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Retail Design China Blog

A Knowledge Platform for Store Design and Retail Consulting in China

How KOLs are Transforming the Chinese Market

May 24, 2019

So much goes into having a strong brand identity. While the physical product being sold needs to be good quality, and the store design in which the product is sold has to be inviting, there is still more that goes into establishing a strong brand identity. Past trends include inviting the media and celebrities to opening ceremonies to create some buzz and drive traffic to a new store. However, this habit has changed in the recent years, nowadays brands such as Valentino, Moynat, and Gentle Monster have realized that influencers need to be part of their O2O marketing and PR mix. KOLs are influencers that share their feelings towards specific brands. Where does their credibility come from? They have direct experience in an industry, professional qualifications or spent a lot of time engaged on a certain subject. Connecting with their audience is just one advantage, however the biggest plus they have is a specific target demographic. Brands can recognize KOLs that target similar demographic markets and have them share their thoughts about their brand. It is important to understand exactly who KOLs are and how to optimize using one within a brand.

The Need for a KOL:

In the Chinese market, consumers are more likely to turn to social media first before they end up buying a product. They check recommendations on the Xiaohongshu or videos on Douyin. Chinese consumers value what their friends, family, and KOLs have to say about various products. More than 50% of Chinese consumers are loyal to brands that partner with celebrities or social influencers. The biggest platform for social influencers is Weibo. With its 462 million users it has an immeasurable potential.

"Is KOL marketing worth the money in China?"
Image Source: www.dragonsocial.net

Finding Your KOL:

The first step in optimizing the use of a KOL is finding one that is appropriate for your specific brand and target market. When looking for the perfect match numbers aren’t the most important, a micro-influencer with a few thousand followers can have a greater influence than someone with 500,000 followers. A KOL that has a strong reputation will be more beneficial to the company and add more value to the brand. For example, L’Oréal’s KOL needed to be someone that would be relatable to affluent women that use beauty products. Thus, L’Oréal chose the popstar Li Yuchun as a KOL to promote a new lotion being sold. She brought awareness about the product to her fan base and helped promote the product in a successful way. When Meipai hosted a Cannes Film Festival live-stream where Li Yuchun promoted a L’ Oréal lip balm to the 3.1 million viewer audience, the lip balm was sold out a few hours later.

Cai Xukun, a prominent Chinese singer, also appeared as the spokesman of L’Oréal. 1 minute after the launch of their new product, L’Oréal’s Youth Code, 28 thousand bottles were sold and 2 weeks later it was out of stock, achieving a 25.8 million RMB sales record.

"Savvy Social Networking Pays Off for L’Oreal China"
Image Source: JingDaily

Another outstanding example of KOL success is the first collaboration of Cai Xukun (KUN) with Yoseido. The brand was a little-known cosmetic brand and ended up making a fortune from picking KUN as brand ambassador. After announcing the collaboration, their sales of facial masks reached 2 million RMB just in one afternoon and have now reached over 10 million RMB in total.

KOLs in Stores:

Once a brand has established who they want their KOL to be, they need to consider how to partner with their KOL to make engaging content. Sometimes they will record videos discussing how to use a product, or of them wearing the product. Another way to create engaging content for KOLs is to invite them to show up at premiere events showcasing new arrivals. The notable KOL Yang Mi who often will show up to luxury store openings. Yang Mi is a KOL for luxury stores like Burberry, Gucci, and Givenchy. Having a KOL at a store opening or fashion show seen wearing the brand will bring more awareness to the products and brand itself.

"Interview with Yang Mi, Michael Kors’ New Brand Ambassador"
Image Source: JingDaily

KOLs are often encouraged to live stream while they are at events to share their experience with their followers. App users spent more than “225 billion hours on apps” in 2017 alone, which shows how much they care about what is posted online (Mavsocial).

One of the best examples is the snack food brand Laiyifen. In 2016 they organized a 48-hour live-streaming relay race where they invited 15 internet celebrities who could reach 600,000 viewers. Before and during the event the influencers shared the event location with their followers. In addition they offered them exclusive discounts if they visited the stores during this 2-day period of live-stream. The stores’ traffic and earnings increased by five times in those 2 days alone. They went even bigger in 2017 when they invited 40 live-streamers and introduce over 1,000 snacks. #1000snacksnight generated 130 million views and 730,000 discussions on Weibo.

Another successful brand campaign using KOLs was the YSL traveling beauty hotel in Shanghai. The aim of the hotel was to create interactive selfie-friendly rooms where KOL’s could “check in”, take unique photos, enjoy exclusive makeup tutorials and performances. On Weibo alone #YSLBEAUTYHOTEL has more than 150 million views and 300,000 comments.

"What They Wore: YSL Beauty Hotel Party"
Image Source: Style Blog

Overall, the use of KOLs is increasing for brands now more than ever before, especially within the Chinese market. Luxury brands need to focus their efforts on finding a KOL that supports their company and brand identity. Since Chinese consumers spend the most time on social media than any other country, and they value what information is shared on social media, it is essential to partner with KOLs to increase awareness and provide engaging content for both new and old brands.

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How a Strong Retail Design Leads to Increased Sales

May 22, 2019

While concept stores can change the layout and color scheme of their store design, they must first realize why it is so important to focus on these changes. Having a strong store design ultimately leads to a better customer experience and thus increased sales. First impressions really do matter, especially in retail design. Instead of focusing too much time and effort into the product that companies are trying to sell, they need to focus on where the product is being sold. In order to optimize the customer experience, companies need to invest in their store design.

1. Start with the Entrance

Since first impressions are often what stick with customers the most, it is essential for concept stores to have a strong store design starting at the very entrance of the store. The entrance is what sets the tone for the rest of the customer experience. Store designs should focus on creating engaging window displays the catch their customers’ eyes. Displaying the merchandise in a creative and exciting way will start off the customer experience the right way. The next factor to focus on is the door. Everything from how large or small, the material used, and the color is important in conveying a certain message. Concept stores should keep in mind their target customer and use materials and colors that are fluid with their store identity. Being able to successfully combine all these components will attract more customers into the store design and increase the popularity of the store. Below is an example of the Versace store design entrance. They used a glass door to complement their elegant and chic store design. They also used engaging window displays in order to attract customers into the store.

"Versace on verge of being sold for $2bn"
Image Source: Retail Gazette

2. Keep the theme Fluid

Once the customer has been intrigued to visit the store design, it is important to keep the customer in the store design for as long as possible. Investing in a strong store design will allow customers to have a more positive experience within the store. Concept stores need to identify the customer they are targeting. For example, if a concept store like Michael Kors is attempting to target affluent, older women, they need to use colors, designs, and appropriate lighting techniques that are appealing to that target population. In fact, just focusing on improving lighting within store designs “increases sales by 1.93% per customer” (Perillo Construction). Below is a Michael Kors store design that incorporates all of these concepts successfully. Keeping this theme consistent with their logo and promotional techniques will make the brand more recognizable and stronger. 91% of customers have visited a store because of an online experience, so it is important to get customers interested with social media promotions but then keep them interested once they enter the store design (Marketing land).

Image Source: Pinterest

3. The Results:

Success in these different areas will result in increased sales by 50% (Entrepreneur). Having a strong concept store is so important in the success of a company. Concept stores need to constantly be thinking about how they can improve their store design to create the optimal experience for their customers. By identifying exactly who the company wants to target and creating a strong first impression with window displays, entrance mats, and continuing the theme with strong design, coloring, and lighting, concept stores can increase sales and make a positive customer shopping experience. Having a good product only goes so far. A strong store design to accompany a great product is the successful way to increase sales.

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5 Star Plus Retail Design Insights: New Retail, New Design

April 24, 2019

On April 18, our Managing Director, Barbara Seidelmann, gave a talk that analyzed how new retail strategies in the Chinese market affect retail design. This was a joint event organized by the Swiss Chamber Beijing with 5 Star Plus Retail Design, and supported by the British Chamber, and Benelux Chamber. The luncheon took place at George’s Restaurant – Hotel Éclat Beijing. Her talk shed light on the changing needs and wants of Chinese consumers, addressed what a new retail strategy is, and examined various techniques in design that enhance this strategy. The main focus of the talk was that retail design in China needs to adapt to fit within the new retail strategy. One of the interesting points focused on technology incorporation into design and its’ role with supporting new retail strategy.

For the guests to get an in-depth picture of how new retail design styles work, Seidelmann, went through a number of case studies showcasing retailers who have successfully implemented new retail design into their physical locations. Case studies included 5 Star Plus Retail Design’s work for some of our clients including Pureones, and Hoegl, as well as, other large retailers in China like Adidas, and Alibaba’s Fashion AI store. The talk looked at examples that incorporated new retail design on a small-scale, being a design that includes one or two new retail elements, to a large-scale, being a design that is a complete new retail design concept.

Overall, it’s important for retailers to understand how new retail strategy works and see how new retail design can help to further grow sales based around this strategy. It’s crucial for retail store design to reflect the retail strategy of the brand itself. New retail design is all about meeting the needs of the brand’s target market based on their needs, incorporating new experiences for their consumers, and tying it to their online strategy through new in-store technologies.

5 Star Plus Retail Design was delighted to share this topic with all of the guests in attendance and give special thanks to the Swiss Chamber, British Chamber and Benelux Chamber for making this event possible. We hope to continue our efforts in guiding retailers in China to incorporate new retail design techniques into their retail stores as they continue to grow and develop new retail strategies best suited to their brand. We look forward to more opportunities to share topics related to this in the year to come.

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The Evolution of Mannequins in Visual Merchandising

April 15, 2019

Image Source: Panache

As most of you will know, a mannequin is typically an artificial doll used by retailers to display their merchandise. For the most part, they are plain bodies that require dressing and accessorising and do not tend to possess any distinct features aside from this.

Mannequins have been around since the opening of the first stores and have long been recognized as important tools of retail business. Different items are usually paired together so customers can visualize which pieces work well together and take inspiration from the store’s latest trends. Furthermore, mannequins also function as a primary feature in window displays and are often the first thing a customer sees when they approach a store. Therefore, mannequin displays serve as a showcase of the best merchandise a store has to offer in a bid to attract potential buyers.

Image Source: Retail Window Displays

However, whilst mannequins have always been a key feature of store design, it is perhaps important to explore how they can also be used to represent much more. Over the years, mannequins have evolved beyond existing as static objects to become something that can add real value to a brand’s message.

More and more retailers have challenged typical mannequin ‘standards’ to make their retail design stand out and represent something different. Therefore, this article will focus specifically on the evolution of mannequin use in the modern retail world and innovative ways many retailers have brought their mannequin displays to life.

Building Characters

Diverting away from using idle figures, many retailers have opted to create fun and animated characters to showcase their merchandise.


This window display was featured in Columbus Circle, New York back in 2013 used many attention-grabbing figures to promote H&M’s denim collection.

"H&M Insider: What to Expect During an H&M Interview"
Image Source: MOM.ME

The H&M Columbus Circle Visual Team created quirky characters to liven up the entire display and each individual character was brought to life through amusing facial expressions, granting them their own unique personas. Furthermore, the oversized heads served as an enhancement to the entertainment value of this window design.

Most importantly, the window display effectively draws attention to the merchandise H&M is promoting. The denim theme is evident as the display is predominantly blue, and the white only serves to complement it. Moreover, all of the mannequins are physically dressed in denim items, even the mannequin heads look as though they are made from denim and this additional feature really brings the theme to fruition.


The Tanni store in Taikoo Li Sanlitun mall in Beijing places cute, larger than life dolls at the forefront of their take on mannequin displays.

Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

The sizes of these characters are magnified in a way that is sure to generate an element of surprise and fascination for nearby shoppers because at first glance, they do not appear as though they are actual mannequins. As well as this, the dolls also appear to evoke a sense of nostalgia and childhood innocence, as they appear to be very child-like in both their dress and demeanour. This seems to be in keeping with the general theme of the whole store, which features lots of fun, floral prints and patterned pieces.

Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

The zeitgeist of their retail store design is very light and playful and is reflected in the colour palette as well as the décor around the shop. Therefore, the mannequin display provides a playful teaser of what the retail store has to offer.

Mannequins in Motion

Activewear is currently a lucrative industry which shows no signs of slowing down. Consequently, how Activewear is presented to consumers can really impact its appeal. In particular, ‘active’ mannequins can really help to bring a brand to life in both a physical and symbolic way.

"Hans Boodt Introduces 'Yoga Sports' Collection"
Image Source: VMSD

Shown above is Hans Boodt’s most recent Yoga Sports Collection which features mannequins doing impressive yoga poses. This not only proves how mannequins can be just as flexible as humans but more importantly, overturns the pre-conceived notion that mannequins can only be still figures with certain limitations to their movement.


Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

The Lululemon store in the Parkview Green Shopping Mall in Beijing is bursting with life and showcases how ‘active’ mannequins can be incorporated within retail store design. The store features a mannequin display on both the outside and inside of the store, to ensure that they are easily seen and noticed by customers in the shopping mall.

Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

The mannequins showcase a diverse set of athletic poses, as some are warming up, stretching and running, illustrating the sheer range of movement these mannequins possess.

Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

This is especially true of the mannequin who is mid back flip, showing how mannequins are able to bend in positions like never before. The balance and precision which has gone into the placement of these mannequins is a testament to how far sports brands are willing to go in order to experiment with mannequins and create new boundaries.

The Bigger Message

Perhaps the most notable aspect in the evolution of mannequin use lies in their capacity to represent something more. In particular, realistic mannequin figures can not only more accurately represent and relate to customers but can also promote powerful messages of individuality, diversity and inclusivity.

"Hans Boodt Mannequins Creating Characters campaign"
Image Source: Retail Design Blog

Hans Boodt

As with the Yoga collection, Hans Boodt also proves to be ahead of the game in the Creating Characters campaign. The collection had the specific aim of bringing awareness of individuality through 3D sculptured, realistic characters. These figures are so life-like they could be mistaken for real people, as each individual mannequin appears to have their own unique identity. Therefore, the collection displays a true dedication to represent different sectors of society, transcending barriers of race and age.

"Hans Boodt Mannequins Creating Characters campaign"
Image Source: Retail Design Blog

"Hans Boodt Mannequins Creating Characters campaign"
Image Source: Retail Design Blog


Missguided made headlines back in February with their brave decision to incorporate diverse mannequins in their Bluewater, Westfield and Stratfield UK stores as part of their #MakeYourMark campaign.

Image Source: Retail Focus

Part of what made this such a milestone in visual merchandising is the fact that not only do the stores feature mannequins of different ethnicities, religions and skin tones, they also acknowledge and celebrate women’s differences by including mannequins with what some women would perceive to be ‘flaws’ in their bodies. This selection of mannequins includes models with freckles, stretch marks and even skin conditions such as vitiligo have been given representation.

"Missguided Mannequins Now Have Stretch Marks But Are Still One Body Shape"
Image Source: Huffington Post

Image Source: Retail Focus

In doing this, Missguided have taken a momentous step towards becoming more representative of all women, whilst also encouraging them to be their natural and authentic selves without pressure to conform to societal standards of beauty. These mannequins speak out to a larger demographic of women by not only allowing representation for different groups but also bringing awareness to what real women look like. This promotes an important message about inclusivity and how shopping should be a relatable experience for all women.

Whilst there is still progress to be made within visual merchandising, especially regarding representation of women of different body sizes, Missguided have still paved the way for real difference to be made. They have displayed their ability to adapt their approach to evolve with the times through incorporating what can be seen as ‘progressive’ mannequin displays as part of their store design.


In conclusion, an awareness of the value mannequins can hold can have a real impact on a brand’s appeal. Mannequins have evolved into much more than just objects, therefore, an effective mannequin display can not only add to the overall ambience of a store to create customer intrigue but can also become something customers can actually relate to. Moreover, as fashion and society are ever evolving, this can also be translated into your mannequin displays so to actually speak out to customers and make a lasting impression.

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Mind your step - Use the right type of flooring to stand out with your retail design

March 27, 2019

You walk into a store. You consciously or subconsciously recognise the store’s retail design. However, the first interaction with any store is not only visual but also physical. And this first physical contact with a retail space is its flooring. Therefore, a retail space demands a unique floor that is durable as well as easy to maintain. While flooring tends to get too little attention, it can be a crucial detail that makes or breaks a retail store design.

Separating areas without barriers

"Galeries Lafayette department store by Plajer & Franz studio, Istanbul – Turkey"

Flooring can be a creative way to separate the product display area from the traffic flow area without creating any barriers. Referring to the example of La Fayette department store in Istanbul it seems like one is magnetically drawn from the aisle to the product display area.

"V Grass Nanjing Deji Plaza by PMDL Architecture + Design, Nanjing – China"

V Grass Nanjing Deji Plaza in Nanjing uses two different flooring materials to separate areas. Not only does this create contrast in color but also creates the feeling of an exclusive atmosphere. Additionally, the softness of the carpet tends to have a very relaxing effect on people.

Creating contrast with pattern and material

"Excelsior restaurant by Yellow Office architecture, Craiova – Romania"

The example of this restaurant in Romania shows how flooring can turn a nice design into an outstanding design. There exist various ways to create contrast not only with color and material but also with shape and pattern.

"Diesel store renewal, Tokyo – Japan"

Diesel recently renewed its flagship store in Tokyo. The new design integrates contemporary elements as well as antique furniture. Of particular note is the combination of concrete flooring with wooden ceilings. This contrast creates an atmosphere that is both rustic and modern.

Functionality of flooring

With the vast variety of colors, patterns and materials, it is easy to get distracted and forget about the practical aspects that the right flooring should fullfill. For example, the previous example of concrete flooring has several issues that need to be taken into consideration. Concrete flooring does not only tend to have a cold appearance, in fact it is cold and might affect heating bills in the winter. A soft carpet may not increase heating cost; however, carpets tend to be quickly worn down and get dirty easily. The maintainance of carpets can be costly and time-consuming. Wooden flooring brings similar maintainance issues with it. Therefore, it is no big suprise that we see all of the mentioned materials less frequently in retail spaces. A solid and more practical flooring solution for example is luxury vinyl or ceramic tiles like we can see in the first three images of the article.

Summing up, flooring in retail design matters. Its design as well as its functionality is a crucial factor that will influence a customer’s feeling in a store design.

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The Importance of Establishing Your Brand Identity

March 20, 2019

After the year of retail-tainment became so paramount, there is now more than ever an emphasis on brands mastering the “experience of retail”. Before it was an effective way to attract customers into store designs. Now, however, it is absolutely critical for concept stores to invest money into making their brand more than just a store. Store designs need to invest in experiences. According to a study by Adobe, “80% of business decision makers said improving their company’s customer experience was among their top priorities” (Adobe). Here is why it should be your top priority too:

More entertainment results in better customer relationships, leaves a longer lasting impression, and makes your store design more competitive in the retail industry.

Brands now more than ever need to invest their money and efforts and to creating a strong brand identity. Developing your brand identity is vital to remain competitive. Using the following steps can help store designs reach the greatest number of people and reach their personal potential.

1. Create a Vision and Understand your Customer

The first step in reaching your store design’s highest potential and learning how to become more engaging with customers is to first understand who you are trying to market towards. Store designs marketing towards a younger demographic should focus on a ‘fun’ atmosphere, versus a more ‘dynamic’ atmosphere for adults. Either way, whoever is being targeted, there still needs to be a focus on engaging with people and making a presence. Company’s need to learn how to make their company better than the rest through marketing, adapting their product, and entertaining customers. Personalizing the store’s vision to their target customers is the first step in understanding and mastering their design.

"Understanding your target customers for successful online lead generation"
Image Source: torpedo

2. Invest in Technology

The second step in reinvesting in your brand is incorporating technology. Currently, the Asian market is leading in mastering the use of technology. Technology is important to attract customers into store designs as well as to keep data on what customers want, and when they want it. Within the Asian market, about a third of companies invest at least ⅕ of their budget on virtual reality or some similar type of interesting experience to allow their brand to stand out. By incorporating technology and virtual reality into concept stores, customers become more aware of products and more loyal to companies overall.

"Consumers Are Changing E-Commerce Preferences"
Image Source: MH&L

3. Focus on Business to Customer Marketing

While it is important to know the vision of your company and how to master technology, the most important factor in being competitive includes focusing your time and attention on entertaining the people. After analyzing the most competitive companies it has been realized that “59 percent of global CMOs recognize brand experience as a way to formulate ongoing relationships with their core audiences, and 90 percent of marketers worldwide think that brand experience delivers strong face-to-face interaction and more compelling engagement.” (Luttner). While creating an engaging store design and incorporating retail-tainment is important, it also is essential for companies to establish their brand by meeting with different customers, networking, and building their brand. By attending trade shows, events, and exhibits, brands can grow their brand simultaneously while growing relationships with customers.

"Top Industry Tips on Mastering Networking in Insurance"
Image Source: TalentEgg

Companies have learned how to master retail-tainment, but now they need to go the next step in mastering their relationships with customers. By reinvesting money into their vision/ design, engaging in virtual reality, and establishing their brand by attending various events, companies can become more competitive and successful in today’s retail market. Customers today more than ever are interested in experiences, and store designs need to understand how to make a statement and leave customers with a lasting impression of their concept store.

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Thinking Outside the Box: Embracing Geometric Shapes in a Unique Store Design

March 15, 2019

When creating the flawless store design layout, it is important to use every element possible to create the perfect brand image. Concept stores can no longer just rely on combining unique colors to set their store design a part, now it is important to focus on the importance of geometric shapes within the store design. Different shapes invoke unique feelings within people. Also the use of geometric shapes in store designs can help the store design by making it more easily navigated, framing important aspects of the store, and creating a unique visual effect.

Navigation through Triangles:

It is important to create a store design that is easy for customers to easily navigate through. A strong concept store will highlight important products and create a logical path that customers can walk through. The best way to implement navigation throughout a store design is with the use of shapes. The best shapes to use when guiding customers through a luxury store design are triangles. Triangles help point customers throughout a store and make the most of a store design. Also triangles have psychological effects within people. Triangles represent stability, energy, and strength. These different emotions can create a powerful while simultaneously guiding customers throughout a store. Below is the luxury store design Tokyo Issey Miyake that incorporated triangles within their concept store.

"Tokujn Yoshioka installs Giant Red Triangles"
Image Source: www.dezeen.com

Framing through Squares & Rectangles:

It is also important within a store design to highlight and create focal points throughout the store. Concept stores can highlight their store logo or different products on display. The best way to frame different objects within the store is through the geometric shapes of rectangles and squares. Although squares and rectangles are the most commonly used shapes within store designs, they have positive psychological effects on customers. Squares and rectangles invoke the feelings of reliability, stability, and suggest structure. These are all important emotions to create within a luxury store design. Below is the Nespresso concept store design that implemented the use of colorful squares and rectangles to create structure all while creating the feel of order within their store identity.

"George Clooney not included – Product Review: Krups Nespresso Citiz and Milk"
Image Source: lovetodine.wordpress.com

Visual Effects through Circles:

Finally, to make a store design truly inspiring and unique it is important to incorporate different geometric shapes to add a new dimension. The best shape to use to create a unique visual effect is a circle. Furthermore, circles represent harmony, completion, and can add a feminine visual identity to a store. Although not as commonly used, pentagons and hexagons also create a similar feeling as circles. They can be more unique and create a contemporary feel within a store design. The concept store, Freudenhaus Eyewear perfectly implements the use of circles within their store design. They used circular shelves to showcase their eyeglasses in a fashionable way. The store design is chic with the all-white but dynamic with the use of the circular shelving.

"Eyewear Store Design in Munich"
Image Source: mindfuldesignconsulting.com


Pictures and shapes can make even more of an impact on a customer than originally perceived. The use of various geometric shapes not only are practical within store designs, but add a unique dimension that set stores a part. Various shapes help customers navigate a store, frame important products, and create a unique visual effect. The use of geometric shapes in a store design can create a unique visual identity because ultimately: shapes are a universal language that can speak to anyone.

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5 Star Plus Retail Design Insights: How to Better Market Your Company in China

February 28, 2019

On February 27th, our managing director, Barbara Seidelmann, gave a talk on how to better market your company in China. This was a joint event with the Spanish Chamber of Beijing. Her talk covered a variety of marketing issues pertaining to B2B and B2C companies in China. Some of the topics she touched on included the differences in the Chinese market compared to others globally, positioning in the Chinese Market, effective communication methods, branding, omnichannel strategy and, customer experience. The main focus of the talk developed these issues more in-depth by looking at the speed of the market, the design importance in the market, evaluating consumer psychology, evolving marketing techniques for both offline and online platforms, and establishing strategies that enhance the overall experience of consumers in China.

Beyond online marketing, Seidelmann, encouraged businesses to look towards connecting to consumers through lifestyle marketing to increase Chinese consumer interaction and enhance their experience. She then went on to identify ways to do this in the changing retail environment through creative avenues of pop-up stores and exhibition stands in China. The use of physical interaction is a smart way to engage with customers, provide them with a touchpoint apart from other physical locations, and encourage customers to share their experience through media online thus creating an ongoing conversation that consumers can have and take part in even though they were not present for the experience themselves.

Overall, it’s important for retailers to realize that effective retail marketing must go beyond a single stream of offline or online marketing and combine these two streams in a way that flows directly to consumers. The more your brand can resonate on all channels, the larger the impact you will be able to have on consumers.

5 Star Plus Retail Design was delighted to share this topic with the Spanish Chamber of Beijing. We hope to continue our efforts in guiding businesses in China to form more effective marketing strategies that most directly connect with their consumers and other businesses. We look forward to more opportunities to share topics related to this in the year to come.

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Austrian Winter Sport Days 2019 in Chongli - Designed and Executed by 5 Star Plus Design

February 26, 2019


On February 22-24, the 10th edition of the Austrian Winter Sports Days 2019 was held at the Thaiwoo Ski Resort in Chongli, Hebei Province. The event was jointly organized by ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA Beijing and the Austrian National Tourist Office, supported and designed by 5 Star Plus Retail Design.


The two day event included the Winter Sports Conference, the ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA Ski Race, and an Austrian-style Hüttenabend gala dinner in the mountain top restaurant of the Thaiwoo Resort, which was sponsored by Salzburg State Board of Tourism and Ski Amade. The first day of the conference hosted 250 industry professionals and government officials from the winter sports industry in China and Austria. During this day the conference focused on sharing information and expertise on skills and innovations happening in Winter Sports as well as a tourism workshop focused on the Chinese market. The second day kicked off with the annual ski race. This year there were 50 participates that raced through the course which made for a great ending to another annual event in China.


This was the 3nd year for 5 Star Plus Retail Design provided the design and production support event for ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA Beijing. 5 Star Plus Retail Design designed all interior design elements, marketing, and print materials for the conference, welcome reception and ski race, as well as technical support. The print material design was kept in line with ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA branding, using crimson red and bright white as seen on the Austrian flag, while also providing adequate room for branding of the event sponsors. The inside of the banquet hall was designed vibrant and festive in the spirit of Winter Sports, with backdrop images of nature scenes from Austria.


Overall, the event kicked off with high spirits of Winter Sports industry and were happy to play our part through design and production to create yet another successful and exciting event.


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Incorporating 2019 Retail Design Trends

February 25, 2019

Stepping into 2019, we can reflect on popular trends from last year and now look ahead to discover which ones will push the design industry forward. The following trends will be great to incorporate into store designs this year to keep them exciting and interesting to shop in.

1. Bold Colors for a Bold New Year

"Jewelry store KAKURU"
Image Source: Urban Soul Project

Since Pantone announced “Living Coral” as color of the year, we will expect to see a multitude of bold colors dominating the retail design scene. KAKARU exemplifies the use of bold color’s in their store design located in Athens, Greece. The jewelry store KAKURU draws inspiration by combining nature and materiality, adopting a vivid green color similar to PPG’s color of the year – Night Watch. In combination with bronze and olive wood, these colors complement each other whilst bringing out the vibrant green.

"Garderoba Concept Store in Zagreb by BIRO"
Image Source: urdesign

Garderoba concept store in Croatia adopts a monochromatic approach to their store, separated by shades of pink, green and yellow colored spaces. These individual segments highlight their mantra of slow-shopping, each mimicking wardrobe capsules, comprising of different styles which the customer is encouraged to try on. The colors not only serve as both separation and aesthetic use, but also as multi-functional spaces. The use of these bold colors in these various concept stores help make the space more illuminating and captivating to be in.

2. Wooden Elements

"Patom Organic Living, Bangkok, Thailand"
Image Source: The Cool Hunter

The use of wood started to become a popular trend in 2018 store designs and is continuing to be even more popular in 2019. An example of a concept store that incorporates the use of wood is Patom Organic Living in Bangkok specializing in selling organic body products, aims to promote sustainable and green living through their products. Their interior design is inspired by nature and greenery and incorporates an earthy white and brown color scheme. Patom’s owners and designers selected reclaimed wood from the owner’s old houseboat, fallen tree trunks from the family farm and refurbished furniture from the owners’ collection, staying true to their brand’s beliefs. The concept store is also surrounded by lush greenery and is absolutely breathtaking at sunset.

3. Old Meets New

A popular trend in 2019 is using classic store designs to bring character to the store’s aesthetic. There is an emerging appreciation and demand for spaces that embody distinct personality and take on a persona. Consumers increasingly want to be in spaces that have character, individuality and tell a story. A popular way retailers are conveying their brand story in 2019 is by renting out shopfronts that have a distinct history or cultural significance, making their brand part of the city.

Image Source: Taxonomy of Design

Known for their contemporary and minimal aesthetic, Australian brand Aesop opens yet another store design in Leipzig, Germany, a cultural city famed for its music and arts. The store manages to blend in with Leipzig’s historical buildings, thanks to the rough concrete façade, powder-coated metal and translucent glass tiles, which Architonic describes as, “reflective of the industrial uniformity that characterised Leipzig when Germany’s East and West were demarcated.” Aesop successfully strikes a balance between its contemporary product line and historic beauty of the city, exuding an alluring rustic charm.

"Apple Store"
Image Source: www.saicsetoff.com

Another example is the Apple store design in the Champs-Elysees, Paris. Few brands would be able to smoothly integrate themselves into a historic Parisian building, especially being a global brand at the forefront of technology. Instead, Apple pays a tribute to the city’s historic architecture whilst introducing modern spaces. Burgundy stone and French oak parquet line the interior of the space, resulting in a timeless but modern feel just like the city. A sculptural roof light (pictured above) provides renewable energy and sunlight to the space, powering the space with 100 percent renewable energy.

4. Homely and Comforting Spaces

Living in an ever-accelerating and rapidly paced society, feelings of anxiousness and frustration is an unavoidable component in people’s lives. Retail therapy is an act of comfort, but more importantly is the space in which consumers choose to spend their hard earned cash. Retailers able to provide this momentary relief and safe space away from the hustle and bustle of the city are sure-fire winners. It’s all about finding order and beauty amidst the chaos, and MUJI is a stunning example.

"MUJI's reopened global flagship store in tokyo features a fruit and vegetable market"
Image Source: Design Boom

MUJI flagship store in Tokyo, originally a clothes and interior living retailer, now has their own marketplace which sells fruits and vegetables. In addition to their home theme, there are also MUJI HUTS, these are individual cabins in the store that mimic living spaces, a perfect showroom for their furniture and an area for customers who might be overwhelmed by the “outside”.

It is important for various store designs to be aware of the latest trends and incorporate it into their own stores. 2019 is full of new and refreshing ideas. Whether it is the use of bold colors, natural elements like wood, using vintage stores, or making the store design feel like home, it is all about finding what works best for each personal store design.

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ISPO Beijing 2019 – Stand Designs We Loved

January 24, 2019

With over 400 exhibitors and 700 brands spanned across 50,000 square meters of exhibition space, the ISPO celebrated its 15th anniversary in Beijing, providing a platform for sports enthusiasts, innovators, brands and manufacturers to celebrate winter sports and share their products. The venue was divided into four segments – Snowsport, Outdoor, Health and Fitness, Manufacturing and Suppliers.

5 Star Plus Retail Design paid the ISPO exhibition a visit, and here are some stand designs that we thoroughly enjoyed and grabbed our attention.

Pelliot (伯希和)

PELLIOT, a professional outdoor sports brand, stood out to us through their meticulous use of lighting and shapes to feature their products. Their exhibition stand façade utilizes clean-cut and simple geometric shapes to reflect elegance and minimalism. Varying heights but uniformly cut angles help to maintain the unity of elements, providing a smooth flowing visual effect, therefore forming a more three-dimensional space in their design stand.

The internal lighting is both exquisite and rich, using a point light source to place their products under the spotlight, diffused light in different spaces of the exhibition stand also create a diverse visual lighting effect. Various light sources and materials work cohesively to create reflective spaces, presenting a geometric light and shadow effect, echoing the lines of different areas within the design stand.

In conjunction with their brand identity, which puts “Young, Exploration, Outdoor, Style and Function” at the forefront, PELLIOT demonstrates this through their contemporary stand display and quality products.


Pieced together using primarily diamond and irregular shapes, CROSS-ROIIER, specializing in winter sports equipment, embodies a high-end, high-tech and chic aesthetic. Their ISPO exhibition stand color scheme of sophisticated jet black and energetic lime green further emphasizes the theme of technology and innovation, creating an overall visual effect and feel of a unique yet bold brand identity.


MOBI GARDEN pride themselves on their research and innovation of outdoor gear, hoping to promote the five major outdoor sports - exploration, hiking, travel, cross-country running and camping through their different product lines. Their stand is assertive and dominant, maintaining a cutting-edge feel using terrazzo-like grey walls, allowing their backlit walls and brand logo to take center-stage. These structured shapes and points resemble mountain peaks and the great outdoors, visually transforming their ISPO exhibition stand into an outdoor experience.

Lastly, we have three different brands with their own illustrations of back wall displays. On the far left, KAILAS introduces their brand and vision using the smooth flow of sequential boards to convey their company journey. In the middle, the stand display is similar commercial store window displays, using downlights, spotlights and luminous logo lighting. This is a clear and concise method of conveying company and product information to an audience who might be unfamiliar with the brand. KEMPGEARS’ ISPO exhibition stand, on the far right, binds monochrome with irregular shapes to keep their wall classic and minimal but still interesting with an edgy twist.

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2019 Colors of the Year

January 8, 2019

Last month, Pantone announce their pick for 2019’s color of the year. Living Coral, a bright cheerful pink with orangey hue was the top choice. Pantone describes the color as“Vibrant, yet mellow PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral embraces us with warmth and nourishment to provide comfort and buoyancy in our continually shifting environment.”

