How do you do retail without selling products? The Digital Eatery in Berlin is Microsoft’s first branded space solely focused on end users. The idea is as simple as it is intriguing: to provide a comfortable, café-like venue where people can get more familiar with Microsoft’s brand and services. Rlevance was commissioned to challenge the existing retail design strategy and take the concept further. On the basis of insights from internal stakeholders, industry experts, and users, we fine-tuned the strategic direction and concept of the branded space. As a result, the new Digital Eatery became a public space hosted by Microsoft where people can experience how digital technologies help to improve their everyday lives. Designing the space itself with a service mindset would ensure visitor involvement.
Understanding needs 360-degree
The Digital Eatery was open for almost a year when Microsoft turned to Rlevance to sharpen the concept behind the retail design strategy. This ment improving visitor engagement and enhancing the general brand experience. These goals in mind, we set out on a learning journey in order to understand the needs and goals of both internal and external stakeholders:
In workshops and interviews with Microsoft’s management and marketing we defined the goals of the brand in regard to its end customers. Customers’ expectations, behaviors, experiences and needs were evaluated through interviews and observations. Interviews with independent digital experts with backgrounds in both business and science were held to gain a broader, more future-oriented perspective on people’s digital needs.
To learn from best practices, we globally studied innovative retail spaces and spatial customer engagement concepts. On a side note, this research served as a basis for a typology of brand and retail spaces which keeps inspiring other retail concepts we have worked on since.
Strategic direction and design principles
In the next phase, we ran a series of co-creative workshops with an interdisciplinary team of Microsoft employees. Rooted in the learnings from our previous steps, we evaluated the retail design strategy and concept, defined and prioritized target groups, and created a brand idea for The Digital Eatery as a sub-brand of Microsoft’s core offering. Furthermore, we established several design principles the new Digital Eatery would be based upon.
Creative implementation through offering, activity and service ideas
In the final phase, along with a team of designers and creatives, Rlevance developed a creative framework that would accommodate The Digital Eatery’s new brand idea. Alongside, we developed a wide range of measures, spanning from operational concept to service offerings, from permanent attractions and temporary exhibitions, and from activities to events. In doing so, we were driven by the idea to create a win-win between Microsoft and its visitors: we created value for predefined visitor groups through useful services that address situational needs, while the same services were designed to communicate Microsoft’s brand message through the service experience and thus help to reach their goals.
Ultimately, The Digital Eatery became a service-oriented activity space where Microsoft’s beneficial innovations could be experienced first-hand.
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