HOW NETFLIX IS RE-DEFINING RETAIL AS A LIVE EXPERIENCE
HOW NETFLIX IS RE-DEFINING RETAIL AS A LIVE EXPERIENCE
What are you watching? Since streaming services became mainstream, platforms such as Netflix, Disney+ and Prime Video have had huge influence on modern culture and conversation. TV series are one of the key definers of the zeitgeist, the hype of a new series or anticipation of a season finale becomes that one thing everyone is talking about.
And they are also a key influencer of retail habits.
The connection between stories and products has long been a winning strategy for retailers. But until now most ‘in person’ experiences by entertainment companies have been based in the field of leisure – think of the success of Disneyland! Gift shops and merchandise have always been an ‘add-on’ to these experiences but never the main attraction. As visual merchandisers we often talk to retail brands about creating stories for the customer to resonate with as part of store design. Netflix has the huge benefit that those stories are already told and those worlds already a part of the consumer’s psyche, a factor they capitalise on within their retail operations.
The spending power of fandom is a wide-reaching topic. For the entertainment world, opportunities are huge and ever expanding. But they are also transient. Agile operations are key to retail success for this sector so the pop-up nature of store design is perfectly suited by making it easy to coincide with new season launches and further increase media hype through limited runs.
Ahead of Bridgerton’s second season, Netflix teamed up with Bloomingdales to launch a Bridgerton pop up shop selling everything from gowns to glassware. The strong visual appeal of this space was inspired by the “regency-core” aesthetic of the hit period drama. Carefully considered propping and regency style furniture transported customers into the Bridgerton world. Mannequins in floral dresses formed dramatic focal points with faux topiary and huge digital screens reflecting elements viewers would be familiar with. Mixing fashion and homeware product with one strong style statement is key to creating a lifestyle range that customers already aspire to and this encourages link sales across product categories.
Netflix have repeated this success through exclusive merchandise partnerships with Lacoste and Balmain developing clothing influenced by hit films and TV series. Off the back of these wins, they are now having the confidence to become retailers themselves.
“All the environments are themed around those iconic moments from the show. We want to bring to life all the amazing scenes that fans love.” says Greg Lombardo, Netflix’s Head of Live Experiences.
ON BECOMING RETAILERS...
A logical step on from the Bridgerton pop up was Netflix venturing into their own bricks and mortar retail.
The Stranger Things Store pop up makes a point of selling exclusive Netflix merchandise, tailored to each specific location, to ensure people visit in person. Collectibles are a key pull for super fans too. This is a business that understands the concept of ‘memorabilia’ and how the best visual merchandising can create an experience you’ll want to remember. This isn’t about selling people products they need; it’s all about making the customer want to take home a piece of that world.
The multi-room store is segmented into different zones, ensuring a new experience around every corner. “All the environments are themed around those iconic moments from the show. We want to bring to life all the amazing scenes that fans love.” says Greg Lombardo, Netflix’s Head of Live Experiences. The room sets serve not only as a retail space but as place to interact with a Demogorgon, play games in the Palace Arcade and provide endless photo ops for social media. You could be forgiven for thinking this is a ticketed immersive experience, rather it’s simply an excellent example of visual merchandising in a store that wows every visitor.
Furthermore, Netflix is now reaping the benefits of becoming a retail brand themselves. A pop-up shop at LA’s The Grove was Netflix’s first retail destination under the company name, selling the merchandise for their most popular shows all under one roof. Branding the facade as a ‘Netflix’ store, “felt like the most organic next step to continue our growth and bring Netflix’s most beloved shows together in a completely new way,” Lombardo, said. Customers travelled through the store with spaces dedicated to different shows, with colour palettes, displays and fixturing reflecting each specific aesthetic.
And now Netflix Bites is the newest retail offering using the media company’s own name branding. Leveraging their much-loved food programmes to venture into the F&B market, this pop up is a dynamic looking, in-person experience where fans can immerse themselves in their favourite food shows through specially created menus from Netflix’s celebrity chefs. The strapline reads “Watching is Good, Eating is Better”.
The lines are blurring between retail and live experiences. Where Netflix have an edge is through storytelling and fandom. Visual merchandising is a vital factor in contributing to both of these, by re-creating fictitious worlds that visitors want to escape to, and using creative elements to keep them enthralled. But every retailer would do well to incorporate these elements and make stores a destination to be sought out, anticipated and enjoyed, rather than just a place to shop.