H&M brings rotating experiences to its new Brooklyn boutique

Discussion
Sources: H&M
Nov 21, 2022

H&M has opened a smaller boutique concept in the hip Williamsburg section of Brooklyn featuring a rotating mix of “most fashionable styles” and continually evolving activations with an emphasis on “paying homage to the iconic neighborhood.”

The just over 7,000 square foot space (H&M’s average U.S. store ranged between 20,000 to 25,000 square feet) will unveil a new “chapter” every four to 12 weeks with updated fashion, visuals and experiential events.

The first chapter celebrates H&M’s “Brasserie Hennes” holiday campaign. H&M writes in a press release, “Inspired by a wintery French brasserie that is the perfect place to cozy up in during the winter season, the space will feature the best fashion from H&M’s holiday collections, as well as a highly curated market of local Williamsburg merchants selling their seasonal goods, perfect for gifting.”

Starting in 2023, H&M will roll out consumer activations two times a week centering around art, fashion and music as well as local businesses and personalities. H&M writes, “A neighborhood partner will curate new weekly offerings for events each Friday, including DJs, artists, and style makers who will contextualize their ‘chapter’ for both the general public and VIP guests.”

Also beginning in 2023, three local Brooklyn-based brands will open dedicated spaces to support a coffee station, a magazine rack and music that will serve as the soundtrack for the space.

The space will also feature the latest technologies, including RFID to give store associates full visibility of inventory, on-floor mobile checkout and fitting room smart mirrors.

The concept, the first of its kind globally for H&M, is a test to see what experiences customers want from H&M.

Linda Li, head of customer activation & marketing for H&M Americas, told Forbes, “We will, of course, be evaluating the traffic, sales, engagement, interest and interactions with our loyalty program and awareness of the brand through this location. However, for us this new store experience is a true test, so those sorts of KPI’s are more benchmarks for us to determine how this new store is working in comparison to our traditional stores, and to determine what our customer’s needs are.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What should define success for the H&M Williamsburg concept? What do you think of the approach?

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Braintrust
"It sounds like it will be a fun place to shop, if it works I hope it expands beyond NYC."

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8 Comments on "H&M brings rotating experiences to its new Brooklyn boutique"


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Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

Let’s be honest here: This is Story for apparel.

Indie apparel stores have strived to change up the product and sales floor as often as H&M plans to do in this store, but I do like the neighborhood partner concept and the technology that will be added to the store. It sounds like it will be a fun place to shop, if it works I hope it expands beyond NYC.

Melissa Minkow
BrainTrust

I was thinking the same thing re: Story!

This isn’t a new concept by any means, but I’m also curious to see how it does.

I think the KPIs that make the most sense are foot traffic, time spent in store and sales. This is experiential retail, so if it gets people in the door and spending time, that’s a win.

Scott Norris
Guest

Independent stores obtain the marketing value of steady mutation by federating in neighborhoods that include food and entertainment so that no one store has to fully update every two weeks, but collectively there’s always something unique and new every time a customer visits. I’m thinking Harajuku specifically because we’re taking our teenage daughter for a week in Tokyo over Spring Break, but every major city has a few places that compare. It’s good public policy to improve transit/access, security, and thoughtful development approvals to nurture these districts as they evolve.

H&M’s test is worthwhile, but for such a vast chain, corporate priorities can shift on a whim, and it takes years of dedicated, patient effort to build a neighborhood. Also, what works in Brooklyn may not work in Queens, much less San Antonio or Denver. I’d like to see diverse test stores but I am dubious the company will maintain focus over the long haul.

David Spear
BrainTrust

I’m all in for these kinds of experiments. So much will be learned, and these new insights should be immediately applied across the enterprise. The obvious KPI is aggregate sales, but I’m always drawn to engagement and interest in the various experiences that H&M will offer to shoppers. These metrics can smartly inform how subsequent activities should be tweaked to more appropriately delight shoppers.

Tara Kirkpatrick
BrainTrust

Success for H&M is understanding what customers want. To take it a step further, H&M should be ranking the popularity and value of all the experiences they try out. With this data, the retailer can delineate the following to drive more traffic and unlock more spending across all stores:

Which experiences to roll out in all stores. i.e., the most mainstream, popular activation that the most shoppers indicate has value.
Which experiences have enough value to be made “exclusive” and “scarce,” only to be earned by the most loyal customers. i.e., the experiences that the retailer could sell to unlock more spending.

Kudos to H&M for going the distance to determine customer needs. It’s tough for any company to break from routine and invest in the unknown, but they must be realizing, as is often said, that “The definition of ‘insanity’ is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

What an inviting retail concept!

I am not sure how to measure success. It depends on what the objectives are. Indeed, it will generate a “let’s go to H&M” mindset among locals and tourists. I am guessing that the goal is not profit but profile. It would also be difficult (and costly) to scale in all the hip neighborhoods across the country.

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff

This type of venue requires a lot of insight and coordination at the local level. It can’t be a cookie-cutter approach when expanding it to other areas.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

I’m curious what is meant by “paying homage to the iconic neighborhood”; I believe the area has seen many, often drastic transformations over the years, so while the residents might appreciate a little history, they probably can’t really relate to it. (And if you’re thinking I’m cynically hinting this will be nothing more than a wall of old postcards: yes, that could be what happens.)

As for the concept more generally, it sounds great, but as always it’s all in the execution. Large companies often try to do “small,” but IMHO seldom succeed … I’m always happy to see an exception.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"It sounds like it will be a fun place to shop, if it works I hope it expands beyond NYC."

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