It’s the fashion world that created the concept of the flagship store, spaces where brands can showcase their ideas in purist perfection. Not just places to shop, these stores embody how designers and marketing chiefs want their brands to be seen. They also generate good PR.
Given all these upsides it’s surprising that it has taken brands from other sectors so long to adopt the idea, but now they are catching on – especially in Berlin. In January chocolate brand Ritter Sport opened its flagship in the fashionable Mitte neighbourhood, opposite the celebrated restaurant Borchardt. Inside, the walls are covered with the company’s distinctive square bars in their coloured wrappers – something no regular retailer could, or would, do for the firm given the enormous amount of shelf space this requires. With its interactive chocolate museum the store is designed to appeal to both children and their parents.
Then in May the city saw the arrival on fancy Linienstrasse of a dedicated store for the highbrow German book publisher Suhrkamp. Showroom and shelves are all white, focusing shoppers’ attention on the special-edition books whose colourful spines, when properly arranged, create the impression of a rainbow. Here, for the first time, the effect can be savoured at its best.
Though this store is a pop-up that’s supposed to close at the end of July, the publisher doesn’t rule out keeping it going and even opening more. “It’s a huge success. We reach a different kind of customer, younger and more urban,” says Suhrkamp spokesperson Anna Reinsch. One reason is that events such as readings by authors take place here. And this is what adds another dimension to flagship stores: you cannot only present products to perfection but must also build a world of experiences around them, bringing customers closer to your brand. If done well, it’s a marketer’s dream.
This is something Nivea wants to pull off. It’s opening a chain of Nivea Houses around the world. So far there’s Hamburg, Dubai and Berlin where the shop is on the main shopping artery of Unter den Linden. Fans of the brand can attend make-up workshops, have a manicure or eat a fresh salad. When you see how carefully they present their products, you wonder why the brand’s owners would ever want to see them sold anywhere else. And that’s why you can expect to see more brands choosing the flagship shopping experience to show the world who they really think they are and why you should love their chocolate bars and creams even more than you do now.