How Collaboration Is Changing Retail As We Know It

Chicago, IL

Creatives can no longer afford to work in isolation. It’s important to focus together on what’s happening now and what’s happening next.

What does the retail world look like today?

Everyone is a consumer, whether you want to be or not. Even as a creative — someone on the cutting-edge of advertising — you need to be able to think, play, compete, and be a part of the modern retail experience.

You can think of it as the new age, new world, and new battleground, on which to fight on behalf of your clients.

The fact is, the retail space is very quickly evolving. We’re moving away from that showroom experience — the tactility of holding a product in your hands before purchase.

So what do we do?

The only answer that can begin to answer it all is: collaboration.

Collaboration across companies in and effort to sell a product has been happening for decades. Take VW and Trek Bicycles as an example. In 1996, Volkswagen was struggling to appeal to a younger market, while Trek Bicycles was just entering the marketplace.

Trek didn’t have enough money for a national ad campaign and VW did, so a partnership was formed. Together, they created the “Drivers Wanted” campaign. Consumers got a customized Jetta with a roof rack and a free Trek bicycle.

This campaign appealed to young drivers who wanted to get out on the road, take control of their lives, and stop being a passenger. Both companies benefited and went on to have over a 10-year partnership.

But that was then, and now, we need to be better, more innovative, and forward thinking.

READ: The Age of Collaboration: Mastering the Modern Retail Experience 

The truth of the matter is, engaging consumers and influencing purchase has changed from a simple funnel to a dynamic journey.

This is how it used to work:

In 1440, the printing press was invented. It was the beginning of media distribution at a large scale. Although it was a single-media technique for distributing ideas, without the collaboration of people wanted to share those ideas, it wouldn’t have worked. That’s a small funnel — one single medium, one single idea.

In 1927, the TV was invented and marketing changed drastically. Up until this point, mass media was only print and radio, so brands only needed verbiage to sell a product. Now, visuals were established. A new form of collaboration was needed to bring words to life. That’s a medium funnel — multiple channels, multiple audiences.

Today, we are on that dynamic journey, and that funnel idea is destroyed. The kinds of ideas we’re trying to spread cover an endless amount of mediums that are constantly changing.

Oftentimes, there is an overlap of content, but there are some major differences. Without collaboration, brands are going to miss the mark somewhere. We’re not erasing what’s been done, we’re evolving it.

So how do you take the success of a campaign like VW and Trek Bicycles and play on today’s creative playing field?

Step 1: Get outside of your comfort zone

Step 2: Make it about the consumer

Step 3: Create space for exploration

We need to start to destroy this notion of a precious idea — this has all been done before, so how can we do it better? Given the time we creatives have to give, the creative work we have to get done, the emotional and rational impact we have to have — unselfish collaboration is the only way that will work.