”Living Coral” - Pantone

Image Source: Pantone

Due to our strong influence from social media and vast increase in digital technology, trends come and go and our daily environment is constantly changing. Living Coral is meant to remind us to step away from this environment by bringing in a familiar color from nature to encourage more relaxed and upbeat experiences. In the world of retail design, we expect to see pops of color in window displays, packaging, and furnishings within retail stores. Living coral will also pair nicely with other colors found in nature such as, vibrant greens and bright blues.

Image Source: Italian Bark

Image Source: Pinterest

Image Source: Elle Decor

Complementary to Pantone’s color of the year, PPG recently identified their color of the year to be Night Watch. This black infused green is meant to soften brighter colors with its neutral tone. At the same time, Night Watch, can also be used to make a bold statement as a featured color in design. This color is also meant to relax consumers and bring them into a more peaceful oasis away from the chaos of over stimulation of digital products and social media. Sherwin-Williams announced Cavern Clay, an Earthy terracotta tone, as their color of the year, additionally, Benjamin Moore chose Metropolitan, a soft grey color, while Behr Paint decided on Blueprint, a vibrant teal. All of these colors can be easily paired with living coral to create uniquely bold statements in interior design.

”Night Watch” - PPG

Image Source: Elle Decor

”Cavern Clay” – Sherwin-Williams

Image Source: Architectural Digest

”Metropolitan” – Benjamin Moore

Image Source: Architectural Digest

”Blueprint” – Behr Paint

Image Source: Fox News

As we enter into 2019, shoppers can expect to see these colors appear in stores across the world, from products that line the shelves, to window display design, to retail store design itself. The use of the bright living coral, paired with more neutral tones found in nature will surely bring the beauty of nature indoors creating an upbeat yet relaxing atmosphere allowing all of us to become more connected with the world around us.

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What’s in-store for Christmas 2018?

December 21, 2018

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, again. Along with Christmas markets and hot chocolate, in-store display and window displays are also bursting with festive cheer and creativity. The designs seem to get more and more extravagant each year. Let's have a look at our top picks for 2018 from around the world.

Saks Fifth Avenue, New York "Theatre of Dreams"

Image Source: Elle Décor

Image Source: New York Post

Saks Fifth Avenue constantly makes our list, and who could blame them? Taking 250 people more than 10,000 hours to create their holiday window display design, Saks Fifth Avenue kicks it old school with "Theatre of Dreams", an ode to the grandeur of the Broadway stage. At their opening ceremony on November 17, they presented a one-of-a-kind Broadway performance featuring 124 dancers. Window display design feature draped red velvet and hanging chandeliers, to create a splendorous feeling that emphasizes the glitz and glamour of old Broadway. Saks Fifth Avenue truly adds to the authentic New York Christmas experience, injecting Fifth Avenue with energy, life and vibrancy.

Fortnum and Mason, London: Christmas Reimagined

Image Source: Country and Townhouse

A Christmas tree made up entirely of champagne glasses await you at Fortnum and Mason. This year, they have reimagined the traditional Christmas tree with a culinary twist for their window display design. A tower of champagne glasses surrounded by cascading fizz is bold but remains classy and inventive simultaneously. Stretched over eight windows, their displays surround the culinary theme with more inventive foods, such as a platter of mince pies herded by presents on a sleigh.

Galeries Lafayette, Paris: Parisian Wonder

Image Source: Hotels Paris Rive Gauche

Image Source: Timeout

As one ventures into Galeries Lafayette, you are instantly transported into a magical, mystical and mysterious world through their window display design. The Parisian store utilizes interactive window displays and moving figures to attract the attention of passersby. The combination of eye-catching colors and hypnotic patterns enchants you into entering the fictional world that Galeries Lafayette has created. Elements of high fashion are incorporated to enrich the visuals of their window displays, also reminding you of the plethora of designer goods they have to offer.

Barneys, New York: “Make Change”, “Change Matters”

Image Source: Curbed New York

“’Tis the season of giving”, at Barneys and they are giving back. Matthew Mazzucca, Creative Director, explains their ideas and inspiration for this season’s in-store display design, "By starting with the concept of a coin, which can seem small in the luxury world, we've created engaging experiences that show that small changes can make a big difference, and invite our customers to participate in the power of change." In partnership with Save the Children, Barneys' color scheme appeals to the younger consumer as millennial pink and neon signs take center-stage for the in-store display design. Many Instagram-worthy spots are also located throughout the store including their window displays, which also creates more opportunities for social media exposure. To go along with their campaign they are promoting the hashtags, #centsational, and #makechange.

Parkview Green, Beijing: Holographic Christmas

Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

Back in Beijing, Parkview Green also puts their very own spin on Christmas this year through their in-store display design. Holographic trees lined with metal frames adorned with warm lights on display add an instant pop of color into the space. The use of holographic material reflects light and catches different colors, creating a multi-dimensional feel.

Christmas marks the ending of December and 2018. Since then we’ve taken a trip around the world in this article, so what’s in store for you this holiday?

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Visual Identity Design for SwissCham Night 2018

December 19, 2018

On Friday December 7th 2018, the Swiss Chamber of Commerce held their annual Christmas party at the Hilton Hotel, Beijing. 5 Star Plus Retail Design provided the overall visual identity design for the party. To add to the festive cheer, a few booths were also set up to resemble a Christmas market, two of which were designed by 5 Star Plus. Framed with Christmas wreaths and ornaments, these spaces hosted the nights’ lucky draw and promotion of various companies and products.

Image Source: The Swiss Chinese Chamber of Commerce

The screen situated center-stage displayed our design of subtle falling snow, which instantly whisked everyone into a winter wonderland, whilst the iconic Swiss Alps and historic Beijing architecture in the background served as a gentle reminder of the merger between these two countries. Other than visual identity design, 5 Star Plus was also responsible for designing the menus for the night and invitations distributed prior to the event, incorporating similar elements into the design.

Image Source: The Swiss Chinese Chamber of Commerce

As another year of successful festivities come to an end, 5 Star Plus is honored to be design partners once again with the Swiss Chamber of Commerce in Beijing. We hereby also wish everyone at the Chamber and valuable guests a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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British Chamber of Commerce in China Christmas Party 2018:Event Design and Production

December 17, 2018

The British Chamber of Commerce for China hosted their annual Christmas Party which took place on Friday, December 7th. For the third year in a row, 5 Star Plus Retail Design was the visual sponsor and design partner for the event, providing the interior and graphic design, event design concept, and event production for the party. In addition, we hosted a corporate table to celebrate the holiday festivities with a few company friends to 5 Star Plus Retail Design.

Image Source: 5 Star Plus Design

This year’s theme was “Christmas Forest.” The goal of the theme was to transport guests into the outside winter wonderland through the visual and event design. The main entry way of the hall was decorated in a whimsical woodsy theme that featured an eye-catching backdrop, dynamic lighting and other whimsical decorations to create great photo opportunities for a memorable night.

Image Source: The British Chamber of Commerce in China

The inside of the venue created a warmer feeling through the use of string lights and stockings, as well as, a background that displayed a peek into the warm house with Christmas decorations all around. The edges of the venue had a gingerbread house decorated with fairy lights and featured a gingerbread man photo board to add some playfulness to the space, which also provided an interesting interaction and joyful experience for guests. The event design truly gave guests the feeling of being in a Christmas forest.

Image Source: The British Chamber of Commerce in China

This year’s party was definitely a grand success and we were happy to see everyone enjoy the festivities and celebrate with holiday cheer. We at 5 Star Plus Retail Design wish our friends at the British Chamber China a very merry Christmas and wish them the best of luck in the New Year.

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The Shifting Role of Pop-Up Store Design in China

December 4, 2018

Let’s start with a quick definition. A pop-up store is a temporary retail event that seemingly manifests overnight and, almost in the blink of an eye it disappears, leaving customers excited, bewildered, and enticed by the brand. Within the past decade, the pop-up store has become a global sales phenomenon and a hallmark of China’s rapidly growing array of shopping malls.

So why should a company take advantage of the appealing exclusivity that comes with such a flash-in-the-pan merchandising technique? Why will customers be willing to flock to a fleeting retail design experience? Why have pop-up stores seen so much success in the Chinese market? The answers to these questions might not be as simple as one might think.

Without a doubt, the world of brick-and-mortar retail is changing rapidly, which is why retailers have to make a greater effort and be willing to experiment with new, unique ways to attract customers to their stores through retail design. A well-executed pop-up store design has proven itself to be a surefire way to generate a new sense of excitement about the product and breathe new life into the physical storefront while also aligning with strategic goals of achieving a new retail strategy. Although the pop-up store can by no means be considered a new idea and could even be traced back to traveling merchants in the ancient world, the concept has taken on a new meaning in the 21st century, especially in China.

First and foremost, the pop-up store is an extremely effective way to increase brand awareness while rewarding the customer with the feeling that they have participated in something exclusive. Unlike online shopping, which sacrifices intrigue for the sake of convenience, and unlike the conventional store which might quickly lose its appeal, the pop-up store gives the customer a unique sensation creating excitement as they re-immerse themselves in the brand story of the company itself. The pop-up store offers the customer the privilege to be part of the “here and now.” With the fast-paced, ever-changing nature of culture in the age of the internet, it is no wonder customers are so often drawn to the pop-up store, something made to exist only in the short-term.

The role of the pop-up store is changing in China. Traditionally, brands would locate their pop-up stores in a shopping center where a physical location of their store was unavailable. Apart from creating a unique experience, the goal was to gauge the markets’ willingness to interact and engage in the brand and its products. It also gave retailers an idea of what products would be most successful for this particular area. The goal was to direct consumers to their stores in the future. The new role of pop-up stores are really, to re-engage customers with the brand through an exciting and unique experience while also boosting sales in their existing physical locations.

In China, it is becoming more common to see a pop-up store located in the same shopping center of the actual retail store location. The purpose of the pop-up store in the same location of the retail store, is to create a new experience for the customer enticing them to go to the store and purchase products. It also helps to promote seasonal, and new products that are entering the physical store location. More and more often, customers are only able to test products at pop-up stores. A purchase of the new product can only be made by going to the physical location.

Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

The Champion Store located in Beijing’s Sanlitun shopping center used this marketing tactic for the opening of their new location. To go with the opening of the store, they created a promotional sale which led to long ques to enter the store. To help direct people to the new location, they created a pop-up stand in the center of the shopping center that featured games and vending machines to receive special products not in the store. In addition to this, they had stickers on the ground leading people to the store. The pop-up store design for Champion tied to their brand story of American sports apparel. Simplistic looking, this stand is very similar to a merchandise booth you would see sat outside a sports stadium, a place where sports fans alike can go to purchase memorabilia of their favorite sports teams. In the stand customers can see the American flag, along with other Champion branded goods. To increase engagement on their WeChat, customers could scan a QR code to follow their page and be rewarded with a Champion branded goody in one of the various vending machines on the side.

Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

Eye-catching pop-up store design and an artistically interesting presentation of the brand is naturally the first thing customers will notice when it comes to the pop-up store. Without an effective presentation through a pop-up store design, it’s likely customers will pay little attention to the pop-up and quickly lose interest. This has always been an important part of pop-up store design in China, and retailers are finding new ways to do this through technology. In Shanghai, Michael Kors created multiple pop-up stores in the same shopping center locations as their physical stores. This pop-up store design in the Kerry Center featured dynamic lighting and LED screens to attract attention and highlight some of their latest products.

Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

The Chinese market have always been responsive to the idea of a VIP or exclusive experience. It makes consumers feel special and allows them to feel as if they are getting an experience that is unique to them. Pop-up stores are starting to provide this exclusive experience as well. Pop-up store design is shifting towards, enclosed structures. These pop-up store structures are designed to relate to the brand story of the company, and feature unique lighting and LED screens, are enclosed, and play catchy music to attract attention. From the outside, the only thing a passerby can see is the branded structure itself. In order to see the inside, you may have to wait in a que, as only a certain number of consumers can go in at one time.

Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

This pop-up store design created by Lancôme, was to promote the upcoming 11.11 sale for their brand. The structure was in the shape of various different presents to create the brand story, that their brand could be used as a gift for friends, family, and even yourself for the upcoming holidays. In order to see the products they were trying to promote, consumers had to go inside to see.

This pop-up store design created by Dyson, was to promote their new line of hair styling tools. The outside featured an LED screen that played videos featuring women with beautiful hairstyles made by using Dyson styling tools. Women could go inside the stand and have their hair styled by an employee, learn how to do it themselves, and even practice using the tools themselves. The inside of the pop-up store, also featured a photo corner in which a projector image of abstract design shined on the walls, allowing women to take a picture with their newly styled hair on a cool backdrop that could be shared on social media.

Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

The pop-up store was only a place for consumers to experience and test new products. No products were actually on sale in the store. If consumers wanted to make an actual purchase, they needed to go around the corner to the new Dyson flagship store to do so. This store design featured many elements that tied into new retail, with design elements that created transparency, expressed the quality of the Dyson brand story and its products, and additional experiences through product testing. All of which was tied together through the design of their pop-up store.

Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

In China, the popularity of the pop-up store is in full swing. Across the nation, new pop-up stores are popping up constantly, especially in shopping malls and outlet centers. In a time when traditional retail isn’t attracting customers like it used to, the Chinese pop-up store design serves as a compliment to the retail store location and generates buzz by providing a new, exciting aspect to the shopping experience. But, because brands, both foreign and domestic, are obviously catching on to this merchandising trend, there is now a struggle to outperform other pop-ups in terms of design and event activities.

Although they are becoming more and more commonplace in China, the pop-up store definitely isn’t going anywhere any time soon. With the planned construction of hundreds, if not thousands, of new shopping malls in China within the next few years, there is an incredible opportunity to explore every retailing possibility. The promotional advantage that can be gained from a memorable pop-up store design is immeasurable so brands must be willing to experiment and innovate with new retail design techniques and new marketing strategies to keep customers attention.

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New Retail New Design: 5 Star Plus’ Insights at SME Seminar Shanghai

November 29, 2018

The SME Seminar was hosted on November 23, 2018 and was organized by the Swiss Chamber in collaboration with Swiss Centers Shanghai, Australian Chamber, Finnish Business Council, and Canadian Chamber. The event focused on a variety of topics related to retail including: WeChat, trading, human resources and new retail design strategy. Guests in attendance ranged from a variety of foreign SME companies looking to gain insight and learn more about these topics.

There were a total of four speakers at the event each of which specialized in their chosen topic. Each speaker also provided case studies of former clients and other businesses utilizing the strategies they were speaking on. Lucky Ding gave her talk on free trade zones, educating the audience on implementation methods for distribution to and from China. Ahmet Tombul examined the changing WeChat ecosystem and provided insight on different strategies for starting a store utilizing WeChat mini-programs during his presentation. Lastly, Alexander Vnuk discussed the challenges and advantages of hiring local vs importing foreign talent. He also provided a new perspective on the general differences in China and what this means for effective management.

Samantha Chalmers, our Shanghai Client manager, shared some interesting insights on new retail strategy in the Chinese market and explained how this is shifting the way retailers are designing stores. Her talk focused on the role of brick and mortar stores in new retail strategy and identified how offline integration creates a stronger overall strategy for new retail. During her talk, she divulged into case studies of various stores who have successfully implemented new retail elements into the retail design of their stores. The main focus was to help the audience to realize that it is becoming a necessity for retailers to implement some form of technology that helps tie to their online channels, as well as provide a concrete timeline of this evolution in strategy through retail design and give a projection of future implementation. Overall, the seminar provided an excellent opportunity for business professionals to come together and learn about new strategies pertaining to retail.

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2018 British Business Awards: Event Production for British Chamber

November 27, 2018

The 2018 British Business Awards is a biennial event, organized by the British Chamber of Commerce Beijing to honour outstanding British businesses performing well within China. The event also recognizes women who have created a positive impact in both China and England whilst doing business. In addition to this, companies who have contributed positively towards global sustainability, education and innovation were also acknowledged.

Image Source: The British Chamber of Commerce in China

2018 marked the 10th year of celebrating this event. On November 15, 2018, the awards were hosted at the Intercontinental Hotel in Sanlitun. 300 guests representing a variety of British and Chinese companies from different industries gathered to celebrate the event. A total of 9 awards were presented to the finalists.

Image Source: The British Chamber of Commerce in China

Image Source: 5 Star Plus Design

The event design of the space needed to provide guests a place to gather and take pictures. The red and blue colors which represent parts of both the British and Chinese flags, mixed together to create a purple tone in the logo for the event, which perfectly represents the intermix of these two cultures in the business environment of both China and England.

Image Source: 5 Star Plus Design

Image Source: The British Chamber of Commerce in China

5 Star Plus Retail Design created a backdrop that tied together the famous skylines of London, Beijing, and Shanghai to symbolize the connectivity these two countries have in the world of business. In addition to this, the lighting and branded features of the venue were important considerations to create a dynamic effect for the event.

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The Perfect Fit: How Fitting Rooms Can Affect Sales in Retail

November 22, 2018

Why is it that you go to a fitting room when you are in a retail space? The answer is most likely that you found a piece of clothing you like and intend on making a purchase! Therefore, it is important to bear in mind that this small but mighty area of a retail store is actually the room where purchase decisions are made. Hence, it is the final barrier retailers need to overcome in order to increase sales.

Whilst two years ago, 5 Star Plus Retail Design already published an article regarding “The Importance of Fitting Room Design“ in a retail store, it appears that many retailers still tend to overlook the importance of fitting room design. Therefore, we have approached this topic once again with fresh ideas for retailers to take inspiration from.

How Fitting Rooms Affect Sales in Retail

Let‘s start with some numbers and hard facts. First and foremost, the fitting room area is one of the most significant advantages brick and mortar retailers have over online retailers. Whereas online, one in five shoppers return their purchased items, in brick and mortar retail less than one in ten customers return their items. Returns usually result in huge costs, therefore, any retailer should seek to prevent potential returns and an effective fitting room design can do just this.

Shoppers who use fitting rooms are actually seven times more likely to make a purchase. In addition to this, if the customer has had a good experience with a sales assistant in the fitting rooms, this can also lead to three times as many purchased items. Therefore, all in all, 70% of purchase decisions are made in the fitting room.

How Fitting Room Design Can Influence the Buying Decision

In our previous article, we emphasized the importance of size, color and lighting in fitting room design. With all of this in mind, we dug a little deeper this time, taking a closer look at how fitting rooms also represent the most intimate areas of a store. The fitting room is the area where shoppers take off their clothes, hoping to try on a new piece of clothing which makes them look, as well as feel good. However, it is not just the clothing that achieves this and this is where fitting room design comes into the picture.

To illustrate this using one simple example: think about that uncomfortable feeling you get when you feel too over or under-dressed for a certain occasion. Similarly, if a fitting room design fails to provide the shopper with a character and flare that matches the clothes, the same uncomfortable feeling can occur. It can lead the customer to feel as if something does not look right. This can result in the customer deciding to not make a purchase, hence causing a loss in sales instead of increasing them.

"INXX Store, Parkview Green Beijing"
Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

How to Create the Perfect Fit with Retail Design

Let us look at some great examples across the Retail Industry in China.
“INXX represents a forward-thinking, boundary-shattering exploration of how the genres of streetwear, sportswear and high-end fashion can be reconstructed, reinterpreted and recombined.“ Through this cool and futuristic fitting room design, the Chinese street-fashion brand not only encourages shoppers to try on their clothes but had also created an atmosphere which is towards their target market.

With design concepts such as these, it is no surprise that the brand has enjoyed continued success over the years. INXX was founded in Guangzhou in 2013 and less than 5 years later, they have opened 54 stores in 17 cities in China, proving themselves to be a brand we can all learn from.

"INXX Store, Parkview Green Beijing"
Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

"Lululemon Store: Parkview Green Beijing"
Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

Lululemon is a Canadian brand that sells fashionable and high-quality yoga clothing. One of the brand’s core values is mindfulness. The brand describes its mission as the following: “Our manifesto is one way we share our culture with the community. It’s an evolving collection of bold thoughts that allow for some real conversations to take place.” Lululemon cleverly utilizes the fitting room area as a platform to express some of these bold thoughts through its design. Positive affirmations, which are frequently used in yoga, are integrated in the fitting room design, illustrating how fitting room areas can also represent fundamental brand values. Therefore, when adopting slogans and other words within the design of your fitting rooms, retailers should be sure to choose the “perfect fit.”

As previously mentioned, fitting rooms are a significant advantage for brick and mortar stores. However, some brands who mainly sell online have also begun recognizing this, finding effective ways to utilize this feature. JOOOS has combined these two elements together, by providing the Top 100 Fashion Brands in Tmall’s sales list with the retail space to showcase their products. This example highlights the importance of fitting rooms.

"JOOOS Fitting Room in Hangzhou"
Image Source: e-architect.co.uk

The design of the fitting room area is interesting because it is located in the center of the retail space. Additionally, the exclusivity of the products is highlighted by the small staircase, as you have to physically walk up to get to the fitting room. Thus, one certainly does feel special when trying on a coat in this fitting room area.

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The Future is Green: 3 Sustainability Trends Retailers Should Know About

October 30, 2018

Sustainability in retail and as a general principle has gathered momentum in recent years, as a shift towards a more environmentally friendly, ethically conscious way of living has become more deeply embedded in public consciousness. According to this year's World Economic Forum Global Risks Report, three of the top global risks in terms of likelihood and impact are environmental. Therefore, it seems that the growing influence of sustainability in retail is part of a wider movement, extending beyond national borders, as more people are embracing the benefits of living green.

There has been a demand for greater transparency and ethical practices across all supply chains and it is perhaps important to look at how sustainability can affect consumer purchasing decisions, as well as how retailers can cater towards this growing demand in their products, branding and retail design.

Sustainable Purchasing

E-commerce retail giant JD.com has recently revealed that China’s consumers are increasingly shifting their purchases to sustainable goods and are willing to pay more for ethical brands. This not only echoes the calls for cleaner, safer products but also, the traceability of goods. As more and more businesses and consumers want to know exactly where their products are sourced from, certain brands are incorporating measures to help track the environmental impact of purchasing decisions.

In October 2017, Jing Daily reported the launch of the WeChat mini-program “My EP&L” (Environmental Profit & Loss) by international luxury group Kering, which measures the environmental cost of purchases. The app encourages more ethical choices based on a calculated cost, as customers are able to track not only the source of the material but also the environmental cost of produce - the lower the cost, the more eco-friendly.

Therefore, the sheer impact of ethical and sustainable ideals can be felt in more and more arenas as a key purchasing factor for consumers.

"Kering’s EP&L mini program on WeChat"
Image Source: Jing Daily

Sustainable Materials

Furthermore, back in July, the Financial Times first reported that Adidas vowed to use only recycled plastics by 2024, as the company seeks to eliminate all use of "virgin" plastic. This is to be included not only in their sportswear but also within Adidas offices, retail outlets, warehouses and distribution centres.

Primary plastics including synthetic polyester fibres are used in virtually all Adidas products - from t-shirts to sports tops, as it is light and dries very quick. However, to begin reducing plastic use Adidas have already announced that its next Spring/Summer 2019 collection will contain 41 percent recycled polyester.

This is also not the first time the company has joined the fight against plastic. Their collaboration with Parley for the Oceans sold 1 million pairs of trainers made from 95% ocean waste in 2017, whilst clean-up operations were also carried out on the world’s beaches according to Edie.Net.

"The Ultraboost Uncaged Parley"
Image Source: Financial Times

Image Source: Parley.TV

The news comes as the latest as a series of global companies such as Nike, G-Star and McDonald’s have all pledged to the use of polyester made of recycled fibres.

Therefore, a shift towards sustainable materials to lessen the environmental cost of plastic use seems to be a primary agenda for many global companies and retailers. This will be seen more and more throughout retail stores alike.

Sustainable Branding

Designers and brands are also increasingly adopting Vivienne Westwood’s “Buy less. Choose well. Make it last” mantra. This supports a shift towards a more sustainable lifestyle of valuing fewer, higher quality products with a higher pricing but lower total resource use thus creating a new kind of brand identity for retailers.

Ethical fashion retailer Antidote places its sole focus on sustainability by making it a part of its brand identity, promoting the ideal that shopping ethically is not an obligation but rather, a way of life.

"VM Trends: Antidote, Miami"
Image Source: VMSD

This theme in brand identity can be seen within both the retail design as well as the products on display in the store, which have all been ethically sourced. The Miami flagship store designed by Atelier de Yavorsky is marked by minimalism, featuring a soft yet sophisticated pastel colour palette. De Yavorsky wanted to build a narrative around this commitment to sustainability through retail design by using natural materials such as copper, oak and concrete as a backdrop to the store’s high-end yet sustainable fashions.

"VM Trends: Antidote, Miami"
Image Source: VMSD

The simple retail design allows more attention on what is truly important, the products and their story. The Antidote website states that behind every piece you will find “a narrative, a craftsperson’s dedication, a designer's commitment - to create consciously.”

According to Fashionista, during her travels to China and India to source materials, Antidote founder Sophie Zembra witnessed firsthand the craftsmanship, hard work and stories behind the people creating the fabrics. She realized that the inspiring story about the brand identity helps create a deeper connection between the shopper and the product and wanted to promote a vision “where conscious meets desirable.”

Therefore, using this as the focal point, what Antidote has been able to do is create a brand identity and retail design space where sustainability and fashion can go hand in hand.


With sustainability shaping retail trends in 2018, it has become increasingly clear that retailers should seek to cater towards this demand by incorporating ethical/ sustainable initiatives into their products, brand identity and retail design. Whilst we have highlighted ways in which many brands are already participating in this environmental movement, it is important to consider how this can be further implemented as we enter into a newer, ‘greener’ age.

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Creating Customer Engagement through Window Design

October 26, 2018


Window displays are a crucial part of a retail store. They are the first opportunity to show the customer your brand story. They also serve as an attention getter, grabbing the customer in and drawing them into the store to see more, experience the brand story for themselves, and purchase products.

A good window display will feature key elements that answer the following three questions from the perspective of the passerby:

- What do you want me to look at?

- Where do you want me to look first?

- How can you draw me closer?

In the ever growing digital age, the main competitor of window displays are smartphones. It can be challenging for a window display to grasp the attention of a potential customer who is walking by paying close attention to their digital device. It is for this reason that window display design has shifted towards the integration of LED screens and audio sound. An eye catching movement from the corner of the eye, paired with a catchy tune are the exact formula to draw the attention away from a customer’s smartphone for just enough time to show them a brief moment of your brand’s story. Close to 25% of a retail store’s customers stem from an enticing window design display. Apart from showing loyal and potential customers your brand story, LED screens also provide the opportunity to communicate how a product works.

LED Screens

Image Source: 5 Star Plus Design

The window display above for the Adidas flagship store in Beijing features videos of runners putting on shoes and using them to train for an upcoming race. Beside the LED screen is the countdown clock for the race. The marketing within the store was also meant to excite customers about an upcoming race in Beijing. The neighboring window display design featured dynamic LED mini screens in which arrows moved from left to right in a fluid motion drawing attention to the featured trainers.

Dynamic ceiling-to-floor LED screens are another way to draw attention to the retail store and its products. This Gucci store in Milan uses a ceiling-to-floor LED column that features a video of models wearing their clothes. The columns are used in the window display design as well as the main entrance to create a dynamic and immersive experience for customers.

Image Source: thecurrentdaily.com

Dynamic Lighting

Keeping window display design to a minimal by limiting the number of products within the display, paired with dynamic lighting to pinpoint these products can also serve as an eye-catching way to draw the consumer’s attention to a window display. This Saint Laurent store located in Shanghai uses dynamic ceiling-to-floor lighting behind their products to highlight and draw attention to their latest coat selection in their window display design.

Image Source: chinafashionbloggers.com

Combining Features

Many stores utilize a combination of the above examples, combining dynamic lighting, LED screens and other features into the window display design. This eye-catching window display design for GAP features mannequins in a dynamic box framed lighting to draw attention to the products being displayed within the box. Another unique feature about this window display design is the incorporation of ‘whispering speakers’ that project an attention grabbing sound to the street, turning the heads of the passersby to see where the sound came from.

Image Source: avinteractive.com

This Victoria Secret store in Hangzhou features an LED screen that plays their yearly fashion show. Dynamic lighting in the company’s branding draws the passerby’s eye towards the LED screen, creating excitement for them to enter the store to explore the products in person.

Image Source: 5 Star Plus Design

Creating Interaction

Creating customer interaction is another way to engage potential customers before entering the store. Kiosks are placed nearby the window display that can capture a picture of the customer and allow them to mix and match different products on a virtual mannequin of themselves. This window display design for the Ralph Lauren flagship store in New York, featured an LED screen in which customers could mix and match different tie patterns on a shirt color of their choosing. Once they found the tie they wanted, they were sent a link on their mobile device which allowed them to purchase the product immediately.

Image Source: time.com

Overall window display design is evolving into an interactive, and technological displays to grasp the attention of the passerby and draw them into the retail stores. The use of LED screens helps to show a customer a glimpse of the brand story, as well as, products in motion. Moving images and video have shown to increase the retention of the individual and peak their interest. Dynamic lighting is another way to draw the eye to the featured objects in a window display, and also add to the brand story of the retail store. Creating an interactive aspect in the window display allow the individual to interact and learn about products before entering into the store making them more likely to actually purchase a product. Overall, the advancement of window display design has led to more creative ways of achieving customer interaction.

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5 Star Plus at Best of British (BOB) Exhibition in Shanghai

October 22, 2018

Image Source: 5 Star Plus Design

Retail design agency 5 Star Plus acted as the proud event partner with the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) and Department for International Trade (DIT) Southeast at the Best of British Brands (BOB) Exhibition in Shanghai. Hosting a variety of British companies across multiple sectors looking to grow and create a stronger presence in the Chinese retail market, the event was organized by Media 10 Limited and took place October 18-21.

Image Source: 5 Star Plus Design

5 Star Plus created a clean and simple exhibition stand design that held true to DIT branding. At the center part of the stand, a reception and community area created an opportunity for guests to learn more about DIT, CBBC, and 5 Star Plus Retail Design. A stunning image of a shopping mall in Leeds England that tied into the branding for CBBC was placed at the back part of the stand to set the tone of what these brands could represent in China. Having an open concept design allowed visitors to flow easily from one booth to the next as they explored what these brands had to offer. The exhibition stand hosted 10 different companies, all looking for potential partners and exposure in China. These companies ranged from clothing and apparel, cosmetics, household goods, and food and beverage. To catch the eye of the passerby, each company in the stand had a booth that featured a full length poster wall.

Companies within the stand included: Boggle Mints, SteakStones, Studio 10, Christys’, Heyland &Whittle, The Workers Club, HMS Spirits, OMS, Earthy Timber, and Wild Nutrition. The exhibition also featured other notable retail brands including Ted Baker, Bentley, and Dyson. Throughout the exhibition various live events including cooking demonstrations, fashion shows, music, and films took place in different parts of the exhibition center. Overall, the event opened many doors for the British businesses who participated. Being crucial for building brand awareness and the right image, the design of the exhibition stand was well received by both retail brands and visitors.

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5 Star Plus Projects Receive Excellent Design Awards at WWSE 2018

September 28, 2018

Image Source: World Winter Sports Expo

This year’s World Winter Sports Beijing Expo (WWSE2018) began last week with Austria participating as the “Guest of Honour Country” for the first time. The event ran from September 19-22 at Beijing’s CNCC and we are delighted to announce that two 5 Star Plus Retail Design projects received design awards at the event.

The two projects, International Biathlon Union (IBU) and the Austrian pavilion received special recognition for excellent design and we feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to contribute to the event, especially in the run up to the Olympic Winter Games 2022.

The Olympic Winter Games 2022 has fuelled an enthusiasm for ice and snow sports in China. Hence, with Austrian athletes and companies leading the winter sports industry, Austria had a particularly important role to play at this year’s expo and was the largest pavilion at the event.

ADVANTAGE Austria provided a platform for 26 Austrian winter sports exhibitors and 5 Star Plus were proud to have been a part of Austria’s glowing contribution to the expo, as our team designed a space covering 564 sqm of the exhibition stand.

Our other project IBU covered 108 sqm, with 7 exhibitors hoping to introduce the Biathlon sport to China. Amongst these were not only companies exhibiting Biathlon sports gear, but the International Biathlon Union also sought to promote the sport as a whole, bringing knowledge and understanding to those who may not be familiar with the sport.

Therefore, the WWSE2018 was a great chance for different countries and exhibitors to come together to reinforce their presence in China’s winter sports industry, as well as celebrate winter sports as a whole.

We at 5 Star Plus Retail Design have thoroughly enjoyed contributing to this celebration of winter sports and hope to achieve continued success in our future design projects.

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The Power of Illusion in Retail Design

September 26, 2018

Have you ever wondered why certain shapes and patterns are more eye-catching and draw you in instantly? According to Michael Bach, a visual scientist and professor of neurobiophysics, an illusion is "a mismatch between the immediate visual impression and the actual properties of an object.” The brain is always constructing things, therefore, when sometimes our subjective perception doesn't match the physical reality of what is presented, we as human beings are naturally intrigued by the phenomenon. Consequently, the way in which our brain interprets an image can also have a real impact on whether we find it to be appealing as a consumer. Therefore, it is important to consider how this can also be incorporated within retail design in order to enhance your visual appeal to potential customers.

This article will take a closer look into how illusions can be used within retail design and innovative ways retailers have utilised this feature.

Hello Miss Rong

The Hello Miss Rong restaurant in Guangzhou, designed by Infinity Nide uses illusions effectively through the use of colourful, electroplated stainless steel to create a microscopic/X-ray effect within the retail design.

"Hello Miss Rong restaurant by Infinity Nide"
Image Source: Retail Design Blog

The shapes and colours on the steel walls is in contrast with the rest of the restaurant which features predominantly white, minimalist, simple block shapes. The juxtaposition between the two design strategies has been utilised effectively so to allow more attention on the illusions and patterns in the retail design. Therefore, what Infinity Nide has managed to create is a display that is not only eye-catching to potential customers but also futuristic, as the distorted shapes alongside the metallic finish gives off an impression that is almost other worldly.

Thin Thin Thin installation in UNIQLO

The Thin Thin Thin window installation at UNIQLO in Tokyo showcases the use of illusions within visual merchandising at its finest. What makes the installation so aesthetically interesting is the fact that designer Emmanuel Moureaux has been able to construct an illusion of grandeur by giving the impression of a completely symmetrical display. This has been achieved through the simple use of mirror panels which have been cleverly placed at the top of the bottom box.

