The clink of ice on crystal, the warm amber glow of a fine malt and the image of a remote Highlands distillery swathed in mist. Nobody understands the value of brand storytelling better than luxury beverage sector. An emphasis on heritage and craft, and a charming brand backstory, affirm product choice, provide powerful bragging material and justify a premium price point.
The Whisky Shop, one of the UK’s largest specialist retailers, took brand storytelling to the heart of the design at their award winning London flagship store, using tablet technology as a vital narrative tool.
Located opposite the Ritz in one of London’s top shopping areas, the flagship Whisky Shop was always going to be much more than a liquor store. While the shop wanted to maintain its luxury feel and reflect whiskey’s rich heritage and quality, there was also a desire to entice people who might feel a little too intimidated to come in and try the spirit. Andrew Torrance, managing director of The Whisky Shop, said:
“We wanted the designers to break the rulebook in terms of retailing.”
The Piccadilly retail flagship has certainly turned this challenge into a ground-breaking opportunity: it takes visitors on a unique sensory journey, from the beautiful interior design to the careful offline and online dramatisation of the brand throughout the store. Visitors are invited to taste and smell, learn, and explore at their leisure. Bouncepad iPad stations bring these stories to life and add a multi-sensory dimension. Finished in black to blend in seamlessly with the premium store design, and fitted with Audio Ports to plug in headphones, these desk iPads provide the digital educational aspect of the consumer experience. They are crucial to letting visitors go on their own journey: while watching a video about the distilling process, they can enjoy a glass of a very special whiskey.
Bottles of spirits are presented in the same way as a fine perfume, to emphasize their quality and heritage. The journey ends in a futuristic whiskey library under fluorescent angels wings in reference to whiskey terminology ‘the angels’ share.’ Here, visitors can select from the most prestigious collection of whiskeys in the world. Even if the visitor has not left the shop with a bottle in hand, they are taking away an unforgettable experience, and as the spirit retailers suggest, trust in their luxury brands.
The multi-sensory approach has certainly paid off: the Whisky Shop concept store scooped the 2013 National Association of Shopfitters (NAS) Design Partnership Award for Retail for creating a unique customer experience, thanks to universal fit-out specialists Portview who worked with project manager, Leckenby Associates and luxury retail design consultancy, gpstudio.