The Valley team has brought you 10 more inspirational brand and retail activations from around the world. The first one is from ASDA, who’s Head Office is just a few miles down the road from our own HQ. Enjoy.
ASDA’s First Sustainability Store
Refillable containers have been a familiar site at retailers such as Whole Foods Market for a number of years. But as sustainability and plastic waste has risen up the retail and consumer agenda, mainstream ‘mass’ retailers are starting to offer consumers a waste-free way to purchase bulk FMCG products. In October 2020, ASDA opened it’s first sustainability store and unveiled a new plastics reduction strategy with a promise that customers will not pay more for greener options.
The supermarket has partnered with some of the UK’s most popular household brands including PG Tips, Vimto, Kellogg’s, Radox and Persil to create the store located in Middleton, Leeds. The store is designed to help shoppers reduce, reuse and recycle with ease and Asda estimates the numerous initiatives being trialled in Middleton will save one million pieces of plastic per year. Asda will use the Middleton store to test and learn which elements of its new offer appeal most to customers and can be developed at scale to be potentially rolled out to more locations in 2021.
Here at Valley, almost everything we produce is made from recycled cardboard, which is then recycled at the end of its life. In 2021, we’re working with a number of global brands and retailers to accelerate their ‘eco-transformation’ across their retail estates.
Facegym – it’s not a facial, it’s a workout
We first spotted Facegym at Selfridges in London back in 2018 and immediately loved the concept. According to Facegym, founder Inge Theron (who used to write for the Financial Times) visited 57 spas, sweated through 32 types of fitness classes and experimented with 25 different anti-aging treatments. When a face-lifting procedure left her house-bound, she realised there must be a better way to age gracefully. Facegym was born – a non-invasive yet intensive workout for the face.
We’ve chosen Facegym as one of our Top 10 brand activations due to the innovative use of retail display and design. The brand has successfully created an experiential space that looks and feels completely different to that of a traditional beauty brand. Facial oils are displayed in custom-fabricated optics, and liquid IV bags are used to dispense beauty concoctions directly onto the face, using medical cues that deliver a clear message that Facegym is like an Emergency Room for urgent facial fitness.
Amazon activates its Echo devices in-store with NFC and QR codes
Amazon brought the POS for its Echo Dot device to life in multiple UK retail chains featuring informative content that could be accessed by tapping the shelf-edge or scanning a QR code. Amazon’s Echo devices are now a familiar site in homes across the world. This use of ‘tap or scan’ technology allowed shoppers to get detailed product information without the need to come into close proximity with store staff.
IKEA launches a range aimed at Gamers
There are 2.5 billion gamers around the world, a diverse group united by their love of e-sports and gaming. IKEA spotted that this was an overlooked group from a life-at-home perspective. IKEA just launched a new range in collaboration with Republic of Gamers (ROG) and initially exclusively available in China and then Japan. Don’t worry; from October 2021, the range will drop globally.
Whilst IKEA has decades of home furnishing experience, it didn’t know much about the gaming arena. So they partnered with ROG (Republic of Gamers), a sub-brand of ASUS who produce industry leading gaming hardware.
In total, the new gaming range includes more than 30 products, covering both furniture – gaming desks and chairs, a drawer unit – and accessories – a mug holder, a mouse bungee, a neck pillow, a ring light and many more. Each product family offers a gaming desk and a chair of different price range to meet the needs of different target groups.
The gaming industry is growing at such a fast rate – the strategic question you need to ask yourself is how can you tap into this growing segment, if you haven’t done already?
Allbirds – the test track
Sustainable footwear company Allbirds is known for its New Zealand merino wool runners. In September 2020, the company closed a $100 funding round and despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the company is firm about its strategy of backing bricks and mortar stores. The funding gives Allbirds a $1.7bn valuation and the company already has 22 physical stores.
One of the features that stood out at some of their flagship locations is a test track that allows you to experience the wear and comfort of their wool and plant based shoes across multiple surfaces. It sounds obvious doesn’t it? The typical try-on in a shoe store or even at home tends to last for a matter of seconds and doesn’t simulate real wear or use. We commend Allbirds for ‘thinking outside of the shoe box ‘ here.
Canada Goose – experience the sights of nature, the sounds of the arctic and a touch of snow with their new concept store
Canada Goose, famed for its super-luxe down jackets caught our eye with their flagship Toronto location. The first of its kind for the brand, The Journey redefines luxury shopping with a guided and fully interactive and experiential environment, where guests are immersed in the spirit of the outdoors.
