Consumers in the United Kingdom are now experiencing a new kind of shopping experience provided and hosted by Selfridges, a high-end department chain founded in the early twentieth century. By collaborating with international brands and Headspace (modern meditation gurus), Selfridges now allows customers to shop without worrying about brands or the, sort of, noise pollution that is generally expected when shopping. Their website features a video with this message: “As we become increasingly bombarded with information and stimulation, the world is becoming a noisier place. In an initiative that goes beyond retail, we invite you to celebrate the power of quiet, see the beauty in function and find calm among the crowds.” Selfridges is looking to promote quality over packaging and design.
The new set-up will include aisles of unbranded goods (that will still look awfully familiar), a quiet room, and Headspace relaxation pods. Goods, such as condiments and beauty products, as well as Selfridges bags, will be on display unbranded and without labels throughout the store to create a more ‘quiet’ experience for the shopper. The Silence Room, a space in the store with little anything really, serves as “a room where busy shoppers could retire from the whirl of bargains and the build-up of energy.” The Headspace relaxation pods calm customers with different guided meditations to help calm busy minds in the store including meditations with key focuses on commuting, love, shopping, and technology.
I’m not the only one who is weary about the new changes Selfridges is bringing to customers; it seems somewhat to-good-to-be-true and questionable if consumers are already brand-efficient and aware. According to Brand Genetics Blog, “a good brand doesn’t just create noise or shout louder than the competition…a good brand is actually an integral part of a product’s quality and function.” In addition, the blog reminds us of the principles of behavioral economics – if a consumer is given the same product at two different places, the place that seemed “better” will also have a more pleasurable experience using the product. This relates to Selfridges because most importantly, context is all; if you surround a consumer with familiar-looking brands, the one they feel most connection with, they will buy regardless of no visual branding.
A company meaning to do more good, may be doing more bad.