It was announced yesterday that Boris Johnson has agreed a £1.5bn deal to redevelop Silvertown Quays (situated in the London Docklands area), into the worlds first “Global Brands Centre”

At the heart of the scheme will be up to two dozen ‘pavillions’ created in the mould of other architecturally progressive venues, such as the BMW world in Munich or the London based ‘Siemens Crystal’.

The pavillions will be marketed at some of the world’s leading brands – those who can of course afford to be there and offer suitably attractive heavyweight ‘brand credentials’.

The interesting aspect of this development, is that it appears to almost serve as a pilot scheme for pure brand experience in an environment normally geared for retail. Elliot Lipton, Managing Director of First Base (one half of the Silvertown partnership developing the park) explains that:

“Brands are constantly seeking flexible, large-scale and accessible spaces to develop high-brand value encounters with their audiences.”

and that:

“These pavilions will also allow global brands to influence the online spending decisions of consumers, which will be worth up to a total value of £221bn by 2016.”

“High brand value encounters” and “influence online spending decisions”  in other words – brands are looking at ways to offer consumers an ever more compelling brand experience environment, which positively affects their growing online presence.

So will this shiny ‘Global Brands Centre’ become a testbed for the future of all offline retail? Will we carry out all of our shopping online in the future?  Will we simply require a physical brand presence to make sure we like the product before we buy? Will the age of recommendation be prolific enough so we no longer need to check if we like something?

We have discussed in previous articles how brands and retailers need to incorporate sophisticated consumer experience into their physical, offline activities if they want to stay ahead of the game. Showrooming itself is not a new concept – but it remains very much in it’s infancy.

Online retail is here to stay (to the tune of £221bn in the not to distant future). Retailers no longer need to carry huge volumes of stock in the way they once did. Distribution can now be centralized and carried out in vast warehouses, where slick logistical operations hum 24hrs a day – feeding the profligate, online spending habits of the nations.

Amazon are increasingly populating common area spaces with parcel pick up points, so we no longer need to be at home to receive a delivery. The question for brands is how they can best exploit this shift in consumerism where competing on price alone is not an option.

So it  makes sense for leading brands to further differentiate themselves from mere retail. To become true ‘Experience’ brands, where the focus is creating environments that showcase innovation and involve consumers much further.  Offering us a peek at what we can expect in the future is a fantastic way for brands to involve us more. Loyal brand advocated will be able to take part in the R&D process, instead of just ‘buying stuff’

By creating these experience-led brand environments, brands can create genuine excitement amongst consumers. Excitement that will translate into the kind of talkability and hype, both on and offline, that every marketer strives to achieve.

Brand advocates will have access to ‘holy grail’ destinations, where enthusiastic consumers can congregate and meet with other like-minded individuals.

The online marketplaces of tomorrow cannot exist as a standalone destination. It simply cannot offer the multi sensory enjoyment of a physical showcase.

But the online world does offer consumers a way to shop easily, efficiently and at a time that suits them. No longer beholden to an afternoon spent in a busy high street or shopping centre.

Whether Silvertown Quays becomes a bona-fide destination for consumers remains to be seen. It looks like it will exist outside of the traditional, central London, catchment area and will certainly be a challenge to travel for some.

Will a pure ‘experience’ destination become the norm in the future? Will consumers travel out of their way to discover first-hand what their favourite brands are creating for them?

Only time will tell. What we can be sure of, is that the leading brands of today’s world recognise consumer experience as a crucial component of their future marketing strategies. Exciting times ahead!

Hotcow is a multi-award winning, Experiential Marketing agency that deliver 50% more ROI, than clients would receive from any other brand experience agency. We accomplish this through our ‘R.A.R.E Advantage’ platform. For more information about R.A.R.E and how it can transform your marketing impact, contact us.