SXSW & The In-Store Experience

Posted by Elizabeth Hoffman on Mar 19, 2019 11:19:00 AM
Elizabeth Hoffman
Retail is starting to play a larger role at SXSW. This year, we saw more brand executives emphasize the importance of the in-store experience and ensuring those experiences not only align with the brand, but meet customer expectations and demands. In-store activation wasn't just limited to speaker sessions or panel discussions. Retailers showcased their Austin-based physical locations with thoughtful and engaging programs. Here are a few examples we loved.
Aviator Nation
Aviator Nation first launched in 2006 by Paige Mycoskie. The clothing brand was born out Mycoskie's love of 70s-inspired clothing, live music and the arts. She launched her collection out of her garage in Venice, California where her friends could also come and play music. The brand grew in popularity and now all eight of her brick and mortar stores still embrace that same ethos. Every Aviator Nation location embraces live music and ongoing events that cater to the creative and musical desires of each market. Mycoskie credits the fact that the musical acts can still be viewed for free by customers as one of the keys to the success of her stores. She emphasizes that the in-store experience is authentic to her brand and therefore, resonates with her customers. True to form, during SXSW, Aviator Nation's Austin-based location hosted a mural painting party, sound bath sessions, yoga and live bands during the festival.
Aviator Nation Sound Bath Austin TexasPhoto Cred: @AviatorNationAustin

Kendra Scott

Kendra Scott is based in Austin, so it's no surprise that it would welcome SXSW with open arms. Kendra Scott specializes in jewelry and accessories, focusing especially on gemstones. Realizing the power of brick and mortar stores, Kendra Scott opened a new flagship location in Austin's popular 'SoCo' district (South Congress) and welcomed retailers with a Style & Retail Party at the start of SXSW.
One thing that stood out at the new flagship location was the in-store cafe - which offers all kinds of pastries, macaroon delights and - most importantly - a frose machine. Not only is the retail location a convenient  place for customers to shop for product, but they can also visit the cafe for programmed events or a glass of wine, long after SXSW has passed. This is a perfect example of how a brand can create the right experience to engage and delight its target demographic.
Kendra Scott Cafe
Photo Cred: Kendra Scott


It's well-known that lululemon knows how to execute carefully planned brand programming. This year's SXSW was no exception. They created an on-site pop-up store called 'The Sweatlife House' that featured a host of programs. It succeeded in creating an oasis for festival goers by incorporating guided meditation, yoga and more. One of the more popular attractions was the 'Frequency Dome' which was a large, white - you guessed it - dome, that attendees could step into for guided meditation that focused on connecting with other attendees, complete with ambient lighting to set the mood. This was a uniquely powerful addition that truly highlighted what we've been hearing for some time: in this ever-connected world, people still feel disconnected from one another and are craving human interaction and experiences. lululemon acknowledged this need and provided an experience to remedy - which is something other brands can take note of.

Sweatlife by lululemon SXSW

Photo Cred: Gabriel C Perez

Topics: In-Store Experience, Retail Tech News, Retail Industry Research, SXSW

About GPShopper

GPShopper is a mobile commerce platform and app developer for retailers, using technology to transform the total retail experience.  GPShopper is a Synchrony solution. 
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