When Customer Experiences take on a Regional Flavor

Published: June 19, 2023

min read

Starbucks opened a unique store at Al Seef in Dubai, the oldest part of Dubai. The store has a thatched roof, traditional screens, wooden furniture and exteriors that look like it was made of mud. This drew a lot of interest from the internet and from customers, who wanted to experience this highly localized, contextual store. This outlet of Starbucks has become an important and integral part of that side of town.

Their outlet at Kyoto, Japan also has very traditional Japanese design elements like paper lanterns and wooden lattice screens and paper lanterns taking the Japanese tradition and culture into account. Starbucks regionalizes some of its international outlets to create connections with its customers in those geographical locations. It would appear that regionalism in retail design is a strong design strategy.

Starbucks is not the only one doing this. Coca-Cola’s Store in Las Vegas has all the colors that reflect the city of casinos and entertainment. It has retro signage and neon lights. Nike’s store in SoHo, New York is steeped in street basketball culture. There are graffiti kind of art on the walls, concrete floors, chain link fences and everything that screams ‘street basketball’! This store even has a basketball court for the local community to shoot some hoops in! The store organizes events for the local community to participate in.

And this is one other impact that doing a local design brings. It knits the local community and engages and brings them all together, connecting them with something that appeals to them all.

And just like Nike, Starbucks has made its outlets into something more than just a store that is a part of a large international chain. They are community hubs with new and engaging store designs and which carry regional products as well. These are the places that the local community hangs out at.

The aim of this regionalization of retail outlets? To build a genuine connection with the local customers!

It is true that retail design has come a long way from regular and standardized formats into something that is truly remarkable – something that reflects the vibrant color, culture and diversity in the communities they are set up in.

Importance of Regionalization

This is a wonderful way to connect with customers in different locations. This very creative strategy helps brands form relationships with customers from different locations and cultures. Brands can create really engaging and relevant experiences for their customers, giving them something that resonates with them. It gives the local communities the idea that they belong to the outlet and the outlet belongs to them – and is not just a part of a cold, dispassionate and disconnected multinational international chain.

This will go a long way in fostering customer loyalty. The local elements, the historical and geographical context and the various cultural references of the area, all combine to create a great sense of belonging in customers. Customer engagement increases. And so does loyalty.

The unique regionalized retail design helps brand offer comforting and very relatable personalized experiences to their customers. Customers feel at home there and they feel that they are noticed and that their needs are being catered to. All this has a very strong influence on the purchase decisions that these customers make.

By giving their stores a regional flavor, brands are able to pull off the seemingly impossible – they give the customers something that resonates with them deeply and so they connect with them. This also features as a key differentiator – making them stand out from the competition; makes them stand out from the various generic offerings that other brands make; and make them distinct and unique in the market.

There is camaraderie that is built into the walls itself! And this creates a sense of community among the people who gather there. These stores are a great way to cement the relationship that brands and their customers share.

These stores build trust. They scream of authenticity. They foster a strong sense of community and belonging. And that is where the magic lies.


Grace Wang

Grace is an advertising professional who keeps abreast of the latest and greatest in the marketing and advertising space. She is a traditionalist in lifestyle and modernist in her profession. Outside of marketing and advertising, she helps younger generation try and adapt traditional lifestyle for a healthy living.


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