Retail’s lure – the expat’s hook

The exterior arrangement of a store should be considered as an alluring exhortation. The resolution of falling into temptation is easily solved by entering the shop – nothing fits better than the assertion “the only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it”. And this is exactly the implicit mission of a store: Shine as diamond dust along the consumer’s way, to be noticed, inviting the passer-by to enter the shop and join the brand’s philosophy. I always say to myself “If a shop is inviting me to enter, why not? I do not want to be impolite!”

In my opinion, expats are often in a situation where they’re especially sensitive to the alluring sight of a shop window; just walking pensively down the street looking for their own inspiration when, suddenly, something happens – an involuntary movement lets the neck completely turn for optimal focus. Generally, a sudden interruption of every kind of body movement follows, sometimes so sudden that you shower yourself completely with your (large) takeaway  coffee…

This could be a dangerous scheme with some (more or less) predictable consequences, because there is only one way to wipe that smile off your face; enter. Often with the unfounded prophecy “I’ll just have a look”. “Just have a look” is the typical succession of words proudly pronounced by all serial shoppers.

I am part of a strange group of buyers: Those who generally hope not to find their size, because this is a way to avoid the “duty” to buy that item just to avoid the future regret of not having bought it. There’s a generous purpose to this kind of purchase; my choice to buy could help save a shopaholic, having less items to choose from!

Unquestionably, the store needs to represent the core values of the brand – a kind of business card of self-advertising. Thus stores and advertising can be linked through a similar use of seductive tricks to promote items, brand’s values, etc. In general terms, stores should represent the real soul of the brand itself, with everything that encompasses. Obviously, nothing is left to chance.

There are some prestigious brands very able to promote their exclusiveness, shouting it out loud with ambitious stores promising a unique experience. These kinds of luxury brands use a very different strategy from “ordinary” stores (low cost stores), for example with regards to the positioning of merchandise: they do not aspire to a widespread presence, but to its opposite – the “less is more” theory – in an attempt to preserve the exclusiveness of the brand. And indeed, it is hard not to notice something so exclusive!

There are streets in any expat hub, such as the “Grande Rue” in Luxembourg, that are perfect for that grinding halt I was describing earlier, just add a long and dreamy sigh. We are just in front of the Dolce & Gabbana shop window. Then Vuitton. The shop window expresses the brand, and in front of all this sparkling creativity, I think it is only right and appropriate to stop and admire the view… before entering.


Text and photos by Silvia La Rosa, October 2015.