What is retailtainment, and how are modern brands leveraging it?

women wearing VR headset and few shopping bags placed besides her.


Let me begin by asking a question: ever walked into a store that allows you to customize what you want to buy?

Or participated in a quiz or challenge about a product and earned a great discount on it?

Yes? Then, you have had a brush with retailtainment!

With businesses brainstorming on newer and more effective ideas to get customers hooked, a new retail marketing trend called “experiential retail” is gaining the spotlight.

But, what is experiential retail or retailtainment even for that matter?

Read on to find out!

What is retailtainment and experiential retail?

Retailtainment refers to bringing together retail marketing and entertainment and creating a worthwhile experience for the buyers, something that stirs up their interest and pushes forward a purchase.

Buyers experience your products using a combination of senses; retailtainment uses elements like lighting, colors, landscaping, store digital signage, sound, smell, and ambiance to evoke positive responses in their minds.

Retailtainment is in a way a component of experiential retail leverages in-store events and services, prioritizing consumer experience over sales and creating an experience that addresses consumers’ needs. It can range from ideas such as personalizing purchases and adding gaming experiences to introducing high-tech ‘wow’ gizmos.

Experiential retail marketing can engage the customer in every way through touch, glance, an interaction, or even an illusion. The visual merchandising of the store can also contribute significantly to building a memorable customer experience.

Why is retailtainment gaining importance for modern retail businesses?

Modern retail businesses are much more than selling a product. They focus on bringing products to life by adding a humane touch to them with storytelling at its core. After all, who doesn’t like an interactive shopping experience?

Another reason experiential campaigns are more rewarding than traditional marketing campaigns because they remain stuck in customers’ minds for a long time.

A recent study found that 100% of their respondents agreed that retailtainment, Point of Sale (POS) advertising, or close-up brand experiences stir up their interest in a particular product or service.

By combining technology with retail entertainment, consumer experience can reach a new high. Farfetch founder José Neves recently explained how dynamic the retail landscape has become:

Retailers need a way to collect information about their customers while they are browsing in-store, just as they collect data from online searches.

This vision pretty much represents the future of modern retail marketing and the fact that retailtainment is essential to make your customers keep coming back.

4 examples of brands leveraging retailtainment & experiential marketing

From the top global chains of businesses to the mid-size grocery stores, every brand is using retailtainment to offer their customers an experience beyond shopping. Here’s a look at four of my personal favorite.


IKEA store having a space at the entrance which looks like a house interior space.

IKEA is a name that barely needs a referred introduction, and for the right reasons. After all, it is what true retail therapy looks like!

There is quite purposefully something for everyone the minute they enter the store.

But, IKEA is beyond just an outlet. It is a cultural force!

The brand has designed a 391 sq. foot home in its Brooklyn store, where they have built an impressively compact but fully-loaded home, including every product an actual dwelling would have. At IKEA, the customers are getting to experience and feel how that rug they desire would look in their personal space.

Visiting with kids? Leave them at Smaland to have fun while you indulge and spend time shopping at the IKEA store.

Kids playing in a playing area called smaland at an IKEA store

Feeling the hunger pangs while shopping? A fully loaded restaurant awaits you right at the center of the store.

All these don’t just add up to offer the customers a memorable experience and improve the brand recall rate; they have a direct business benefit: the more time your customers stay inside your store, the more they spend.

2. Huda Beauty

People waiting in a queue at Huda beauty retail pop-up to experience the retailtainment offered by the brand.

Huda Beauty, one of the most prominent beauty brands, came up with a fabulous experiential retail pop-up at the center of Covent Garden, London, to launch a new product line and reach new customers.

Huda used the location to deliver an out-of-the-world experience for their new eye-shadow palette Mercury Retrograde.

The pop-up store offered the shoppers an experience as close as to stepping into outer space.

3. Hermes

Hermes event setup at Alserkal Avenue, Dubai which is showcasing thier scarves designs and give the viewers a brilliant retailtainment experience.

Design is something we all would love to learn. In January 2021, the French luxury design house Hermes came up with a spectacular event at Alserkal Avenue, Dubai, that gave visitors to plunge into the imaginary world of creation and joyfully celebrated design in all its forms.

At the Carré Studio, the main focus of the event, visitors could meet with the illustrators behind the jaw-dropping designs, learn the art of tying the perfect turbo, and show off their vocal skills at Carré Ok― an experience that will undoubtedly make the buyers keep coming back!

Different booths and arenas within the exhibition space offered different experiences.

At Carré Stories, the shoppers could hear the tales of the Hermes scarves on vintage dial phones.

Hermes Carré Stories booth setup where a lady is listening to their scarves stories on a vintage dial phone.

At atCarré knots, they got an opportunity to learn various styles of tying a scarf.

And then comes the real deal: the Carré Mania pop-up stores where the shoppers get to buy their favorite scarves.

Isn’t fantastic? Start with experience and then make a sale.

4. Macy’s

Macy's retailtainment store showing different themes for the different products to attract the customers.

STORY at Macy’s is indeed a story-driven retail experience in partnership with brands like MAC Cosmetics, Crayola, Levi’s Kids, etc.

The initiative launched as a unique retail store that believed in the idea of renewing its stock according to different themes every few months.

Concepts like ‘Love,’ ‘Remember When,’ and ‘Holidays’ acted as the benchmark for each new line of products. After seven years in business, Story was fully acquired by Macy’s and relaunched in 2018.

How does retailtainment drive consumer experience?

The examples I just spoke about stress the importance of engaging consumers in an in-store experience. Exceeding expectations drives emotional reactions. There are five common elements across all examples that are the driving force behind a remarkable customer experience:

  • Engagement: What the consumer sees and experiences in the store remains with them long after they have left the store.

  • Authenticity: Ideas, both original and innovative, making the customer feel like they are in a different world.

  • Personalization: A feeling that the experience has been tailor-made for them.

  • Dependability: Customer trusts the brand and sees it as more capable than other competing businesses.

Way forward

Experiential retail isn’t about spending hundreds of bucks on your store. A personalized shopping experience that requires more brainstorming (than money, trust me) helps provide an unparalleled retail experience for your existing and potential audience. Couple this with seamless in-store digital solutions and bingo!

Pickcel’s digital solutions can help your business build exceptional customer engagement! Sign up to manage your displays with the Pickcel display management system and unlock 60+ content apps (enjoy all the benefits free on 2 displays for 14 days!)

To get a quick demo and/or free consultation, contact our team.

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Shivangi Chatterjee

Shivangi writes for Pickcel. She consumes knowledge on the world of business & marketing at the same rate she consumes her cups of coffee. When she is not writing, you will find her reading books, grooving to music or admiring art.

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