A spiritual experience in retail

The balance between wants and needs in a shopper’s mind before and whilst shopping has shaped how we shop and what we shop for since the dawn of retail. Striking this balance also defines the retail and product winners in any challenging economic environment.

When money is tight, consumer needs have to be met first. Wants become discretionary, with only those items or services that capture our imagination able to take our dollars. Or at least that’s the rational version of shopping.

Howard Saunders from echochamber in the UK has a legendary photo of shoppers queuing up around the block in London on the day that several banks failed in 2008. He took the first photo from the back of the queue assuming the people where lining up to try to take their money out of a failing bank.

However, at the front of the queue was a Diesel jeans shop selling limited edition denim. As Howard observed, “The banks are failing and people are shopping for another pair of jeans. They don’t need them, but they want them because they are limited edition.”

So what do people want at the moment? Well, we want anything from Apple because it’s still cool, easy to use and has the best service of almost any High Street or mall shopping experience in the world. For the tech writers currently hung up on Apple maps: frankly, it doesn’t matter.

I spent 10 days with my family in Bali recently. My kids and their partners are in their 20s and for them shopping is always a good way to spend time in a new place. So, to understand why some items are hot and others aren’t, I walked some surf stores with my 22-year-old surfer son.

Walking the mainstream surf stores in Seminyak, my son, who is an avid surfer and owner of “rashies” and “boardies”, made an interesting observation: “Over the past 10 years I have grown and changed. These stores haven’t. They are exactly as I remember them the first time I walked into them, only back then they were new and exciting.”

Uninspired, the next day we undertook a journey to a destination store away from the main shopping area. We headed to the Deus Ex Machina Temple of Enthusiasm, to give its full title, and it was a revolution in experiential shopping for people of all ages. To try and describe it or provide a photo or two is to do it and its four sister locations around the world an injustice. Go to www.deustemple.com and click on locations.

The Deus Temple stores are retail experiences where two hours and $30 to $30,000 can be spent. Beautifully designed and cut casual clothing and surfwear, coffee, food, surfboards, skateboards, scooters and motorcycles can be all purchased. All with an authenticity that is awe-inspiring. Take your coffee and walk to the shaping bay to watch a surfboard being hand shaped by an expert. Then look at the custom motorcycles being worked on by artisans in metal and paint.

Despite the motorcycles on display, I spent $150. The next day my son dropped into a smaller Deus store in Seminyak, just down from the main surf brands, and spent another $150 on top of what I’d spent the day before. Needed new shorts and a t-shirt? Nope. Wanted them – from Deus? Absolutely! Do we want to tell other people about Deus and their shops and Temples?
Yep, sure do.

If you work in retail, walk one of the Deus destination temples. It’s a spiritual thing.

[Read an interview with Mambo and Deus Ex Machina founder Dare Jennings here.]

As CROSSMARK CEO, Kevin Moore looks at the world of retailing from grocery to pharmacy, bottle shops to car dealers, corner store to department stores. In this insightful blog, Kevin covers retail news, ideas, companies and emerging opportunities in Australia and across the world. His international career in sales and marketing has seen him responsible for businesses in over 40 countries, which has earned him grey hair and a wealth of expertise in international retailers and brands.

CROSSMARK Asia Pacific is Australasia’s largest provider of retail marketing services, consulting to and servicing some of Australasia’s biggest retailers and manufacturers.

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