Retail Experiences and Social Connection


Humans are thrill-seeking, social creatures. We love to live on the edge, we constantly seek out opportunity, and we always have desire to discover the unexpected. Our innate need for connection is powerful and drives us to spend more time shopping, eating at restaurants, and participating in community entertainment. Retailers, take note! Use these behaviors to your advantage, by developing a community around your retail experience. Creating an environment that fosters social connections is challenging. So, when you’re staring, keep it simple. You don’t have to give them a big production. Make them feel welcome, support community connections, and show them the value of participating in that community.

Regardless of your market, be welcoming and accepting of everyone. Targeting men versus women? Keep it gender inclusive. In the past, old school retailers like shopping centers and department stores placed too much emphasis on targeting female shoppers. As a result, spending time in these places are overlooked by families in favor of experiences that appeal to all members of the household.

How about old versus young? Strive to be multi-generational. Millennials are an important group entering their prime spending years, but we can’t forget about baby boomers and generation Z. Being able to appeal to multiple generations is a clear indicator that your experience is safe, comfortable, and well-rounded for all. Successful businesses welcome all, regardless of age, background, skill, or income.

Building a community around your retail experience creates authentic social connections among your customers. Let’s take a shooting range for example. Initially, it only appeals to gun enthusiasts and hunters, but with the cultivation of a community, the range is now a place for couples looking for a fun date or groups of friends wanting to try out something new. These are all very different people who happen to share one thing; a desire for the experience you provided them. As a result, you have built your community.

Finally, you need experiences that give a return. Some experiences are great at first, but they eventually lose their novelty, relevance, or value. You want experiences that grow and evolve over time. The more you invest in the overall experience, the more your customers will get out of them. If you do it right, in two years they’ll be as enthusiastic about your experience as they were today.

Ultimately, the key word here is participation. It provides exhilaration we seek via camaraderie and shared emotions. If you’re in it for the long-term, welcome everyone, cultivate a community, and offer ROI. It will further your social connection and lead to retail success.