ann Petermans and Koenraad Van Cleempoel.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The retail sector is increasingly focusing on experiences, because of the proven importance of creating emotionally engaging experiences for in-store consumers (e.g. Shaw & Ivens, 2002).

Since economics (and marketing) are progressing from a goods to a service dominant logic (Vargo & Lusch, 2004), inducing ‘experiences’ has become a means of communication as well as a possible differentiation strategy. In this current ‘Experience Economy’ (EE from now onwards), customers look for personal, intuitive relationships with brands and retailers (Pine & Gilmore, 1999, 2008). Experiences are the new source for value creation.

But the concept of Pine & Gilmore’s EE is being criticized. The literature that emphasizes the importance for retailers to focus on experiences often lacks definitions of central concepts and empirical support (e.g. Bäckström & Johansson, 2006). Furthermore, experiences are always context- and situation-specific (Dewey, 1938). This implies that ‘experiences’, as conceptualized in Pine & Gilmore’s first generation EE, do not necessarily work in a European retail context. The present parameters for creating and directing memorable experiences are authenticity and originality. Design of retail environments should be directed towards values and creating appropriate ‘atmospheres’.

Whereas the company was the frame of reference for value creation in the first generation EE, in the current second generation (Prahalad & Ramaswamy, 2004a) the dialogue between customers and businesses forms the basis for the co-creation of values which are meaningful and truly unique for the individual customer.

This Ph.D. project aims to link the body of knowledge of an EE with the growing discipline of retail design. Because retail design is an emerging discipline in the field of interior design, it may well benefit from valuable and relevant input of several other disciplines, such as marketing, which, in their turn, may learn from specific methodologies of design research.

Keywords: Retail Design, Interior Design, Experience Economy, Values, Co-Creation

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp.171-182. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.339MB).

Ann Petermans

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Arts & Architecture, PHL University College and Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium

Ann Petermans has a Master’s Degree in Communication Sciences. Since research has always fascinated her, she started her career in a Market Research Company. After having worked there for 3 years, in 2004 she turned to scientific research at the research group ArcK of PHL University College. Recently, she started working on her Ph.D. research in the field of ‘Interior Architecture’ (more specifically, Retail Design) at the PHL University College and Hasselt University. Her research focuses on the relationship between Experience Economy and Retail Design. The principles and practices of the ‘experience economy’ more and more are being used in Retail Design, since the creation of memorable experiences seems to have positive consequences for the retail store. However, the Interior Design discipline in general, and the Retail Design discipline in particular, lack a theoretical framework to critically reflect about this economic phenomenon. Moreover, the literature that emphasizes the importance for retailers to focus on experiences often lacks empirical support. This Ph.D. project aims to formulate answers to this knowledge gap.

Dr. Koenraad Van Cleempoel

Professor, Department of Arts & Architecture, PHL University College and Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium

Koenraad Van Cleempoel supervises this Ph.D. research and has established a retail research center (with a retail design research lab) at the department of interior architecture at the PHL University College of the Hasselt University (Belgium).

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