"Thin Thin Thin installation at UNIQLO by Emmanuelle Moureaux"
Image Source: Retail Design Blog

The mannequins in the top section appear as though they are hanging directly from the ceiling, adding another dimension to the window display which is in perfect symmetry with those on the bottom. The concept and every single detail within the installation seems to have been well thought out in order to achieve this grand illusion, as even the gradient of colour running throughout the display has been carefully constructed through the use of thin woollen threads. The different lengths and colours, as well as the texture of the threading all blend together seamlessly to create this extra layer which brightens up the whole display and gives the perfect finish to the piece.

ONE Teahouse

"ONE teahouse by Minax Architects, Shanghai – China"
Image Source: Arch Daily

Shanghai’s ONE Teahouse designed by Minax Architects epitomises the successful use of optical illusion within retail design. Through the positioning of 999 wooden sticks, a spiral effect has been created which encompasses the whole room to create an egg shape. This provides a certain shock factor for customers entering the tearoom, especially as circular shapes are not typical of most retail design spaces. As well as this, the optical illusion within the layout can also play with your imagination. The walls may be seen to be physically moving and spiralling when you are stood amongst it, however, in reality, it is the layering of the wooden sticks creating this illusion.

"ONE teahouse by Minax Architects, Shanghai – China"
Image Source: Arch Daily

The power of illusion is also reflected in the outer design of the teahouse which features a rectangular door frame which appears to blend in with the inner store design. This provides an additional layer to the optical illusion, as solely based upon the outer design the teahouse appears to be a rectangular shape. However once you step inside, the circular design and spiral effect becomes evident. Therefore, ONE Teahouse’s unique design can not only generate customer intrigue but also provides a unique customer experience due to the unexpected nature of the retail design.

Molton Brown Vetiver & Grapefruit Marketing Campaign

Alternatively, Molton Brown uses illusions in a different way, by incorporating optical illusions as part of their brand design to mark the launch of their Vetiver & Grapefruit fragrance collection. Placed in shopping centres across the UK, the display features anamorphic art to create clever 3D optical illusions of their new products. The marketing campaign under the title ‘Build the Tension’ was intended to reflect the contrasting flavours in the new range and this theme has also been conveyed through the positioning of the 3D illusions, with the products appearing to fall on top of each other.

Image Source: ipm BITESIZE

Customers are also encouraged to get involved with the campaign, as there are footprints on the 3D flooring to invite people to share their photos on social media to win prices. This interactive element can enhance customer experiences as they are able to engage with the brand directly by posing playfully next to the products. Furthermore, what is perhaps most notable about this campaign is the fact that through the use of 3D optical illusions Molton Brown have managed to bring their brand message to life physically.


In conclusion, taking a closer look at the concept of illusions, how they work and why they are aesthetically appealing can offer a unique take on retail design which can both generate customer fascination as well as provide them with a memorable experience. Stated above are just a few examples of the various ways in which illusions can be used effectively for other retailers to take inspiration from in their own retail design.

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“New Retail, New Design”—5 Star Plus’ Insights at CBBC London

September 24, 2018

The China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) hosted an event on August 30, 2018 in London focusing on developments within China’s retail landscape. Some significant British retail brands in attendance included Dr. Martens, The Body Shop, Je Joue and Dartington Crystal. 5 Star Plus’ Managing Director and retail industry expert Barbara Seidelmann delivered valuable insights on this topic, as well as how to incorporate these developments into the retail design of brick & mortar stores.

She started by discussing the changing needs of Chinese consumers and the influence this will have on major industries including, but not limited to, toys, sporting apparel, and cosmetics. She then examines the online-to-offline model strategy and the role this will play in future retail design. A major point she focused on was the increasing need for technological integration within store design and its increasing capabilities in terms of shopping functionality for consumers. Overall, it is important to realize that the direction of retail in the Chinese market will not end online or offline. Rather, both will form a cohesive omni-channel experience, utilizing online channels to attract customers into brick & mortar stores and vice versa. Keeping in mind these trends in order to implement new retail design strategies is crucial to the continued success and sustainability of retail brands in the Chinese market.

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How to Incorporate Storytelling into Your Retail Design

August 28, 2018

Have you ever wondered why brand storytelling is such a crucial element in retail marketing and store design nowadays? Do you find it difficult trying to relay your brand identity through the design of your retail space? If you have asked yourself these questions, this article will provide you with some much needed answers. Together we will delve into the essence of brand storytelling. Then we will explore how storytelling can influence one’s retail design, and more practically, how it can be integrated into the retail design of your storefront.

"3 Ways Whole Foods Is Using Design to Appeal To Millennials"
Image Source: INC

First, we need to define the concept of storytelling in the context of consumer markets. Storytelling engages an audience through either fictional or non-fictional content. The content can relay a particular lesson or it can simply be told for entertainment purposes. Either way, it is a useful tool for providing meaning in the vast aspects of our intricate lives. In this sense, many brands today utilize storytelling as a central marketing technique. Brands engage their customers with storytelling because it creates transparency of the values upon which the company was founded on and is driven by. Storytelling not only makes it easy to express a retailer’s vision, but it gives a clearer picture of what the brand stands for. In turn, this clarity makes it easier for the brand to connect with like-minded customers. Historically, Chinese consumers preferred products that fulfilled perceptions of esteem or advanced their progression in social hierarchies. However, in today’s Chinese market, there is a growing trend towards products that enhance their lives with an emphasis on personal growth. Consumers want brands that embody similar principles, goals, and personality traits to offer them authentic, customized shopping experiences that are memorable. Storytelling personifies your brand in a transparent manner to ultimately establish loyal relationships with your customers and community.

Now that we have determined the what and the why of brand storytelling, we need to answer the question of how: How do you author a genuine and compelling story?

Step 1: Self-assessment. Understand why and how your brand came to be. Why did you decide to start up or work for the company behind your brand? What motivates you and your colleagues to get up every day and work towards organizational success? Use the answers to these questions as the backbone of your brand origins.

Step 2: Value-judgement. Your story will be most valuable to the people who relate to you the most. Utilize your brand values to portray a distinct lifestyle that you, your employees and your customers adhere and aspire to. This helps identify who your target audience is. Do not strive to be everything to everyone.

Step 3: Communication. Use your origins story to relay the worth of your brand to your consumers. Whether it be reminding loyal ones or convincing potential ones to hop on your bandwagon, show these customers how their lives will be enhanced. Your message should be steadfastly purposeful, elegantly simple, predominantly visual, yet emotionally moving.

Step 4: Consistency. Now, communicate your story across all of your channels. The operative word for this step is consistency—keeping everything from your brand’s tone of voice to formatting style the same no matter where your customer interactions take place.

This simple, four-step approach to brand story development can go a long way. It is important to remember that your story needs to be told in a way that is organic, transparent, and humanizing.

"9 Ridiculous Life Lessons Lululemon Is Trying To Teach Us, Including ‘Don’t Wear Sunscreen’ "
Image Source: Bustle

"Retail Report: A Look at Away’s Pop Up Shop in NYC"
Image Source: Startup Fashion

Incorporating your brand story into the retail design of your store can be challenging because, like maintaining consistency across all channels, your brand story needs to be an all-encompassing theme. But if done right, a flagship or concept store can be the most effective channel for communicating the lifestyle you represent. The first kind of people any retail store can make an impression on is the passerby. So you need to put a lot of thought into logo signage and window display. Make sure the logo has a bold color choice and unique font that match the brand identity. Keep a consistent voice and tone for any written content and be sparing with it, as brand storytelling is more effective through visualization. Take advantage of technological advancements in your window display. Wide LED screens allow for video play or image slideshows that unleash your brand’s heart—bonus points for interactive capabilities. For example, as an activewear retailer, showcase motivational stories of real people who power through adversity to champion physical feats. That said, activewear brands like Under Armour and Lululemon differentiate themselves from each other by embodying disparate core values, and writing their individual stories accordingly.

"Nike Kinect Interactive Window Display by Staat"
Image Source: Best Window Displays

"17 [+5] Marketing Techniques to Launch Your Clothing Label"
Image Source: Merchandise Essentials

Once customers are inside your store, they are no longer passersby. In other words, they are now in your world. Therefore, everything about the retail design whether it be mapping out the traffic flow or stimulating the senses need to tie back into your brand story.

Sight. Consider the visuals and displays of your store design. Pick a color palette (one that is consistent with your logo) and stick to it. Remember that colors evoke certain emotions, so choose a color palette that best represents the feelings your brand story induces. If you are a children’s toy retailer for example, use yellows to promote playfulness and happiness and purples for encouraging imagination and creativity. Take note of how lighting plays into your visuals and displays. If your brand story is exciting and lively, use bright lighting. If it is passionate, use dynamic lighting. For luxury houseware brands with long family heritage consider the use of warm, intimate lighting to convey a sense of homeyness.

"Williams-Sonoma Time Warner Center"
Image Source: Sean O-Connor Lighting

Sound. Another method of communicating a brand story through retail design is with audio stimulation. Be it complementary to your video content or the store’s background music, any auditory element must correspond to whatever resonates with your target audience. Music, just like color, influences people’s moods. Moreover, it is an expression of one’s underlying character. Capture the essence of your audience’s personality and show them that you (the brand) are kindred because of your similar taste in music.

Scent. Scent also plays a significant role in your brand story. Again, similar to the aforementioned store attributes, smells can correlate to particular emotions and memories. But they also play subconscious psychological roles that can deepen the perception of your brand. A shared workspace, for example, could use hints of citrus and lemon to boost concentration, ultimately increasing productivity. A more general example is an outdoors store using piney, smoky, or oceanic fragrances to invoke feelings of nostalgia and serenity within nature-loving customers.

"The Science of Smell: How Retailers Can Use Scent Marketing to Influence Shoppers"
Image Source: Shopify Blogs

There are many more aspects of retail design where you can incorporate elements of your brand story. These examples along with step-by-step instructions to creating your own brand story should provide you with reasonable insight and guidance. Remember that brand storytelling is a highly effective engagement tool built on a strong sense of self-awareness and purpose. This will allow your audience to epitomize your brand’s values. Therein, the key to integrating it within retail design is to immerse your customers in every experiential aspect possible. At the heart of it, brand storytelling should begin with you, but each new chapter is carried on by your customer.

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3 Brands Whose Chinese Concept Stores Will Blow Your Mind

August 20, 2018

The phrase ‘concept store’ appears throughout the world of retail design and has become something of a buzz word lately. A lot of people misuse the term ‘concept store’ to refer to any form of store design, but a concept store is much more. Rather than a means to present products, concept stores are more like an art form, creating a narrative and focusing on the customer experience.

Retail design in China has presented a stage for some of the most interesting designs of concept stores throughout the world. Creating a unique aesthetic makes these retail stores desirable, often involving interactive elements to engage shoppers. Despite being the capital city, Beijing is not the only place to find exceptional design. Let’s take a look at three brands with inspirational retail design concepts in China.


Bookstore chain Zhongshuge has branches in different cities: Beijing, Chengdu, Yangzhou, Hangzhou and Shanghai. Their design has received global acclaim and has become a ‘must-see’ tourist destination thanks to the grand scale of their retail store design. Each store concept is different but still holds true to the brand identity. A few pictures of Zhongshuge Shanghai are shown below.

"A bookstore by X+Living in Shanghai draws shoppers into an urban retreat"
Image Source: Frame

"The most beautiful bookstore' in Shanghai"
Image Source: China Daily

Nestled in the Songjiang district, Zhongshuge has transformed the retail space into a series of rooms that inspire playfulness. The store layout is full of angles, with hidden displays under stairs and around corners, nurturing discovery. The majority of ceilings are mirrored, creating a dizzying other-world effect one might find through the looking glass and encourages customers to remove themselves from day-to-day mundanity. The animal themed children’s section encourages exploration with a world map on the floor, allowing little ones to feel as if they were travelling great distances in a short amount of time – just like when reading a book.

Gentle Monster

Gentle Monster is a Korean eyewear brand with concept stores in China, Korea, the USA, Hong Kong and Singapore. Each concept store has a different theme exploring abstractions such as spiritualism, deification, exploration and salvation. Drawing on the monstrous element of their brand, Gentle Monster creates imaginative displays that could come alive at any moment. Each store display develops intrigue without explanation, allowing customers to imagine their own story. Playing on perspectives is a genius idea for an eyewear brand, drawing away from the products themselves and tying the brand with the imagination of creative visionaries.

Their retail design in Shanghai uses natural materials such as straw, soil and cotton which conjures images of primitive spirituality, blending the natural and unnatural worlds.

Image Source: Gentle Monster


JOOOS is a designer department store in Hangzhou, China. In 2016, designers X+Living created four ‘JOOOS fitting-rooms’ that showcased the top 100 Tmall fashion brands in four collections: Mori Girl Collection, Celebrity Collection, OL Collection and Fashionable Girl Collection. For the store concept, a ‘fitting-room’ was created for each, showcasing the products in uniquely designed spaces. The store concept was to show the emptiness of buying online using open, empty spaces which naturally draw customers to the products and offer an alternative.

Despite the impersonal nature of online shopping, there are many additional services that make the experience fun and customizable. To imitate the aspects of the online shopping environment, the fitting-rooms had a large interactive screen outside which allowed customers to preview the products before entering the space. Each fitting-room environment was equipped with a make-up area, selfie area and rest area, creating an omni-channel experience that provided instant gratification through likes and comments on the customers’ social media.

"X+living's fashion concept features four contrasting aesthetic identities"
Image Source: Design Bloom

The Mori Girl Collection used muted colors and minimal infrastructure, creating clothing racks from hemp rope strung between bamboo poles. The basic, understated retail design contrasts with the modern clothes design whilst creating a soft, natural environment.

"This Retail Space for Designer Department Store, JOOOS is Super E-P-I-C"
Image Source: Habitus Living

The Fashionable Girl Collection was bold, with quirky elements such as neon buttons hanging from the ceiling and a patterned floor. The bright colors created a sense of fun and vibrancy.

"X+living's fashion concept features four contrasting aesthetic identities"
Image Source: Design Bloom

The Celebrity Collection created an open space design based on birdcages. In Victorian times, beautiful birds were kept in cages such as those used in the retail store design so that they could be admired and adored. This delicate space created a Princess-themed environment in which customers could relax and feel like royalty.

"This Retail Space for Designer Department Store, JOOOS is Super E-P-I-C"
Image Source: Habitus Living

The OL collection used concrete and muted colors to create a more refined and sophisticated store environment. The soft textures of the carpet and furnishings helped the space to remain feminine whilst still emphasizing functionality.


Whether creating retail design in Beijing, Shanghai or anywhere else in China, the aim should not be to show off products. The store concept should be based on abstract ideas that represent the brand and link to customers’ own identities and aspirations.

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5 Star Plus Design Confirmed to be the Assigned Design and Construction Partner for the Austrian Pavilion at the World Winter Sports Expo 2018

July 30, 2018

5 Star Plus Retail Design is proud to announce that we will be the assigned design and construction partner for the Austrian Pavilion at the World Winter Sports Expo 2018.

With the Olympic Winter Games taking place in Beijing in 2022, the World Winter Sports Expo was organized for the first time in 2016 with the target to bring winter sports closer to 300 Million Chinese people.

Image Source: World Winter Sports Expo

This year, Austria was selected to be the Major Guest of Honor of WWSE 2018 . Hosted by the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, the Austrian Pavilion will feature some of Austria’s most successful companies associated to winter sports: AST, Fischer, Swarovski Optik, Wintersteiger, and Axess, among many others.

Image Source: World Winter Sports Expo

Image Source: World Winter Sports Expo

The pavilion design will also include a “tourism discovery street” with different tourism related organizations (for example, the Austrian National Tourism Office, Tirol, and many others).

Besides the Austrian Pavilion, 5 Star Plus Retail Design is also designing and building the exhibition stands for several other international exhibitors at WWSE 2018.

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The Future of Luxury Retail – New Digital Technologies

July 25, 2018

New digital technologies are transforming the future of luxury retail in China. The rise of m-commerce and major online retailers such as Amazon has meant that brick and mortar store designs are looking to evolve in order to remain competitive. New digital technologies such as blockchain, the internet of things, big data and virtual reality are finally being introduced to the luxury retail industry in China. Brick and mortar stores can and will survive. However, they will need to be creative and begin utilising these new technologies within their store designs if they wish to remain competitive.

Big Data

Big data is making its way into the luxury retail industry rapidly. Retailers want to personalise and better cater to their customers and the main way they can do this is through the use of big data. Algorithms are used to analyse big data; this then provides retailers with vital information on consumer preferences and trends. Furthermore, big data can tell retailers which individuals spend the most, what motivates them to buy more, how they behave, and the best way to reach these consumers. If retailers utilise this information they will be able to maximise their ability to stay relevant within their industry.

"Data Analytics: Challenges and Implementation"
Image Source: Hidden Brains


Blockchain is most likely to be known due to its association with bitcoin. However, luxury retailers should begin considering using blockchain to increase efficiency and maximise their ability to compete against online retailers. The blockchain network can be used to reassure consumers about the quality of products they are buying. Furthermore, the encrypted ledger system which comes with blockchain can tackle the issue of counterfeit goods by creating a “digital passport” which shows all the steps within the supply chain. This reassurance is not only great for retailers but also consumers. Generation Z values authenticity more highly than ever before.

Furthermore, retailers can use blockchain to generate greater customer loyalty by incorporating blockchain into loyalty schemes, customers will be able to access their rewards immediately after receiving them. Blockchain is far more efficient at allocating these rewards as it will not have to go through a centralised system which can often take several days.

Chinese luxury retail fashion brand Babyghost have teamed up with BitSE and its blockchain project. They have started placing QR codes on the labels of their clothing which allows customers to verify the authenticity of their products.

"Designer Brings Blockchain to Fashion"
Image Source: Fintech Singapore

"Babyghost and Vechain: Fashion on the blockchain"
Image Source: Bitcoinmagazine

Internet of Things

The internet of things (IoT) has created an omnichannel shopping experience where online devices are capable of interacting with each other automatically. Luxury retailers need to begin thinking about implementing the IoT in their brick and mortar store designs. IoT can combine online and offline aspects to maximize customer experiences. Luxury retailers can send out vouchers and coupons to consumers in real time who live in close proximity. Moreover, it allows retailers to gather vital information which can be used to further expand customer loyalty and increase sales. Utilising IoT will allow retailers to effectively reach their desired target audience.

An example of this is the Hudson Bay Company who has integrated IoT into their brick and mortar store design to enhance consumers’ experiences. They have equipped 90 of their Canadian stores, and 50 Lord & Taylor locations in the US. As shoppers walk near these shops they are sent push notifications enticing customers with special offers or promotions.

"12 Crucial questions Answered on Beacons’ growing influence on the retail industry"
Image Source: OpenxCell

"Retail dynamics of the internet of things in the future"
Image Source: Experfy

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality (VR) has been predicted to revolutionise the world of retail design. Retailers have begun applying the use of virtual reality more and more within their brick and mortar concept stores. The use of VR can provide unique and exciting experiences in the hopes of luring more shoppers in-store and away from E-commerce. The use of virtual reality removes the limitations of space and time. Retailers can therefore design a space with no limits. We can expect retailers to begin implementing a greater use of VR as it becomes more accessible and more affordable.

North Face collaborated with cinematic VR company Jaunt where they provided consumers the opportunity to virtually experience an immersive tour of California’s Yosemite National Park and the Moab desert in Utah. The use of VR creates a more personalised shopping experience within the store design while forging a greater emotional connection between the brand and its customers. This personalised shopping experience will help to increase profits for the retailer.

"The North Face gave these shoppers a VR experience that suddenly got awesomely real"
Image Source: Adweek


Recently, robots have become more and more common in the retail industry. The addition of robots inside store designs can help improve business and help retailers to stay relevant with consumers. The use of robots can help attract customer attention this is because retail robots are a new innovation which helps to lure customers into a store. Furthermore, robots can improve efficiency as they can keep track of a business’s inventory.

Lowebot was first introduced to home improvement retailer Lowe’s flagship store in 2016. Customers can ask Lowebot by speaking or using a touch screen on where to find items they need inside the store. Lowebot can also answer basic customer service questions such as information on each product. The use of robots is novel yet has the ability to entice customers in-store due to consumers experiencing something new.

Brick and mortar stores will need to analyse the cost and benefits of whether to include robotics in their store design because it may not be relevant for all retailers and will be more beneficial for some more than others.

Image Source: Lowe’s innovation labs

Image Source: Lowe’s innovation labs


New technologies such as big data, blockchain, the internet of things, virtual reality and robotics are revolutionising the future of retail. Brick and mortar stores should consider utilising these new forms of technology which will allow them to improve the shopping experience for consumers while also gaining vital information on consumer behaviour. All these new digital technologies have their pros and cons. It is important to match these with exciting and creative store designs. However, for businesses to stay competitive and relevant within the constantly adapting Chinese market, it is important to consider the benefits of these new technologies.

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What the Nose Knows - Sensory Retail Design

July 23, 2018

Researchers have discovered that far more goes into the shopping experience than what the customer sees. Everything from the music playing, the lighting of the room, to the materials used as the flooring creates a unique shopping experience and adds to the store identity. Recently, researchers have discovered that using scent marketing is an incredibly effective strategy to positively affect the shopper’s experience and enhance a store identity. Different scents cause different emotions and it is important to use the smells to create the outcome in the company’s market identity and strategy.

Image Source: rent.com.au

Using a specific scent tailored to the store’s market identity “increased intent to purchases by 80%”(Nike). Cinnabon is an example of a store properly implementing the scent branding strategy by using their iconic, rich smell of cinnamon to entice customers to their store and buy their products. Companies do not need a signature smell to positively enhance their store identity. Instead they can use generic ambient scents and get the same positive outcome. Below are ambient scents that companies should consider to activate a specific feeling within their customers:

1. Relaxation

The smell of orange has been found to limit anxiety and get rid of stress. Eucalyptus also creates a calming feeling. Furthermore, the smell of Jasmine makes people feel at peace and is used as an antidepressant. These three scents can be used to make shopping a less stressful experience and allow shoppers to unwind. Pandora focused on scents similar to these to make their store identity feel relaxing. The relaxing smells compliment their elegant and poised store design.

"Pandora Store Design"
Image Source: caps-architects.com

2. Happiness

The smell of lemon and lime has been discovered to increase overall mood and happiness. Lemon triggers serotonin to rush to the brain to make the customer feel more cheerful. Lemon also is the most powerful citrus smell. Since the sense of smell is most closely related with memories, creating a positive impact can be done more easily with a positive smell like lemons. The concept store Tigerlily uses a combination of lime and other scents to create a positive and warm store identity. The use of these scents helps reinforce the positive and upbeat store design.

"Lakeside Joondalup"
Image Source: www.lakesidejoondalup.com.au

3. Alertness

Companies want to have a strong brand image and impact on customers. An easy way to make their company stand out is by using scents that increase alertness within the store. The scent of Rosemary increases attention and focus within customers. Rosemary also limits fatigue. The smell of cinnamon also allows the brain to focus more clearly. Furthermore, the smell of Peppermint allows deeper concentration within customers. Samsung is an example of a store that uses smells similar to these to create a focused environment for their customers and employees and add to their chic store identity.

"NordWood Themes"
Image Source: Unsplash

Using scent marketing is allowing companies to go the next step in being competitive in their individual industries. It is not enough to create an aesthetic design. Now companies need to use scents to be memorable and create specific and positive emotions within their customers. The best store designs realize that the shopping experience incorporates all five senses, and even the scent of the store is vital.

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5 Star Plus Presents: “New Retail, New Design” at UK-China Retail Forum 2018

June 28, 2018

Image Source: China-Britain Business Council Guangzhou

The China Britain Business Council (CBBC) hosted the annual Great British Brands Festival (GBBF) on June 28, 2018. Located at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Guangzhou, the GBBF presented a UK – China retail forum. The first day of the festival included inviting leading industry experts to discuss what ‘New Retail’ meant for the Chinese retail and design industries this year. They invited a vast range of companies from BMW, to Marks & Spencer, to Chelston Manor to hear this year’s retail news.

Image Source: China-Britain Business Council Guangzhou

Image Source: China-Britain Business Council Guangzhou

5 Star Plus’s Managing Director and industry leader, Barbara Seidelmann, was invited to deliver a speech on the latest retail trends in her presentation: “New Retail, New Design”. Barbara’s speech began with an overview of the current retail market and analyzed differences between Western and Chinese consumer behavior. Furthermore, she discussed how prominent online distribution has become in 2018 and how to incorporate this into various retail and restaurant stores.

Image Source: China-Britain Business Council Guangzhou

Barbara concluded her speech by discussing the opportunities and future of Brick-and-Mortar stores. She gave insight on how ‘New Retail’ involves making the shopping experience more individualized and entertaining for 2018 and future years. The future of retail is always changing. She was able to present about these changes and give a strong outlook of what ‘New Retail’ entails for the future.

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Retail-tainment: Where Store Design Meets Entertainment

June 22, 2018

With the increased popularity of shopping online, traditional Brick & Mortar stores need to find a way to attract more customers. The biggest trend of 2018 thus far has been the push towards ‘retail-tainment’. Shopping is no longer limited to getting the products needed and leaving. Now the entire process of shopping has become a memorable experience.

Traditional Brick & Mortar store designs are going the next step by appealing to the customer and focusing on ease and personalization. Consumers often feel overwhelmed trying to discover exactly what they are looking for. This issue can be solved with Retail-tainment.

"Nordstrom’s Newest Store aims for a Personal Touch"
Image Source: www.latimes.com

Nordstrom perfectly executed this strategy with their new store design: Nordstrom Local. At this location, customers will find limited clothes but a guaranteed enjoyable time. Customers will be treated to fruit juices or a cocktail, manicures, and handpicked clothes. The customer can relax while clothes are tailored to their specific requests. Nordstrom Local’s strategy is to allow customers to get exactly what they want without having to manually rummage through countless racks of clothes and wait in endless lines. Instead they can sit back, relax, and enjoy a unique shopping experience.

"Nordstrom’s Newest Store aims for a Personal Touch"
Image Source: www.latimes.com

"Nordstrom Just Opened a Tiny store Without Any Inventory"
Image Source: www.cnbc.com

Although retail-tainment is more common among luxury retail stores, it is possible for any type of store design to benefit from retail-tainment. For example, Target launched ‘Target Wonderland’. Target managed to entertain customers with different games for children to play with while simultaneously making the shopping experience more convenient by giving each customer a lanyard that allowed them to easily scan products they desired.

"Target Invokes Willy Wonka for Its Store of the Future"
Image Source: fortune.com

One of 5 Star Plus’s latest projects, the Exhibition Stand Design Department for International Trade UK, was designed with retail-tainment in mind. Besides displaying various products, 5 Star Plus created a large pavilion to allow entertainment to occur as well. Activities like the afternoon tea area invited customers to enjoy tea and snacks, as well as sit and relax in the exhibition stand longer.

"Exhibition Stand Design, Department for International Trade, UK"
Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

Retail-tainment has been successful for two major reasons. The first being that it makes the products more memorable. The second is that retail-tainment increases brand loyalty to luxury stores (an issue that many high end stores have been trying to effectively overcome). Retailers need to consider how to use retail-tainment within their own stores to make an impact on their customers. Although it can be costly, when done effectively, retail-tainment adds incredible amounts of value to a company’s image.

Is Retail-tainment right for every Retail store?

It is important for Retailers to make a positive and lasting impression all while making the shopping experience more memorable. It is not necessary for every store to serve special drinks or provide onset tailoring at their store locations. However, retailers need to consider what strategies would be most effective for their brand image.

In short: Yes, especially in 2018 retail-tainment has made store designs more competitive and memorable to customers and altered the shopping experience.

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Our New Shanghai Team

June 14, 2018

5 Star Plus Retail Design is proud to announce the expansion of our team in Shanghai. We have chosen to continue growing our presence here in order to better accommodate our clients in the rapidly growing city. Our projects in Shanghai thus far comprise of exhibition stand and restaurant design projects and include working with Advantage Austria, the Austrian National Tourist Office, the UK Department for International Trade, the British Chamber as well as Oh Chic, a subsidiary of EG Distriselecta. Further projects have been completed in other cities in the region, such as a jewelry store design project for HMSC in Hangzhou.

"Four Ways to Give Your Restaurant Dining Room a Quick Improvement"
Image Source: Isango

To support our growing clients in Shanghai we have a new client manager, Samantha Chalmers. Samantha comes from the United States and has spent several years studying different markets all over the world. With a background in international business, she is familiar with the differing implications of foreign operations including policy and strategy methods. One of her focus points was diving into emerging markets, particularly in Southeast Asia and the Chinese market as a whole, putting a strong focus on understanding the needs of consumers on both a cultural and psychological level. This has given her a deep understanding of East Asian values and the needs of Chinese consumers. As many of our clients are foreign retail companies looking to tap into the Chinese market, Samantha will help ease the process of opening a store by connecting retailers to resources through project management of a retail design concept. Additionally, her experience in small scale start-ups has provided her with adequate experience in both online and offline tactics for retail marketing.

5 Star Plus Retail Design offers a variety of services from concept design to rebranding services. Our specialized team of designers and marketers work diligently to provide services that most effectively apply the brand identity to adhere to the Chinese market. With our growing presence in Shanghai, we will also be able to extend our services to major cities in the surrounding area including Nanjing, Hangzhou, Wuxi, Suzhou and more. Apart from our Shanghai operations, we also provide services in a variety of cities worldwide including: Beijing, Vienna, Urumqi, Singapore, and New York City.

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2018 Relaunch - 10 Tips to Sustainably Increase Revenue in Stores

May 30, 2018

In order to sustainably increase revenue in stores, retail brands need to design a perfect in-store experience and create long term relationships with their customers. Here are a few tips to achieve this.

1. Optimize your store's exterior design.

The store façade and window should be designed to represent your brand and products. They are also the perfect means to create brand awareness and educate customers. Make sure your logo is designed to be visible from far, and a good selection of your products is displayed in the store window

Shop Render

2. Welcome Customers entering your store.

Greet all your customers entering your store, irrespective of gender, age, and other characteristics. It is important to give customers a warm welcome, make them feel comfortable and let them check out your products, even if they have no purchase intention.

3. Design your customer service to be barrier free.

Ensure to use an open body language when talking to your customers (no crossed arms!) and remove any furniture from the store space that could be perceived as a barrier between you and the customer. Examples of such barriers could be the sales counter, island furniture, or columns. Since furniture cannot always be removed, make sure to stand at a location with no barrier when talking to the customer.

4. Guide the customer through the store.

You want to make sure to give each new customer the best overview of your brand and introduce the various collections. Don't leave customers alone in your store – guide them and add a few sentences about each product at which they look for a few seconds, even if the customers mention that they "just want to have a look".

5. Adjust your sales approach according to each customer.

Some people are more communicative, others prefer a quiet shopping environment. Some customers need more space, others again want more information. Be sensitive and adjust your sales approach and the amount of information that you give to each person's individual needs.

6. Create a personal connection.

Purchase decisions are emotional choices. Most consumers don't purchase merely because of product characteristics, but because of something else about the product. This could be the artistic design, the heritage of the brand, the unique manufacturing technique, or other abstract values that can be hard to define. Each retail store should therefore target to create a personal connection between the customer and three very important things: the brand, the sales person, and the product. If they love the brand, you, and the product, you will make a sale. Sales consultants need to speak to the unique emotional needs and motivations of each person.

7. Support the customer in finding the perfect piece for him or her.

It is not up to the sales consultant to recommend an item; it is rather about finding out the needs, preferences, and expectations of the customers and to discover accordingly the perfect piece. Again, what is sold is not only a "product"; it is a manifestation of emotions, values, and a lifestyle, to the customer.

8. Reconfirm the choice of the customer.

Many customers doubt during the payment process whether they really have made the right choice. It is important to compliment the customer on their choice and assure them that they will enjoy the product for a long time.

9. Personalization and customer relationship management.

Be equally friendly and polite to all your customers, and remember the names and preferences of your repeat customers. Support your sales team with a digital customer relationship management system where customer preferences, personal data and purchase history can be stored and traced. Nothing creates more loyal customers than a personalized welcome "Good morning Mrs. X", accompanied by an honest smile.

10. Pack every product like a gift.

You want your customer to feel happy when carrying your product around and be excited when opening the packaging at home. Pack all products, including the ones which are exchanged or repaired, as nicely as you can. Plus, customers who carry your shopping bag around the mall are great advertising for your brand.

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The Beginner’s Guide to Retail Store Design

May 23, 2018

You’ve got your products; you’ve got your brand; you’ve even had success selling online. So much success, in fact, that you are looking to open a bricks and mortar store. You’re looking for a place to showcase your products and entice new customers, somewhere that sells the idea and principles behind your brand. Opening a flagship store sounds easy in principle, but a lot of work goes in to making sure the retail store design is right for you. 5 Star Plus Retail Design are experts at design and have decided to share a few helpful hints for you to consider when opening a new retail store.

1. Budget

Rather than thinking ‘how much does this cost?’ think about ‘how much do I want to spend?’ If you approach a designer with an unlimited budget, they can carve out a little piece of heaven, but the same effect can be achieved with a smaller budget. Designers are adept at making cheap look chic and using low-cost alternatives achieve the same effect as high-end. They can come up with creative solutions, using ingenious design to make an impact. For example, using perspective to make the store appear larger and more open.

" Li Xiang’s Zhongshuge bookstore is stacked full of wonder "
Image Source: Frame

The use of tall mushrooms in the Zhongshuge flagship bookstore design makes the customer see the store as a big, wondrous place full of possibilities.

2. Store Layout

When designing a store, it is important to think about how your customers will move around. When they enter a store, most people turn right, so this space should be filled with exciting retail displays that draw people in. Through clever unit placement, the customer’s journey can be plotting so that they will spend more time instore browsing. Other things to consider include where to place the till, how to include storage on the shop floor, and providing additional facilities for guests such as seating.

It is important to consider your own store needs, as the layout must be functional. If products have to be stored on the shop floor, then storage space must be integrated into the design. If staff members have to carry goods or require equipment out front, then there has to be enough space to allow for its use and clear access paths.

"Shoe & Accessories Store Concept Design, Högl"
Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

Our Högl store design China created a path for customers to walk around the store, with interesting displays in the center. The till was placed at the back of the store so that customers were required to walk past the products to make a purchase, whilst also being close to the employee space.