Designed to push the boundaries of e-commerce and retail, The Journey is an inventory-free retail concept that invites guests to explore the power of Canada Goose performance luxury apparel through inspiring digital content, interactive product displays, and the next generation of its award-winning Cold Room. Offering appointment-based service and a 1:1 personalized shopping experience, guests can browse and purchase the full assortment of Canada Goose products with ease and enjoy same-day home delivery.
Guests start ‘The Journey’ by stepping through a two storey glacier facade, giving a glimpse of what’s to come. Once inside, guests walk through the crevasse where they hear the sound of ice cracking beneath their feet. A 60ft wide curved display then projects awe-inspiring 4k content, transporting guests into a wilderness landscape, leaving the outside world behind.
In the Gear Room, guests are outfitted with Canada goose jackets and then digitally transported to an arctic world with real temperatures of – 12°C and floor to ceiling arctic landscapes and real snow.One of the key features of the store is that there is no inventory held on site. The entire unit is dedicated to creating an incredible, immersive experience. Merging the physical and the digital, products can be ordered from kiosks on-site, for express delivery the same day.
Vertical farms grace the M&S foodhalls
Vertical farms are becoming a more familiar site in food-halls and supermarkets. Whilst they are not yet growing produce at an industrial scale, numerous chains worldwide are experimenting with the technology. M&S is testing InFarm’s vertical farming system and is selling fresh herbs from units in 7 of its London based stores. Berlin based InFarm already has partnerships with a number of other global food retailers such as Kroger in the USA, Aldi Sud in Germany and Irma in Copenhagen.
M&S’s trial means a selection of fresh herbs are now freshly grown and harvested at a number of London stores. Trading data of its existing fresh herb range was used to identify the right sites for the first stage of roll-out.
Infarm’s ground-breaking farming technology combines highly efficient vertical farming units with the latest IOT technologies and machine learning, to deliver a controlled eco-system with the optimum amount of light, air and nutrients. Each unit is remotely controlled using a cloud-based platform, which learns, adjusts and continuously improves to ensure each plant grows better than the last one.
So what’s the benefit to the retailer, the consumer and the environment? Well each in-store farm unit uses 95% less water and 75% less fertiliser than traditional soil-based agriculture. Measuring just two square metres, these farms are capable of producing the equivalent crop of 400 square meters of farmland, resulting in a more sustainable use of natural resources and also allowing for zero pesticide use.
Graze Super Snackers
We applaud better-for-you snacks company Graze for the launch of their ‘Super Snackers’ cereal bars, aimed at younger grazers. The range features 50% less sugar than regular cereal bars and is designed to appeal to health-conscious parents. Valley worked with the Graze team to roll out this colourful and eye-catching FSDU across the Sainsbury’s estate. On special offer at £1, who wouldn’t want to try a Super Snacker?
Shopify Augmented Reality
Augmented reality (AR) has the potential to revolutionize mobile shopping by bringing products to life in front of you through 3D models that you can size up, examine from all angles, and even place in the environment around you.
E-commerce platform Shopify, known for powering thousands of online stores for small, medium and large businesses worldwide has built a services marketplace to help its merchants create 3D models of their products.
With the latest generation of Android and Apple smartphones, 3D product models can now be viewable in AR directly through their web browser —all without the need for a separate mobile app or a clunky headset.
Web-powered augmented reality represents an exciting leap toward making AR experiences readily available to the everyday shopper through mobile browsers.
A growing number of Shopify merchants have already modelled their products using the Shopify AR platform. For Pure Cycles, AR adds another dimension to product pages
Jordan Schau is the co-founder of Pure Cycles, a company that sells affordable fixed gear bicycles both online and through physical retail.
What has Jordan and his team excited about the 3D models they’re creating through Shopify AR is the potential to provide an immersive shopping experience that empowers customers to remotely explore every inch, every part, and every angle of their products—an area where traditional product photography has fallen short.
Surf and Comfort beach shack – Unilever
One of our team spotted this super-cute co-branded beach-hut featuring products from detergent brand Surf and fabric conditioner brand Comfort. We think this was a clever strategy. UK consumers may currently be locked-down in cold, wintry conditions. But that doesn’t stop them from dreaming of Beach holidays and the sights, smells and sounds of exotic locations. This activation dares to evoke summer and invites shoppers to welcome bright tropical coconut scents into their home. If the brits can’t go on holiday, Comfort and Surf can bring the holiday to them!