Brand matters more than ever. Why? Because there are more brands than ever. If that sounds like a contradiction, think about what the most successful brands all have… It’s recognition. Recognition means that customers know the brand and are able to pick it out of all of the other options available to them. It also means that other people know the brand, which can be a reason for consumers to buy it if they want to fit into a certain aesthetic, trend or lifestyle. This all adds up to a bottom-line benefit. In fact, there’s so much value in having a strong, recognisable brand that many big names are now looking beyond products and exploring lifestyle experiences connected to their brands. Which Brands are Exploring Lifestyle Experiences? Fast food company KFC has been one of the biggest experimenters in this space. Last year, it opened a pop-up hotel in London built around its famous fried chicken.
Lucky brand fans could pay to spend a night in one of the hotel's suites which were kitted out with KFC branding on everything from the towels to the bedsheets. The biggest draw though was a ‘Press for Chicken’ button that guests could use to order KFC food on-demand. KFC has followed this up with a pop-up London pub for 2022. Called the Colonel’s Arms, this traditional style British pub offered pints and KFC chicken to enjoy while watching the football. In 2020, skate brand Palace teamed up with beer giant Stella Artois on a collaborative fashion range called Palace Artois. This was marked by two pop-up pubs in New York and London where visitors could enjoy pints of, the temporarily renamed, Palace Artois.
It doesn’t stop there though. FILA and Atari are both opening themed hotels in the coming years. Earlier this year, UK retailer Argos opened a pop-up hotel that used its interior and home products as the décor. The design of each suite was based on the biggest interiors trends on Pinterest. Home furnishings company RH (formerly known as Restoration Hardware) opened a new guesthouse concept earlier this year in New York. It’s not a hotel – rooms can only be booked on inquiry – but it offers guest rooms, suites, and even a whole floor residence. There are also on-site restaurants and a pool. Even luxury brand Louis Vuitton is moving into lifestyle experiences with plans to convert its Paris HQ into the brand’s first hotel. Why are Brands Investing in Lifestyle Experiences? There are two main reasons why brands are investing in lifestyle experiences. First, they are an additional income stream outside of buying a brand’s products. Generally speaking, consumers have to pay to access these spaces (for example paying for a hotel room overnight) or for things like food and drink once inside. Second, they help brands to build better relationships with consumers. Visitors are creating memories through visiting these pop-up pubs or staying in these hotels, and they associate the brand with those memories.
If you visit Paris and stay in Louis Vuitton’s hotel or get a room in RH’s New York guesthouse, you are always going to think of that brand when you remember your trip. While these experiences may be aimed primarily at fans of a brand, they are also an entry point for consumers who may not regularly buy from them or are new to the brand. Staying in Louis Vuitton’s hotel may be more achievable for some people than owning lots of the brand’s products and will allow the visitor to access a small piece of the luxury associated with the brand. It’s this powerful ability to become a part of a consumer’s life – for a short while at least – that will keep brands investing in lifestyle experiences. By Jack Stratten, Head of Trends at retail trends agency Insider Trends.