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RICE 2022: How Coach uses store design, pop-ups and digital installations to ‘go local’

During the design:retail Conference and exhibition session titled How Coach Embraces Retail Transformation: From Physical to Immersive Experiences at the Retail Innovation Conference and Expo, Giovanni Zaccariello, SVP of Global Visual Experience at Coachrevealed how the brand’s priority connect locally with consumers successfully generates interest in the Coach brand.

“I couldn’t do what I do today without understanding the local culture,” Zaccariello said. “Location is key to succeed with a global brand.

At Coach, Zaccariello is responsible for visual merchandising through the company’s 3D creative studio, including storefronts, showrooms and pop-ups, event design and production, and the digital experience team. . A key part of his expertise has been understanding the common traits shared by consumers globally, but also their differences.

Zaccariello noted that physical stores not only remain important sales channels, they also provide opportunities to provide vital connections to and between customers. For Zaccariello, it’s not about digital or physical priority — to be successful, brands need to adopt an approach that puts people first.

“Community, belonging and entertainment will be at the top of retail,” he said. “As people, we’re human, we want to touch things, we want to be together. That’s how we are. There is definitely a need to go back to the physical experience.

A new take on location, location, location

Coach’s approach to physical retail is based on thinking outside the confines of its traditional stores. As part of this strategy, Zaccariello looks for neighborhoods with little or no presence of its category. For example, in October 2021, Coach unveiled its concept store in Shanghai’s ANFU Road district, which is home to many cafes but few retailers.

“It’s a place full of cafes and Gen Z is everywhere there,” Zaccariello said. “They pull out their laptops and they work and do all kinds of things there. We thought, ‘Okay, they don’t come to us, let’s go to them.’ Let’s really try to find a new way to work with real estate. Real estate plays such an important role in how luxury can appear as a brand. »

Coach has partnered with an interior retailer living in indigo develop a six months facility including six rooms dedicated to the fashion brand. Each room reflected a different facet of the Coach brand, such as a space dedicated to dinosaur mascot Rexy, a Tele Coach room and a space dedicated to the restoration of products.

“We were mixing craftsmanship with brand heritage, but at the same time playing with something a little more local,” Zaccariello said. “We worked with the local team to understand what would work for this young client in Shanghai. Maybe in Beijing it’s different, so it’s really a matter of location. It’s a bit more work, but it definitely helps us speak to the local consumer in a different way.

Adjust physical experiences to local COVID lockdown conditions

As the 2021 holiday season was in full swing, Coach developed methods of interacting with customers across geographic locations, but also made sure to connect those experiences with physical locations. Zaccariello saw opportunities to bring communities together as the lockdowns emerged, whether in-store or out.

“We were trying to capture audiences in different regions because each region was in a different state of the pandemic,” Zaccariello said. “We still went ahead and held traditional pop-ups, like the one in Shanghai to launch our winter ski collection.”

The launch in December 2021 of the interactive snow town game was completed with a live experience in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Flag center. In the game, Rexy and her winter animal friends collect hearts, known as “love”, against the backdrop of snowy conditions inspired by New York City. Coach projected a 3D animation featuring Rexy and her vacation friends onto the mall’s giant outdoor LED screen, while guests could scan a QR code to access Coach activations including the game. They could play snow town on site upon activation or access the game anytime on mobile.

In Shanghai, the brand struggled as indoor events were limited when planning vacations. Coach decided to meet the needs of local residents by producing a huge 3D projection of his snow town characters on the Broadway Mansions building, providing opportunities to interact with consumers in new ways to relay the spirit of the holidays and the brand’s campaign to encourage others to “Give A Little Love.”

As part of this winter campaign, Coach has also launched 80 NFT, completing its eight snow town characters with ten unique tokens of each. Coach launched a video on ICT Tac to introduce the concept and within seconds of its release, the NFT sold out, according to Zaccariello. With Rexy as the #1 in-demand NFT and her polar bear companion in second place, Coach’s new offering blew up the website as popularity soared with young children, allowing the brand to develop relationships with these consumers.

Stay true to your roots

While blending digital and physical experiences, it’s crucial for businesses to stay true to their brand’s roots and heritage. In Singapore, Coach tested the launch of a boutique dedicated to vintage, this type of collection always resonating well with the brand’s customers. For this installation, the customer experience wasn’t just a sales opportunity – visitors could play games, stop in for a bag-cleaning appointment, and learn about the Coach heritage.

“It was definitely a space where the community gathered to know more about the brandZaccariello continued. “They were interact with friends and family or come as a group.

While preserving Coach’s heritage is crucial to the brand’s success, Zaccariello wanted to go further by sharing the culture of his hometown with other parts of the world. By telling the story of New York through the lens of Coach, the brand has offered a connection to its own culture to customers who live thousands of miles away.

This meant drawing on iconic images of Central Park for Umeda in Japan Hankyu pop-up in Osaka and production of a laundromat-style activation in New York in Nanning, China MixC mall, where visitors could have their goods professionally cleaned. Coach has also entered a new category in Singapore with the Coach Bagel Shop pop-up which operated in April and May 2022.

Designed to look and function like a New York bagel shop, visitors to the pop-up could sample New York-style bagels, shop bags, play games, explore ready-to-wear collections or customize their own product with an artist on site – and not by chance, save all these instagram-worthy and perfect moments for TikTok.

“It created a different reason for people to come shopping or to experience the Coach brand,” Zaccariello said. “The activation, the community, the people who are together – the physique is very, very important. All the young kids go there, maybe they just take a picture, maybe they don’t buy the bag, but they experience the Coach brand.”