3. Materials

Design materials are often split into natural and man-made, each giving off a different feeling. For example, a natural material such as wood can feel more welcoming and wholesome than man-made plastic. The properties of different materials conjure different mental images, which can impact on how your brand is perceived. To appear traditional, the use of bamboo can tie a space together. If you want to appear industrialized, metal is a good choice.

Texture is also very important for adding depth and warmth to a store design. Shiny, reflective surfaces are used for bold, clean, futuristic atmospheres, whereas using fabrics can create a sense of warmth and comfort.

"Old Fiberboard Ceiling Tiles"
Image Source: Sad Waters

With expert handling, even cheap materials such as fiberboard can be made to seem sumptuous. These fiberboard ceiling tiles can be used to create a rich, traditional atmosphere.

4. Shapes and Colors

Think about what feeling you want your brand to represent. Are you a healthy, nurturing brand? Then use soft lines, bright lights and colors such as green and yellow that induce a feeling of happiness and growth. Shapes, colors and lighting all combine to create a subtle, often subconscious set of cues that impact on the overall mood of a store. Knowing what each color or shape represents will help you to align the store design with your brand. Also, consider the gender of your audience. Soft curves are traditionally considered feminine, whereas sharp edges and right angles are more masculine.

"Bloom Bloom Bloom Pop-up Shops by Emmanuelle Moureaux"
Image Source: retaildesignblog.net

Colors have been kept to a minimum in Issey Miyake’s retail store in order to bring out the contrasting bright colors of the products. The use of white surfaces with bright lighting and soft shadows draws the customer towards the products.

5. Lighting

Lighting is important to draw attention to the product displays, grabbing the customers’ attention and highlighting the products. Ensuring a well-lit, bright display helps to showcase products and results in more sales. Generally, the brighter the store, the more products will be sold. Integrating well-designed lighting into a retail design can be challenging, as it combines placing the lights in the right location, integrating the lights themselves with the store design, considering wiring in the store infrastructure, and ensuring the light quality is in-keeping with the store displays.

"Diamond Dazzle Stores by Reggiani, Beijing & Shanghai – China"
Image Source: Retail Design Blog

Diamond Dazzle’s Store Design Beijing & Shanghai: both stores use bright lighting, integrated into the design itself. Spotlights on the ceiling and behind mannequins help to highlight products and eliminate shadows. The large light, shown above, incorporates lighting into a piece of art.

6. Windows and Instore Displays

A captivating window display helps a store to stand out in a crowded marketplace and brings in new customers. It’s a great place to get creative and show the brand concept, emphasising the personality of the brand. Instore displays are also a very good way to emphasise the brand concept whilst displaying the products. It is a useful way to highlight the benefits of products and can include information on the benefits of a product in a visually appealing way.

Image Source: A Silent Scream in a Noisy World

Barney’s window displays designed by Lady Gaga brought to life surreal scenes designed to entice and inspire.

7. Digital and Interactive Elements

Modern retail design should try to incorporate interactive elements in order to engage the customer. Having something to do within the store turns shopping into an experience and encourages them to spend more time getting to know the brand. Including digital elements in the design is a great way to promote omni-channelling and provide more information, specialist options and include an element of imagination. AR technology in particular is helping to revolutionise the shopping experience and can be applied in many ways.

"The Shifting Role of Retail"
Image Source: Voxx Exhibits

8. Trusting an Expert

Working with 5 Star Plus Retail Design makes this process a lot easier. Our team of designers understand how all the above elements work together to create an impressive, unique retail store design, realising your vision in an efficient and timely manner. Working within your budget, we know how much materials cost, how long construction will take, and can manage the creation of your store from start to finish. Opening a new retail store needn’t be stressful; making use of experts’ time and knowledge will save you a lot of stress and help to create a lasting impression.

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New Concept Design for PUREONES

April 28, 2018

Image Source: PUREONES

For a long time, luxury has been associated with the West. Europe in particular has a rich heritage, fine materials and quality craftsmanship that has brought about fashion brands such as Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Prada. These brands, and those like them, speak of decadence, born from a desire to distinguish between classes and to show wealth. For many years, these ideals were out of place in China and although in recent decades we have seen a rise in popularity, luxury goods are still in juxtaposition to typical Chinese values. So where is the offering for the refined Chinese man who wants to take pride in all he is? Jin Xiuqi’s brand PUREONES is the answer.

Jin developed the PUREONES brand in order to bring China into the global marketplace of fashion. He wanted to create a clothing line that represented how China truly was, rather than the gimmicky ‘China-style’ so often seen in the West. Drawing from Confucian and Taoist thought, taking styles and techniques from the Song and Tang dynasties, Jin created a line of clothing that acted as an extension of the man himself. Emphasizing the balance of yin and yang, and heaven and Earth through minimalist sewing patterns has created a unity that expresses the past and present, as well as the inside and out. In doing so, ‘China-style’ can become meaningful ‘China Design’. For Xiuqi, it is important to cultivate the self, as it is only when we are at peace within that we can look outwards to the family, the state, and the world.

Image Source: PUREONES

It is with this in mind that 5 Star Plus Retail Design began designing the new concept for PUREONES retail stores. When approaching the retail design, we knew that the store should reflect the principle of looking from the inside out, drawing from international methods of displaying a brand identity in order to establish the true purpose of the individual. Drawing from nature and creating an organic, environmentally-friendly store concept was key.

Inspired by the curves found in Chinese rice fields, rivers, mountains and forests and following the Taoism way the store design leads you from one space to another in a very natural way. Each element is designed to look like it was made by nature itself. Using high-quality wood and stone materials to tie this concept with the physical space, the plain square box of a typical retail outlet transforms itself into a natural oasis and transports the customer to a calming, open environment. To bring in some engaging contrast, vertical space was optimized with mirrors, wooden strips resembling trees and a focal point around a seating area. The metal mesh drawing down from the ceiling makes the space private and enclosed, which not only creates an intimate VIP lounge internally, but highlights the outdoor, natural feel of the rest of the store.

The natural theme is further supported in the window display. Video projections within the display area will change with the seasons, creating a dynamic effect that draws people in. To complement this, there will be an installation made from buttons, simultaneously showcasing the beautiful porcelain detailing of the products and contributing to the environment. The buttons can be changed to create a different ambience, representing a forest, clouds, heaven, or earth. We look forward to see the new designed store for PUREONES.

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Emotional advertising online – How to use emotions to make your ads go viral and increase sales

April 27, 2018

Take a moment to think about the products and services that you use in your daily life. The laptop you are working on right now, the clothes and jewellery you are wearing today, the snack you ate earlier, the smartphone you might hold in your hand reading this article, etc. What was the reason you bought these products from these particular brands? Most likely, you don’t have a logical explanation for that. You may have thought, “it just feels right to buy it,” and brands are hoping for just that! It has been scientifically proven, time and again, that customers rely on emotions alongside logical reasoning when making a purchasing decision.

To quote the legendary Salesman Zig Ziglar, “People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.” Emotions create memories, memories create actions. The feelings triggered through a brand campaign engage the customer, spurring them to act. On the simplest level, this translate to liking or sharing the ad content through social media or in personal conversations. More effective campaigns can lead to increased brand reputation and awareness, and spur consumers on to buy the product or service.

"Emotions Get You Sales with Emolytics"
Image Source: Emolytics

Types of emotions in advertising

There are countless emotions one can feel; however, research shows that there are six universal emotions which can be considered ‘the core emotions’. These are: happiness, anger, disgust, fear, sadness, and surprise. All of the core emotions are used in advertising, although the effectiveness of each emotion differs. As previously discussed, it is important that that an ad creates memories. So, which emotions make a campaign memorable? As shown on the graph below, emotions can be distributed into four categories, based on the relevent arousal and valence. Arousal refers to the intensity of an emotion, whereas valence describes the positive or negative character of an emotion. Studies show that ads with a high level of arousal are the most memorable, and reinforcing arousal with a positive or negative connotation ingrains the ad content more deeply, spurring the audience to either embrace the positive, or reduce the negative. Let’s take a look at the different types of high-arousal campaigns

"What Makes an Ad Memorable"
Image Source: Emolytics

High-arousal, high-valance campaign

In March 2017, Gucci launched a new campaign for watches. The goal of the campaign was to reach a younger target audience; therefore, the brand chose Instagram as their main advertising channel. In addition, they created the hashtag #TFWGucci (That Feeling When Gucci). In case you are not familiar with it, the phrase “that feeling when…” is one of the most commonly used phrases online for starting a funny story on social media. This campaign was a huge success thanks to Gucci’s imitation of memes.

"Humour - Gucci"
Image Source: Digital Marketing Institute

Gucci created high arousal by using humour, a high-valence, high-arousal emotion. This created happiness, associating the Gucci watches with good times. In total Gucci memes amassed around 2 million likes and more than 21,000 comments on Instagram, thereby creating a huge buzz around the brand and their new watches.

High-arousal, low-valence campaign

Using emotions in advertising can be risky. Every individual has different emotions towards each campaign. In addition, if it is a global campaign, cultural differences will trigger emotions differently around the world. The riskiest ads are those which aim to trigger our emotions through negative valence, a strategy often used by human rights campaigns. These campaigns inflict negative emotions; however, encourage people to change their behavior for the better. There are many successful campaigns that prove it is sometimes worth taking the risk.

In 2017 Airbnb gained a lot of attention for its #WeAccept campaign. The campaign intention was to promote acceptance among people of the world regardless of background. Part of what made this campaign so powerful was timing. It was launched merely days after Donald Trump announced the travel ban for people from certain Muslim countries. By taking a risk and choosing the right timing, Airbnb’s #WeAccept campaign gained over 5 million views on Youtube and 110,000 views on Instagram within the first month alone.

"Timely - Airbnb"
Image Source: Digital Marketing Institute

The Airbnb campaign provides a prime example of how to create high arousal with a low-valence emotion such as anger. The campaign drew on anger over current political decisions and encouraged the audience to respond through the more positive behaviour of accepting everyone. Multiple marketing blogs and experts credited Airbnb’s #WeAccept campaign as one of the most successful campaigns of 2017.

Using arousal and valence in retail design

Although we have talked about advertising campaigns, the same principal of high-arousal can be used in retail design. To guarantee the best possible success of emotional advertising it is crucial that the campaign is executed holistically which means that online advertising, retail design and in-store activities are tailored to transport a specific emotion.

Taking the example of Gucci into account, it is interesting to know that before launching their campaign they started creating a new look for their retail stores. Gucci used rich pinks associated with the high-valence feelings of love and flirtation.

"Gucci - Miami"
Image Source: ATR

To sum up, if the emotions created through a campaign resonate with our personal beliefs, values and feelings we are more likely to buy something based on emotional rather than logical reasoning. So when planning your next advertising campaign, don’t focus on cold hard facts, but think about the emotion you want to convey to your audience.

To guarantee the best possible success of emotional advertising it is crucial that the campaign is executed holistically which means that online advertising, retail design and in-store activities are tailored to transport a specific emotion. Taking the example of Gucci into account, it is interesting to know that before launching their campaign they started creating a new look for their retail stores.

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AUSTRIA CONNECT China 2018 – “Let's Talk Strategy!” Event Review

April 26, 2018

Image Source: ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA Beijing

AUSTRIA CONNECT China 2018 – “Let's Talk Strategy!” took place in Beijing from the 8th to 9th of April, marked a first for Austria, with the largest ever political delegation to visit a foreign country. Over 300 people attended the event on behalf of their Austrian companies or Chinese subsidiary to discuss new business models, attend talks, and conduct business. Thirty business contracts were signed during the event, collectively worth over 1.5 billion euros.

5 Star Plus Retail Design were honoured to work alongside Advantage Austria to realise their theme of “Let’s talk strategy!” as sole designers for the conference venues.

The Welcome Ceremony

The welcoming ceremony provided the perfect opportunity for everyone to catch-up with old friends, network with potential business partners and most of all, have a bit of fun. EQUIS Bar kicked off the two-day conference in a trendy, sleek space. The industrial-chic interior provided a soft, warm glow to induce feelings of bonhomie, making a room of three-hundred people feel like an intimate venue.

Image Source: ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA Beijing

Making use of the wonderful Spring weather, many patrons were to be found outside. Despite the towering buildings looming above, the EQUIS Bar courtyard felt like a secret inside the city, a peaceful hideaway blending man-made rock with natural foliage. As night fell, the crisp white glow of Advantage Austria branding drew focus, creating anticipation for the days to come.

Image Source: ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA Beijing

Image Source: ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA Beijing

Talks and Working Groups

Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

The delegates, including several Federal Ministers, were treated to a topical roster of talks pertaining to international trade between Austria (as well as Europe on a larger scale) and China, with many business negotiations taking place alongside. Throughout the conference, all eyes were focused on the speakers who stood in front of a large white info board or screen. So as not to take away from the purpose of the conference, 5 Star Plus Retail Design chose to keep design minimalistic in the actual conference rooms, electing to project logos and key graphics where appropriate. Using subtle techniques made a lasting impression, such as the placement of a large archway whose contrast to the environment welcomed those walking under it into a new way of thinking.

Image Source: ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA Beijing

Image Source: ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA Beijing

Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

The Gala Dinner

Image Source: ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA Beijing

The event ended in Beijing Dadong restaurant with networking time in the garden and a gala dinner complete with Chinese dancing show and, of course, Beijing’s signature dish Peking duck, which was cut and served in front of the guests.

Image Source: ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA Beijing

Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

Having worked with Advantage Austria on several projects, we were aware of the sleek, clean designs that the client prefers, and were excited to bring something special to such an important event. As an Austrian business in China, it was wonderful to see so many other companies following the same path as 5 Star Plus Retail Design.

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Design Shanghai 2018: Pavilion Execution for Advantage Austria

March 30, 2018

Design Shanghai is one of the world's most prestigious international design events, and Asia's premier design event. It has established itself as the go-to exhibition for talent and is rooted in the heart of Oriental culture. This year, between 14-17th March 2018, Design Shanghai was back, celebrating its 5th anniversary with exciting new content.

Advantage Austria, Austria’s trade center for international commerce, participated in the Design Shanghai event, and asked 5 Star Plus Retail Design to execute a stand for their Austrian products. Using high-quality materials and ensuring all exhibitors optimised their space were our main targets for creating a strong impact during the three-day event. The result was a successful stand with a dynamic structural design that had everyone passing by stopping to check out the stand.

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Why is Europe taking inspiration from Chinese Shopping Malls?

March 28, 2018

In the 20th Century, department stores and shopping malls became institutions, changing the way consumers shop. With lavish displays and labyrinthine corridors of shops, malls and department stores championed choice. You could spend a whole day looking around the different stores. Nowadays, footfall is still high, but malls and stores have had to adapt to customers’ changing needs. It is no longer enough to offer variety, people want more from their shopping experience. China is leading the way in retail-tainment, and the rest of the world is starting to follow suit.

So, That’s Entertainment

The recent move into e-commerce has created stiff competition for bricks and mortar stores, making retailers question, “what do consumers want?” The answer has always been simple: they want everything. An all-encompassing destination that offers entertainment, fun, and caters to all of their lifestyle needs. For department stores and shopping malls, injecting entertainment into the mix is a great way to bring the online shoppers offline again and again.

China saw this need early – the fact that malls have become tourist destinations stands testament to that. Chinese malls offer much more than typical retail stores, they also house restaurants, bars, spas, schools, gyms, beauty parlours, art galleries, gardens, supermarkets and much more. Malls are increasingly considering this entertainment value to draw in the crowds. The Global Center in Chengdu is a great example of this. The largest building in the world, the mall hosts a 300-meter long indoor beach, appealing to consumers’ love of novelty and providing a space to relax, regardless of the weather.

"Chengdu - The working week"
Image Source: stanzilieri.com

Something for Everybody

The variety of entertainment options on offer means that malls are destinations for everybody. Whether you’re solo, in a couple, with friends, or on a family outing, there’s enough to keep everyone entertained in their own way. It’s common to see grandparents drop children off at their English classes before going to enjoy the scenery whilst parents browse the shops. Since everything is close-by, they can all meet up again for food, choosing from one of the many food and beverage options, and finish up the day with a group activity like bowling, or going to the cinema.

This lifestyle focus has changed the way people shop. As there is so much to do, there is no need to plan activities in advance – you can arrive at the mall and see how everyone feels in the moment. It also removes the pressure to buy anything tangible, as the environment is enjoyable enough to count as its own entertainment. Even something as simple as including a supermarket can draw in crowds at unconventional times. A lot of retail spaces are built with offices above them, to draw in people on their way home from work. Whereas previously they may have gone straight from the office to home, the convenience of all-encompassing entertainment areas means that it is easier to grab a drink with colleagues, or meet friends for music and food. Sanlitun SOHO in Beijing is an ideal example of using the location to draw in a variety of crowds. Each of the stores optimises their window display in order to lure in more customers, and the inclusion of light shows and buskers makes people want to spend more time there.

"Sanlitun Soho – Design and Architecture"
Image Source: SOHO China


Where shopping destinations in China are getting bigger and better, Europe’s progress is much slower. Mergers and acquisitions across Europe are seeing shopping malls receive the attention they need to compete in the global marketplace. Drawing on combined know-how from different companies, retail spaces across Europe are taking notes from China, adding an entertainment value to the retail spaces. Although we have yet to see an indoor beach, and ice rinks are still ambitious, European department stores and shopping malls are increasing the number of food and beverage offerings, promoting art instillations and including nature as an integral part of their design. Many developers are now introducing architecture groups to create cohesive environments, such as Haskoll’s development of The Oracle in Reading, UK.

"The Oracle - Reading"
Image Source: Haskoll

The development in Europe is a lot slower, but there are a lot of cultural habits to overcome. Increasing food and beverage offerings that interact with the environment will support the slow food lifestyle, and including indoor and outdoor spaces will help break up the day. Most European countries have a market culture and are used to going to different shops in order to get the best of each product. The convenience of having everything in one place is slightly at odds with the historic need to travel in order to get the best produce; however, breaking up the journey with entertainment makes it seem like two journeys. Not sure about this paragraph.

Moving Forward

The challenge for retail design is to ensure that the stores inside the malls and department stores are bold enough to compete with everything else going on. Captivating window displays are more necessary than ever, in order to draw the eye. Consider expanding target audiences to appeal to everyone who uses the space, or alternatively make a statement to become the destination store for one particular segment. Drawing from Chinese malls will provide ample inspiration for new European stores, but be aware of cultural differences in consumer behavior. Begin by using entertainment to complement existing behaviors and the customers will soon be asking for more.

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Are You Still Relevant with Younger Sophisticated Luxury Consumers in China?

February 26, 2018

Chinese consumers are showing less and less brand loyalty and are increasingly likely to switch between luxury brands. Brands can’t outcompete each other by simply having top-of-the-range products, they need to offer something more. This is particularly true for the younger, more digital Chinese shopper who seeks foreign brands with an established heritage. So, how can luxury brands attract these consumers in China?

Image Source: Unsplash

Omni-Channel touch points

Omni-Channel touch points are the touch point online and offline which are likely to inspire customers to make a purchase. Brands can influence and attract customers in many locations from print magazines, social media channels, brand websites and mobile applications, to the design of retail stores. Effective marketing needs to be put in place everywhere that consumers search for the brands, making sure no touch point goes overlooked. Retail brands in China can no longer rely on simply selling luxury goods in stores. To attract younger, more sophisticated Chinse shoppers, brands must use diverse marketing strategies that tap into online-to-offline retail.

To effectively engage with this segment of Chinese customers both in store and online, companies must ensure their brand image is consistent through all retail touch points. Social media is widely used nowadays to offer promotions and discounts; however, luxury brands use their social networking accounts in a different way. Discounts and promotions can have a negative impact on luxury brand reputation, as the brand is seen as less exclusive. Some luxury stores have introduced their own e-commerce stores, but it is more common for luxury brands to use digital to promote and advertise their offline activity. Their digital presence assists the search process and increases brand awareness, but most shoppers must still go in store to attain a luxury item.

Distinctive retail design concept

The design of retail stores is also being transformed, so as to attract younger Chinese shoppers through the creation of a ‘brand experience’ with the use of technology. Digital technology is being implemented in retail design, most typically through the inclusion of information terminals, interactive touchscreens and display functions. Another trend that is becoming more popular is placing LCD screens on the façade of retail stores, to entice customers in from afar.

"4 Great Ways to use Digital Technology in Retail Stores"
Image Source: The Terrier and the Lobster

Luxury brands are also implementing experimental retail design concepts to attract new customers, such as integrating restaurants, café’s, hotels and pop up stores. These innovative designs promote the brand values and increase brand loyalty, specifically appealing to the younger Chinese shoppers who are looking for a complete brand experience.

VIP experiences

In order to attract younger, more sophisticated Chinese shoppers, brands need to offer VIP experiences, which make the customer feel special for choosing them over competitors. These experiences create brand loyalty from consumers, as an emotional connection is formed with the brand. Brands have now realized that younger customers want more than just luxury goods and that an experience will provide more pleasure and satisfaction. Making sure a shopper has a VIP shopping experience with dedicated sales people and a private room is an effective strategy, as it establishes a customer relationship, leading to the customer buying on impulse. For example, Louis Vuitton creates a VIP experience by closing selected stores for half a day and arranging private showings for customers who spend more than 200,000 Yuan.

"Clem Onojeghuo"
Image Source: Unsplash

What to do

It is clear that luxury brands now have to diversify their marketing strategies in China to attract younger more sophisticated shoppers. Online and offline retail are equally important, as younger Chinese shoppers use online devices more than ever before. If luxury retail brands really wish to improve customer relationships, however, they need to make sure they focus on the experiences they can offer the consumer, rather than just the number of media channels they have.

Ensure all consumer touch points are utilized, whether traditional or digital. Maintain exclusivity when using online platforms by encouraging in-store purchasing and resist the urge to discount. Novel retail design can help promote the brand values and including digital interfaces supports omni-channel consumers. VIP experiences promote brand values by creating a unique experience for the consumer. Remember these four points if you want to remain ahead of the game and stay relevant to young luxury shoppers.

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Who let the dogs out - Special decoration for Chinese New Year 2018

February 14, 2018

Chinese New Year is the oldest and by far the most important festival throughout China. Also known as the Spring Festival, Chinese New Year is determined by the Lunar Calendar.

Even in modern times, many Chinese have preserved their abundant traditions for the Spring Festival. Traditional influences on dressing can be seen in many Retail Design Stores. Chinese New Year is not just a big festival for Chinese people but also big business for retailers.

No dogs, no sales

Decorations strongly depend on the animal representing the new year in the Chinese zodiac. 2018 ushers in the year of the dog. For this reason, we see many international brands including dogs in their retail designs and window displays. If there are no dogs, then there are no sales. That might be a bit of an overstatement; however, Chinese New Year’s decorations definitely have a positive impact on sales when done correctly.

Chinese New Year decorations tend to border on the kitsch. The issue for most brands is that this decoration style does not match their brand image, therefore, brands must be creative. The main challenge for retailers is to create an appealing and festive window design that attracts Chinese consumers without interfering with the brand’s visual identity. Around Beijing’s shopping malls we found several inspiring examples of international brands welcoming the upcoming year of the dog in their own style.

The Italian designer brand Trussardi provides an elegant example of a Chinese New Year window display. As commonly known, red is a very important color in Chinese culture and is also the pre-dominant color in most traditional Chinese New Year decoration items. It represents luck, joy, happiness and good fortune. Trussardi made use of this auspicious color, with the addition of a window sticker wishing everyone walking past the store a Happy New Year. The outline of a dog completes the subtly festive Chinese New Year window design.

Moschino brings it to a different level. With their current window display at their Parkview Green Beijing Store they fully embrace the concept of using dogs with the color combination of red and gold to increase sales. It’s easy to assume that their “dog fashion” is a best seller these days. As previously discussed, red is a very important color in Chinese culture. When combined with gold, representing wealth, it is the ultimate Chinese New Year color combo.

The French women’s fashion brand Maje is another outstanding example of a very appealing Chinese New Year window display. Similar to the previous examples, Maje’s Beijing store window predominately uses red and gold. However, what is particularly interesting about their window design is that they emphasize the seasonal feeling of spring by using flowers as a major decoration item. Nevertheless, the real eye-catcher in this close to perfect window display is the cuddle puppies. A lovely way to welcome the year of the dog.

Ted Baker provides another spring-like Chinese New Year window display by applying flower stickers and a pastel color palette. For contrast, they showcase a few red dresses from their current collection as a highlight. The ‘Happy New Year’ slogan is written in gold and, of course, dogs are not missed out. Focusing on the Spring element helps Ted Baker to retain a classy brand image, whilst still catering to the festival trends.

The Swiss luxury watches brand IWC has chosen a traditional retail design for the Chinese New Year. Again, we see red as the predominant color in combination with gold. However, the main attraction of this window display is the dogs once more. It is unlikely to be coincidence that they feature 8 dogs in total, since this is the lucky number in China.

To sum up, this year it’s all about dogs. The colors red and gold always work as a great combination for Chinese New Year decoration. It is remarkable how so many retailers in China use the same idea but realize their design in a unique way perfectly tailored to their brand image.

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When Did Pop-ups Become So Popular? Some Key Insights Into Retails Temporary-space Trend

February 9, 2018

Flagship stores hold a time-honored position as the heart of creative design which showcase a brand concept. Flagship stores sets the stage for an entire brand design, allowing customers to know who they are and what they’re selling, as well as how they stand out from the crowd. A recent trend in China shows companies looking to establish their retail design as something modern and exciting by changing the very nature of the ‘store’. Taken up by entrepreneurs with growing frequency, pop-up stores are big business.

Pop-up stores are temporary installations, often in malls or department stores that are helping small brands and big brands alike to be seen. Rather than conjuring images of elementary school bake sales, pop-ups are professional, regulated spaces used to show off the brand and products. As 61% of Chinese consumers think that pop-ups provide attractive shopping experiences, we wanted to give you a few reasons why we expect to see this trend continue in 2018.


For merchants, pop-ups can give a higher level of control with lower risk, requiring substantially less money, whilst being fun for the consumer too. The short-term nature of pop-ups means the store is great as a trial run before investing in a permanent bricks and mortar store and can help choose smart locations for the next store opening. If one area is not fruitful, the pop-up can move to another area without difficulty.

What about the consumers? Retail design is constantly looking to innovate the retail space to keep consumers engaged, which is where flagship stores come in. China has some great design leaders, however; not everyone is able to make it to flagship stores in Beijing or Shanghai, and although they may know the brand, this can make them feel less connected. Pop-up stores can help bring customers closer, as a temporary design brings taste of the flagship to them.

Some pop-up stores are designed with this in mind. For example, the American eyewear brand Warby Parker uses a bus which can be driven across America. It attracts consumers in natural settings, bringing a bit of fun to an otherwise practical product. The mature retail design in their school bus contrasts with the youthful exterior, appealing to a wide audience. This is a wonderful idea for out-of-the-way areas that rarely get to host brand events, as it takes something from the ‘everyday’ and makes it special.

"Warby Parker Class Trip: Traveling School Bus Eyeglass Shop by Partners & Spade"
Image Source: The Terrier and the Lobster

"Warby Parker: Class Trip"
Image Source: Unscalable Growth


Pop-up stores are a great way of collecting market data, too. Over a third of marketing investment is wasted because brands don’t understand their customer’s motivations to buy and how to cater to those motivations. Pop-ups provide a small-scale environment in which to trial-run new campaigns and products. With a more personal approach, it is easier to understand a customer’s needs when visiting a pop-up, to understand which items are more desirable and how many customers are likely to make a purchase. Using a pop-up for preliminary data collection before committing to a physical retail store can provide key data from which budgets can be drawn up, retail design can be drafted, product portfolios can be trimmed, and effective marketing messages can be established.


The temporary nature of pop-up stores creates a buzz around the brand and products. Limited availability increases demand and makes buyers more impulsive, meaning that a temporary store can get more interest than a new store opening. China combines a love for limited editions with unparalleled word-of-mouth to help pop-ups quickly gain traction. As it moves from city to city, can even create a stir prior to installation.

Chanel Coco Café in Shanghai wasn’t even directly about Chanel. Open for 12 days, the café was cute, chic, and offered a different kind of luxury. For existing buyers, the café appealed to a larger frame of lifestyle imagery, showing how people who wear Chanel should eat. This worked for the aspirational goals of those who want to buy Chanel too. The food and beverage offering was still expensive, but significantly less so than the durable products on offer.

Image Source: Instagram

Image Source: Instagram

Collaborating with a different industry for a pop-up also draws in a different audience, who don’t necessarily buy the products yet, but share the brand values. This allows for better cross-selling. Gourmets have very selective tastes with food and beverage, but may have never stepped foot in Chanel due to perceived distance in values. If gourmets are pleased with the food offering, they are more likely to associate the Chanel brand with ‘something for them’.


The very nature of pop-up stores means that they are ideal for lifestyle branding. Usually smaller spaces, part of the appeal of pop-ups is that they can be installed anywhere. This means that non-traditional spaces can be utilised for marketing, showing products and services in the environment which they would be used, or providing contrast to their surroundings in order to stand out.

A lot of bars and food pop-ups make use of contrast by creating outdoor spaces inside. During the busy Christmas period, brands focus on giving the customer what they need – relaxation. For instance, the 2017 Jägerhaus Bar in Angel Central created a pocket dimension amongst the hustle and bustle, where customers could relax and unwind.

"The Jägerhaus Bar pop-up opens at Angel Central"
Image Source: Retail Design World

Pop-ups can be an ideal method of omni-channelling in today’s digital marketplace, as the senses still play an important role in purchases. Pop-ups allow for sensory marketing to still have a place in the heart of online shoppers, letting customers touch, taste, smell, and feel the products, before ordering online or mobile. Campaigns that encourage a symbiotic relationship between ‘try’ and ‘buy’ can take away the pressure of buying in-store, or offer extra discount for exposure on social media. What’s more, it adds a bit of fun to the buying process.

Pop-up popularity

As more and more stores test-run through temporary retail spaces, we expect to see successful brand designs transferred to bricks and mortar stores. In the modern day, we want what we want as soon as possible, and although pop-ups might offer a fun, exclusive experience, they are not to be depended upon for ongoing needs. Over time, customers will grow tired and find pop-up products inaccessible, which means those that make the move from temporary to permanent early will be in a position to welcome them with open arms.

Does that mean you shouldn’t bother with a pop-up? Not at all! Being ahead of the game is an advantage for temporary retail spaces, but playing it safe and waiting for the success of others could knock you off the board. Pop-ups should complement your flagship store, not replace it. The very nature of pop-ups means that whilst they are trending, they should be embraced.

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ISPO Beijing 2018 – What’s Hot In Winter Sports Industry Retail Design

January 29, 2018

ISPO is the leading multi-segment sports exhibition in Asia, taking place in both Munich and Beijing at the beginning of each year. Having secured the Olympic Winter Games for 2022, Beijing is a hotspot for the entire winter sports industry. Therefore, it was no surprise to see international brands showcasing alongside local Chinese brands at ISPO Beijing. This year, over 500 exhibitors represented more than 700 brands at the China National Convention Center in Beijing from 24-27th January 2018.

Every year the winter sports exhibition showcases major innovations in the outdoor, action sports and skiing segments. In addition, the latest trends in fashion, fabrics and fibers are presented across 40,000 square meters. Such a wide and varied showcase means that temporary exhibition designs require that little-bit-extra to stand out from the crowd, and this year there is one trend n particular that started making waves.

This year will see an increased use of dazzling lighting throughout winter sports retail, mainly in white and blue. The stark colors will be used to emphasize the cold, imitating clear blue skies and white snow to create a winterly feeling. Although brands typically shy away from cold designs, opting for mood lighting and soft furnishings, winter sports are well-positioned to go against the grain and be a bit more daring. The conditions which winter athletes are exposed can be unforgiving, so it stands to reason that the consumers themselves can be too.

Outdoor and adventure sports are often no-nonsense, and sportsmen apply logical decision-making to their purchases. Although they want their winter-wear to look good, the customers are primarily function based. This practical approach favors simple, honest brand concepts, and any brand brave enough to do something dramatic with their lighting shows a brand identity in line with the customer’s own risk-taking behavior.

Alpine Pro went for a clinical approach this year, showing harsh lines and sharp edges. With paneling akin to a VR simulator, it’s easy to imagine their products in any setting.

Simple, stark lighting on a matte background adds extra emphasis. The arrowed nature of the lights above help to indicate a forward motion, moving the consumer towards the desired products. Similar designs would be equally valuable in window displays, to increase footfall.

Bare structures like the one below were used to frame the products, adding depth and emphasis with very little effort. Such simple but well-executed design left a lasting impression.

In an open exhibition hall, building walls can limit a brand’s exposure. Meplaser found the balance between an open and a private retail design with a semi-transparent construct. Without the lighting, the exhibition design would have looked more like a prison. However, with effective twists in the material coupled with blue lighting made it easy to imagine yourself stepping into an unexplored ice cave..

Harsh lighting can be unforgiving – it highlights any flaws or sloppy workmanship. Although blue may not be the most flattering light, it is a bold move that shows the brand is confident that their product can withstand scrutiny.

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Color of the year 2018: Ultra Violet – Inspirations for future Retail Store Design

January 24, 2018

Every year the color institute Pantone announces an official color of the year. Throughout the year, this color will be seen everywhere – in fashion, interior, decoration, product and retail design. Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Color Institute, stated “The Pantone Color of the Year has come to mean so much more than ‘what’s trending’ in the world of design; it’s truly a reflection of what’s needed in our world today.” With the dawn of a new year comes a new color: the Color of the year 2018 is PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet.

Take a moment to look at this color and think about what you associate with Ultra Violet.

"Ultra Violet"
Image Source: www.pantone.com

One thing is for sure, Ultra Violet is a dominant and vibrant color. Mostly, it is associated with royalty, mystery, magic or witchcraft. It is undisputed that Ultra Violet radiates something mystical and cosmic. Named after a particle wave just outside of the visible spectrum, Ultra Violet has always represented something mystical, almost within our grasp. When it comes to color psychology purple represents self-confidence, sophistication and elegance. In China the color symbolizes divinity, spiritual awareness and immortality. In addition, purple-shaded colors represent love or romance in modern China. Generally, Ultra Violet attracts the younger generation.

Pantone’s official statement on why they chose Ultra Violet is powerful: “We are living in a time that requires inventiveness and imagination. It is this kind of creative inspiration that is indigenous to PANTONE to 18-3838 Ultra Violet, a blue-based purple that takes our awareness and potential to a higher level. From exploring new technologies and the greater galaxy, to artistic expression and spiritual reflection, intuitive Ultra Violet lights the way to what is yet to come." - Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone color institute.

