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Captivating Customers with Stories – Storytelling in Retail
Communications – PR, Social Media, Content Media & Marketing 17 January 2019

Captivating Customers with Stories – Storytelling in Retail

Snuggle up in bed on a Sunday morning; before boredom gets the better of you, put your laptop on your lap and diligently jump from one shopping site to the next. Most of us have felt like this, or at least something similar. Shopping online is very convenient and, above all, a 24-hour business. But what has happened to the good old stroll through the old town?

The fact that the retail sector is struggling in times of digitalization is no longer a news flash for anyone. For this reason, the stores had to come up with something new. Many stores are therefore focusing on providing their customers with a unique shopping experience. Telling them a story, being inspired by the advice of the sales staff and finally convincing them that it’s fun to find their way into the store. A completely individualized customer journey is becoming increasingly important. Every customer should have the feeling of being something very special.

An American shopping mall with Christmas decorations and blurry people
Source: Unsplash / @bravelyventure

Rituals – telling stories with all the senses

One of the international players in the field of storytelling is the Dutch company Rituals Cosmetics. They now delight their customers in more than 20 countries with a standardized store concept. Anyone who has ever been in a Rituals store will know it: a friendly salesperson approaches the customer with a smile and offers a fresh cup of tea. Pleasant jazz music plays in the background. The light creates a sensual and cozy atmosphere. Scented candles spread their fragrance throughout the store. Customers are welcomed with all their senses.

Starting with the company’s founding story, the Rituals brand thrives on storytelling. The special thing about Rituals products is that before a range is developed, a captivating story is first created, to which the various items are then adapted. “The Ritual of Ayurveda, for example, stands for the millennia-old art of leading a harmonious life and originated in India more than 5,000 years ago. The philosophy of this practice is based on the idea of restoration and inner harmony through the purification and care of body and mind.

The Ritual of Ayurveda is designed to help customers find inner harmony and a beauty that makes them glow even more naturally. The right ingredients are mainly Indian rose and honey from the Himalayas. The rose stands for the purity of love and the honey nourishes the skin. These ingredients are the perfect complement to the long-standing tradition of Ayurveda.”

The salesperson tells these stories in passing while the customer is trying out the latest peeling on the water island. He is thus taken on a journey of the senses. For Rituals, taking guests away from their everyday lives and immersing them in the story of rituals is a real brand value that leads to customer loyalty. When the buyer has chosen a product and takes it home, each bag is also sprayed with the matching fragrance. This allows the customer to remember their shopping experience at home.

STORY – reinventing stories again and again

The New York store STORY has made a completely different concept its USP. Every two months, the entire store is completely changed. Customers are taken on a new journey. Cooperation partners have free use of the 2,000 square meters of the New York store. Major brands such as American Express and Target have already booked the space for themselves and their customers.

The STORY concept “Home for the Holidays” brings together more than 2,000 gifts from over 300 smaller brands and stores. The store was designed in the style of a cozy home. A champagne lounge for her, a library for him, a playroom for the kids and a kitchen where everyone can find something to nibble on. The idea behind this concept is that the best place to be is at home and to create an atmosphere in which the customer remembers the feeling of giving presents in the living room.

The respective partner is completely free to decide for the entire time what the perfect temporary store looks like for them. Over 41 different concepts have been developed since 2011. Among them: Love, Making Things and Made in America. The creators not only  want to draw attention to a political or social issue, but also to raise awareness and stimulate discussion.

Future – The concept store for all needs

And what does the future hold? Furthermore, many retailers will have to decide whether they also want to offer their customers something in bricks-and-mortar retail and invest in experiences and storytelling. Rituals is already taking the first steps into the future and integrating spas, yoga and relaxation zones into its stores. The longer the consumer lingers, the more stories they can hear and lose themselves in. With this approach, Rituals plays directly on the emotions of consumers and tries to build a relationship.

The future is therefore moving towards so-called concept stores, which offer all kinds of different things and are becoming increasingly important. Customers want to feel comfortable when they enter a store. The correct  placement of story elements, for example, is therefore fundamental to whether visitors  like to linger in the store over coffee or tea. If guests feel well looked after, they will come back to listen to more stories about the company or its products.


One thing is certain: retail will be with us for a few more years. Stores and brands will be able to retain customers or even bring them back into the stores through store experience.

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