The Paralympics Legacy – How diversity translates to retail strategy and interior design

12th September 2012

Paralympics closing ceremonyOne question being asked in the news this week regarding the legacy of the Paralympics:

“The Paralympics have changed perceptions about diversity in sport, but should retailers start thinking about diversity in thought?”

An article in Retail Week suggests that a retail development team should be comprised of people from diverse backgrounds – whether that be ethnic, cultural, social, educational or experiential – to create as varied a mix as possible. A diverse group will generally have a broader set of skills and a wider range of perspectives and ideas than those with a more similar set of characteristics and backgrounds. Considering diverse opinions as part of a team is better than having one single ‘expert’ making all of the decisions

In retail interior design the power of diverse thought can be crucial in helping designers understand and reflect the needs of both retailers and customers. ‘Thinking outside of the box’ and diversifying are now perhaps the best way to breathe life into Britain’s ailing shopping centres alongside new initiatives to speed up planning procedures and implement temporary pop-up shops or restaurants. Innovative, diverse retail interior and branding designs are part and parcel of this strategy and companies who choose to employ staff who are not utilising diversity in their ideas and subsequently in their retail designs will ultimately lose clients and credibility.

UK retail is one of the most competitive markets in the world and survival in this economic climate is dependent on innovation – and it’s not just the retail design team that needs to be diverse. Implications are that the lack of diversity in the boardrooms of some UK supermarkets is also causing them to falter. One ubiquitous supermarket giant recently reported its first profits warning in thirty years and also pulled out of some international markets. This particular store has a ‘monocultural’ executive committee comprised of over 84% white males aged between 45-58. This is a common occurrence within UK retail which rarely employs culturally diverse senior teams in the boardroom or executive committee.

Executive boards such as these miss the simple truth that cultural and experiential diversity bring with them valuable insights and perspectives. Team members can learn from and teach each other to develop a broader understanding of their intended markets. The real leaders in the industry as we attempt to move forward out of the economic recession will be increasingly employing more diverse teams, in order to develop and promote the uniqueness of their brand.


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