"Ultra Violet"
Image Source: www.pantone.com

Leatrice’s statement makes clear that Ultra Violet is a futuristic color. It inspires us to think outside of the box, to look ahead and use our imagination to see what has not come into being yet.

Ultra Violet compliments the recent retail trend of storytelling to attract the shopper’s attention. It is a global trend to create window displays that invite the audience to step into a different world, which can be achieved through means of centering the decorations on a fairytale theme, as an example. Ultra Violet is the perfect color to add an extra sprinkle of magic.

Versace telling the story of Cinderella. The purple light gives a touch of magic.

"Harrods' Designer Disney Princess Dresses Unveiled"
Image Source: Vogue

Ultra Violet in Retail Design

Throughout the year we will increasingly witness the use of different Ultra Violet shades in various retail establishments since various brands and designers around the world build on Pantone’s color of the year suggestion. In order to foster inspiration, let us have a look at some examples of how Ultra Violet has already manifested in the retail world so far.

Lulu Lemon uses illuminated dichroic film that reflects vibrant colors such as green and pink; however, Ultra Violet is predominant. The colors shift when viewed from different angles, creating a magical illusion. A simple but innovative way attract attention to the window display.

"3D dichroic installation for @lululemonausnz featuring Pantone's colour of 2018, Ultra Violet"
Image Source: Dashing

Converse created a kaleidoscope experience featuring Ultra Violet – which is particularly striking with the use of neon lights. This is a perfect example of how Ultra Violet acts as futuristic color, playing on the current trends seen throughout science-fiction to inspire wonder and indulgence.

"Ultra Violet retail inspiration from Converse"
Image Source: Dashing

Emilio Pucci boutique in Osaka, Japan used a purple-colored carpet. The color puts an emphasis on the elegance and exclusiveness of the brand, conjuring imagery of royal grandeur.

"Emilio Pucci boutique at Hankyu Umeda, Osaka"
Image Source: Retail Design Blog

Since Ultra Violet is a highly dominant color, it may not be suitable for every brand or retailer. However, another way Ultra Violet can be integrated into a retail establishment is to use colored decorations, adding a bold touch to even the simplest of design palettes.

Image Source: Concepts & Colorways

If you would like to find more information about The Significance of Color in Retail Store Design please click here . We are excited to keep track of how Ultra Violet will be integrated into upcoming retail store design.

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Christmas Decorations 2017 – What’s Special About This Year’s Christmas Décor?

December 22, 2017

Bright lights and bold Christmas décor such as trees, bells and stars has become a trend of the past! In recent years it has become increasingly common to be bold with Christmas retail design. This year, Christmas decoration is actually not as Christmassy as you may expect, as we witness two major trends in 2017. One trend is storytelling, using décor to create a magical flair through the window design and island displays. The second trend is surprisingly understated, simple and subtle. These major trends could not be more different from each other. Nonetheless, both styles are very present in retail store design all around the globe. Let’s take a look at some examples and inspiration for this year’s Christmas season.

Once Upon a Time

Christmas is not just an event, it is a feeling. This Christmas feeling is strongly brought forward by nostalgia – and this nostalgia comes with childhood memories. In adult life, this time of the year is known to be the most stressful time, so it is not surprising that we look for escape. Therefore, reminding people of the days when Christmas was solely about tradition – such as writing letters, baking Christmas cookies and decorating the house – is a beautiful way to recapture the Christmas spirit. For this reason, many brands use storytelling to create a Christmas nostalgia.

Lord and Taylor in New York City created a window display that epitomizes nostalgia to perfection. It transports the viewer back to a Christmas long before adult life, to a worry-free time full of wonder.

"Lord & Taylor: The Best and the Brightest"
Image Source: www.townandcountrymag.com

The fashion retailer Saks Fifth Avenue centered this year’s Christmas decoration around the Disney adaptation of the fairytale ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’. Since the film adaptation celebrates its 80th anniversary this year, it is another great example of how brands can use nostalgia to reinforce the Christmas feeling.

"Saks Fifth Avenue: Once Upon a Holiday"
Image Source: www.townandcountrymag.com

Fenwick’s department store in Newcastle, England is renowned for their Christmas window displays, with the unveiling of the Christmas window drawing in larger crowds than the city’s light turning-on ceremony. This year, they celebrate the British icon Paddington Bear in a series of heart-warming scenes that uses rich lighting and an extensive use of props to create a cozy winter showcase with the intrepid bear at the center.

"Fenwick Newcastle's Christmas Window 2017 Unveiled: Love From Paddington"
Image Source: www.fenwick.co.uk

Christmas Magic

Another way to incite Christmas nostalgia is through the creation of some magical flair. What is primarily remarkable about this trend is that it does not use the traditional Christmas color palette and symbols. This decoration style is typically artsy and futuristic, using abstract imagery. Overarching elements such as winter weather, gift-giving or childhood whimsy can make abstract store concepts relevant.

The charm of Tiffany’s window display in NYC takes us out of this world into another magic world.

"Tiffany & Co.: Tribute to Gene Moore"
Image Source: www.townandcountrymag.com

Bergdorf Goodman, a luxury goods department store in Manhattan, provides another interesting example of how retailers create a magic world to enhance the Christmas spirit. The use of silver brings an icy glamour, whereas the combination of 1930s fashion with dinosaur fossils appeals to the quirky side of consumers.

"Bergdorf Goodman: To New York, With Love"
Image Source: www.townandcountrymag.com

Down to earth

From the magic world, down to earth. The increased use of organic materials and earthy colors aims to create a cozy and inviting environment. So instead of hanging fairy lights in all the colors of the rainbow, try hanging something organic or green - for example, mistletoe or pine cones. This is particularly suitable for more serious brand concepts and provides a touch of warmth without losing a serious demeanor. Another element of the organic and earthy Christmas decoration trend is wood. In combination with something green and a touch of white, wood in all shapes and colors perfects the cozy and earthy decoration style.

Retail design Beijing provides a perfect example with the H&M window display in Sanlitun. The window design is an excellent example of a “down to earth” Christmas display.

"H&M Store, Beijing"

We can also witness the same trend in Europe. Instead of displaying a big, colorful Christmas tree, Jil Sander’s store in Vienna, Austria is keeping it very low-key using solely earthy colors. Cones and light bulbs provide a very subtle touch of Christmas iconography.

"Jil Sander store, Vienna"

Jones store in Vienna is another great example of an earthy Christmas window display.

"Jones store, Vienna"


To sum up, this year retailers either go over the top by using sophisticated story-telling whilst designing their window displays, or they come down to earth by using organic and simple materials.

Obviously, the first trend requires more effort and a larger budget, making it suitable for big brands. However, the main argument for the extra expense is that these kinds of window displays leave a long-lasting impression, encouraging consumers to see your store as a part of Christmas for years to come.

The second major trend of using organic materials and earthy colors takes less effort and budget but still looks very appealing to customers. The main benefit is that it is not only suitable for Christmas but also for the entire winter season. This low-key approach can draw in those with Christmas spirit and humbugs alike.

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Moving Forward with Food & Beverage Branding in China

December 20, 2017

With an increase of online shopping and the changing attitudes of Chinese consumers, retail trends are causing brands to reconsider their marketing strategies. Retailers must now design store layouts that enhance customers’ shopping experiences, and mall owners need to promote slow shopping. Many are doing this by adding more food and beverage (F&B) establishments. The F&B industry is China’s fastest growing sector, with an expected average growth rate of 10.6% between 2015-2018. The retail market value of China’s full-service restaurants in 2014, excluding fast food, was CNY 1,865 billion and is forecasted to reach CNY 2,274 billion by 2019. These increases are primarily due to rising disposable incomes and continued urbanization, which have created expansion/entrance opportunities not only for retailers, but for the F&B sector as well. As such, restaurant design in China is more important than ever. This article will discuss why incorporating branding into retail design is crucial for F&B businesses in China’s expanding market, as well as how such branding can be applied to the evolving eating habits of Chinese consumers.

Food Safety and Health

Domestic food scandals have been damaging to the trust of Chinese consumers. A lack of trust in domestic brands, coupled with rising disposable incomes have allowed many customers to substitute for high-quality, non-domestic products instead, effectively increasing the popularity of international imports. A desire for authenticity, as well as a growing concern for physical well-being, have made health-oriented F&B brands more attractive for like-minded consumers. Restaurant design in China has started to incorporate international elements and proudly promotes foreign origins in order to optimize this.

"Restaurant Design, The Mission Fresh Grill"
Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

5 Star Plus Retail Design has helped The Mission Fresh Grill to implement a concept design that exemplifies how an F&B brand supports active lifestyles whilst ensuring its customer of the food quality. An open kitchen restaurant design in Beijing allows customers to view the food preparation process, while only the freshest of high-quality ingredients are used. This allows the consumer to make their own judgement on the quality of produce, whilst simultaneously showing that the brand has nothing to hide. An open environment demonstrates that the company is proud of their offering, and shows respect for their customers’ requirements.


The increase in foreign imports has internationalized the Chinese palate. With more disposable income, people are now more likely to try new foods that are non-essential. Rather than focusing on nutritional value alone, consumers are looking for exciting flavors that provide more than just sustenance. The recent coffee boom is a great example of this F&B trend.

Innovation is not limited to the products offered, but also includes the means through which it is delivered. Widespread online connectivity has created the need for F&B brands to develop e-commerce platforms in order to survive in China’s ever-growing competitive market. Omni-channeling can adapt various technological interfaces to make customer interactions more convenient and efficient. This area is a great opportunity for an F&B business to design e-commerce platforms in a way that attracts customers into the establishment by further spreading its brand’s image. By ensuring the online presence resonates with the restaurant design, a cohesive brand image can be created.

"KFC’s online ordering"
Image Source: digital in the round


Having an attractive, transparent brand image can create emotional connections with the right consumers. For a brand to thrive, it needs to target market segments that hold the same values or desires as the brand itself. Chinese consumers want the foods they eat to be a channel of self-expression, so the more an F&B business’ store or restaurant design incorporates the brand’s lifestyle message, the more effective the brand will be at aligning itself with its target consumers. This is not limited to the bricks and mortar store, but applies to the online presence as well.

"Starbucks China’s target segment"
Image Source: TSI

"Adapting to local flavors"
Image Source: TSI

Starbucks has done an excellent job at capitalizing on China’s recent coffee trend by targeting ambitious young professionals who want to appear trendy and prosperous. The store design offers them a comfortable, practical space which brings a transnational flair to local environments. Instead of relying on its reputation and previous global success, Starbucks has adapted local flavors into its menu as a stepping-stone to its signature coffee experience. This shows a concern for the Chinese consumers’ tastes and values, incorporating their personal needs into the brand concept on a regional level.

In summary, brand image is not only an important factor for retail design in China, but remains relevant for F&B brands as well. Food safety; healthy, active living; increasingly globalized appetites; as well as online and offline customization are all major Chinese food trends shaking up the F&B industry that brands need to recognize. Incorporating these trends into effective branding helps F&B brands connect with aspiring Chinese consumers who adhere to the same trending values and lifestyles.

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British Chamber of Commerce in China Christmas Party 2018:Event Design and Production for BritCham

December 13, 2017

On December 1st, the British Chamber of Commerce in China hosted a Christmas Party designed to impress their guests at Rosewood Hotel Beijing. After impressing the chamber with the design of last year’s party, 5 Star Plus Retail Design were invited to once more create the event design concept, which included interior and graphic design elements, as well as design execution. We were proud to host a corporate table at the event and be a sponsor for such a beautiful evening.

The Gala event was themed “Icy Wonderland”. Upon entering the event’s location, one shook off the outside world and was transported to an ice cave. This was not only achieved by covering the ceiling and pillars in white but also through adapting the lighting concept accordingly. The color concept of the Christmas party mirrored the icy wonderland theme, held in light blue and white.

Of course, no winter wonderland would be complete without a snowman, who turned out to be the most photographed object of the evening.

We were glad to see that, similar to last year, the design was used as a backdrop for taking pictures and everyone seemed to have a great time.

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10 Key Points for Successfully Working with Franchise Partners

November 24, 2017

China and its cities Beijing and Shanghai are on the top of the list of new sales territories for many retail brands. While there are many ways to enter the market (such as export – directly working with wholesalers or distributors - working with licensees, or founding a subsidiary in China), many brands choose a franchising model where they work with one or more local partners for their expansion strategy.

A franchisee sells products based on a proven brand concept and has to adhere to many different regulations imposed by the brand headquarters (including the store design, staff attire, product range to be carried, product display, and prices).

In our view, the two most important things to be considered when working with a local company are the selection of a partner who shares your vision, as well as consistent follow up and control when implementing the brand image. Here are our top 10 key aspects to consider:

1. Select your Partner Carefully: Many brands can't wait to come to China and when a local company finally shows interest in their products, the brand headquarters often jump at the opportunity, quickly signing a distribution or license agreement. However, it is important to do a thorough background check and select the right partner. Check their track record: the geographic presence, existing relationships with landlords (department stores and shopping malls in Beijing, Shanghai and other bigger cities) and network of sub-distributors in smaller tier cities and other regions.

2. Exclusiveness– yes or no? Are you looking for a general distributor or do you plan to work with several partners in China? A general distributor or exclusive franchise partner has more responsibilities and control over the brand in China. This usually includes the responsibility of investing in brand promotion and the right to work with sub-distributors. You need to decide whether the license should be limited to certain geographic areas in order to maximize local knowledge. If you may want to enter the market directly in the future, you can also reserve yourself the right to do so.

3. The Contract: Make sure you know what you want and have a clear long-term strategy covered in the contract. You should be certain to include the duration of the agreement, geographic territories, and termination terms. Prices should be controlled by the brand headquarters and new store locations should be pre-approved.

4. Minimum Purchase Order: Purchase prices and other conditions should depend on the minimum purchase order value that is specified in the contract for the first and following years.

5. Marketing Expenses: General distributors and exclusive franchise partners are typically contractually committed to invest a certain yearly amount into marketing and promotion for the brand in China.

6. Marketing Materials: In many cases, local partners do not have a strong marketing team. This means that there is often a sub-optimal marketing strategy and the brand is not promoted in the right way. In order to avoid this, the franchise partner creates and publishes their own marketing materials. This can lead to marketing messages that do not fit into Chinese norms, and appear off-message. Therefore, the brand headquarters need to regulate the details of the collaboration on marketing issues in the contract. For an efficient promotion of the brand in China, the marketing department at headquarters needs to understand that speed is fundamental in China and give full support to the local partner.

7. Store Identity Handbook: When working with franchise partners, it is crucial to ensure that all retail stores are built in line with the international brand image and worldwide store design standard. Most brands develop a store design or identity handbook that specifies all details related to the store design. This includes all products and materials required for the façade, in-store area plans, furniture and fixtures, product displays, and other elements. With a store identity (SI) standard, brands can reinforce a globally consistent brand image.

8. Control of the Brand Image: Even with existing guidelines and a standard detailing the store design, it is important to regularly visit the stores to reinforce the correct implementation of the brand image. It is important to check the store design regularly (with the first check taking place before the store opening), as well as the product display, staff attire, sales techniques and customer service, among other things. In particular, stores in smaller Chinese cities are more likely to diverge from the brand standard, so should be monitored.

9. The Pricing Policy: Ensuring consistent pricing across China is another challenge. Good practice requires brands to specify the right to exercise control over the retail prices in the franchise agreement. Most brands will publish retail price lists for the different markets on a yearly basis. Regular site checks will ensure that distributors and franchise partners comply with price regulations.

10. Regular Training of Staff: Be aware that your franchise partner is also your customer and that the more support they get, the better they will be able to represent your brand and sell your products. The sales team especially will need support and regular trainings to understand the brand philosophy, as well as uniqueness and true value of the products. They will only be able to sell effectively if they are convinced of the products and have no doubts about the quality of your products and services. Assign someone to conduct frequent trainings.


Whether to franchise or not depends of the size of the brand, the amount of resources the headquarters are willing to spend on the Chinese market, as well as the amount of control you want to exercise over the brand development in China.

At the moment, brands that are show successful long-term franchise are medium-sized companies that have a certain heritage and are often still family-owned. Companies of this size typically focus on creating high-quality products in an often traditional environment where fewer efforts are spent on marketing and business development. Working with a local partner that has well-established sales channels and relationships in the market makes absolute sense.

By contrast, products that are very new, creative or innovative require more groundwork for creating brand acceptance by using a more creative marketing and design strategy. Since many franchise partners still work with traditional marketing and sales channels, such retail brands should consider entering the Chinese market themselves, by opening their own stores.

Independent from the expansion strategy chosen, ensure that you have a globally coherent brand image and give increased support to the local marketing and sales teams.

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How to Optimize Space for a Small Flagship Store Design

November 24, 2017

When it comes to store retail design, a small flagship store can seem daunting, even to the most experienced of designers. With a small space comes considerable challenges such as maintaining an open store design layout, displaying substantial amounts of product on the main floor and not visually overcrowding or stimulating the customer. Through trial and error, store designers have learned various tips and tricks to maximizing space when conducting a small retail store design.


The layout of a store will ultimately determine the path store owners can take with the store. With regards to small retail stores, the floor plan must be carefully thought out so as to make the most out of the limited space provided. There are five primary floor plans designers utilize which are straight, diagonal, angular, geometric and mixed. However, only some of these floor plans are best suited for small store designs. With a straight floor plan, also considered the most common in design, this allows for designers to utilize the greatest amount of the floor space. Fixtures merely should be placed at right angles. A diagonal floorplan creates heightened visibility in stores and so with a small space, being able to see everything clearly is ideal. Angular, geometric and mixed floor plans, however, often require more space and are not best practice when it comes to small store designs. This is because with an angular floor design, it requires customers to walk around in different pathways throughout the store. This would pose as a challenge to accomplish in such a small space. In terms of a geometric floor design, it too usually demands a big space in order to create unique patterns and it ultimately does not maximize the entire store layout. Finally, a mixed floor design combines favorable elements derived from the other four designs and thus the same issue arises where a spacious layout is required.

The retail design Beijing store, Adidas Y-3 Store, exemplifies a straight floor plan layout. Throughout the retail design store, all the products are clearly visible from any viewpoint whether one stands from the front or back of the store. Once more, the open pathways provide customers with easily access to the products.

"Adidas Y-3 Store, Beijing"
Image Source: Nick DePaula

Fixtures and Displays

Throughout the store, fixtures and displays are what attract customers to the product. However, while it is important to make these structures visually appealing, it is equally vital to ensure their functionality. Creating structures that can have multipurpose usage such as hidden storage and adjustable shelving will maximize the store’s space potential. In addition, designing fixtures and displays on wheels to include a movability factor adds flexibility potential to the retail store design. The following are examples of specific fixtures and displays that can save store’s space.

Slatwalls/Gridwalls- These types of walls are extremely versatile and can double up as product displays and store decoration. They save space and practically anything can be hung from these types of walls. For instance, these types of walls can accommodate various accessories, hooks, hang rails, clothing and shelving.

"Get Store Uomo by AMlab, Fossano – Italy"
Image Source: Davide Dutto

MASH, located in Beijing and designed by 5 Star Plus Retail Design, makes use of a flexible wall design in which products can be displayed in numerous different ways up upon the wall. Adjustable short rods can be pushed through any of the holes on the wall to make way for hanging and showcasing different items.

"Store Design: MASH Flagship Store in Beijing"
Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

Nesting Tables- This Asian retail design store utilizes nesting tables throughout the space. The multi-display tables are the perfect solution to showcasing products to customers in a way that grabs their attention and interest almost immediately once entering the store. Their stacking potential and capabilities make them a feasible and easy way to save space when needed.

"Wooden Store Interiors! Quicksilver Store by Specialnormal Tokyo"
Image Source: Koichi Tormura

Adjustable Shoe Racks- In this shoe display system, store owners have the flexibility of choosing how many shoes to display at a time. There is no height or width restrictions for the shoes and the solid pieces of wood can remain closed or open via a simplistic mechanism nested in the interior of the wall which turns a pivot in front of the wall. This innovative design not only saves space but also adds a visually appealing factor to the store.

"Skechers TR Casual Showroom Zemberek Design "
Image Source: Yıldız Mh.

Hidden Storage Space- In this children’s store, the clothing displays double up as storage. Underneath each display is a pull-out drawer that can hold more merchandise. Combining such hidden storage elements creates the opportunity to hold more products on the main floor while maintaining a spacious and uncluttered layout.

"FINKID Children Clothing Concept Store by The Store Designers, Erfurt "
Image Source: The Store Designers® Silvia Talmon

With a small store, preserving and optimizing space is invaluable. Without a logical plan, things can get easily cluttered, lost and unprofessional looking. Every detail must be thought-out so as not to neglect any part of the store. The more space preserved, the more flexibility gained.

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A ‘scan do’ attitude: How QR codes revolutionized the Chinese retail landscape

November 9, 2017

What are QR codes?

QR (quick response) codes are a type of barcode used with high frequency in China; however, people in the West may be unfamiliar with them. Although they started off within the automotive industry, QR codes can now be seen across visual merchandising, providing information and payment services. Every poster has a QR code leading to a webpage where you can buy the product, get more information or join in a conversation.

They’re not only used for information – QR codes have become one of the most efficient ways of paying for goods. Integrated with the Wechat and Alipay apps is a ‘wallet’ which allows for users to transfer money easily to vendors or friends. Retail design should ensure that QR codes are placed in a highly visible place and are well lit, to assist the scan. Most consumers know that the cashdesk will have a code and will often have payment ready before they even meet the cashier. Paying through e-commerce has become such a common way of paying that even taxi drivers, street vendors and buskers have their own QR codes.

"Pay Taxi with Alipay"
Image Source: Internet Marketing China

QR in Retail

Perhaps the most common setting for QR codes is within a retail store. Customers can use QR codes to scan desired items, find prices that aren’t listed, review additional product information and even compare benefits against competing brands. QR codes are beneficial as space savers, allowing brands to establish retail design based on their identity, without sacrificing display space in order to provide information. QR codes can also provide a quick inventory check, leading to less floorspace being required to display products. Simply scan the code and an assistant can bring your size and color from the stockroom. This is a great way of integrating online and offline functionality, maximizing logistics and customer service.

QR codes are also used extensively in social settings. A common feature in Beijing retail design, particularly in malls, is to include a large LED screen. Shoppers can scan the QR code and share their own messages and images, making the shopping experience more interactive and fun.

"Hutaoli bar and restaurant makes use of QR codes to gather audience feedback on their performers and create a festive atmosphere.
Instagram Photo by Heyuanyuan_hyy"
Image Source: Imagala

Consumer Benefits

Probably the most noticable benefit of QR codes is that they don‘t leave a paper trail. Payment receipts are sent to the app, but QR codes eliminate the need for paper receipts, coupons, cloakroom tickets, and you won’t be handed lots of small change after a transaction. With both consumers and companies looking for ways to be sustainable and environmentally friendly, QR codes help the retail industry do their part for paper reduction.

QR codes have also made public transport a lot more accessible. A quick scan of a code can give you a real-time update of buses and trains, tell you how long you need to wait, and if there are any delays. You can rent a bicycle anywhere in the city with a quick scan. Companies such as Mobike and Ofo have millions of bikes throughout cities big and small, without any physical retail stores – all the information you need is just a scan away.

"Bike-Sharing Arrives In Hong Kong Thanks To New Startup Gobee.bike"
Image Source: Green Queen, Hong Kong

QR codes are so prevalent in society, that they are even printed on business cards and applicant CVs, for easier self branding. This also has the advantage of taking away the difficulty of finding someone online – there is no need to get the correct name or telephone number, the QR provides accurate and up to date information.

Benefits for Business

Given how quickly payments can be processed, it stands to reasons that businesses are attracted to the QR code. Even outside of commerce, QR codes are an efficient means to provide further information about products and services. Rather than relying on customers to recall the brand and research it themselves at a later date, it provides an immediate way of keeping consumers engaged, whilst exposing them to further marketing messages. What’s more, it reduces the risk of forgetting the URL, and can store the webpage for future reference.

QR codes are useful for reaching a large audience at the same time. Including a QR code in presentations allows for immediate access of source materials, or for providing further information that may be too lengthy to include in the original format. A good use of this is in the food and beverage industry, to provide nutritional and dietary information.

"QR Code Poster"
Image Source: Michael Kappel, Flickr

The electronic nature of QR codes helps companies to measure their reach, tracking engagement and building communities. As they can store large amounts of data, QR codes are becoming increasingly common in specialised industries too. For example, the Japanese government use QR codes on foreign visas, which track all previous history of entry to the country.

Why hasn’t the West embraced QR codes?

There are a number of reasons that QR codes haven’t made their way into the Western retail space, including security risks, irregular phone service and the culture being less image-orientated.

Western people are often concerned about account security and misuse of information, so connecting a bank account to a mobile device can cause concerns. Although infrequent, there have been cases of malicious codes being created that steal money, record browser history, use a mobile devices GPS, and access the phone camera.

Not everyone in the West uses their mobile phone in day-to-day life, and even when use is common, a lack of wifi and data availability can make QR codes difficult to use. Perhaps part of the reason is that Westerners are less quick to take up new trends, preferring to stay with tried and tested methods, even if they are more inefficient.

With the rise of Generation Z, we may in fact see a rise of QR codes in the retail space, as cellphones become the primary electronic. The up-and-coming generation don’t know life without the internet and are used to being constantly connected.

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Marketing Luxury Goods towards Chinese Consumers

October 30, 2017

When it comes to purchasing luxury goods in China, consumers have varying attitudes and expectations of branded products. With wide variation, it can be difficult for brands to appeal to a broad range of people. So, how can luxury retailers attract consumers into buying their products?


"Luxury China: Market Opportunities and Potential" by Michel Chevalier and Pierre Lu has identified 4 types of Chinese consumer attitudes toward luxury: luxury lovers, followers, intellectuals and laggards. These consumers are male and female between the age of 35 and 50 years old, living in Tier 1 mainland economic cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou or Shenzhen) with successful professional careers.

Image adapted from "Luxury China: Market Opportunities and Potential" by Michel Chevalier and Pierre Lu

Based on this classification, 5 Star Plus Retail Design has identified current ways to attract each group of consumers in China. Although the goal is to increase sales, whether online or offline, correct branding can lead to increased brand reputation and desirability.

1. The Luxury Lover:
Luxury lovers know exactly what they want from luxury brands and enjoy everything that comes with the lifestyle: heritage, attitude and status. These are the consumers who want to ‘buy in’ to exclusivity and show their high-status and love of quality. 60% of luxury lovers are women who are very sensitive to trends, do not listen to the opinions of others, and have a clear understanding and vision of what they appreciate from shopping luxury. They also love to share their brand experiences with their friends and family, making them powerful opinion leaders.

How to attract them?
As luxury lovers know exactly what they like in a brand, marketers need to present the brand's history and communicate promises effectively through all channels (offline and online). Luxury brands in China need to focus on inspiring luxury lovers with appealing product design that clearly features the brand's logo; producing engaging advertisement campaigns in high-end fashion magazine (digital or print); whilst utilizing innovative video commercials and attractive retail store design concepts. The key here is to make the brand relatable to the customers, showing the same core values that they themselves possess. This can be done by showing elitism through superior quality and a long tradition at the forefront of fashion.

2. The Luxury Follower:
Luxury followers are the ones who are heavily influenced by the media and public opinion, rather than following their individual style. They are more likely to want to know why the brand is so famous; how many retail stores they own; the number of online followers on social media platforms; and which celebrity are wearing their products. They are impulsive buyers, who want and need the latest seasonal luxurious items to feel like a part of their social network. 72% of luxury followers are women.

How to attract them?
Retail brands need to focus on producing popular product designs. The key is to create buzz around trendy luxury goods, by showing the luxury followers that famous celebrities and social media stars are fond of their products. Asking celebrities to design a limited-edition collection for a luxury brand will also attract these consumers to make a purchase. The brand logo should be clearly displayed, so that luxury followers can receive instant gratification from associating with the right brand. An example of a European luxury brand that has collaborated with stars on limited collections and has successfully built a strong presence in China is Modern Creation Munich (MCM). Their fun and trendy approach to luxury items has made them a hit with the younger Chinese generation.

3. The Luxury Intellectual:
The Luxury Intellectual category has a balance gender spread with 45% being male. These consumers have their own understanding of luxury and are less influenced by the media and public opinion. They are very rational, individualistic people and prefer discreet, classical luxury products. These consumers love to compare items and are very analytical about it. Quality is at the forefront of their decisions.

How to attract them?
In order to appeal to them, brands need to design simple, classic products, with minimum appearance of the brand's logo. Functionality is favoured by this group, and products should be made with utmost care. The quality of a product should be obvious through the use of high-end materials and superior craftsmanship. As Luxury Intellectuals are analytical, a well-written description of each item on the luxury brands website is a must for attracting them. A good sales team with a vast knowledge of all the products needs to be in place to efficiently assist them in-store.

4. The Luxury Laggard:
84% in this category are women. Advertisements, trends and other external factors have little effect on them. These consumers in China purchase for functionality rather than fashion. They want to purchase quality products that are practical and durable. Luxury laggards are rational, impulsive and opportunistic buyers that love a great luxury bargain.

How to attract them?
Brands need to focus on functionality, quality and usefulness of the product. They are price-conscious and very impulsive buyers. An effective way to attract this group is to set up a store in an outlet mall, where reasonable pricing is in place. Creating other pricing opportunities, such as sales, will allow brands to invite and pull them to purchase in-stores and online.

" Jimmy Choo shoes are an example of low-key branding, where only people familiar with the brand can recognise the shoes. Jimmy Choo is known for superior quality couture."
Image Source: www.dennislutter.de

Foreign luxury brands wanting to effectively strengthen their presence and positioning in China's luxury market must appeal to all consumers, considering different consumer attitudes towards luxury into their marketing strategies.

This research shows that luxury audiences are predominantly ‘Luxury Intellectuals’ with a secondary base of ‘Luxury Laggards’. Both groups favour quality over status and are unlikely to be swayed by media and public opinion. As such, the quality of the product must be at the forefront of promotion, paying special attention to precision detailing and durability. A classic style is likely to be preferred, so that the design can last several seasons without going out of style.

This approach is beneficial for all groups, as superior quality is more likely to attract high-status consumers, including celebrities and icons, which in turn will appeal to Luxury Followers. By emphasising the products’ superior craftsmanship, Luxury Lovers know that they are buying an excellent product.

From conceptualizing the layout of the retail design store to any branded event, never forget to consider to whom you are selling your products to and how the brand's message and image are delivered. Profit comes from giving the customer what they want, not by finding an audience that accepts what you offer. Understand your audience and strive to be everything they need and more.

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Opening Soon! THE MISSION Mexican Grill at Central Park Plaza

October 23, 2017

Following the success of THE MISSION’s store opening in the China World Mall, we are excited to announce their second Beijing store opening besides Chaoyang Park! 5 Star Plus Retail Design has helped translate the original restaurant design to compliment the new surroundings and bring wholesome burritos full of flavour to the many park patrons.

"MAD’s “Chaoyang Park Plaza”Breaks Ground"
Image Source: www.gooood.hk

Chaoyang Park Store has something for everybody, whether you’re looking to unwind from a stressful work-week, spend precious time with loved ones, or get in touch with nature. Opening a new store at the centre of such a refreshing and fun place made perfect sense for the American – Mexican restaurant THE MISSION.

Restaurant Design in the New Plaza

You’d be forgiven for thinking you had stepped into the future on entering the Central Park Plaza, as the buildings showcase cutting-edge design. This new development combines sleek, urban surfaces with formations found in nature, creating a distinctive environment that links natural and modern aesthetics. THE MISSION’s trendy wood and metal furnishings are at home in these surroundings, whilst soft lighting and cactus adornments make the space feel as fresh as the food.

"MAD’s “Chaoyang Park Plaza”Breaks Ground"
Image Source: www.gooood.hk

The Opening

The grand opening of The MISSION’s Central Park Plaza restaurant is by the beginning of November, but as work is now underway, we couldn’t help but share our excitement.

If you’re looking for a reason to unwind and enjoy yourself, what more do you need? You’ll soon be able to take a stroll through the park, enjoy a boat ride, or some of the many amusements and drop by THE MISSION to enjoy a meal as fresh and exciting as your surroundings!

Address: Central Park Plaza, 10 Chaoyang Park South street, Building #7, 1 Floor 7-9

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Globalization versus Localization in Retail Design - What You need to Know to Succeed

October 16, 2017

When considering store design on an international stage, it is important to adapt to local requirements. Some companies embrace this entirely, changing the store in line with advertising and product offering to make consumers happy. But this doesn’t work for everyone – there is a fine line between adapting to suit customer requirements and maintaining the correct brand image.

Getting it right

Starbucks is world renowned for its ‘third space’ away from home and work, and is one of the most recognizable brands in cities all over the world. Starbucks’ retail design manages to differ from store to store whilst maintaining a cohesive brand design. Their flagship store design incorporates elements of the local environment and is changed to suit local lifestyles.

"11 Stunning Starbucks Stores around the World"
Image Source: Starbucks

"11 Stunning Starbucks Stores around the World"
Image Source: Starbucks

Getting it wrong

Americans are famed for their consumerism, which is something British supermarket chain Tesco’s shop design overlooked when entering the American market. The stores they opened were one fifth of the size of American superstores, making customers feel limited in choice. The stores were located further away from towns, meaning customers had to drive further than to their competitors, for less choice. Alongside this, Tesco removed cashiers, opting to install self-service checkouts, as is common in Europe. For Americans, customer service is a large part of the shopping experience and being automated reduced that.

"Keeping it Consistent"
Image Source: Retail Week

Personal Motives

Store design can be affected by what needs a customer has, the level of technology they like and how much time they like to spend. In areas where customers have less time, standing tables are becoming a feature, so they can quickly eat and leave. Others look for a more leisurely pace, where the incorporation of tablets preloaded with entertainment are offered, encouraging the customer to stay for longer.

If a customer wants to show their status by buying luxury goods, the shop design should be open and display fewer products, to give a sense of extravagance. Alternatively, if consumers are looking to show their individuality, the store should offer a unique design, often telling a story about the brand. The Khaosan hostel chain in Japan is a great example of this, as each location has a completely different identity.

