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Three Formulas for Experiential Retail in 2024

by 
Bracha Arnold
 on 
April 3, 2024
Three Formulas for Experiential Retail in 2024

In a world where convenience is key and online shopping reigns supreme, many brands are turning to experiential retail to draw visitors into brick-and-mortar stores. We take a look at three companies with different types of experiential offerings – Michaels, DICK’S, and Lowe’s Home Improvement – to understand what experiential retail can look like in 2024. 

Key Takeaways: 

  • Experiential retail can take many different forms. 
  • Some retailers – including DICK’s – are designing entire venues as immersive hubs, with others – like Lowe’s – are adding experiential zones to their regular stores.
  • Companies can also empower customers to create their bespoke in-store experience.

DICK’S: Elevating The Sporting Experience 

Some retailers are encouraging consumers to engage fully in their brand by dedicating entire brick-and-mortar venues entirely to immersive experience. Sporting goods brands in particular, including Lululemon with its yoga studios and Nike and its training studios, have employed this strategy to directly engage with their core audience. And perhaps the best example of this is the DICK’S House of Sport concept, launched in 2021 by sporting goods retailer DICK’S.

DICK’S currently operates 12 House of Sports locations where visitors can repair their bikes, pick out a golf club, use a climbing wall or batting cage. The concept has been highly successful, especially as more people engage in some form of recreational sports or fitness activities, and the chain is looking to add at least 100 more of these experiential stores in the next five years. 

Quarterly foot traffic patterns suggest that the new locations will be met with enthusiasm. Visits to the three longest-running House of Sports stores in Q4 2023 were 7.2% higher than they were in Q4 2022, while visits to DICK’S Sporting Goods stores nationwide were 2.3% lower for the same period. Psychographic data also reveals that House of Sport visitors also tend to be slightly older and more established than visitors to DICK’S nationwide – and this older audience may be more inclined to spend more than their younger counterparts.  

By creating an immersive athletic experience that taps into the growing popularity of personal fitness, House of Sport can continue to draw in visitors and foster community – and serve as a model for other sporting goods retailers looking to expand their experiential offerings.  

Lowe’s: Empowering DIY Enthusiasts

Retailers who don’t want to devote an entire location to their experiential offering can also leverage their regular venues to offer visitors hands-on engagement with their products on certain days or time slots. Rising costs have led more people than ever to turn to DIY – and meeting that demand, leading home improvement retailer Lowe’s has introduced a DIY workshop on Saturdays and Sundays at 100 locations across the country. Visitors heading to participating Lowe’s stores will be able to participate in workshop stations and take advantage of all-day demos – with no registration required. The company also runs a family-friendly Weekending at Lowe’s program, which allows visitors to register to free workshops focused on child-friendly activities, such as creating a butterfly biome or a tabletop basketball game

Providing people with a hands-on, practical approach to home repairs may help Lowe’s expand its customer base as more people embrace DIY concepts. Participants in the DIY workshops may feel more confident in tackling new projects at home. They are also more likely to choose Lowe’s products due to familiarity with the store and its offerings — a win for the company.

Comparing year-over-year (YoY) visits at Lowe’s locations with DIY workshops to the foot traffic performance of the chain as a whole indicates that the DIY venue, while experiencing the effects of the ongoing retail headwinds, are managing to perform better than Lowe’s stores overall. And analyzing locations using the Spatial.ai: PersonaLive dataset reveals that Lowe’s DIY stores are particularly popular among rural segments, with more "Rural Average Income" and "Rural Low Income" segments in their captured markets than their potential market*. 

*A chain’s potential market refers to the population residing in a given trade area, where the Census Block Groups (CBGs) making up the trade area are weighted to reflect the number of households in each CBG. A chain’s captured market weighs each CBG according to the actual number of visits originating to the chain from that CBG. 

Lowe’s can harness this data if it seeks to expand the DIY concept further to help it capitalize on its success among rural audiences – and other retailers can take note of the demand for hands-on workshops from this segment. 

Michaels: Embracing Family Fun

A third model for experiential retail empowers the customer to take the reins and decide when to schedule the in-store event – and who to add to the guest list. Craft chain Michaels, which has long emphasized child-friendly experiences like summer camps and free classes, recently introduced store-hosted birthday parties for kids up to age 13. 

Demographic data from both potential and captured trade areas suggest that this focus on kids activities is succeeding in attracting the family households in its trade area. Michaels attracts a larger share of married couples with children in its captured market than in its potential market, and has a captured market household size of 2.6, slightly larger than its potential market household size. The share of households in Experian: Mosaic’s “Suburban Style,” “Flourishing Families”, and “Family Union” segments were also all higher in Michaels captured market than in its potential market.

Michael’s seems to be positioning itself as a one-stop shop for crafters of all ages, and focusing on children’s events may help the chain attract more family segments to its stores. This serves as a reminder of the draw that quality children’s entertainment can provide and offers a blueprint for retailers wishing to attract more families to their locations.

Experience Is Everything

These three chains prove that there are plenty of ways to attract people into brick-and-mortar stores. By offering workshops, events, and in-store attractions, the three chains are building brand awareness and increasing their foot traffic.

Will experiential retail continue to dominate in 2024?

Visit placer.ai/blog to stay up-to-date on the latest retail trends. 

This blog includes data from Placer.ai Data Version 2.0, which implements improvements to our extrapolation capabilities, adds short visit monitoring, and enhances visit detection. 

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