IDEAS

Bringing brands
back to reality

While the past 12 months has demonstrated the power of technology in keeping us connected, it has also emphasised the power of human connection in the physical form.

As a result of hard and fast lockdowns across the globe, many businesses and brands have pivoted to digital solutions to stay afloat – some achieving remarkable success. But while a strong and strategic digital presence is crucial, Australian consumers are venturing back into the built world and brands need to be ready.

A consumer survey in Deloitte’s Global Marketing Trends 2021 report found digital environments can foster ‘some’ human connection, but technology can’t fully compensate for in-person interactions. For brands that seek to provide a holistic consumer experience, a strong digital presence is essential but the power of a strategic and well executed brand presence in the built environment should not be underestimated. Humans have an innate desire for physical connection and interaction, and that happens in the built world.

For many brands, the pandemic has provided an opportunity to reflect on the spaces they occupy both physically and virtually. A Diadem client that has mastered its brand presence across multiple mediums and thrived through the pandemic’s challenges is leading bicycle manufacturer and retailer, Giant.

Part of the Giant Group founded in 1972, the brand combines craftsmanship, technology and innovative design to create high-quality bicycles and cycling gear. The omnichannel retailer has a successful online store and more than 12,000 bricks-and-mortar stores world-wide. As a brand that understands its broad customer base from families to professionals, Giant has mastered market segmentation and built cult following.

Diadem has worked with Giant for more than 15 years from point-of-sale design to award-winning in-store design. Supporting a multi-site rebrand in 2013, we developed and executed a new interior and exterior design for more than 25 stores. The new look and feel combined with improved staff morale elevated the customer experience and delivered a sales uplift of 40 per cent. We continue to refit stores as new dealers join the network.

Already a popular activity pre-COVID, cycling sales have soared across the globe in the past year. Just one month after the global pandemic was declared, Bicycle Network Australia reported an increase of up to 79% in the number of cyclists on shared footpaths across Melbourne. At the time, Grant Kaplan, store manager of Giant Sydney, told Guardian Australia, “we’re the new toilet paper and everyone wants a piece…we can’t keep up with sales.” In periods where Giant stores were closed to physical customers, local riding clubs used them as a meeting point for weekly rides.

Unlike some other retailers, the pandemic further emphasised Giant’s need for physical stores, in conjunction with a strong digital presence, given the physical nature of its products and the customer community it has built.

Physical, virtual, or both, a brand’s decision to exist in certain spaces ultimately comes down to its objectives and consumer needs. But it is important to consider the bigger picture. A brand’s occupied space should both meet current consumer needs and provide room for experimentation and innovation.

Built environments will continue to evolve, but their presence and power to foster human connection is here to stay. Brands that think outside the square and take creative risks in times of crisis can achieve incredible things and position themselves at the forefront of innovative design.

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