"Khaosan Tokyo Laboratory"
Image Source: Khaosan Tokyo

"Khaosan World Asakusa Hostel & Ryokan"
Image Source: Khaosan Tokyo

Global Imagery

One of the simplest aspects of store design lies in color and imagery. Different cultures have different associations, for example, red is often associated with love, but in different situations can represent anger. For the Chinese, who see red as ‘prosperous’, this can often be shocking. Similarly, imagery can differ, for example, in Italy chrysanthemums are laid on graves, but in Australia they are used to celebrate Mother’s Day.

"Closeup of a Chrysanthemum Flower"
Image Source: Jason Edwards

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The 3-Pillar Retail Strategies: 3. Personalization

September 27, 2017

As the third part in the “Three Pillar Strategies” series, we look at how personalization needs to be integrated into store design so that brands appeal to Generation Z and survive the changes in Chinese retail habits.

Personalization is vital for brands to learn what shoppers want. Through data collection and providing customers outlets where they can personally customize products, brands discover styles, patterns, colors, and trends preferred by customers. Whether implemented online or through boutique design centers in-store, this means that brands can be assured their products sell, rather than hoping their designers are on trend.

Nike, a company specializing in athletic apparel, is using personalization to a competitive advantage. Guests visiting select flagship stores have the option to customize shoes and t-shirts with a vast range of colors and patterns. The outcome is a unique, exclusive product that fulfills the customer’s desires, giving each individual control over how they look and feel.

"Retail Will Change More In The Next Three Years Than It Has In The Last 50!"
Image Source: B&T Magazine

Sephora is also using the art of personalization to provide customers with products aligned with their personality, lifestyle and desires. Customers create a profile and input information relevant to brands and products they find interesting. This information, accompanied with details regarding prior purchases, is analyzed through a chain of algorithms to create a list of beauty products suited to the customer’s likings. Both the customer and Sephora have constant access to this list across all devices and stores, meaning that the company can not only measure brand popularity, but how trends change over time. As new products are released, the list is updated and the customer is informed, allowing for targeted advertising and increased likelihood of purchase. The brand can keep its visual identity up to date by showing the same trends as their customers.

"SEPHORA’s BEAUTY INSIDER® Proves Beauty Addiction Has Its Privileges"
Image Source: L'Etage Magazine

Individualism is becoming an essential form of expression across the retail industry. As more customers seek outlets to differentiate themselves among their peers, brands have an opportunity to show that they are uniquely positioned to give the consumer what they want, leading to increased brand loyalty and acquisition of new customers.

When a company caters to an individual’s needs, the customer is unlikely to accept substitutions. What’s more, they feel as if their voice is important, leading to increased word-of-mouth advertising, an increase in product reviews and the development of a community around the brand. It is no longer enough to tell customers that they want what you have; the message moving forward is that you have what they want.

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Visit of Former President Dr. Heinz Fischer at the Austrian Pavilion at World Winter Sports Expo 2017

September 8, 2017

We feel privileged that Dr. Heinz Fischer, former President of the Republic of Austria, visited the Austrian Pavilion which was designed and built by 5 Star Plus Retail Design for the World Winter Sports Expo (WWSE) in Beijing yesterday. Mr. Fischer who is also President of the Austrian Association for Promotion of Friendship and Cultural Relations with China came to promote Austrian Winter Sports in China. He opened the afternoon session of the summit dialogue “Leading the Way” with a speech and then visited the Austrian companies exhibiting at the expo.

Further speakers at the summit were Dr. Martin Glatz, Commercial Counselor at the Austrian Embassy and Head of Advantage Austria in Beijing, as well as Martin Dolezal from SNOWSPORTS.

The Austrian Pavilion was designed to have its own identity yet give each exhibiting brand its own private space for brand promotion and business meetings. The concept of the exhibition stand design was to create a light and dynamic structure with clean lines that would make a strong statement. Visibility from all sides, the maximization of usable space, light, and an open, flowing atmosphere were further important considerations that influenced the design. Austrian companies exhibiting at WWSE included Axess AG, SKIDATA AG, Swarovski Optik KG, the Austrian National Tourist Office, International Ropeway Review and SNOWSPORTS.

Read more about the design of the pavilion and check out the photos here.

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5 Star Plus Retail Design Speaks in London: The Future of Bricks and Mortar Retail in China

September 6, 2017

5 Star Plus Retail Design’s founder and managing director Barbara Seidelmann was invited to talk about “The Future of Bricks and Mortar Retail in China” at the China Britain Business Council London Headquarters on August 30th. Key points of the update included changing consumer characteristics as well as how the retail landscape is moving towards a more lifestyle oriented market.

During the second half of the talk, Barbara shared practical strategies that retail brands should implement to stay ahead in China. Companies need to adopt a retail strategy that integrates brick and mortar with different online channels and is centered on the brand. Retail store design has to focus on the consumer experience.

Attendants of the event included representatives from well-known British retail brands such as The Body Shop, Speedo, The British House and Jellycat, among others. We look forward to seeing more British brands enter the Chinese retail market soon.

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The 3-Pillar Retail Strategies: 2. Omnichannel

August 24, 2017

Following on our last Customer Experience post, we look at the next strategy in our three pillar series: using an omnichannel approach to remain at the forefront of retail in these changing times.

Omnichannel is a tactic brands across the retail industry are incorporating into their business model to provide shoppers with a seamless shopping experience both online and offline. Different retail channels such as mobile devices, desktops, and brick-and-mortar stores, keep customers constantly connect to brands. For pizza chains like Domino’s, Papa John’s, and Pizza Hut, an omnichannel approach is a vital component in their business strategy. Customers place their order by calling the store directly or customizing their meals online. Their orders are submitted to the chefs who prepare the meals as specified. The outcome is the same; however, the path chosen to order differs.


Omnichannel strategy is not only for the pizza industry. Brand like Starbucks use omni-channeling to drive their loyalty program. Customers can check or load balances onto their loyalty card by phone, online, or through visiting any Starbucks location. Rewards earned or changes made to the balance are instantly updated across all channels, allowing users to be informed regardless of the platform they are using.

" Image Gallery: starbucks app "
Image Source: Image Gallery: starbucks app

As companies attempt to reach audiences on a larger scale, using multiple platforms offers individuals flexibility and diversity. Customers who encounter a problem with a single service point are no longer going to turn away, but simply turn to a different channel. Through increased satisfaction, efficiency and convenience, having an omnichannel strategy is an asset not only for the customer, but for the brand itself.

It’s not limited to customer retention, either. The increased visibility offered by an omnichannel approach means that the brand maintains top-of-mind appeal. Multiple platforms allow for different product lines to be prioritized in different areas, inciting customers to buy more. For online channels, advertising can be catered to each individual’s preference, ensuring that every product they see is relevant to their own wants and needs.

"B & Q"
Image Source: B & Q

One way that British company B&Q use omnichannel selling makes DIY a much simpler task for everyone. A customer can use the website to find the products they need, for delivery or pick-up. It offers a real-time service which shows the closest stores that have the product in stock. As their customers are often in the middle of a messy, potentially ruinous activity when they need the products, B&Q offer a quick and indispensable service.

" Can click and collect save the high street? "
Image Source: University of Brighton

The retailer John Lewis takes this one step further. When they realized that two thirds of their customers combine online shopping with on-store shopping, they rolled out ‘Click and Collect’ – where you can order online and pick them up in store. This means you can browse at home and go to the store next day assured that your size and color has been reserved. It takes away the worry of being out when the delivery man arrives and gives the customer a reason to have another look around the brick-and-mortar store too. It has been so successful that it is now imitated by many high-street retailers.

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5 Star Plus Retail Design in the NEWS Magazine

August 20, 2017

We are pleased to share that 5 Star Plus Retail Design and our founder Barbara Seidelmann were covered with a full page in the August's second edition of "NEWS", one of Austria's leading magazines.

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The 3-Pillar Retail Strategies: 1. The Customer Experience

August 17, 2017

As introduced in our previous article “Preparing the Retail Industry for Future China: An analysis of markets, challenges and solutions ”, the Chinese market is changing and only those companies that tap into experience, omnichannel and personalization efforts will have a place in the new retail landscape. This week, we will look at how you can tailor customer experience to stay at the forefront of customers’ minds.

Shopping is more than looking for accessories and objects to be fashionable. Shopping is an experience. Retail stores like Gucci and Topshop revolve their business design around creating a positive customer experience using cutting edge, interactive technology and high-quality service. They do so for one reason: it gets results. A study by Harvard University (Kriss, 2014) shows customers who have the best past experiences spend 140% more than those who had the poorest experience. With the astronomical benefits of providing shoppers with a positive experience, brands ought to create a pleasant shopping experience through three tactics: slow shopping, technology, and brand imaging. To receive all the benefits of a positive shopping experience, it is critical for brands to incorporate all three tactics into their retail operations.

1) Slow Shopping

Creating a comfortable atmosphere that allows customers to leisurely browse merchandise while being hassle-free from eager employees is a tactic known as slow shopping. Slow shopping emphasizes control, giving the customers power to make their own decisions at their own pace. An open design lets shoppers explore the retail store without unwanted intervention, which is crucial for the brand to gain loyal customers. Allowing customers to shop at their own pace also leads to more spending. For example, Urban Outfitters have a very large array of items on display that people can walk around and inspect at their own pace. The store clerks are at the ready, but not in the way. Urban Outfitters successfully created a slow shopping environment and have accomplished their perfect design.

" How "Slow Shopping" Could Save the Brick & Mortar Store (and Destroy Your Budget)"
Image Source: Apartment Theory

2) Technology

Touchscreens, monitors, or interactive projectors allow brands to connect with customers in a creative way that is exciting, informative, and familiar; which assists in the development of brand image. By incorporating technology into the retail store’s design, a brand gains an edge over competitors through captivating customers. One example of this is Uniqlo, a Japanese clothing store. Uniqlo utilizes cutting-edge neuroscience technology to analyze a person’s feelings and determine the best outfit for them on a screen in front of them. The user puts on a headpiece and is shown images. Based on their brains reaction to those images, they are shown the perfect shirt on the screen once the sequence is complete.

"9 Examples Of Innovative In-Store Technology"
Image Source: Annex Cloud

3) Brand Imaging

Think of brand imaging like searching for a partner. We search for people with whom we can identify, who have direction, provoke feelings of excitement, and give us butterflies. People want brands that care about them, who put their needs first, and offer attractive products related to their lifestyle. Brands that follow these guidelines increase their number of shoppers exponentially. The most popular way that brands do this is through product placement and celebrity endorsement. Showcasing a role model overcoming a difficult environment makes the regular shopper feel empowered if they buy their products. An example of this trend is Puma’s Forever Faster campaign. Usain Bolt is renowned for being the world’s fastest man. He overcame the barrier of a human speed limit and Puma depicted that in their promotional design perfectly. Bolt is geared out in Puma, showing a lifestyle choice that attracts his admirers to the brand.

"The Forever Faster man, Usain Bolt"
Image Source: Daily Pinner

Humans seek experiences every time we get out of bed. Whether it’s traveling to a different city, tasting a new dish, or meeting up with friends, we form opinions around events we believed will make us happy. Be creative; stand out and give your customers a reason to choose your brand.

" New study: happy shoppers spend 127 more per shopping trip "
Image Source: The Retail Bulletin

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Determining the Most Effective Way to Showcase Your Product

July 20, 2017

When it comes to clothing stores, presenting your clothes in a functional, professional, and sophisticated manner can have the power to make or break your store’s success. Customers need to be able to clearly see and understand the vision and brand identity throughout the store design. Determining how to set up racks and shelving to display your product is dependent on various factors such as store size, layout, merchandise, and the overall look.

Product placement is proven to have a direct correlation with sales, which is why the most successful store designs pay great attention to detail when it comes to their design layout. Larger stores have the luxury of utilizing both clothing racks and shelving while maintaining a very spacious layout. On the contrary, smaller stores must be mindful of space. Folding clothes and displaying them on shelves provides a clean and spacious look while simultaneously taking up less room. As a result, stores can display a greater amount of inventory on the show floor. Another benefit to shelving is its eye level and comfortable viewing range.

DENHAM the jean maker’s 120-square-metre new flagship store design exemplifies how a small store can utilize space with shelving instead of racks. The shelving throughout the small store helps open the space and make it seem larger. This creates a spacious, comfortable, and enjoyable experience for customers.

"DENHAM Store, The Hague-Netherlands"
Image Source: Philip Jintes

While utilizing shelving is important, clothing racks are necessary for most clothing shop layouts. Clothing items such as dresses, coats, formal wear, and easy to crease or wrinkle clothing need to be hung up or their appeal is lost. There are three main types of racks that stores can utilize, straight racks, branching racks and circular racks. Straight racks are the most commonly used involving a horizontal bar supported by two vertical legs. They can be rolling or grounded, which provides storeowners with the flexibility to rearrange their store layout. Branching racks consist of a central base with posts that spread out from it. This provides customers with a unique vantage point that allows you to view merchandise from various angles and sides. Circular racks embody maximizing efficiency due to their 360-degree vantage viewing point.

Ellassay flagship store in Shenyang, China showcases the use of both straight racks and circular racks throughout its store. The circular racks in the middle of the store provide the perfect way for the store to feature and display their favorite items. Ultimately, incorporating both styles contribute to the elegant and spacious atmosphere. In China, it is important to present customers with both high quality products and a sophisticated store design.

"Ellassay flagship store by Stefano Tordiglione Design, Shenyang – China"
Image Source: Retail Design Blog

When designing Halti in Beijing’s Jinyuan mall, 5 Star Plus Retail Design effectively incorporated both shelving and racks into the overall layout. Utilizing shelving and racks provides variety to the store and a visually stimulating experience for customers. As a result, the store design is able to stand out from other Beijing store designs.

"Store Identity Design, Halti"
Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

Shelving and racks add to the ambiance of a concept store design. Finding the perfect balance between the two is ideal for a store’s success. Not every store design is the same and remembering to keep functionality, flexibility and your customers in mind when designing the store will help you attract more people.

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Preparing the Retail Industry for Future China: An analysis of markets, challenges and solutions

July 14, 2017

“The retail industry is one of the most promising fields of business in China due to their upward trend of annual GDP and the dramatic increase of spending power for both rural and domestic households;” said Statista, a company specializing in international markets, trends and development. With a steady increase of purchasing power throughout the country’s 1.3 billion residents, opportunities for growth and sustainability are exponentially increasing. However, this does not come without challenges. Weak business models and the increase of technology are proving difficult obstacles for many brands to overcome. How can they address these challenges and prepare for the future?

Understand the Market

Currently, the Chinese market is unlike the United States or European market. Studies show individuals in the western parts of the world tend to be more self-actualization oriented, preferring products relating to their lifestyles. In contrast, individuals in China tend to be under the Emotional and Social needs categories, preferring products of status, value and achievement. However, this difference is beginning to change. Individuals in the Chinese market are beginning to develop a self-actualization mindset. People still seek value but, they seek value in the form of experience. Brands will need to consider this change moving forward as this will affect how they develop products to target future customers.

Be Aware of Challenges Facing the Industry

In the past, brands could maintain relevance due to scarcity. With the rise of digital commerce and the access to any product in many places, brands suffering from weak business models no longer can compete. Additionally, brands are treating their digital sites and physical stores as two separate entities; failing to understand each platform serves a unique purpose. Customers use digital media as a starting point for conducting research, reading reviews and finding the best prices while relying on physical stores to conduct the transaction.

The Future: Implement a Three-Pillar Strategy

Brands seeking sustainability in the retail industry must implement a three-pillar strategy focusing on experience, omnichannel and customization.

Experience: Shopping should be more than conducting a transaction. It should be an experience. Customers who have a positive experience with a brand will be inclined to make additional purchases in the future.

Omnichannel: Omnichannel provides customers with a seamless shopping experience whether online, in-store or mobile. Those seeking to shop from home or on their way to work can do so through a multichannel approach.

Personalization: Personalization is how brands can tailor customer needs. Demand for personal customizable products is increasing as customers are on the prowl for items that are unique, exclusive, authentic and represent their personality.

Scarcity is no longer an option brands can rely on to maintain relevance. As customers begin to expect each of these strategies when they shop, brands failing to adapt to the changing industry will suffer. Readers will be able to find in-depth articles detailing each of the three pillars on our website in the coming weeks.

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Top 6 Restaurant Design Trends of 2017

July 7, 2017

While delicious food and high-quality service is essential for the success of a restaurant, the ambience of a restaurant is of equal significance. In today’s market, there is a plethora of dining options. Having a design that will draw in customers is integral to a restaurant’s prosperity.

An interior designer must incorporate brand, story and style all into one when designing a restaurant. The following are some retail design trends and considerations for restaurants in 2017.

1. Concept/Theme Based-Design:

Having either a conceptual or theme-based design allows for a more personal dining experience and is proven to be more inviting and energizing. The top restaurant designers develop interiors that portray a story that unfolds while people dine. This helps to build customer satisfaction and loyalty.

"Four Ways to Give Your Restaurant Dining Room a Quick Improvement"
Image Source: RC Supplies Online

2. Natural Textures and Materials:

Incorporating natural textures derived from nature continues to be a popular design trend utilized by designers. Using more than one material and mixing either wood, brass, leather, tile, marble or metal adds dimension and heightens the consumer’s dining experience.

"Academy of Art University Interior Design School Daily Blog"
Image Source: www.interiordesignschooldaily.com

The Mission Fresh Grill, located in Beijing’s recently constructed China World Mall, illustrates the mixing and combining of natural textures and materials. 5 Star Plus Retail Design worked with The Mission to convey its brand identity throughout the restaurant through uses of natural wood, high-quality materials and stainless steel. These natural elements not only draw people in to eat, but also signal to customers the emphasis of high-quality ingredients.

"Restaurant Design, The Mission Fresh Grill "
Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

3. Ambient Lighting and Ceiling Design:

Ambient lighting, customized pendant lighting and recessed mood lighting has grown in popularity among restaurant interior designers. Lighting has evolved to provide two purposes—exuding light and providing art. Contrast to previous years, interior design for restaurants has departed from the dark and industrial chic look and is moving towards a brighter, more modern appeal. Ceiling designs have begun showcasing and exposing wood or unconcealed metal pipes to give way to a more innovative atmosphere. Lighting and ceiling choices assist in creating interesting imagery with the intent of luring guests in.

Image Source: kdzjj.com

4. Vintage with a Modern Touch:

Adding elements of glamour and vintage flare to modern interior design layouts provides a sophisticated and glamorous feel. Luxe trimmings, velvet upholstery and glamorous patterns provide a sleek and refined atmosphere.

Image Source: Block Sixteen Hospitality

5. Color Tones:

Greens, specifically light green, is a trending color for retail design in 2017. This color exudes a refreshing and revitalizing charm that symbolizes a fresh start. In addition, colors that are vibrant with earthy tones are great accents. Pastels and chroma (graphic colors) contribute to an organic feel.

"Väkst: A Greenhouse Restaurant in Copenhagen"
Image Source: BLOGLOVIN'

6. Minimalism:

Like previous years, minimalism is a key design element that has the power to open even a small space. A simple, clean look is proven to make people feel calm and happy. Minimalism also allows for flexibility and functionality in the design layout. In restaurants, a minimalistic layout gives way for easier navigation.

"A Tax Agency Transformed: Restaurant Usine in Stockholm"

All 6 trends serve to provide consumers with both a visually appealing and enthralling look that will draw them in to dine. The trends are extremely conscious of keeping balance and harmony in mind. With continual growth in the restaurant industry, restaurants must constantly keep up with the latest trends. Having a clear concept store design will make the incorporation of trends into the layout easier. At the end of the day, people are quick to judge and one glance is all a consumer needs to tell if they are interested or not. Thus, for restaurants, making the right first impression through an impressive design layout is imperative.

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Tier 2 and Tier 3 Opportunities in the Chinese Retail Market

June 30, 2017

As Chinese retail markets in tier 1 cities reach maturity, retail companies are looking towards tier 2 and tier 3 cities for expansion opportunities. The combination of high real estate prices and saturation of the retail sector in major urban centers has made expansion in these areas more difficult. In 2015, the urban population was just under 56% of the total population. This is expected to rise up to around 59% by 2018. Not only is there a migration shift from rural to urban, but there is also an increase in household disposable income. By 2018, 66% of households will fall into the USD 10,000-plus per year income bracket, effectively increasing overall consumption.

"China Retail Report, Q1 2015"
Source: National Bureau of Statistics China/BMI

This increase in consumption consequently forecasts China’s retail sector to grow on average by 10.8% every year from 2015-2018. Since the retail markets in cities such as Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai have become saturated for the reasons aforementioned, it will be the lower-tier cities that experience a significant portion of this growth. These booming hubs have been given improved access with new transportation infrastructure, including airline routes, better highways and high-speed rail lines. As people flock to these cities to look for work, a new untapped consumer market emerges. The graph below shows the steady but significant growth of this new consumer class. Some of the tier 2 cities include Tianjin, Wuhan, Chengdu, Chongqing, Nanjing and Xi’an. Proactive municipal governments along with low land costs typical to these cities give retailers a great opportunity to establish or expand their presence in these areas of the Chinese market.

*Population earning over USD $5,000
*China60 refers to cities that are not
categorized as tier 1, EIU, 2015

"China60: From Fast Growth to Smart Growth JLL, 2015"
Image Source: JLL

Retailers that offer premium or luxury items will cater well to these large consumer bases, as Chinese consumers generally see these goods as a mark of prosperity. There is a shift though in Chinese consumer attitudes. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, fulfilling esteem needs drove luxury purchases in the past, but it is now trending to make purchases that satisfy actualization needs. This means that consumers are starting to purchase brands because they identify with the lifestyle the brands represent, rather solely because of the product’s prestige. Tier 1 city dwellers are at the forefront of this trend, but it would be a strategic consideration for retailers, as more and more people in lower-tier cities are shifting towards this consumer attitude.

"China60: From Fast Growth to Smart Growth JLL, 2015"
Image Source: JLL

Some lower-tier cities have been experiencing a large growth in shopping malls. The pie charts above show that physical retail space in these cities is expanding more quickly than in tier 1 cities. Despite this demand for more shopping centers, retailers need to be conscientious of the increase in online shopping, especially with technological generations entering the consumer base. Malls are combating this threat by dedicating more space to food and beverage and concept stores, which altogether makes shopping more of an experience. Retailers expanding or entering into lower-tier cities can combat this threat by taking into account their store layout and the message/lifestyle they want to convey. Thoughtful retail design can influence how customers perceive a brand’s lifestyle and can help place emphasis on experiential shopping; something that e-commerce cannot compete with.

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5 Star Plus Retail Design Speaks at Food and Drink Forum 2017

June 23, 2017

The China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) hosted its fifth annual Retail, Food and Drink forum on Thursday, June 15, 2017 at the British Business Center in Beijing. Introducing this year’s Great British Brands Festival (GBBF), the goal of the forum was to allow businesses from the UK to learn more about the challenges and experiences from industry experts within the Chinese market. Barbara Seidelmann from 5 Star Plus Retail Design was invited to speak at the event. Among her, other speakers included: Peter Bloxham of PFB Associates, Lynne Hua of The British House, and Demi Ping of CBBC.

Having over 10 years of experience in the retail market, Barbara Seidelmann spoke about The Future of Retail: Entertainment and Lifestyle. She started by explaining the shift in Chinese consumer shopping habits and how this affects the design process for brick and mortar stores. One of the key points she made in the presentation was the importance of omni-channeling for brick and mortar stores, which would personalize and better cater the retail experience to consumers. Barbara also showed how the experience factor serves as an important aspect in retail design, as it helps appeal to Chinese consumer needs in an evolving marketplace. In-store personalization and aspects of experience and omni-channeling can be tied into one cohesive brand image within retail design.

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A Growing Marketplace: Retail Design For Kids

June 15, 2017

Luxury retail stores specailizing in children’s wear has become a growing trend over past few years. According to Business of Fashion, by 2020, the Asain Pacific children’s wear retail marketplace is expected to grow by 32%. As millenials continue to have children, their shopping habits indicate that they are willing to spend more on their children for higher end products. There are different design elements that must be taken into account for both the parents, and the children. Common trends in 2017 for children’s retail design China include, having a family focus, technology integration, and gender neutrality.

Cognitive Interests in Kids

The cognitive interest of children plays a role in the design elements chosen for a children’s retail store. Children 3 – 5 years of age are very curious, and learn how and why things work through tacticle sensations. Children 6 – 10 years of age have a stronger memory and are more coordinated. They like to solve problems deductivley, through reading and reasoning. Taking these interests into account help designers develop captivating displays and incorporate interactive brand elements into a store’s design to attract kids into the retail store.

Interactive Branding

Interactive branding is an essential part of a kids retail store. Integrating technology into the brand attracts tech savvy youngsters, and allows them to discover a brand through a familiar outlet. A recent study done by the ASP Group, used eye tracking software to discover that people were 77% more likely to engage in displays that involve movement.

Jou Jou Toy Store in Salt Lake City, Utah-USA, takes interactive branding to the next level with a digital design concept where monsters can interchange between pictures leaving kids with a fun and interactive experience.

" Welcome to the Grand America "
Image Source: Shannon Bird

Design trends

The most important thing in a child’s life is family. Having family oriented designs for both younger and older children is a primary goal in many retail design concepts.

Many design concepts include bright inviting colors such as yellow and green, as well as whimsical concepts like sketched shops, or fairytale-like designs with a playground feel. The Candy Room in Melbourne Australia uses a cartoon design concept in colors of black and white to play into children’s imagination while also drawing attention to the fun colored packaging of the candy.

" The Candy Room, Melbourne Austrailia "
Image Source: Trend Hunter

Depending on the size of the retail design space, a design can include a large space for a play area, or a smaller space to make the child feel like they are in a secret hideout. Kids Republic store design in Beijing China creates the feeling of a fun board game, designed for children to climb and follow various pathways, while also incorporating fun nooks for children to crawl inside and read their favorite book, thus appealing to the cognitive interests of all age groups.

" Kids Republic, Beijing China "
Image Source: The Cool Hunter

Keeping millennial parents in mind for the design concept, gender neutrality seems to be a growing trend in 2017. As the race for gender equality continues, stores everywhere continue to add gender inclusive elements and colors into children retail store design concepts to put less of a focus on ‘who’ the product is for and more a focus on ‘what’ product will work for the child. Harrods Toy Kingdom in London England uses a gender neutral color scheme and removes labels of ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ from toy sections throughout. The store provides plenty of places for children to try new toys and explore through creative brand elements.

" Harrods Toy Kingdom, London England "
Image Source: Pintrest

" Harrods Toy Kingdom, London England "
Image Source: Big Sister Association

The growth in children’s retail is expected to grow substantially in the coming years. 5 Star Plus Retail Design understands the expectations and considerations that must be taken into account when designing a children’s retail store in China. It’s important to consider the cognitive interests of different age groups to allow children to discover the brand story through interactive displays and digital features. We also prioritize the creation of a store that is appealing to the parents who do the shopping as well as the children who will accompany them.

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Australia-China Business Awards (ACBA) 2017: Event Design and Production for AustCham

May 25, 2017

The Australia-China Business Awards (ACBA) is an annual event, organized by AustCham, with the support of Westpac and other sponsors, to recognize the success of Australian and Chinese companies working between the two countries in the Greater China region. For the past 24 years, the event’s location has rotated between the cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. 5 Star Plus Retail Design had the honor of developing the full event design concept as well as the production of the awards for this year’s event.

ACBA 2017 was hosted at the JW Marriot Beijing on Thursday, May 18th. This year’s gala had over 450 guests from 36 key businesses in both China and Australia.

Considering the scale of the event and the importance of giving to the space, it was crucial to create a festive, cozy atmosphere. This was achieved by integrating the ceiling into the design through the creation of a modern design concept. Projected lights and logo images moved across the ceiling establishing more dynamic feeling. 5 Star Plus Retail Design had the honor of developing the full event design concept as well as the production of the awards for this year’s event.

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Visual Identity Design for the Sino-Swiss Business Awards 2017

May 17, 2017

The Sino-Swiss Business Awards (SSBA) is an exclusive, once-every-two-years event organized by SwissCham and supported by the Swiss embassy. Similar to previous events hosted by SwissCham, 5 Star Plus Retail Design acted as a proud visual sponsor and developed the full visual identity design concept as well as the design framework for the gala night.

SSBA 2017 took place at Rosewood hotel Beijing on May 13th. This year's awards ceremony was crowned by the official visit of Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard, President of the Swiss Confederation.

Suitable for a festive gala night and a formal business-oriented event, the visual identity focuses on clean geometric shapes for an official yet dynamic look. The color concept is based on tones of red, a reference to the Swiss flag, with an emphasis on the festive nature of this special night.

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4 PR Tips that Will Keep You Ahead in the F&B Industry

May 2, 2017

On her podcast blog The Business Cuisine (http://www.thebusinesscuisine.com) Denise Chen shares best practice tips for the successful marketing of small food and beverage businesses. We are sharing a summary of those valuable insights.

F&B is seen as a lucrative industry to be a part of as there will always be paying customers. However, in this new economy, as consumers – in China more than anywhere else - strive to live longer and healthier, they tend to be more selective of what they put into their stomach. They read reviews and news before trying a new restaurant, and they ask around before making a decision to buy. Therefore, for some that go into the F&B business to make quick money, many die after just a year or less of operation.

" Creative marketing activities are a crucial aspect for F&B brands to stay alive. "

Tip 1: Build a brand, not product

Great food is the essential step to get in the industry, however, it takes a lot more to build a successful business that does not close in 6 months. People need to remember your name and not just another food place. Remember, food itself doesn’t talk or travel - story does.

Element Fresh did a brilliant job in building its brand as a leading American restaurant chain that focuses on healthy food and lifestyle with 27 locations across China.

Over the years, the brand conducted consistent new activities that reminded consumers that this is a legit company that is trying to do things to keep their promises, so the message people receive is: I can trust this company, I am happy to go back and tell my friends about it too.

Element Fresh partnered with China’s National Tennis Champion Li Na (李娜) for their 2016 Fall&Winter New Menu Launch with slogan – LIVE FRESH With LINA. As a worldwide public figure, Li Na represents sports and health. In this campaign, Li Na dressed as an Element Fresh chef preparing yummy and healthy food by leveraging an influencer’s public image to showcase the brand’s commitment to healthy food and lifestyle. When people talk about Element Fresh, naturally in their minds they will associate Li Na and the image she presents as the brand image.

In summary, it is about having a clear goal of your positioning, formulating a strategy and creating a plan to execute.

Tip 2: Create your story bank

Bill Gates firstly said in 1996, content is KING. In this context, food and drinks is not what sells, narrative does. A good example for a brand with a systematic content pool is Moka Bros.

" Moka Bros’ WeChat Account "

As a consumer of MokaBros, besides the diverse content ranging from fitness tips, education about one type of food or recipe, festive greetings etc, one of the most attractive contents is called “Humans”, where each week a customer is interviewed for their inspirational story that is in line with the brand image MokaBros is sending out – to inspire.

Don’t just talk about yourself, engage your audiences to be your brand’s ambassadors that are in line with your brand image, and therefore add more flavor to your story bank.

Tip 3: Be proactive

The core of PR is communication. In a nutshell, PR’s function is to create content, find target media and convince them to write about you instead of your competitors. That means PR has to be extremely proactive in every area of the job. If you are lucky, and the reporter knows you or members of your team, then you get the chance to be mentioned in a story he is writing about. If you are unlucky, and your competitor is more active and reaches out to the same reporter first, then you lose this opportunity for publicity.

Just put yourself in a reporter’s shoes, every reporter gets pitched probably more than 20 times per day from PR professionals and in-house PR. What are the chances he or she will spend more than 3 minutes trying to find anything about you actively, if you don’t make his job easier by reaching out first?

" Applebee’s Grill&Bar Shanghai Closed "

An analyst, Charles Yan from Yuanta Securities Investment Consulting, once commented in an article about why an American restaurant failed in Shanghai, the main reason for Applebee’s closure relies on its location. But what’s more than the physical location is that there were no activities conducted to build its brand awareness on the ground level to drive traffic to their underground store.

In other words, don’t simply expect opening a location with good food and service then people will find you, if you don’t market yourself proactively and consistently to help people find you, you are meant to fail.

Tip 4: Ally with your competitors

In PR, collaboration often refers to co-branding. What does that mean? It means instead of holding an event for one single brand, you gather 3 or more brands from or outside of your industry to hold an event together to address one particular topic. The benefit of co-branding is increased public impact including media attention. One F&B brand that is doping this effectively is Great Leap Brewery.

Great Leap initiated Beijing Professional Brewer’s Guild, a self-organized gathering where the brewers, business owners and other members in the craft beer industry meet every quarter, learn and share industry knowledge from each other, aiming to improve and advance the whole craft beer industry in Beijing.

In summary, as for retailers, food and beverage businesses need to focus on creating a brand. This is done by developing a feasible marketing strategy, an interesting story and consistently pushing content over a wider number of marketing channels.

Please go to The Business Cuisine (http://www.thebusinesscuisine.com/prtips/) for reading the full article.

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The Future of Retail: Entertainment and Lifestyle - The Role of Brand Strategy and Retail Design

April 28, 2017

The retail world is experiencing a time of change. This shift is perceived as threat by some and as an opportunity by others. Market reports insist that online retailing is the future and many luxury retailers report decreasing sales revenues. New shopping malls seem to open with a smaller number of traditional retail stores. What is happening in the market?

In an increasingly saturated and regulated market, the purchasing behavior of local consumers as well as their needs are evolving. What are the reasons for this market change and what can retail brands do to stay ahead?

The Evolution of Needs (and Purchasing Behavior)

" Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs "

In recent years, consumers in developing countries and in industrialized markets showed one important difference in purchasing behavior: While people in the West tend to spend more money for products and services that serve self-realization, customers in developing countries like China used to purchase products that are easily recognized for their brand and value. This reflects consumption for “being” versus “having”.

The background of this behavior is explained by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which says that humans need to first satisfy physiological and safety needs before emotional needs. Once these are fulfilled, people want to fulfill social requirements like respect and self-esteem. The last step in the pyramid of needs is self-realization where humans feel that they already possess everything and now want to develop as a person (e.g. intellectually or physically) or experience new things (e.g. through adventure travel).

While traditional retail sales in China were strongly motivated by “having” and “showing” to satisfy social needs during the past decade, consumers have been moving up the pyramid and are now purchasing more products and services connected to “self-realization”. Retail products are not purchased mainly for the branded logo, but because of the style that a certain brand represents, the craftsmanship, innovation or lifestyle they stand for. More often than in the past, consumers purchase products because they “like” the items, and not because of the functions or social value they represent.

In terms of purchase motivation, the consumer behavior in China is growing similar to that of the West.

