Authenticity has always been, and will continue to be, a primary concern for international brands. After all, how do you remain relevant to a consumer’s unique preferences while still capturing the attention of customers all over the world? How do you define cool, when the definition changes from city to city, country to country?
For global sports and lifestyle brand, Puma, the answer comes in a spate of newly envisioned, locally inspired retail stores across the world. Designed by Berlin-based Plajer & Franz Studio in conjunction with Ales Kernjak, head of global store concepts, Puma Retail AG, these bold spaces have been designed according to the company’s Retail 2.0 concept, which aims to unify innovation, simplicity and local influences, all while following sustainable guidelines.
“Puma’s Retail 2.0 concept is a reflection of the witty and joyful spirit of the company,” says Werner Franz, co-founder of Plajer & Franz Studio. “It aims at strengthening the brand and providing a more joyful shopping experience.”
And a joyful experience it is; the new Puma stores combine a range of local staples with bold colors and lighting to create a stimulating, engaging experience for shoppers. For example, the London store features a façade covered in 3-D images of the city’s iconic telephone booths. Those booths can also be found inside the store, where they function as a display system and dumbwaiter cladding.
Another London classic, the Metro sign, makes an appearance in the changing rooms alongside a bevy of white tiles, transforming them into tube stations. A footwear catwalk, capturing London’s place as a fashion capital of the world, leads from the store entrance to a focus wall on the far side.
In Amsterdam, a wall filled with vintage car mirrors acts as a display platform for sneakers; the installation, created by local artist collective, The Invisible Party, plays on the Dutch tradition of placing car mirrors on the doors and windows of houses to provide a sightline to the doorbell. A lighting system on the second floor is constructed out of old bike frames welded together, and the changing rooms have been covered in traditional delft tiles—all “Pumarized” accordingly. Most strikingly, a brand wall constructed from a collection of old Amsterdam doors, painted red and emblazoned with the Puma logo, stretches through all three floors of the space.
The Munich store features a motorsports area to appeal to Germans’ innate love of automobiles, but it also incorporates touches of a more regional flavor. The changing rooms are something of an homage to the typical alpine hut, manufactured from Bavarian reclaimed wood. Puma’s “Dylan” cat sculpture (wearing deer antlers, no less) makes an appearance in the area, while shoppers entering the changing rooms are greeted by a life-sized sculpture of Dylan and a red floormat reading “servus”—the Bavarian word for hello.
“The local flavor is a new addition to the Puma stores and has a significant role in it. This direction was chosen for two reasons,” explains Franz. “First of all, it acknowledges the sense of uniqueness. Puma is a global brand, yes, but this does not necessarily speak against being unique or individual in a certain way. These local elements add something interesting, something special and joyful to the design and make it unique.”
“Secondly, by reflecting the consumers’ direct environment and things that are part of their lifestyle and familiar to them, you give them more chances to identify with the brand. In this sense, it can be a great way to strengthen customer retention.”
Technology also plays a large role in the Retail 2.0 concept, and it injects another dose of joy into the Puma shopping experience. Overhead digital screens display hypnotic, slow moving visuals of fluffy clouds and underwater scenes, while “unsmart phones” ring when approached by customers; once picked up, the phones offer everything from Puma trivia to animal sounds. “Peep Show” installations, found in the changing rooms, display video clips about the brand, while a movable joy-pad wall, assembled from 32 synchronized digital touch screens, allows users to play simple games and compete with friends.
The design team also placed iPads on display tables throughout the spaces, allowing shoppers to browse and purchase items from the European online store, which offers a wider merchandise assortment, complete size runs and alternative colors.
“By integrating cutting-edge technologies into the store design, we make a step towards joining the two worlds of real shopping and online shopping,” Franz says. “The latter is becoming more and more important for each brand, so instead of separating them, why not find ways to combine both worlds?”
“Playing games, watching videos and browsing through the website make the shop visit multifaceted, which I think is what we should aim for,” he adds.
Puma also recognizes that green is good business, and each of the re-designed stores have been constructed with sustainability in mind. The general use of building materials has been reduced to a minimum, with ceilings left open and brick walls untreated. All wood comes from responsible, verified sources, while low-VOC paints and adhesives have been specified for walls and surfaces. An efficient lighting system, designed by XAL and based on HIT technology, has been incorporated to reduce the stores’ energy consumption.
The Retail 2.0 concept pioneered by Puma and executed by Plajer & Franz Studio has proven to be popular among shoppers and a successful blueprint for the global brand; the firm has also been involved with redesigns of Puma’s Paris, Berlin, Tokyo and Beijing stores, and similar stores in New York and Barcelona are set to open soon. For Franz, the key has been the careful balance of minimalism and simplicity with cutting-edge technology and exuberant installations that capture consumers’ imaginations.
“I think we got the balance pretty right in all Puma stores,” he says. “This is because we treated the product as the hero and designed the stage for it. Our principle is not to try to tell too many stories at one time—concentrate on one and you will get the message through.”
Read more from our interview with Werner Franz at the Inside Sources blog, and see more images from this project in our digital edition.