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Redefining Retail Spaces for Future Wellness

February 18, 2022
February 18, 2022
Kaleidoscopic Home by Tin & Ed for Space10 Everyday Experiments, Denmark

Massive checkout lines, disorganized shelves, bumping elbows with fellow shoppers—retail spaces haven’t always been peaceful havens. Now, trend forecasting agency The Future Laboratory and Selfridges are looking to redefine them as holistic wellness sanctuaries.

Amidst closures of previous hallmark luxury destinations like Barneys and Harvey Nichols, it’s evident that consumers are looking for more than just a rack of luxury offerings. E-commerce’s undeniable convenience factor means companies aiming to attract attention-strapped, and less loyalty-inclined, shoppers must tap into something far deeper than what’s inside their carrier bag.

In The Future Laboratory’s Future Forecast 2022, the company proclaims this coming year as “The Great Re-engagement,” driven by consciousness and purpose. “Consumer expectations will force the retail sector to address its impact along the value chain. Retailers are rewriting the industry playbook with engaging digital storefronts,” the report proclaims. Selfridges, which was recently bought up by Central Group in a $4 billion deal, is now banking on said strategy with Super Futures.

Rebranding wellness with the more approachable term “feel-goodness,” the retailer offers in-store activations like complimentary SENSIKS sensory reality pod experiences, aided by infrared light, heat, and sound sensors, as well as bespoke fragrances. For the upcoming Beauty Series at its London location, it will also host events such as facial workouts with FaceGym, discussions on navigating menopause with supplement company MPowder, sound meditations with Psychic Sisters, and discussions of beauty as self-care with Sharmadean Reid’s female business empowerment platform The Stack.

Taking an omnichannel approach, Selfridges’ SUPERSELF podcast series includes episodes on mind-body connection with somatic coach and self-empowerment company YSM8 founder Poonam Dhuffer, as well as food as an opportunity for self-care with culture writer Natty Kasambala and former chef turned artist Krystal C Mack.

With health now being a daily, instead of merely occasional, focus for 65% of people across four countries, it’s understandable why well-being narratives are now appearing in previously untapped sectors like retail and architecture. Furthermore, with healthcare systems under strain with backlogs of years for treatment in certain sectors—in the UK alone, over 300,000 people have waited over a year for elective care—taking matters into one’s own hands creates a more autonomy-fueled approach to wellness.

“With more consumers embracing non-traditional care models, there is an opportunity for retailers and salons to expand in-store health services and upskill staff with tools to emotionally support their customers,” The Future Laboratory states in their recent Beauty, Health & Wellness Futures report. Masami’s Conscious Beauty Collective pop-up is another example of educational events meeting a curated retail experience.

Certainly, experiential retail could usher in a great renaissance of in-store shopping, but despite the hunger to venture outdoors, it would be naive to assume that all shoppers will abandon their online cart for physical browsing. Enterprises looking to engage adventure-hungry consumers can count on the one-two punch of prolonged engagement online as well as offline through the aforementioned activations. But excitement isn’t enough—grounding these strategies in substantial and holistic values is more likely to ensure a return visit.

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