China - A Changing Retail Market Environment

A more developed retail market in China has also led to a more regulated environment limiting corruption and therefore gift purchases. More transparency thanks to the government’s anti-corruption campaigns and the use of social media have further reduced the aspiration of people in the upper Chinese classes to display wealth. Nobody wants to be associated with improper wealth or spending by either the government authorities or the public.

An increasingly saturated market also means that a larger number of market players are competing in the same retail segments. More choices on the market allow consumers to research options as compared to years ago when there was often only a very limited choice of international products.

While a decade ago the general public could usually not name more than ten international luxury brands, the Chinese now have an extensive knowledge of foreign luxury and designer brands. The non-existent knowledge of labels many years ago was accompanied by the fear of buying something that could be a fake brand or not perceived well in the social circle, and consumers therefore often opted to make a safe investment and purchase an LV or Gucci product, two of the most well-known brands at that time.

Today, international prices are transparent and local consumers travel to international destinations more often, leading to increased retail spending abroad. While the so called “Golden Age” is over, there is still huge potential in the retail market in China.

The Future of Retail Brands and the Role of Retail Design

Whereas shopping malls in China and elsewhere traditionally had a ratio of 70% retail stores and 30% lifestyle, food & beverage, and entertainment, this proportion has become the opposite. This change is driven by the consumers’ desire to spend time in the mall and have fun. This market shift offers an opportunity for brands to adapt, provide additional value and, if successfully implemented, create a much tighter connection between the brand and customers.

Retail brands need to find a way for customers to experience both the brand and the products in the brick-and-mortar store. While customers might do some of their purchases online, the actual store will remain the premier place to research and test products, feel the brand and go for after sales services. This means that while the same stores might generate less of the same retail sales value, they assume a new role in expressing the brand and need make a strong statement in the market.

Without a powerful presence of brick-and-mortar stores, online sales will not succeed. In line with the market shift, existing stores should be rebranded as concept or flagship stores and offer a set of services that are not available elsewhere. For this, a well thought-through brand strategy and impactful retail design play a very important role. Retail stores have to be transformed into dynamic environments that integrate all of the brand experience including on- and offline channels. In order to stimulate sales in the actual stores, brands can adopt some of the following strategies:

- Offer products that are not available online, such as e.g. partly customized products (for example, featuring the customer’s name somewhere on the product)

- Offer services that attract customers (e.g. free cleaning, checks)

- Organize events, brand collaborations and promotions

- Integrate a cafe or food and beverage concept into the overall store design concept

While implementing the above, the key to success is having a clearly defined brand that is implemented consistently through different on- and offline channels as part of a dynamic, market-oriented retail strategy.

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Retail Design Strategy: What We Can Learn from the First Branded Stores 50 Years Ago

March 24, 2017

More than half a century ago, retail was a completely different world. While many products were branded already, shopping was done in department stores, category specific stores (stores selling either shoes, hats, dresses, accessories, books, or electronics, for example), and some of the very few first malls in the US.

Focus on Functionality of Store and Choice of Products

While nowadays stores are designed by retail designers, they were planned by architects at that time. Functionality came first: stores focused on the display of products and had to optimize the use of space and organization of brands. Besides a usually prominent signage at the entrance of the retail store, shopping spaces had no branded elements. Smart lighting concepts did not exist yet – lamps were distributed across the ceiling to evenly light up the room.

A Typical Department Store in the 50ies
Image Source: laughingsquid.com

Window Displays were Simple and Focused on the Products
Image Source: dharn.org

Shirleys Shoe Store selling Various Brands
Image Source: thefashionarchives.org

A Typical Accessory Store in the 1950s
Image Source: thefashionarchives.org

His Master’s Voice (HMV) Store Selling Records in the 1950s
Image Source: feelingmyage.co.uk

His Master’s Voice (HMV) Store Selling Records in the 1950s
Image Source: londonist.com

The First Branded Retail Stores

Mono-brand and high-street fashion stores were nonexistent unit the 1950s. One of the first successful fashion store concepts was BIBA in London, which could be seen on TV and products ordered the next day. As visible on the picture below, BIBA had an impactful branded facade. The store’s logo was widely recognized and helped to build up the luxury appeal. Part of its success came from the strong social function of the store – people visited and stayed just to been seen and become associated with the fashionable high society.

BIBA High Fashion Store in London with an Impactful Signage (1950s)
Image Source: telegraph.co.uk

Different Product Categories inside the BIBA Store
Image Source: evoketw.com

Branded Stores as Social Statement

Vivienne Westwood was one of the first to open a store with an overall retail concept. Always choosing a strong theme, the designer’s main purpose, besides selling fashion, was to deliver a strong social message. The store, which first opened in 1971, was then called “Let it Rock”, then renamed into “Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die” one year later and rebranded into “Sex” in 1974.

First Store opened by Vivienne Westwood, rebranded several times
Image Source: worldsendshop.co.uk

Store Design in 2017

: Interestingly, the most commercially successful stores half a century ago were the ones that were directly associated with an aspired lifestyle or delivered a strong social message. Consequently, they had clear positioning and a brand message that people could identify with. This is also true when planning and designing retail concepts today.

Today, branding and the communication of a strong message keep playing an important role in retail design. The products themselves, in comparison with 50 years ago, have a slightly lesser importance. Consumers purchase products because they identify themselves with and support a brand and its message. The customer experience and use of technology where customers can interact with the brand and product are additional crucial aspects for retail design concepts.

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Opening Soon! The Mission Fresh Grill Flagship Store at China World Mall

February 28, 2017

A long awaited new concept will soon open its doors in China World Mall at the end of March. Tapping into the quickly developing fast-casual dining market focusing on healthy food choices, The Mission Fresh Grill will provide American style grill options like burritos and tacos to local consumers. The focus of the brand is to provide customers with the highest quality food that is prepared with traditional culinary cooking methods: The food is served at its peak freshness for an on-the-go/active lifestyle customer in a friendly and inviting luxury environment.

The Mission Fresh Grill will open in the latest building of Beijing’s China World Mall that will be home to a variety of both new and well-known retail brands, restaurants, and bars as well as a karaoke place. Different from buildings 1, 2 and 3 of the mall, China World 3B was designed with more open spaces – many restaurants, bars and clubs will have their own terraces. This new building is projected to become a new center where people meet and go out, and compete with the well-known Sanlitun area which is still the favorite choice of Beijingers to meet for a coffee, dinner, or drinks.

What is The Mission Fresh Grill?

Founded by people from Seattle and Beijing who have more than 20 years of experience in the restaurant business, the owners aim to bring a new healthy “American-style” lifestyle to China. This American brand is unique to Beijing and offers a menu full of cool international flavors from breakfast burritos and bowls to some of the best taco's in Beijing. The Mission Fresh Grill sets itself apart through their executive chef curated menu, high-quality healthy proteins with no antibiotics or GMO additives, and with a customer experience that will set the bar for restaurants in China.

The Design Concept

The restaurant design concept of the brand is based on values like health, freshness and the color of the ingredients. While there is a common theme, each location is designed individually and adapted to its environment. At China Word Mall, the owners and the mall wanted the store design to have a cool vibe and an artistic feel. While the abundant natural wood and high quality materials focus on the healthy aspects of the brand, the stainless steel kitchen emphasizes important values such as the high quality of the ingredients and hygiene. The fun open kitchen allows customers to view the culinary food preparation process while food is customized to perfection. Customized metal elements, a wall sculpture, and intelligent lighting communicate the origin, positioning and depth of the restaurant brand.

The Mission Fresh Grill at China World mall is the first of many stores of the brand. A restaurant besides Beijing Chaoyang Park will open in the next months, and a location in Sanlitun is being planned. Further steps may take the brand to Shanghai.

With its many delicious food choices and sophisticated yet relaxed environment, The Mission Fresh Grill might just be the right place to go when dining while catching up with friends, meeting with business associates or just sitting down for a quiet bite while catching up on social media and work.

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Understanding China: Strategic Retail Design

February 27, 2017

International retail brands that come to China have high expectations. Unfortunately, they often also have a couple of misconceptions. The retail market in China is different from Europe, North America, as well as all other countries. Retail design concepts need to be adapted accordingly. The local market presents its own challenges and brands need to adapt. Consumers are more sophisticated then brands often anticipate, and retailers have to outcompete other brands through a strong brand identity that is promoted together with an associated lifestyle. In this article we line out the most important points that you need to know when planning to open retail stores in China.

" Store Design Concepts in China need to make a strong statement "

1. Financial Investment

China is not a cheap country any more. Some of the costs associated to entering and operating in the country’s tier 1 cities like Beijing or Shanghai (store rents, salaries, advertising) are close to those brands would have to pay in Europe and the US. Retailers who want to come to China do have to make a certain financial commitment and invest for the long term.

2. Sophistication of Retail Consumers

The days where companies can sell anything and products are bought just because they are European or American – the period often also named the “Golden Age” for foreign companies in China - are over. Consumers are smart, compare choices, and travel abroad. Chinese do not pay a premium price for products and brands that are not well known and do not succeed in communicating superior value that justifies a higher price.

3. Importance of the Brand

In China, a strong brand is everything. We are often surprised that some of the retail brands we work with cannot answer basic questions about the brand positioning and brand personality. What is your brand message? What is your unique value proposition as compared to competitors? Do whom do you want to sell?

Products without a clearly defined brand that is communicated consistently throughout all marketing channels (retail design, advertisements, editorials, print material, etc.) will not sell. In China, more than anywhere else, consumers purchase products because they like a brand, not because they like the product or its functionalities. If the brand is perceived as “cool”, the products will sell.

4. Promotion of Lifestyle and High Impact Retail Design:

In addition to the importance of the development of a strong brand image, brands often forget that while consumers might be familiar with the products and the associated lifestyle in their home country, Chinese consumers might know nothing about it. This applies especially to all non-traditional retail products, like bijoux (trendy jewelry that has no investment value and is made of less expensive materials other than precious metals or precious stones), and lifestyle related products (binoculars, pens, travel accessories), for example. Since locals have not grown up with these “hobbies” (the majority of people was suffering hunger 30 years ago and the government-controlled market only opened up to international retail products in 2005), extensive education and promotion of the respective lifestyle are required before consumers understand how the mentioned products can be used and why they should be bought.

Retail design in China therefore has to be essentially different from more traditional retail concepts that are successful in the West: Store design concepts have to focus on the customer experience and showcase the attractiveness of the brand and the related lifestyle. Stores should never look traditional and conservative; instead they have to be bright, modern, dynamic and “cool”. Chinese consumers like to enter spaces that are different and have a high visual appeal; they aspire the lifestyle that a certain store communicates. If the store design is right, the product will be purchased.

5. Technology, Continuous Redefinition and Change

A last, very important point to acknowledge and integrate into a brand’s strategy for China is the constant, advanced use of new technologies of Chinese as well as the fast pace with which the market changes. LED screens, monitors, and technologic support has become the standard in stores in China. Brands have to continue to develop, grasp the trends and changes in the market and adapt their retail concept. While the core of the brand should remain the same, facets of the identity that are also expressed in the latest retail design concepts have to evolve. Brands are like people – they have a complex personality and are required to become more mature with experience.

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Trends in the Outdoor Sports Retail Sector: ISPO 2017

February 22, 2017

The 13th International Sports Trading Show (ISPO Beijing 2017), the largest yearly international exhibition of outdoor sports and fashion brands, took place in Beijing from February 15th to 18th. This year’s exhibition attracted 502 exhibitors and 728 brands to show their products.

Being one of the fastest growing segments of the retail market in China (and everywhere else in the world), brands are evolving and developing innovative products at a rapid pace. The following trends were observed at this year’s exhibition:

1. Products are becoming lighter, smaller, more colorful and thus not only suitable for outdoor aficionados but the mass consumers.

2. Branding plays an increasingly important role. The competition is increasing with more brands entering the market, retailers thus need to build brand loyalty.

3. Outdoor fashion brands can be classified into two types: 1) The ones focusing on premium product quality and professional equipment that have a modern and clean exhibition stand design. 2) Brands that appeal to a broad customer range and therefore heavily invest into the development of marketing materials as well as stylish, sometimes colorful exhibition stand designs that create a high visual impact.

4. Chinese brands have discovered this market and offer medium quality products at more or less reasonable prices.

A number of Austrian brands showcased their products including snowboards, binoculars, skis equipment and skiwear in the Advantage Austria Pavillion. Besides the Austrian Pavillion, people could also visit the French, Korean, and Australian Pavillion.

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Interview "Design to Achieve Business Goals" with The Business Cuisine

January 26, 2017

We are proud to have been invited to an interview with The Business Cuisine, a platform focusing on entrepreneurship and innovation in the Food & Beverage industry in China. Denise Chen, founder of The Business Cuisine, sat down with Barbara Seidelmann, founder and managing director of 5 Star Plus Retail Design, to discuss how retail design should be used by brands to achieve their strategic business goals.

Key points to take away from the interview are that design needs to be very functional, fulfill the business requirements and should be planned strategically. Often enough, store designs do not have a comprehensive enough understanding of the retailer's or restaurants' operational processes and focus on the aesthetic aspects only. When starting to develop a store design concept, both owners and designers first have to be clear on the business concept, the positioning, target customers and the marketing strategy before thinking about how to translate the brand concept into a three-dimensional space.

The interview is available in the form of a 40-minutes podcast at The Business Cuisine (http://www.thebusinesscuisine.com/5starplus/).

If you have questions, comments or feedback on our interview, please send us an email to retail.consulting@5starplusdesign.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

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2017 – An Outlook on Color Trends in Retail Design

January 22, 2017

As mentioned in our previous blog post "The Significance of Color in Retail Store Design" back in July, color plays a significant role in retail design to communicate a brand's personality, create a mood and stimulate purchases. Yet where do the preferences for certain colors come from? Much of the emotional response to colors comes from deep within us as an instinct. However, colors applied in interior design also reflect times, societal or political changes or the economic climate. Think of the earthy colors of the 1960ies which were inspired by the hippie movement, or the neon colors of the 1980ies, as examples. With this in mind, it becomes even more important to understand this year's color trends and associated effects on retail design concepts.

We have summarized the expert opinions and selected "color of the year" from the leading organizations in this field. 2016 was a year with many political and economic changes, in consequence, the color choices in 2017 seem to reflect a desire for calmness and peace, as well as a return to and appreciation for nature.

Dulux's Color of the Year 2017 - Denim Drift

Dulux's color of the year 2017 is known as "Denim Drift", which tells the story of 'life in a new light'. It is a color palette with ten stunning shades of blue. Although their color trend palettes were designed around household, these palettes are also applicable and effective within retail store design.

" 2017全球色彩趋势:生活,另眼相看 "
Image Source: dulux

Apart from blue being the world's favourite color, it is also a color that generates positive emotional response. Blue gives the feeling of calmness, happiness, and comfort, which are the feelings that most retailers should provide to their customers. According to the Creative Director at Dulux, Marianne Shilingford, to suit the style and personality of a space, five of the shades are cleaner, and have brighter tones that gives a bigger visual impact. Meanwhile, the other five are more muted and atmospheric, which tones visual impact down. This palette provides a lot of flexibility on how a space looks and feels as it can be combined with various elements, and subtly change under different light conditions.

" Hugo Boss Store Retail Design "
Image Source: Interior Design Portfolio

PPG's Hottest Color of the Year 2017 - Violet Verbena

PPG's choice of the hottest color of the year is confirmed! Violet Verbena is the color of the year 2017. The color is a muted lavender tone that works well in elegant spaces yet also creates a bit of warmth. Mr. Dee Schlotter, Senior marketing manager at PPG which specializes on innovative industrial surfaces, described Violet Verbena as a both modern and nostalgic color tone.

" Our Color of the Year 2017: Violet Verbena "
Image Source: PPG The Voice of Color

Dee Schlotter said: "We are seeing this shade of violet on the runway in fashion, retail design and in textiles for the commercial and residential segments." Violet is a color associated with spirituality. It promotes mental balance and resolve, while at the same time also being ambiguous, mystical and magical. Violet has a strong meditative effect and stimulates our imagination, inspires and motivates us to try out new things. With its calm and sophisticated look, Violet Verbena is definitely a color that makes a statement.

" Our Color of the Year 2017: Violet Verbena "
Image Source: PPG The Voice of Color

Pantone's Color of the Year 2017 – Greenery

With the development of its comprehensive color system, Pantone has been inspiring the colorful exploration and expression of creativity for more than 50 years. Pantone's color of the year 2017 is Greenery.

" Pantone Unveils Color of the Year 2017: PANTONE 15-0343 Greenery "
Image Source: PANTONE

Green has always been associated with spring, emerging life and lush vegetation. As the color of annual renewal and triumph of spring over the cold winter, green symbolizes hope and immortality. The root of the word green lies in the old Germanic word ghro, which means as much as growing and prospering.

" Pantone Unveils Greenery as Color of the Year 2017 "
Image Source: The luxPad

The color green strengthens concentration, stimulates creativity and promotes tolerance. It creates peace and harmony and conveys a sense of balance and satisfaction. The color is also helpful for physical regeneration; walks in nature help us gather new inner strength. In retail design concepts, green creates dynamic in otherwise more traditional spaces, conveys a young and stylish touch or communicates a focus on health aspects for certain brands.

" Leafy Concept Fashion Store by King George Gives Belgians a Glimpse of their Horticultural Heritage "
Image Source: Inhabitat

At 5 Star Plus Retail Design, we appreciate the three chosen "colors of the year" for their subtle elegance, sophistication, and the positive atmosphere they create. Denim Drift, Violet Verbena and Greenery are all great choices of accent color for store design concepts. We are looking forward to seeing how brands will implement these beautiful colors in their retail stores this year and will keep you updated.

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The Importance of Fitting Room Design in a Retail Space

January 9, 2017

As many shoppers have been transitioning to online shopping over the past few years, there have been arguments about how brick-and-mortar shopping will soon cease to exist. However, brick-and-mortar shopping is definitely staying, especially for apparel retail stores, where personal service and fitting rooms provide a shopping experience that is not available online. Most shoppers still have similar preferences of being able to personally see, touch, feel, and try on a product before making a purchasing decision online or in-store.

Image Source: Kristen Loken

Many retailers often overlook the importance of the fitting room experience of shoppers, and do not realize that the fitting room does actually impact retail performance. Fitting rooms are known as the small-but-mighty area of any retail store as they are one of the key elements that lead to the increase of sales and decrease in returns. This is due to the fact that most purchasing decisions are made when shoppers like what they see in the fitting room.

Image Source: Triibe

Fitting rooms are an important part of a brand's store design. The key elements to a brilliant fitting room design are the lighting, mirror, size and color.

It is best to use neutral white lighting, and have multiple lights on the ceiling, or lighting panels down on each side of the mirror. This will not only reflect a real life flattering impression on the customer, but also improve the fitting room experience as the perfect level and quality of lighting will avoid casting awkward and ugly shadows on the customer.

For fitting room mirrors, retailers should never have doubts to invest in large and high-quality mirrors made from high-grade glass and materials. While it may be costlier, high-quality mirrors will provide a more natural and realistic reflection, compared to cheap mirrors that have a misrepresenting and unnatural reflection.

As for the size and color, it is best not to have a small fitting room that makes customers feel confined and unable to have a full view of what they are wearing. Additionally, the colors of a fitting room should not clash with the lighting. It is also safer to use more neutral colors to make a fitting room look even more attractive.

" J&M Davidson's new London boutique on Mount Street "
Image Source: Wallpaper

Different types of fitting room designs can give different effects and results on shoppers who are trying on clothes. A fitting room design with harsh lighting, bad quality mirrors, or an odd color, may result in making customers look unflattering. Hence, preventing them from making a purchasing decision as they do not like what they see in the fitting room.

" The Pelican Studio Concept Store "
Image Source: Yellowtrace

On the other hand, some fitting room designs that unintentionally mislead customers to look better that they would in the natural daylight may come across as 'too perfect'. Although this kind of fitting rooms may manipulate shoppers to purchase the product, however, shoppers may feel deceived by the retailer, and will not be a returning or loyal shopper to that retailer anymore.

Image Source: Pinterest

Therefore, retailers should ensure that their fitting room designs stands between these two extremes, in order to gain a successful transaction whenever a customer walks out of the fitting room.

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SwissCham Night 2016 by Swiss Chamber of Commerce in China

December 23, 2016

On December 9, 2016, SwissCham Beijing hosted the 2nd edition of "SwissCham Night" at Hilton Hotel Beijing. 5 Star Plus Retail Design acted as proud visual sponsor at the event, which both celebrated the end of yet another successful business year for Swiss companies in China as well as the 20 years anniversary since the chamber's foundation. As visual sponsor, 5 Star Plus Retail Design developed the event's visual identity including the design of the key visual, backdrop, menu, tickets, and signage, among others. The creation of a festive atmosphere was important; further inspiration for the event design concept was the timeline from 1996 to 2016. We are looking forward to celebrating the next exciting 20 years of SwissCham in China.

Image Source: swisscham.org
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What's New for 2016 Christmas Decorations

December 21, 2016


In the past, candles were the only available option as a decorative light for Christmas. Although it was a beautiful sight to admire, it was a dangerous and risky method. After centuries, technological advancement led to the introduction of LED lighting and has since maintained to be people's main choice of decorative light. This year, apart from the traditional decorations using LED lights, some countries are using LED projections, which are controlled by a remote system. In New Taipei City, Taiwan, stands a 36m tall 360° 3D LED Christmas tree that is able to project anything that is input into the system that controls it. This Christmas tree is also part of Taiwan's largest and longest 3D projection light show.

" Five best places in Taiwan to celebrate Christmas "
Image Source: Taiwan News


A more sparkling and extravagant decoration that can be used are Swarovski ornaments or crystals. This Christmas, residing under the famous QVB dome in Sydney, Australia, there is a spectacular 24m QVB Swarovski Christmas Tree decorated with over 82,000 sparkling Swarovski crystals and 65,000 twinkling LED lights. In Joy City Mall, Beijing, the Christmas tree is a steel structure in a spiral shape, and is decorated with lines of hanging Swarovski elements.

Image Source: QVB

Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

Scaffolding & Dummies

This year's Christmas decoration in one of Beijing's luxury malls, Parkview Green, is quite unique and different from the common Christmas decorations in Beijing malls. At first glance, we thought that it was incomplete and still under construction. However, after taking a closer look, it can be seen that the mall is using scaffolding (a temporary structure that is commonly used in construction), dummies dressed as construction workers, and also wrapped gifts under Christmas trees, as part of their decoration. The scaffolding is attached with an elevated green walkway and staircase that allows the public to walk around and have a closer look at the decorations.

Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

Recyclable Materials

This special looking Christmas 'tree' is located inside a suburban mall in Singapore. The mall decided to go with a recycling theme for this festive season, as the mall wants to encourage the community to protect the environment and go green. The mall is contributing their part by constructing part of the 7m-tall tree with 2,100 plastic spoons, recycled raffia string, gold tinsel and trash bags. Apart from the traditional elements on the tree such as teddy bears, gold ribbons, and gift boxes, there are six glowing ornaments at the base, where each of it is made from 350 plastic spoons. The quirky looking hat that completes the tree represents a star, and is made up of 13 rolls of raffia string, trash bags and gold tinsel.

" Christmas trees with a twist "
Image Source: Strait Times

Themed Window Displays

One of New York's best holiday window displays for 2016 is at Saks Fifth Avenue, New York. Saks adopted a very sweet magical theme this year called, "Land of 1000 Delights". It includes stunning landscapes of colorful candy such as jumbo swirl lollipops, whipped cotton candy, and heaps of rock candy, and festive fashion. The colors used for this year's spectacular window display are mostly, pink, blue, purple and all the other candy colors that bring out everyone's inner child. Saks also has 6 of "The Nutcracker Sweet" themed animated windows that boast enchanting winter scenes among a luscious wonderland, including a journey over the candy cane countryside.

" See photos of this year's holiday window display at Saks Fifth Avenue "
Image Source: Time Out
" See photos of this year's holiday window display at Saks Fifth Avenue "
Image Source: Time Out
" See photos of this year's holiday window display at Saks Fifth Avenue "
Image Source: Time Out

The holiday windows of the famous luxury department in Paris, Galeries Lafayette, adopted an "Arctic Christmas" theme, where the main idea is to spread climate change awareness. Display windows are filled with paper cutouts in the form of intricate, snip-snipped patterns and masterfully constructed origami. The one-of-a-kind design tells the extraordinary tale of the famous family of polar bears who discover an incredible new ice pack for them to play on.

" Artic Windows: All-in-White Christmas Celebration "
Image Source: Galeries Lafayette
" Artic Windows: All-in-White Christmas Celebration "
Image Source: Galeries Lafayette
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British Chamber of Commerce in China Christmas Party

December 19, 2016

November and December are months filled with holidays and festivities - Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year. During this special time, organizations review the year and celebrate achievements. The chambers of commerce are no exception. On December 2nd, the British Chamber of Commerce in China hosted a Christmas Party designed to impress their guests at Rosewood hotel.

5 Star Plus had the privilege to concept and implement the event design. The theme of the Christmas Party being "mystery", key elements designed included a lighting cave, a Santa Grotto and Christmas lighting in the ball room. A unique spatial experience was developed with custom-designed feature lighting, trees with snow, antique street lamps and lanterns, forming mystic pathways that led to the Santa Grotto where promotional gifts were placed. The Santa Grotto was decorated with a sledge, street lamps, and a fire place. Two well-designed backdrops and appropriate lighting were important functional elements of the event design concept.

We were glad to see that the event design was used as a backdrop for taking a large number of pictures and that guest enjoyed the event.

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How Retail Stores Can Outcompete Online Retailers

November 30, 2016

In today's technology-driven world, more and more customers are discovering and enjoying the convenience of e-commerce. Large e-commerce companies such as Amazon and Taobao are thriving from their ability to sell a wide range of products ranging anywhere from furniture to clothing to food at anytime and anywhere. More and more customers seem to be choosing online shopping because of its ease and, oftentimes, cheaper prices. So how can retail stores compete with this growing online market? For years, retailers believed they needed to economize the shopping process, making the process faster and prices cheaper, in order to keep their customers. More recent findings, however, show that a highly effective alternative solution is to offer customers certain services and experiences they cannot receive from shopping online. Instead of speeding up the shopping process, retail stores should slow it down and allow customers to spend more time in stores.

What is slow shopping

This solution is readily embodied by the concept of slow shopping. Supporters of the slow shopping phenomenon believe that shopping in a retail store should be a leisurely experience where customers are not overwhelmed by the pressure to buy something. A recent report by the Wall Street Journal reveals that customers who spend more time in a store are more likely to purchase products and spend more money because these stores are able to offer customers an experience that exceeds a simple transaction of goods. Boston Consulting Group's survey of over 1,000 people also supports the notion that people are more willing to spend money on experiences than solely luxury products. As a result, retailers looking to trump online competitors should offer a store design and customer service team that turns shopping into an experience, something that online retailers will not be able to provide.

Slow shopping store design

One example of a store design that transforms shopping into an experience is Club Monaco. Club Monaco's new flagship store design in New York City largely promotes slow shopping. The layout of this store encourages customers to calmly browse through Club Monaco's newest line, while stopping by its floral shop, quaint library, or coffee shop to rest and take in all that the store has to offer. The atmosphere that this store design creates does not pressure customers to quickly purchase a few items and leave. In fact, Caroline Belhumeur, Club Monaco's SVP of women's design explains, "We want to create an area you want to hang out in". More than simply clothes, Club Monaco aims to offer its customers an experience that reveals the connections between food, music, art, travel, fashion, photography, and the clothing designs that they inspire. The experience that Club Monaco's store design provides its customers is one that is impossible to find online, and, as a result, keeps customers coming back.

" Shop the Look: Club Monaco's Flagship Store "
Image Source: Savvy Home Decor & Lifestyle
" Flatiron Espresso Bar "
Image Source: Toby's Estate
" New to our 5th Ave Flagship: Putnam & Putnam flowers "
Image Source: Little Black Dog Studios

Like Club Monaco, another popular retailer who has successfully vamped up its retail design to keep customers in stores for longer is Lululemon. In fall 2015, Lululemon opened its largest retail store in New York City. This flagship store design boasts not only the greatest selection of Lululemon apparel and accessories, but also a high-tech digital board and lounge area called Hub Seventeen. The digital board quickly shows customers which workout studios, places to eat, and things to do are nearby. Customers are also able to book workout sessions at their favorite studio or dinner reservations at their favorite restaurant using this digital board. Hub Seventeen offers a space for customers to attend various workout-related workshops hosted by Lululemon, watch new independent films, and catch up on work. As a result of its layout and design, this Lululemon flagship location is able to offer its customers a number of services and a slow shopping experience that they cannot find online.

" Lululemon Debuts Its First US Flagship Store Concept "
Image Source: Well and Good
" Lululemon Opens Its Largest Store Ever in Manhattan's Flatiron District "
Image Source: Well and Good
" Smart Mirrors Transform Retail "
Image Source: Antedote

Slow shopping customer services

In addition to its slow shopping-oriented store design, this Lululemon retail location also offers a concierge service that is happy to provide customers with a wide scope of services, such as same-day delivery of products to your house and booking sessions at a local workout studio and making dinner reservations at restaurants even when they are full to the public. Lululemon's all-inclusive customer service not only elongates the amount of time its customers spend in stores and the amount of products that each customer purchases, but also promotes a lifestyle for its brand.

" Lululemon Has Unveiled its New Store of the Future "
Image Source: Business Insider UK

Retail brand and identity

Another positive aspect of a store design that promotes slow shopping is that it gives stores more space to develop a brand image and even a brand lifestyle. Through the store design and atmosphere, customers can better understand the brand's message and outlook. For example, in Club Monaco's store design, Club Monaco is able to successfully portray itself as a chic, upscale brand whose customers are elegant and successful young adults. Lululemon's flagship store design made it clear that Lululemon is not just an athletic and "athleisure" apparel brand, but also a lifestyle and community that support healthy living and fitness in the context of daily life.

Overall, the slow shopping solution provides retail stores a competitive edge against many online retailers. Slow shopping retail store designs give customers a more relaxed atmosphere to shop in, which is proven to influence customers to spend more money. This is not to say, however, that stores should achieve a slow shopping environment by slowing down customer services and check out lines. On the contrary, retail stores should be able to provide customers with various services that they cannot find online. Lastly, these slow shopping store designs are more conducive to showcasing a brand's image and identity to its customers.

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"Winter in Austria – Europe's No. 1 Event" by Austrian National Tourist Office

November 29, 2016

Austrian National Tourist Office (ANTO) held a one-of-a-kind press event at Kerry Hotel on November 15th. Making a huge impact, the purpose of the occasion was to promote Austria as the top destination for winter holidays. The event was attended by high ranking representatives from the Austrian Embassy, Advantage Austria, Austrian National Tourist Office, Austrian businesses in the winter sports sector such as Fischer and Northland as well as important Chinese media in the travel sector.

5 Star Plus Retail Design was invited to design and implement the event which took place outdoors to recreate a winter atmosphere. Key element of the event design was a photo wall decorated by tree branches and props like a swing, a sledge, ski helmets and jackets for the guests to wear. Some of the elements were sponsored by Austrian winter sports brands to showcase their products. Photos were taken by an international photographer, shared online and printed out to be placed in branded frames. Additional dynamic elements were a huge screen showing ANTO's winter promotion video as well as colored lightning, partly in the shape of snowflakes. As gifts for the guests we arranged for red blankets, snowflake shaped hand warmers and typical folkloric ginger bread. We were glad to hear that the media response to the event was very strong and look forward to the next ANTO activities.

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Visual Coherence - How to Create a Strong Corporate Visual Identity For Your Business

October 31, 2016

The corporate visual identity includes all visible elements related to a brand. It is one of the main pillars of a company’s corporate identity. Other pillars, for example, are corporate communication, corporate philosophy or corporate behavior. However, we as 5 Star Plus Retail Design are experts in creating a corporate visual identity. In the following paragraphs we will define what corporate visual identity exactly is and explain the key elements of a coherent design. Also, we picked out a few inspiring visual identity design concepts.

What does the customer see?

Basically a company’s VI is visible to anyone, anytime and anywhere. Whilst a corporate behavior, for example, can only be experienced by clients who are in touch with you during hours of operation, the corporate visual identity does its job 24/7. Therefore it is important to define, what exactly part of the VI is. Generally, it includes the presentation and style of all communication tools that are being used. For example, business paper, business cards, company logo, promotional material, brochures and packaging as well as the products themselves. Additionally, the website should be aligned with the visual identity design. In broader sense, also buildings, color schemes and dress codes can be part of a brand’s VI. Especially, a uniform dress is worth considering for staff members who are involved in personal customer communication.

As a one-stop service provider offering branded retail design, store design, consulting and project management services to international luxury and retail brands our own visual identity is very important to us.

Key elements of a coherent visual design

At first glance the name of a brand seems to have nothing to do with the visual part. But think again, a brand name should not just sound right, and also looked right. Does the name suit the design you are aiming for? If so, choose your design and be consistent. Whether the style is romantic, classic or modern, a compelling logo is essential. It is a brand’s most important visual element. In the next step, at least 2 corporate colors should be chosen. If you want to know more about the significance of colors, check out our blog article that has been recently posted. As a final step, make sure that typography matches your brand name, design, colors and most importantly, transports the message you want to communicate.

" JP Graziano branding & packaging "
Image Source: retail design blog

JP Grazino is one of the oldest and most famous Italian grocery stores in Chicago. In their corporate visual identity design they are emphasizing the company’s history of almost 80 years. White, green and orange are clearly their corporate colors and easily recognizable in this combination.

" Maison Dandoy visual identity "
Image Source: retail design blog

Brussels’s most famous bakery created an amazing visual identity with the simple combination of white, gold and a bit of black. What is especially interesting about this design is that the package does not look like a regular biscuit box; it more looks like a present.

Corporate visual identity is only one piece of the puzzle of a company’s overall appearance but its influence is tremendous. An inappropriate visual identity can destroy the image of a brand. A good visual identity underlines professionalism and gives businesses a significant competitive advantage. If you are currently developing the VI concept for your retail business or got inspired to re-design it, do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We will be happy to support you and create a tailor-made solution.

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Si Simply Italian Grand Opening

October 27, 2016

We would like to cordially invite you to the Opening Event of Simply Italian SI Restaurant at D2 Two in Hong Kong Kowloon this Saturday evening. Join us for an evening with delicious Italian cuisine and fine wines!

