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Affordable and efficient design strategies

When it comes to design regular readers know that we firmly believe it can be a differentiating factor and it can add value to a business. Yet, design depends on trends, on taste, in other words on lot of external variables that are not under your control. What was well designed yesterday may seem old-fashioned today.


The ROI of design

If design is considered an antecedent of value, then we should talk about return on investment. Design is a costly activity (in the development but also I the realization phase) and one should carefully study what he or she can expect in monetary terms.

We’ve seen businesses (most of them in the retail sector) investing hundreds of thousands in store design. A Net Present Value calculation (NPV) of future expected earnings may have led to different decisions.


Is there a more affordable approach

Well, let be clear about one point. Be it offline (retail, …) or online, a good design is an imperative when it comes to giving a good impression to future customers and increasing the odds of their purchasing from you. No one will question for instance the importance of a website on the image a customer will form of your products or services.

Yet, we think that there is another most cost-effective approach. Rather than going for a “total look” approach where everything is designed and thought of in detail, what we see emerging is that retailers focus their attention on one object or one precise location of the store. The efforts put into this object or this particular location of the store aims at giving a sense of awe to visitors and retain them.


Levi’s does it. Which lesson should we learn?

One very good example of such a strategy is given by the Levi’s flagship store of the Champs-Elysees in Paris. THE object is to be found in the basement. When the visitors go down, the first thing they see is an incredibly large shelf at the back of the store. This one element captures all the visitor’s attention and acts as a magnet although the rest of the store is pretty “usual”. Nothing fancy here except the shelf.

The lesson to be learned here is that you don’t necessarily need an overwhelmingly well designed online or offline store. What you really need is a single cue, a kind of stimulus that will give prospects the motivation to explore and learn about what you are offering.


Advice #1 for your marketing strategy

The big Lesson Learned here is that physical store as well as online stores should include one very special element to attract customers’ attention and motivate them to go further in their relationship with you. At IntoTheMinds we do believe firmly in the power of emotions. Intangible elements like emotions add a great deal of value to a product offering and allow firm to have more room to play with prices.


Advice #2 for your business plan and your market research

When drafting your business plan you should definitely take the above advice into account. Which element will convey this sense of awe? Which place will it have in your overall marketing strategy and how will you align it with your marketing strategy? You should see this element as a catalyst: it should draw people in and your strategy should make sure people stay and purchase.

Such a discussion will nicely fit into the section of your business plan dedicated to communication strategy (and costs!) and growth.


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Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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