Branching Narratives

In the writing world, “choose your own adventure” books allow readers to enjoy a novel over and over again with a completely new experience every time. Also known as a branching narrative, the appeal of this type of format is that it provides additional value for patrons, at a point where other books may begin to feel stagnant to the reader. So how does this all relate to retail? Well, at the recent Entertainment Experience Evolution conference, industry leaders officially recognized it as playing a pivotal role in the future of retail. Keynote speaker Jonathan Casson went so far as to say “Branching narrative is the Holy Grail of 2019.”

Here’s why it’s a big deal:

All About The Experience

Now, more than ever, consumers are looking for unique experiences to garner their hard-earned money. Gone are the days of focusing on commodities and convenience, as e-commerce has only strengthened its grip on that sector over the last few years. For brick and mortar to keep up, it’s going to take a shift in focus. Experiential shopping continues to stay at the forefront of our industry. But with all of the costs and commitments associated with a technology refresh at your store, how do you get the most for your investment? Branching narratives complete the equation. Instead of touting only one new improvement at a time, this methodology relies on giving the customer the freedom to follow any number of unique paths. Think of it like a game of pool – Sure, you can play a typical match; but if you’re looking for something new, there’s always 8 Ball, Snooker, English Billiards, and more. The same should apply to how you structure your store. Give visitors the opportunity to have a different memorable experience each time they stop by.

Cooperation Leads To Success

Thinking on a bigger scale, the branching narrative model can see even more success if multiple stores buy-in on the concept together. We’ve already mentioned the importance of creating micro-destinations in our nation’s commercial centers. Wouldn’t it make sense if those shops worked together to achieve synergistic benefits? For example, if you’re a pretzel store, and across the hall, there’s a really great pizza place, there could be an opportunity for crossover. Whether it’s a new co-branded pretzel crust pizza or another fun combination, you just gave visitors a reason to get excited. Other examples include allowing visitors at the local pet shop to stop by and get a free treat for their new puppy while they walk past your storefront. It’s these little interactions that make a huge difference in someone’s consideration set – and it’s all because you gave them the ability to choose their own adventure. Pair that with technological innovation, and you’ve got a model for continued success for years to come.

As a retailer, what are your thoughts on cooperating with other storefronts? Are you able to create unique experiences inside your own shop as well? If you’re interested in learning how to keep your own brick-and-mortar location up to date with the newest trends, we encourage you to connect with us through the Calendly scheduler that is in the upper right-hand corner of this page, or contact us here.