Micro-Experiences were on track to be the hottest trend in retail in 2020 before the coronavirus put a halt to any and all retail operations. The small-scale in-store activations were simple yet effective; they aimed to take a regular customer and turn them into a lifelong brand loyalist just from one in-person shopping experience.
With social distancing now at the top of mind of retailers around the world, Micro-Experiences might have to go through a bit of a rebranding.
What Micro-Experiences Used To Be
Micro-Experiences are defined as a small-format, in-store activation that engages consumers in a meaningful brand extension that can not be replicated online.
Fashion industry leaders like Nordstrom and CAMP capitalize on their Micro-Experiences like Nordstrom Local and the rotating CAMP exhibits to bring customers in and help them in ways that they couldn’t be helped if they were only interacting with the brand online. In the case for Nordsrom, Micro-Experiences exist to take complete care of the customer, a nod to their rock-solid reputation for pristine customer service. For CAMP, Micro-Experiences exist to bring excitement and energy into an otherwise stoic retail space for kids.
While the fashion industry is certainly leading the way, the grocery industry has also seen major success with Micro-Experiences. Grocers offering free childcare, live music, and shop-and-sip initiatives have captured consumers minds – and wallets. And just when the Micro-Experience bubble was about to burst with innovations in grocery experience, we all had to stay in our houses for three months.
What Micro-Experiences Are Now
Like Nordstrom, grocery industry micro-experiences should be designed to care for the customer. Whether to take some of the stress of the day away with a cocktail while you stroll the aisles or adding a new recipe to your repertoire with an in-store cooking class, the grocery industry aims to make grocery shopping and the physical grocery store a good, relaxing time. Now, more than ever, grocers need to prioritize ways to make their shoppers feel relaxed, secure, and safe in-stores.
The most obvious new Micro-Experience is store cleanliness. Shoppers should feel an overwhelming sense of calm when they walk into a store and can tell that it’s been both thoroughly and consistently cleaned.
This same sense of ease can come from shoppers seeing proper PPE on all grocery store employees. It’s comforting when everyone is taking the virus as seriously as they are – and on the other hand, if someone isn’t wearing a mask, it’s better to have done too much than too little to protect your shoppers.
Another new Micro-Experience is the efficiency that shoppers can experience by shopping in your store. Whether using grocery pickup or strolling through the items themselves, shoppers should have the most efficient, non-time consuming experience in the store as possible. If your shelves are riddled with expired items, shelves haven’t been stocked well enough, social distancing checkout lines are taking over the store or people are piled up waiting for their turn to pick out their veggies, customers are going to lose their patience. And when customers lose their patience, you lose their service.
Will Micro-Experiences Come Back?
The short answer is absolutely. The long answer is it depends on how quickly the grocery industry is able to continue to adapt to new industry guidelines and best practices. While we all want to be able to listen to our favorite local band or attend a book signing from our favorite chef sooner rather than later, the grocery industry must take things slowly to ensure that the care of their customers comes before their desire to get back to normal – whatever that may be.