Making Retail Theater – Part Two
The word theatre comes from the Greeks. It means the seeing place. It is the place people come to see the truth about life and the social situation.
Today, the seeing place is Nordstrom. Or Urban Outfitters. Or JCPenney.
Stories are told, truths are uncovered and lessons are learned on the retail stage. Thespis, dead Greek and the world’s first actor, would be stunned to learn that the store has become “the place people come to see the truth about life.”
It makes sense, though, that the retail destination is now a location for personal discovery. Shoppers no longer want to simply buy things. They want to feel things. Shoppers have a need to contribute to and become emotionally involved in the brand narrative.
This shift is evidenced in the evolution of the in-store experience to the more theatrical Shopper Moment.
The Shopper Moment requires that the retail marketer think like the playwright, and infuse in-store interactions with relatable drama and emotional resonance.
In the last post, I shared 15 foundational playwright’s beliefs and practices that can inform the work of the retail marketer. Let’s look at ten more:
- Push emotional extremes. No need to be a Puritan within your narrative. Be sexy. Be irrational. Be messy. Be frightening. Be loud. Be stupid. Be colorful.
- Use the literalization of metaphor to showcase the inner emotional state of the retail brand. Visual statements and puns engage an in-store audience.
- Tease apart the conflicting noises of everyday living, and create some kind of pattern and order. It is not as much about explaining life as it is providing a shopper’s tool for understanding and navigation.
- Embed messages in the interplay between the shopper and the brand. Make ideas discoverable through interaction. Find and exploit the music and poetry of the Moment.
- Decide upon and commit to a structure. A good narrative, onstage or off, is organized; the Shopper Moment must be as well. Emotional boundary pushing does not mean messy and indecipherable. Create and respect rules of order.
- Tease the audience. Information should be parceled out on an as-needed basis. Think of an IV drip and dispense just enough to keep the body alive. Don’t share too much too soon.
- Build layers. Have as many things happening in any one moment as possible.
- Create honest characters, entities that are stupendously hungry. Then don’t give them what they need right away. That creates tension. There is no story without tension.
- Try at least one impossible thing. And don’t let your managers or clients talk you out of it. This is how greatness is created.
- Speak in an authentic voice. Create from that place where you are the most honest, the most lyrical, the most complete and the most fearless. Moment-making is impossible without the heat and strength and velocity of the authentic voice.