Selfridges’ Fragrance Lab – an award winning retail design theatre extravaganza

18th November 2014

Selfridges’ Fragrance Lab recently took top prize at the ISG Retail Week Interiors Awards in London and this week we take a look at the award winning retail design, which was described by Retail Week earlier in the year as a ‘Retail Theatre Extravaganza.’

Selfridges Fragrance Lab

The Lab was a temporary installation winning the Pop and VM category of the Retail Week Awards, followed by the overall prize – and was part of Selfridges’ ‘Beauty Project’, a six-week in-store campaign which ran from May 2nd to June 27th this year, involving a whole series of events and debates.

Selfridges Fragrance Lab

The idea behind the campaign was to present examples of what the future of retail might look like – designed both to entice shoppers and gather data about them at the same time. It was created in collaboration with Future Laboratory who were interested in developing new ways to profile customers, as Chris Sanderson, Chief Executive of the Future Laboratory explains:

“It was about the journey and getting to know customers better. We looked at methods of segmentation and ways to define customers that are different to traditional ways – more complex models for profiling. We wanted to understand about motivations and character and behaviour.”

Selfridges Fragrance Lab

Taking the laboratory theme to an extreme, the concession design was theatrically scientific, with a brilliant white reception area and dry ice.

Selfridges Fragrance Lab

Staff in lab coats at a ‘Check-In’ desk asked shoppers to fill in a personality quiz on an iPad, to find out what their ‘signature scent’ might be. By filling in the quiz, shoppers were giving away a lot of insightful personal information which might be used for profiling at a later date.

They were then given an audio recording that guided them through a set of rooms including a couple of Selfridges’ famous store windows – as part of an immersive experience – before being told what their ‘signature scent’ might be. The rooms contained different experiences and scents, designed to help shoppers identify what they might like, with staff on hand to help them pinpoint what would suit them. In between the rooms, chambers containing coffee beans were used to ‘cleanse the nasal palette’ and shoppers described the experience of travelling through the rooms as confusing but also intriguing.

Sanderson suggests that the motivation behind the idea is not drive sales but to pique the shoppers’ interest generate enthusiasm for the project and the store:

“It’s not about selling fragrance, it’s about creating an experience and testing the boundaries.”

Whatever they were aiming to do, it certainly piqued the interest of the judges at the Retail Week Awards – and we can only expect to see more playful, immersive and extravagant customer journeys on offer like this in the future.

You can see more about the project here:


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