Published 11 January 2024

23 min read

IRL matters: despite the pandemic’s lingering impact on footfall, physical brand spaces’ productivity is rising, as is their halo effect on e-commerce sales (see Key Stats). From accessible refuges and self-improvement at retail therapy salons to Big Box, Big Energy suburbia, stan stores, XR flagships and AI-assisted atmospherics, we unpack nine directions for 2024/25 to boost fans’ imaginations, sense of belonging and spending.

1. Retail Therapy Hubs: Accessible Refuges & Self-Improvement

2. Asset Culture Concept Stores: From Collectors Salons to Retail Rehab

3. Retail Residencies: Proximity to Creativity & Rolling Reinvention

4. Mythmakers: ‘Sceno-Stores’ & Re-Enlivening Legacy

5. Stan Stores: Servicing the Obsession Overspill

6. Big Box Big Energy: Reimagining Suburbia

7. Disability Empathetic Environments

8. XR-Fuelled Flagships

9. AI-Assisted Venues: Atmospherics & Analytics

Retail therapy will be radically reframed in 2024/25 via wellness-evolving brand spaces assuaging the stressors of contemporary life (see Key Stats). From mainstreaming mental health care to escapist, multisensory concepts promising coping mechanisms, self-improvement and clarity amidst the chaos, there are major opportunities for beauty, fitness and tech. Some may tackle taboos to forge new brand models/formats altogether.  

Retail therapy will be radically reframed in 2024/25 via wellness-evolving brand spaces assuaging the stressors of contemporary life (see Key Stats). From mainstreaming mental health care to escapist, multisensory concepts promising coping mechanisms, self-improvement and clarity amidst the chaos, there are major opportunities for beauty, fitness and tech. Some may tackle taboos to forge new brand models/formats altogether.  

Summary

1. Retail Therapy Hubs: Accessible Refuges & Self-Improvement

Retail therapy will be radically reframed in 2024/25 via wellness-evolving brand spaces assuaging the stressors of contemporary life (see Key Stats). From mainstreaming mental health care to escapist, multisensory concepts promising coping mechanisms, self-improvement and clarity amidst the chaos, there are major opportunities for beauty, fitness and tech. Some may tackle taboos to forge new brand models/formats altogether.  

2. Asset Culture Concept Stores: From Collectors Salons to Retail Rehab

Asset culture (consumers’ perception of their possessions as things to resell, trade or collect) will also fuel success. Cost-of-living and ecological concerns are key drivers, but the connoisseurship and community inherent to the trading mentality make it a luxury story as well. Look to aspirational interpretations of authentication, validation, repair (rehab) and post-purchase support helping fans relish their role as micro-shopkeepers.

3. Retail Residencies: Proximity to Creativity & Rolling Reinvention

Promising access to expertise, for both entertainment and professional interest – 35% of American Gen Zers describe themselves as ambitious, a tag they’re 43% more likely to use than the average consumer (GWI, 2023) – retail residencies, where savvy microbrand reinventions offer a public-meets-private line to new people, ideas and trends, will also see success in 2024/25.

4. Mythmakers: ‘Sceno-Stores’ & Re-Enlivening Legacy

Satisfying the 63% of global consumers wanting brands to provide multisensory experiences, and the 33% of Brits seeking accessible escapism from retail (see Key Stats), 2024/25 is primed for scenography-worthy brand spaces. Many will feed the megabrand imperative to evidence more-than-a-corporate creative credentials via legacy-enlivening social commentary and visceral visual merchandising.

5. Stan Stores: Servicing the Obsession Overspill

Evolving the Hype Hubs of 2022/23, an enthusiastic return to real-life gigs and festivals presents a major opportunity to connect by feeding fan fervour, particularly where fans are being priced or timed out of the original event. Music culture is the catalyst, but there’s mileage wherever there are superfans (stalker fans: stans) – TV, film – with an appetite for indulging their devotion.

6. Big Box Big Energy: Reimagining Suburbia

With hybrid working now a mainstay of modern life, suburban retail destinations are outpacing urban epicentres. In this pandemic-reshaped post-commute economy (see Key Stats), suburbia offers fresh possibilities for stealing superstar city shine. Evolving Monetising Micropolitan in Leaning into Local, local collabs, imaginative mall services and food halls lead the way.

7. Disability Empathetic Environments

As detailed in Universal Brandscapes, the imperative to support disabled consumers is as commercially critical as it is ethical (see Key Stats). From ultra-smart spatial and product recognition apps to remote interpretation tools and the inclusion of calming sensory breakout spaces, for 24/25 there’s a major imperative to recalibrate physical spaces and how they’re navigated to provide parity.

8. XR-Fuelled Flagships

Whether as a tenet of omni-channel retail (linking store wow factor directly to e-commerce) showcasing emotion-inducing experiential might, or trading on the increasing overlap between digital and physical products (“verch”), extended reality (XR) will fuel flagships’ power. With augmented reality (AR) usage predicted to reach 75% of global consumers by 2025 (see Key Stats), tech marrying artificial intelligence (AI) with XR adds a considerable competitive edge.

9. AI-Assisted Venues: Atmospherics & Analytics

Advanced and generative AI will also deliver opportunities to turbocharge connections between store ambience, diagnostic tech, at-large trends and consumer profiles faster and more deftly than ever – boosting relevance and inspiration.

Brand Spaces: 9 Trends & Opportunities, 24/25

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Offering access to over 350 consumer and cross-industry reports annually, Stylus Membership is your window to tomorrow’s most exciting opportunities.

We already arm more than 500 of the world’s most forward-thinking brands and agencies with the creative insights they need to make transformative business decisions.

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