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Posted : 2013-07-14 15:08
Updated : 2013-07-14 15:08

Stores become 'brand experience' spaces

Nespresso Korea's flagship store in Cheongdam-dong, Seoul, has a separate tasting area where customers can try coffee made from the brand's capsules.

By Kim Bo-eun



Companies are taking a new approach in reaching out to consumers. Conventionally, they promoted their products to consumers through commercials and advertisements. If these promotions managed to convince consumers, purchases would follow. Further, stores were places that merely assumed the role of sales.

However, they are now evolving to fulfill a more complex role with the aim of providing a compelling brand experience to those who visit. Stores now encourage customers to use or taste the products sold. Stores in themselves have become an important marketing tool by providing a much more interactive brand experience.

Regardless of the type of product, stores have become multi-functioning places that not only offer customers a great shopping experience but also provide them a space to relax, enjoy beverages and meals, admire works of art and be entertained. All of these additional activities are aligned with brand concepts, so they reinforce brand values. Whether customers are testing a coffee machine or sipping on a glass of champagne, everything that happens in the store represents the brand.

Cosmetics brand Innistfree Jeju House not only sells its products, it also offers various snacks and beverages made from local organic produce.

Maximizing brand experience


Nespresso Korea, the local branch of the Swiss food manufacturer Nestle's coffee brand, recently hosted a summer party at its flagship store in Cheongdam-dong. The hip and trendy event was designed so that coffee lovers could learn about coffee from experts, and make and enjoy iced coffee using Nespresso's coffee capsules and machines.

While the party was a seasonal event, Nespresso's flagship store provides a similar experience all year round. At the store, customers are not only able purchase the brand's products but also test its coffee makers and taste different types of coffee made from the coffee capsules.

The store helps the brand interact with customers by catering to their individual tastes on a membership basis. The flagship store plans to take a step further by opening a Nespresso Coffee Experience Center which will offer programs that will teach members about premium coffee.

Premium chocolate manufacturer Godiva opened a flagship store in the trendy district of Sinsa-dong, Seoul last December. Prior to the flagship store, it had opened a small store in Samsung-dong, southern Seoul, where only a handful of chocolate products were available. However, the flagship store not only offers a much wider assortment of the sweet delicacies for purchase, it also allows customers to sit and enjoy chocolate-based drinks and desserts in a posh cafe; on the second floor.

British cosmetics brand Lush has adopted a similar strategy to more effectively market its products. It opened its fourth spa store in Apgujeong-dong, Seoul, last October. The store, whose interior resembles that of a British cottage, enables customers to experience the brand's bath and beauty products during a relaxing spa session. Designed by product developers and psychotherapists, the session aims to provide a healing experience using music, lighting and Lush's products. Customers are provided a hot cup of tea with a drop of rum after the spa session.

At Assouline Lounge, a local branch of the French luxury book publisher, customers can flip through fashion magazines as well as enjoy French cuisine at its cafe in Sinsa-dong, Seoul.

Beyond shopping


The store evolution is changing the shopping experience. Rather than being quick stops where people buy and leave, they are becoming places where visitors can spend hours and perhaps even a whole day, because they have so much more to offer. Of course, these offerings are designed so that visitors can fully immerse themselves in the brand concept.

Innisfree, a brand of cosmetics maker AMOREPACIFIC, operates a shop on Jeju Island where customers can holistically experience the brand through all five senses.

In addition being able to purchase cosmetics products on display, customers can see and smell the naturally extracted colors and scents of the products. On one corner, customers can make soap bars using natural ingredients, and on another, they can sit and enjoy light meals and beverages made from local organic produce. The building, which has glass walls on all four sides, looks out to the vast green tea fields on the island, enhancing the eco-friendly ambience of the store. Every aspect of the store is designed to promote its image as an eco-friendly brand.

British cosmetics brand Lush operates a spa store in Apgujeong-dong, Seoul, where customers can experience its products during a relaxing spa session.

Bookstores have also evolved as multi-purpose spaces that maximize brand experience. Assouline Lounge, a local branch of the French luxury book publisher, provides this type of encounter. Last month, Assouline opened a boutique at Galleria Department Store in Apgujeong-dong, Seoul, in addition to its store in the neighboring Sinsa-dong area. At the boutique, visitors can leaf through fashion magazines with a glass of champagne in one hand. The lounge has a book gallery that stocks some 200 titles in design, fashion, architecture, lifestyle, travel and photography, which visitors can view and purchase. It also offers French cuisine and beverages at a cafe inside. The experience of browsing through luxury publications while enjoying French cuisine represents the upscale essence of the brand.


Last September, Cheil Industries, the textile and chemical unit of Samsung Group, opened Maison LEBEIGE, the flagship store for Cheil's women's clothing brand LEBEIGE. Together with the opening of the store, it launched a lifestyle line that reflects the simple but sophisticated values of LEBEIGE. The LEBEIGE store features furniture and home accessories in addition to its clothing line. It also exhibits works of art for visitors to view and hosts events such as mini concerts where customers can enjoy music, finger foods and drinks while shopping.


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