Summertime is time for vacations, and I travelled for a few weeks myself. It is an occupational habit (if not, hazard) of mine to stroll through all the local stores of my travel destinations. My impressions during my recent trip to Germany boil down to one simple fact: I am bored.
Let´s start with the outer appearance and take a look at the shop windows and slogans. It is either one pretty face after another, or some nature photography. The same monotony goes for colors and fonts. They are either black-and-white or pastels, I assume to evoke elegance. Slogans – and this I noticed especially in Germany – are a wild mix of German and English that are more confusing than anything. The flaneur quickly realizes that this is a parallel universe that has little to do with reality. Added value for customers – none! Empty phrases illustrate that malls and shopping districts have nothing to say to their visitors.
If I do enter one of the stores, I take a look around the sales room– hashtags everywhere! This symbol is ubiquitous and its function unclear – no, wait, it is supposed to appeal to the younger crowd, right. Ironically, the original function of the symbol is undermined by a subsequent space, followed by a blatant “follow us”. I ask myself „where to?“ and „why?“ but receive no answers. Finally, I am offered apps to downloads – so this is digital revolution at its best?
The more I walk through the store, the more communication deteriorates to meaningless truisms – did you not know that fall and winter are coming soon? Maybe the retail would rather engage in weather forecasts? They seem to be doing this as well as anything else.
Julius Geis is a renowned expert in identity-based brand positioning for retailers and manufacturers. As CEO of ON ANY GIVEN MONDAY he consults globally successful brands in the sports, fashion and outdoor industry.