Harrods VR & The Importance of Multi-Sensory Retail

HARRODS VR EXPERIENCE & THE IMPORTANCE OF MULTI-SENSORY RETAIL

Why we should be taking note of Harrod’s latest installation…

To mark their 175th anniversary this year, Harrods partnered with xydrobe to introduce a multi-sensory cinema within their iconic department store. Billed as an installation that will “take luxury storytelling to the next level”, the cinema is offering visitors access to a programme of immersive experiences from luxury brands. Unlike the one’s we may usually visit, this cinema features state-of-the-art VR headsets which can provide the feelings of wind, temperature changes, scent discovery and immersive sound.

The first brand to tackle immersive luxury within a 4D experience was Swiss watchmaker Vacheron Constantin who used the cinema for a 10-minute immersive dive into the brand’s universe. Visitors were taken on a virtual adventure, with the opportunity to discover the depths of Constantin’s craft and previously hidden corners of the Knightsbridge store.

Harrods VR Experience with xydrobe

With Harrods x Constantin only running until 21st July, we’re eager to see what the next phrase will be. Because while not every brand who inhabits the space will be on our wishlist, there are a few key elements to take from this. Firstly, there is something to be said for taking part in a brand experience which is unlike any other – certainly on the highstreet. Secondly, it opens up luxury brand accessibility to those who may not necessarily be able to afford the products themselves. And lastly, but most interestingly to us, there is a sense of complete brand education and appreciation which has zero to do with cost or status. It’s simply – although not simple at all – an opportunity to experience something a little different to the norm.

It also brings us to the conversation of immersive retail experiences, which focus wholeheartedly on awakening our senses. While the Harrods x Xydrobe VR installation may be the grandest of executions in multi-sensory retail, shoppers can experience elements of this in so many different ways. For beauty, this may be the scent of a fragrance spritzed in-store or the feeling of a moisturiser as we test it on our skin. For sports retail, we may favour those brands who give us the opportunity to not only feel the material of the trainer but take it for a test drive on a treadmill. For beverage brands, the experience is not only down to the tasting but the locations, where we may sip from premium glasses in a curated setting.

From the grandest of executions to the smaller moments of sensory discovery, there is something largely significant between those brands who simply sell their product and those who use them to stimulate our senses while we shop. Some of our favourites recently have been…

Glossier's Realms of You

Glossier's Regent Street pop-up still sits high on our list when we think of sensory experiences. A soft spoken Glossier ‘actor’ guided us through lush red velvet curtains to the ASMR cinematic experience and onwards to a room punctuated with small booths and gloved hands – each of which have a different personality. No sense left unturned.

LVMH 'Wonders' Champagne Bar

Our design of the Wonders Ultimate Champagne Bar was focused on the luxury experience for visitors. The setting was curated to be relaxed, with comfy boucle seating to keep the experience cosy & home-like, while the premium glassware accentuated the taste of the premium fizz.

Moet Wonders Champagne Bar, Selfridges

Gentle Monster's Robotic Head

You can’t touch this, nor hear, smell or taste it. You can simply watch. But (as desired by the team at Gentle Monster) the emotionless robotic head certainly providing an ‘emotionally stirring experience’. Whether feeling impressed, a little unsettled or purely determined to work out why it exists, there is something sensorial about this installation.

Sanctuary Spa's Fragrance Discovery

One of our own again, but the perfect example of how small – but mighty – retail displays can offer a sensory experience. Transforming the way we can trial out scented body products, the scent-soaked wood allows shoppers to discover the scent which appeals to them most without covering themselves in body scrub.

sanctuary spa fragrance trays in Boots

EE x Calm's Digital Spa

EE recently partnered with Calm for Stress Awareness Month and their Digital Spa is the epitome of sensory experiences. Or more appropriately, a break from too much sensory stimulation. with three different soundscapes, the partnership recognised the need for busy shoppers to find a little respite in their day. Wellness is a cause EE are pretty hot on, and this is a pretty perfect exploration of wellness via a sensory retail experience.

EE x Calm Digital Spa

To Conclude...

Without any of the above, brick-and-mortar shopping is an innately multi-sensory experience. We’re seeing, feeling, perhaps smelling and tasting, before we make a purchase. But without guidance, we may be left without any true feeling of stimulation. So, when we discuss the importance of sensory experience, we are specifically referencing those which have been expertly curated to trigger a response from us, whether it’s for 10 seconds or 10 minutes. From the Harrods VR experience which awakens every sense to the smaller fragrance discoveries, there’s something undeniable about the power of multi-sensory experiences.

Say hello@impactretail.co.uk if you’re open to exploring how your brand can engage the senses in your next retail execution. We’d love to chat multi-sensory!

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