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How Background Music Can Make Your Customers Spend More Money

October 20, 2016

Oftentimes background music is easily overlooked by customers and storeowners. As consumers, we are concerned with the products that we can buy. As designers and storeowners, we are more concerned with the store's layout design. However, background music cannot be ignored. It has the power to make customers stay longer, spend more money, and even purchase products at a faster rate. It gives storeowners the means to directly influence their customer's buying behavior. As a result, it is important for retail stores to fully understand the power and effects that background music has on its business.

Benefits of background music

The benefits of background music far exceed what people may expect. In fact, one study shows that playing appreciated music in a store influences 35% of the people to stay longer, 31% of the people to re-visit, 21% of the people to recommend the place to a friend, and 14% of the people to buy more. Background music has the power to boost customer satisfaction by making customers more patient while they wait in line or when customer service is slow. Background music's ability to influence customers' moods, dispositions, and perceptions is a powerful tool that businesses should be aware of and understand.

Music that makes customers spend more money

Studies have shown that classical music, more so than any other genre of music, will influence customers to spend more. This works on two levels. First, classical music gives off an air of luxury. In other words, when customers are listening to classical music, they subconsciously perceive the store's products as more high-end and made with better quality, even if the products have not changed. Second, classical music can spark customers to develop a richer and more classical taste in products, motivating them to spend more money.

" Cartier-flagship-store-Via-Montenapoleone-Milan "
Image Source: CPP-Luxury.com

These findings, however, do not imply that all retail stores should play classical music to increase sales. In fact, playing classical music in some retail settings would negatively impact customer satisfaction and sales. In stores that are marketed as fast, convenient, or cost-friendly, classical music will compel customers to believe that the store is too expensive or too high-end for what they are looking for. So while playing classical music at a luxury leather shoe store can boost the number of sales, playing classical music at a low-cost store, such as H&M, would not.

Music tailored to your customer's age

A customer's age plays an important role in how they perceive and react to different types of music. First and foremost, a business must identify the main demographic of its customer base because different age groups have different preferences. One important difference is that young adults prefer music that is slightly louder, while middle age and older adults prefer music that is softer. This is an important distinction to make because 82% of surveyors say that it is important for a shop to play music at the right volume. One example of a retail store that plays the right music for its customers is Guess. Guess often holds events where they invite popular DJs to perform in their stores to entertain and satisfy their young customers.

" Wovns: GUESS to Partner with TIËSTO "
Image Source: Jazarah!

On the other hand, a store with an older customer demographic, such as the home goods store Williams-Sonoma, should play softer music in order to suit the tastes of its older customer demographic.

" Williams-Sonoma Market Test "
Image Source: flatev

Music that makes customers linger

A number of studies have shown that the longer a customer spends in a store, the more likely they are to buy more products. As a result, background music is the secret weapon store owners can use to make their customers shop in their store for a longer period of time and, therefore, purchase more products. Nevertheless, it is equally important to consider what type of business you would like to portray yourself as and which type of customers you would like to attract. For example, a busy cafe may want their customers to purchase and eat their meals quickly, so that other customers do not have to wait for a table.

" Cafe Gratitude LA "
Image Source: foragetofeast.withtank

Overall, while customers may not pay much attention to the background music that a store plays, businesses should carefully select the type of background music they play in their store and understand how to use background music to its highest potential. There is no universal background music that can work for all stores. In reality, it is businesses must first understand whom their customers are before deciding what background music to use to enhance customer satisfaction and sales. Background music is a tool that gives you the power to impact your customers' behaviors, happiness, and willingness to spend money, so use it wisely.

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Store Design: Innovative Materials with High-end Retail Appeal

September 27, 2016

A person's choice of materials is an expression of who they are. So when it comes to retail design, the materials you use can be seen as an expression of your brand identity and should reflect how you want your customers to feel and act when they enter and explore your premises. Here we have identified materials, ranging from the conventional to the innovative, that you might consider for your future high-end retail design.

1. Stainless Steel

The great thing about stainless steel is that it can take on many forms. It can be used to make a setting look modern and polished and depending on the finishing provide a sense of warmth or coolness. Elements can be linked together to create chain mails or even woven into screens, for example. At Côte & Ciel, a backpack store in Hong Kong, it is used to create poles, among other types of metal, against stone to express 'nature vs. urbanity' and functioning as a tool for displaying their products.

" Côte&Ciel store by Linehouse, Hong Kong "
Image Source: Retail Design Blog
" Côte&Ciel store by Linehouse, Hong Kong "
Image Source: Retail Design Blog

At 5 Star Plus Retail Design, we implemented a three-dimensional look with a layer of stainless steel mesh in front of painted walls in our fashion store design project ORA.

" Fashion Store Design, ORA "
Image Source: 5 Star Plus
" Fashion Store Design, ORA "
Image Source: 5 Star Plus

2. Innovative Woven Fabrics by Wovns

Digital platform Wovns has developed an on demand weaving process that allows designers to order patterned Jacquard fabric in quantities as small as a single yard by weaving multiple designs as one continuous piece of fabric, so the loom doesn't need to be reconfigured before each one. The company's co-founder Dena Molnar said she was inspired by the rise of digital fabrication in fields like architecture and industrial design.

" Wovns: Woven Textiles on Demand "
Image Source: Kickstarter

3. Laminated Glass

Laminated glass is made of various flat products sandwiched between two sheets of glass which can result in a high end, pressed look. Mona, a salon in Oyama, Japan uses laminated glass with thin glass fibres embedded inside which transmit light resulting in a crystal-like appearance.

" Mona beauty salon by GRIP&Co, Oyama – Japan "
Image Source: Retail Design Blog

4. Woven Resin

Although many people would most likely immediately associate this material with garden furniture, it has been redefined by indoor features such as this 3D surface wall treatment from 3-Form. This was once only seen in commercial projects but has now become popular in residences and could easily be seen soon in retail. This feature is extremely easy to install and also has strong acoustical properties.

" Design West "
Image Source: Houzz

5. Piñatex

New materials company Ananas Anam is using pineapple waste to create a material that is an animal friendly alternative to leather. The material uses cellulose fibers extracted from pineapple leaves. The strands are then separated and felted together into a non-woven fabric that is breathable and flexible. It is ideal for seating as it adjusts to your body temperature due to its pours and ability to breathe. Much like real leather, it is very versatile but due to its recent conception the current product range is limited. The potential for future applications however is undeniable.

" Piñatex – new materials for a new world "
Image Source: Active and Eco

Using any of the above materials appropriately could make your store, restaurant or bar stand out from the rest by creating a special atmosphere for your customers and emphasizing your brand identity.

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3 Tips for Designing your Retail Stores with Chinese Feng Shui

September 23, 2016

Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese art that was developed over 3000 years ago. Feng Shui principles focus on the positive flow of energy to create harmonious surroundings and affect people subconsciously. In the retail industry, a good Feng Shui design does not only improve the atmosphere in your retail store, but will also effectively increase sales. The following points explain how to optimize the flow of "qi", the energy, to draw customers into the retail store and stimulate sales.

Step Outside

Feng Shui design starts outside of the retail store. Take a closer look at your main entrance, shop window, neighbors and the environment around your store. A good Feng Shui retail store has a strong presence, an inviting shop window and a well-lit entrance. Ask yourself if you would like to enter to the store. If yes, where does your attention go to? Another way is to take pictures from different perspectives of your store entrance. Compare them and carefully check if you can find any signs of bad Feng Shui. For example, the front door should not be aligned with the back door; mirrors should not directly face the front entrance and the lightning should not be fluorescent. In case your front and back door are in alignment, try to arrange your displays in such a way that they hide the direct line from door to door. This is a very important step to avoid energy loss.

" Jimmy Choo Store by Christian Lahoude Studio, Xian – China "
Image Source: Retail Design Blog

Jimmy Choo's store in Xi'An is a great example of a good Feng Shui entrance. The front and back doors are not aligned, the shop window is inviting and the lightning is right on point. In addition, the store design uses curved glass walls framing the entrance doors which smoothens the flow of energy into the space.

Centralize Attention

One fascinating thing about Feng Shui is that you can influence your customers' focus and areas that are paid attention to by creating a path with the flow of energy. It is important that one big centralized element is visible right when entering the store. This avoids the feeling of being overwhelmed or distracted. Additionally, create some smaller sub-centers in your store that invite customers to explore. Design them individually so that the client experiences a journey of discovery. However, keep in mind that less is more. Make sure that there is still room to breathe. Useful tools for creating a path can be colors and lightning but also the triggering of all five senses. Details about colors, lightning and multi-sensory design in retail stores can be found in our recently posted articles:

The Significance of Color in Retail Store Design

Lighting: Vital for Successful Retail Store Designs

Multi-sensory design for retail – How to make the most of all five senses
" Christian Louboutin store by Household, Toronto – Canada "
Image Source: Retail Design Blog

The Louboutin store in Toronto perfectly realized the idea of creating a center and several individually designed sub-centers.

Make the Money Flow

Besides designing an inviting environment in your retail store, good Feng Shui can also increase your sales significantly. We already discussed the importance of the entrance. It is believed to be the "mouth of qi". In other words, it is where the energy enters your retail store. Therefore, the cash register should be close to the entrance. Another way to stimulate your sales is to use "lucky corners". The corners that are diagonal to the front door are perfect for displaying unique products, special offers or your most-profitable goods. Well-lit and decorated with some plants, they will spread energy and catch the attention of customers.

" Chevignon Corner at Galeries Lafayette by Stories, Paris – France "
Image Source: Retail Design Blog

Chevignon at Lafayette Paris uses the lucky corner by putting their most expensive products in the corner that is positioned diagonal to the entrance.

In conclusion, Feng Shui is all about guiding the energy flow. It is an ancient science and has been further developed over thousands of years. Although many Feng Shui principles are complex, we have summarized the main points into some easy-to-follow tips for you. Optimize the entrance of your retail store, bundle the attention, create paths and make use of the lucky corners. Having good Feng Shui is an ongoing process. Over time you will find out how to create the best path of energy through your store. And you will experience that if the "qi" flows, the money flows as well.

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Branding: How to Use Typography in Your Retail Store Design

September 19, 2016

The effective combination of words and a visual medium can be a powerful tool in retail design. This is called typography, an important aspect of retail design that you will have to use in some way. Either on your store front in order to let passers-by know who you are, on your product packaging to let customers know what your product is or elsewhere in the store to either display your brand or to assist the customer journey. When designing your retail store be unique and creative, yet always in line with your defined brand image and visual identity concept. This ensures gaining recognition from consumers with a strong and branded interior identity, also called store identity.

Use of an Appropriate Typeface

Using generic, commonly used fonts can suppress individualism and result in branding that allows consumers to confuse competitors with each other and make standing out from the crowd effectively impossible. Here are some simple yet successful examples of typography used on store fronts that are in line with the brand identity and draw the consumers' attention inside the store and towards the product.

" Retail Typography "
Image Source: RENA TOM

Typography in Graphic and Visual Identity Design

Typography is used primarily as a tool of communication; therefore you should use it to talk to your customers and make your point in a style that is in line with your brand image. It is also used for the purpose of organisation. For instance, to signal locations to customers and ease their efforts in finding what they are looking for. Here are some creative typography design examples used in packaging and graphic design that create eye catching, visually appealing products.

" Retail Typography "
Image Source: RENA TOM

The Importance of Simplicity

Despite what we said earlier about generic types of fonts; 15 of the top 20 retailers on the Fortune 500 list in the U.S. use the font Helvetica. This would suggest that there must be some value in keeping things simple and familiar for customers and consumers choose retailers and products based on neutrality and familiarity. Then again it could be argued that this only works for the large, well established brands who have already gained brand recognition in other ways over an extended period of time. Below are campaigns from Home Depot, Kohl's, JC Penny and Gap that all use Helvetica.

" 15 of the 20 most common shopping brands use Helvetica "
Image Source: FOUTS IN USE

Hand Drawn Typography

Hand drawn typography has seen a recent resurgence in retail. It is something that undeniably shows authenticity and allows retailers to connect with customers on an organic level - even if the result is sometimes a little rustic. Here are some light hearted examples.

" A clean slate. More on painting your shop display windows "
Image Source: RENA TOM
" Window Illustration for Ninety Nine "
Image Source: Behance
" THE RAW KITCHEN Typography, Branding, Graphic Design "
Image Source: Bronwyn Kan

Multilingual Typography

In an increasingly globalized world, the challenge of understanding foreign values and communication systems in order to make a multilingual setting for customers is one that has never been more relevant for designers and retailers than it is now. Type Hybrid, a book from Viction:ary proposes visual communication solutions in order to draw an international crowd whilst simultaneously remaining sensitive to various local cultures.

" Viction "
Image Source: Dexigner
" Viction "
Image Source: Twitter

There are countless methods to apply typography to retail store design. The main message to take away is to develop a clearly defined brand with both store and graphic design elements that are unique and enhance the brand.

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Opening Soon! SI Restaurant in Hong Kong

August 31, 2016

We are excited to announce that Hong Kong will soon have a new, one-of-a-kind Italian restaurant brand in Kowloon: “SI Restaurant”, a concept founded by several Italian nationals living in Hong Kong. The philosophy is “Simply Italian” – the work with high quality ingredients to produce authentic Italian dishes that are affordable to the wider public. The restaurant will offer antipasti, pasta, main courses and desserts prepared by their executive Chef Massimo Santovito in an open kitchen, and house its own bar.

" SI Simply Italian Restaurant "

We asked Mauro Molteni, one of the owners, the following questions:

1. Why did you decide to found “Simply Italian”?

We are a bunch of Italian friends with a great passion: enjoying life. For Italian people, good food and good wine are fundamental for this lifestyle, so we decided to open our own spot that reflects our idea of the dolce vita.

2. How is “SI Restaurant” different compared to other Italian restaurants in Hong Kong?

Our restaurant will use fresh ingredients from Italy that will be prepared by our talented chef Massimo Santovito and will be offered at very reasonable prices. There are many good Italian restaurants in Hong Kong, but very few in the area where we are opening: Lai Chi Kok.

" SI Simply Italian Restaurant "

3. What dish would you recommend customers in your restaurant?

This is a very difficult choice because I like everything our chef prepares! Our favorites are: Vitello Tonnato (cold sliced veal fillet with tuna, capers and mayonnaise sauce), Homemade gnocchi with Gorgonzola cheese and walnut sauce, Baked Italian sea bass and... the desserts, they are all delicious!

4. What was the most important aspect that you wanted to communicate with the restaurant design?

We want people who enter our restaurant to feel at home, no matter if they come for a fast meal during lunch time, for business, for a romantic dinner or for a family meal.

Our bar area will be great for some after work happy hour drinks (with free canapés at the counter), high quality Italian coffee or desserts.

Hygiene in our restaurant is very important; this is why we have a big open kitchen where we will prepare the food in front of our customers.

" SI Simply Italian Restaurant "

In terms of interior, the restaurant design had to express the core values of the brand including honesty, transparency, hospitality and happiness. At 5 Star Plus Retail Design, we were responsible for the restaurant design as well as the development of the brand’s visual identity. We created a bright and open environment with the use of abundant natural wood, light colors and patterns that represent Italian traditions. Key features of the space are the open kitchen, where fresh food is prepared in front of the customer, and the bar on the other side. Guests can sit inside or outside at the bar.

" SI Simply Italian Restaurant "
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What Retailers need to Know about Millenials - The Importance of Social Media

August 30, 2016

One might think now, aren’t Millennials the new generation that is addicted to their phones and buys everything online. Well, this might be true to some extent. Nonetheless, there are many reasons why retailers should cater especially to this technology driven generation because already in 2025 they will make up 75% of the total workforce around the world. In other words, they are today’s biggest consumer group. As this demographic group ages and starts to aim for higher career positions, their buying power will steadily increase. Here are 3 interesting facts that retailers should know about millennials.

“Face” social media

First, smartphones are the most frequently used tool to connect to the web and social media platforms. Second, 75% of millennials have at least one social media account. This is where they primarily get information about products, specials offers and trends. Messages sent through traditional advertising channels like print media and television do not reach millennials as well as messages sent through digital media. Third, 7 out 10 millennials react to a product, brand or company by liking, commenting, posting or sharing it on their social media account. As a result, retailers have to face the fact that there is no getting around having interesting and always up-to-date social media accounts. Of course this always depends on the field of business, but generally speaking one social media account is definitely not enough. It is also important to note that popular social media platforms are country specific. So while Facebook and Twitter are popular in Western countries, in China it is essential to have at least one WeChat or Weibo account. Maintaining these accounts requires effort but it will definitely pay off.

" How to Engage Millennials with Social Recruiting "
Image Source: Mobile Matrix

The above picture showed a brief overview about the most popular social media platforms among millennials.

Retail stores or e-commerce

Several studies about the purchasing behavior of millennials have shown that this consumer group is very sensible to price. One likely reason is that they are constantly tracking prices online. This does not mean that they are looking for another retail store where they can save money. In most cases, they are checking to see if the item is available online and if it’s cheaper than it is in stores. How can retailer stores compete in a never-ending Internet price competition? Simply, adjusting an items price in stores may be an option, but it does not fully solve the problem. Retailers must create value to their retail stores that millennials are unable to find on the World Wide Web.

Loyalty is royalty

The good news is that social media and the Internet have made millennials the most brand-loyal generation ever, giving retailers the opportunity to build a loyal customer base. In the future, retail loyalty will strongly depend on the degree of personalization because it must compete with the Internet’s ability to save all customer information and provide tailor-made solutions. Additionally, Retailers have the credit of the personal relationship, especially when it comes to sales conversations in fashion. The services provided by a good salesperson cannot be replaced by a computer. This is not to say that technological advances cannot support good customer services provided in stores.

Image Source: Design-milk

In a not too distant future, virtual fitting rooms will become a must-have in the retail world.

In conclusion, the Internet and social media are a blessing and a curse to the retail world. It is up to retailers to take advantage of it. Millennials are ubiquitous. Anyone born after 1977 belongs to this demographic. They make up the biggest consumer group in the world. In case you have never considered how millennial affect the retail world, we hope that this has inspired you to do so.

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3 New and Creative Product Packaging Design Trends That Stand Out On the Retail Shelf

August 23, 2016

In today’s world we receive tons of messages through various channels every day. As a result, we sometimes feel overwhelmed and unable process the information that we receive. A similar situation occurs in retail stores. Every product wants to stand out and attract the customer’s attention. However, this can overwhelm the customer with too much stimuli. As a result, product packaging design must have the right balance to be able to grab a customer’s attention without completely overwhelming them. Generally speaking the three most popular packaging trends are simple, authentic and old-fashioned designs.

1. Simple As That

There are many new trends in product packaging design in retail. One trend that particularly stands out is simplicity. Keeping a design simple does not necessarily mean that it lacks creativity. On the contrary, it requires a high degree of creativity to be able to successfully produce a design that allows customers to understand the purpose of the product and the brand that is behind it at one glance.

Image Source: thedieline

Trident brings simplicity to a new level. In this design, the chewing gum is shown as teeth and consumers can easily recognize that it is Trident gum. Hence, the product is self-explanatory.

" 50 Insanely Creative and Stunning Packaging Designs "
Image Source: designschool

This design by Munch’n is another creative example of simple product packaging design that clearly displays the product’s brand and purpose to customers.

2. As Real As It Gets

Of course, packing should show the product from its best side and emphasize the product’s benefits. However, it should not mislead the customer. If the packaging creates a desire for something the customer does not get this might result in disappointment. The product packaging design should authentically present the product, not a better alternative or version of the product. Authenticity is also an easy way to gain a competitive advantage. A product design that distinguishes itself through originality has a greater chance of staying in people’s mind.

" 6 rules for packaging design that will shine on the shelf"
Image Source: 99designs

This product packaging design perfectly demonstrates this trend of an authentic and memorable design.

Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

This product packing design by 5 Star Plus Retail Design accurately displays the product and brand identity of 9 Dan Flavor Bakery.

3. Old But Gold

Another emerging packaging design trend that came up this year is vintage packaging. Make the packaging look like it is has been handmade with love. This style is also very detail-oriented and almost mystical. Techniques such as letterpress, calligraphy and foiling are frequently used in order to get the vintage look. Metallic colors are also frequently used to put the final touch to the product.

" Shadow Beer "
Image Source: Packaging of the world

Shadow beer used to be just a student’s project. Thanks to their vintage-inspired product packaging design they have been mentioned in various media channels.

" BLACK & GOLD packaging "
Image Source: retaildesignblog

This product packaging design by ROZ Beauty draws in customers with its intricate details and vintage-style design.

Product packaging matters, more than ever before. Even though these 3 product packaging design trends in retail are completely different from each other they target the same audience. All of these packaging design trends captivate customers’ attention with their creativity. Simple, authentic and timeless designs definitely stand out on any retail store shelf. If you are considering outfitting your product with a new design you might be inspired by these top three packaging design trends.

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Multi-sensory design for retail – How to make the most of all five senses

August 12, 2016

A retail store is a physical manifestation of a brand, and the consumer’s perception of any given brand is built on multiple senses. Generally speaking, there are two types of consumer that will enter your store: the finders and the browsers. With research showing that the latter group is ultimately responsible for the highest percentage of sales, it is important that you focus your efforts on them by incorporating multi-sensory aspects to your retail design. A successful store design in large cities such as Shanghai and Beijing will allow you to make a bigger impact on sales and create the best possible brand experience.

Take Abercrombie & Fitch for example. Its combination of loud music, dim lighting, attractive staff and signature scent is perfect for appealing to their adolescent target market and persuading them to make spontaneous purchases in-store.

" Selldorf Architects: Abercrombie and Fitch Flagship "
Image Source: Pinterest


Impulse purchasing is primarily driven by what we see. There are many aspects to what we experience visually that can be used to influence our purchasing behaviour including colour, lighting, symmetry, balance, contrast and focus. A couple of these we have covered recently in our blog so we’ll refrain from repeating ourselves and leave you instead with this great example of a clear, inviting and aesthetically pleasing baked goods store which includes bright green highlights, well organised product displays and warm yet subtle lighting.

" Are You Delighting All Five Senses In Your Retail Store? "
Image Source: Shopkeep


The music playing in a store can not only affect the mood of customers and employees but it can also influence the customers walking pace around the store as well as their heart rate. While a clothing store may want to encourage customers to linger, a fast food restaurant may be looking to get customers in and out at quickly as possible in order to maximise sales. So choose the kind of music that's best suits your brand and your product.


This aspect is arguably the easiest to get right. The urge to touch is instinctive and instils a sense of ownership in the customer’s mind. So if you’re products are personal, give people the option to touch them before buying as research has shown that people are a lot more likely to buy a product if they can touch it. One retailer who makes great use of this sense is Apple. In all Apple retail locations, customers are able to hold, examine, and test out all of Apple’s products.

" Why Customer Experience is Still Being Neglected by Companies of all Sizes "
Image Source: LinkedIn


Of all five senses, smell is said to have the greatest impact on sales, since it is closely linked to memory. So much so, that there is a whole area of marketing dedicated to it, with consultancy firms like ScentAir specialising in helping brands leverage scent marketing to their advantage. Lush, a UK based Cosmetics Company, trademark scent is created by their products’ aroma that some may consider to be overpowering but nonetheless provides a strong sense of brand identity with customers.

" Why We Love Lush Cosmetics "
Image Source: Her Campus


Food, beverage and confectionary stores can easily boost loyalty by providing small samples. It may be more difficult for other types of retail store to entice the taste buds and capitalise on this but there is no reason why they can’t be creative. Offering your customers something they weren’t expecting can go a long way in establishing a connection and increasing brand loyalty.

" 5 Sneaky Ways Stores Make You Overspend "
Image Source: MyModTown

Overall, one should look to drive impulse selling by developing creative retail store designs that stimulate all five of the human senses. Doing so will maximise profits and create an overall brand experience. Therefore, you should seek to build your brand into one consolidated message through a multi-sensory value proposition.

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The Winner of Pop! Initiative: “Sanbusuma”

July 29, 2016

5 Star Plus Retail Design proudly announces that the first winner for Pop! Initiative campaign has been selected and the winner is Sanbusuma “上布素麻”- a young local brand with unique creations that stand out among other designers.

" Pop! Initiative "
Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design
" Sanbusuma "

Sanbusuma was created by a team of architects, product designers, fashion designers, cultural scholars, and artists. This brand fuses traditional Chinese culture with today’s fashion by using time-honored, high-quality hemp cloth in its designs. Yang Lei, the creator of Sanbusuma, has beautifully combined nature and Chinese traditions with modern fashion to create simple, elegant fashion.

" Sanbusuma "
" Sanbusuma "

“After several rounds of selection, with the support of our media partner MetroStyle, we are very pleased to finally work with Sanbusuma,” says Barbara Seidelmann, Managing Director of 5 Star Plus Retail Design, “The designs by Sanbusuma exhibit the beauty and spirit of nature, promoting a comfortable and natural lifestyle. In addition, while Sanbusuma is rooted in Chinese culture, its designs do not ignore the current generation of international fashion trends and styles. As a result, it will attract an elegant, literary and youthful customer base in an international market.”

" Sanbusuma "
" Sanbusuma "

5 Star Plus Retail Design will be partnering with Sanbusuma to design a pop-up store that showcases the special charm of Sanbusuma in one of Beijing’s 5 star hotels. 5 Star Plus Retail Design has many years of experience in pop-up store design and retail design in China, such as Swatch’s Collection Launch Space Design (https://www.5starplusdesign.com/swatch_exhibition_event_design.html) and Halti Store Identity Design (https://www.5starplusdesign.com/halti_store_identity_design.html),and is looking forward to its collaboration with the artists and designers of Sanbusuma.

Next in 5 Star Plus Retail Design and Sanbusuma’s partnership will be the launch of the pop-up store with a media reception and industry professionals. The opening of Sanbusuma pop-up store is expected to receive a lot of attention in the fashion, store design, and Chinese luxury retail industries. We look forward to sharing this journey and progress with you.

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3 Smart Office Design Trends That Improve Work Efficiency

July 22, 2016

Where you work massively influences the way in which you work. Even retailers need an office where work can be done and new ideas can be created. A suitable office design greatly influences efficiency as well as concentration levels. According to recent studies on workplace and productivity, a well-designed office improves efficiency by approximately 20%. We picked out 3 smart office design trends that improve work efficiency and go hand in hand with the latest retail design trends.

Flexible office design

Flexibility is a big term in retail business. Hence, workspace should be flexible as well. A dynamic and flexible office design allows people to change the area around them easily. Furthermore, multipurpose spaces can be used for presentations, workspace or break lounges. Moreover, working in different environments actually stimulates different parts of the brain. For example, a lounge area stimulates relaxed collaborations and enhances creativity, while sitting at a round table or in a circle promotes teamwork and a collective mindset. Lastly, a flexible office design reduces costs and space. Kellogg’s headquarter in Madrid is an amazing example of flexible office design.

" Kellogg’s Flexible Madrid Headquarters "
Image Source: Office Snapshots
" Kellogg’s Flexible Madrid Headquarters "
Image Source: Office Snapshots

Offices Organized by color

Colors have a strong effect on moods and brain function. A recent study found that offices completely held in grey, beige and white introduce feelings of sadness whereas accents of green and blue improve efficiency and focus. Yellow is also known as the shade of optimism. Moreover, it is believed that yellow triggers innovation and creative thinking. Fresh Mail’s office in Krakow perfectly realized the idea of an office organized by color.

" FreshMail Offices – Krakow "
Image Source: Office Snapshot
" FreshMail Offices – Krakow "
Image Source: Office Snapshot

Green space indoors

Besides enhancing the visual aesthetic of an office, plants improve air quality and reduce stress and noise. Studies have shown that plants at the work place also increase productivity and happiness among workers. At Google’s office in Dublin, there is an entire floor called the “green floor”, which is decorated with plants and wooden elements. This might be a rather extreme version of a green office but it is great inspiration.

" Camenzind evolution’s google office flourishes in Dublin "
Image Source: designboom
" Camenzind evolution’s google office flourishes in Dublin "
Image Source: designboom

Retail design aims for an outstanding store design that attracts customers to enter the store. The same applies for office design and employees. Of course this does not mean that you have to re-design your office from scratch, but with these 3 design trends you might get a few ideas on how to make your office more appealing and conducive to creativity and productivity. Offices are where people spend most of their time during the week, so try to make it a more flexible, colorful and lively environment. It’s simple as that. This requires little investment and greatly improves the office’s work efficiency.

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The Significance of Color in Retail Store Design

July 15, 2016

For retailers in China and around the world, shopping is an art of persuasion. With 85% of shoppers placing color as a primary reason for why they buy a particular product, it is certainly a factor that should be given high consideration during any retail design. Not only are colors important because they evoke certain emotions, but color temperature is also very important in creating atmosphere and driving customer sales. Cycles of light, darkness and color have an effect on our behavioural changes. Get this wrong when designing your retail store and you may put off customers. Get it right and products can look more attractive and lead to increased sales.

Colors in Cultures

Colors can psychologically affect purchases by increasing brand recognition, which is directly linked to consumer confidence, by 80%. It is important to note however that color is not universal. Colors that might entice Western cultures may deter people in China and vice versa. For example, green is the color of infidelity according to Chinese sayings, whereas in the West it represents good luck. In the US red can be associated with love and also anger, while in China it is associated with prosperity. In retail stores in the United States, black is a common design color used throughout spaces, but in China, customers are rarely attracted to dark and dull colors such as black. This color wheel shows the full scale of color representations in many different cultures around the world.

" A short photo story "
Image Source: Information is Beautiful

Cater to Your Customer

It is therefore important to consider cultural associations during retail design in a new market. Although the black color is representative death and mourning in western countries, it is not to say that just because your brand or retail design is predominantly black for instance, that you won’t be successful in Europe. Many luxury fashion brands, such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Burberry have taken the color black and identified it instead with sophistication and prestige.


A color can mean different things to different people. The import thing is how you communicate your color choice to your target market. Research has shown that different types of shoppers respond to different colors. Impulse shoppers respond best to red-orange, black and royal blue. Budget shoppers respond better to pink, teal, light blue and navy. Traditional shoppers respond better to pink, rose and sky blue. It is clear that knowing your customer, like in any aspect of retail, is fundamental to making the right decision.

Find the Right Balance

By having the correct blend of color and darkness in your store design it is possible to avoid cultural pitfalls. T2, a tea store in Shoreditch, London used a black palette to create space full of dark corners whilst using their orange packaging with flashes of other bright colours to make their products stand out; resulting in them being crowned ‘Store of the Year’ in the 2015 Retail Design Institute awards. Color temperature, a metric measured in Kelvins, also plays an important role in making the packaging appear vibrant and encouraging dwell time in store. Here a warm white of 3,000K is used to achieve this.

" The best of the best in store design worldwide "
Image Source: Linkedin
" The best of the best in store design worldwide "
Image Source: Linkedin

Change Your Tune

Customers and employees alike share psychological preferences related to the color appearance of white light. Different spaces have different color needs and these can change over the course of a working day – indicating the need for color-tuning techniques such as dim-to-warm tuning, white color tuning and full color tuning. Color tuning is proving to be an exciting trend in retail store design and is an emerging industry in its own right. Retailers can now tune the color temperature to an optimum level for their merchandise without compromising the location of the display with products that are now widely available.

Adopting the Latest Color Trends to Your Retail Store Design

Color trends may usually begin in the household, but there is no doubt that they can be equally as effective within retail store design. The trend of high striking contrasts, where bright colors mingle with dark tones, much like in T2, allows spaces to activate the senses with an interaction between dark colors that create the illusion of depth and bright colors that envelop the room. An example of which is Prologue, a bookstore in Singapore.

" BOOKSTORES! Prologue bookstore by Ministry of Design, Singapore "
Image Source: Retail Design Blog
" BOOKSTORES! Prologue bookstore by Ministry of Design, Singapore "
Image Source: Retail Design Blog

Alternatively, if you wish to achieve a relaxed or optimistic setting, the trend of blurred boundaries with subtle color combinations, such as green and blue or a blend of orange and turquoise, can prove to be effective.

There are many aspects to consider as far as color within retail design is concerned. Overall, individuals should do their homework in order to know what would best suit their customers, their product and their brand. But don’t shy away from trying something new if you believe it would suit all three and result in a positive impact on sales.

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What You Need to Know for Creating a Logo for Your Retail Brand

June 30, 2016

A business’ logo is the embodiment and face of the entire company that it represents. A strong logo has the power to hold the attention of consumers and encourage them to purchase products from its particular company. A logo also displays the image and spirit of a company, since it appears everywhere from in-store decorations to advertisements to even company stationary. As a result, professionally made logos create a positive, professional and reliable brand identity for the company. Because customers remember a brand by its logo, the logo design is essential to its store design in China and around the world.

" Visual Identity Design,Swisscham"
Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design
" Visual Identity Design,Swisscham"
Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

Another function of logos is it allows businesses to differentiate themselves from one another, especially from other companies that provide similar products and services. In China, the competition for brick and mortar retail stores is very high. Consequently, businesses use logos to steer attention away from competing retail stores to their own stores. Typically, businesses in China present their logos in more attention-attracting ways than in other parts of the world, such as in silver, with backlight, or within large light boxes. This is an effective strategy because in retail design, logos appear everywhere, including the brand’s signage on a storefront, on top of furniture and display areas, as well as on product packaging.

" Audi Centre Brighton Opens in Australia"
Image Source: Evolution

The logo’s design must be related to the overall business identity the company has. A logo should represent the company’s essence, mission and aim. The colours should be bold and eye-catching without being overwhelming and distracting for customers. A successful logo has several characteristics: simplicity, memorability, timelessness, appropriateness and versatility. During daily life, the average consumer does not have time to read a company’s entire biography. Instead logos offer a fast way of attracting attention from potential clients. Thus, logos are an essential ‘short cut’ for customer to remember your products and your brand.

" The story of the NBA logo"

Because at the core of a company’s image, reputation and marketing is its logo, once a company develops a professional and reliable logo for its business, everything else can be developed on track.

There are 4 types of logos that exist: textual, illustrated, symbolic and a combination of these three.

Textual logos use words that represent the brand within the logo design. One example of a textual logo is by the company Louis Vuitton.

" The logo of lv "

Illustrated logos use a figure or illustration as the logo. One example of an illustrated logo is by the company Omega

" OMEGA Logo "
Image Source: Logo Databases

Symbolic logos use a symbol as an abstract representation of its business. The image in the logo expresses the company’s message and identity. One example of a symbolic logo is by the company Starbucks.

" Types of logos… What’s the difference? "
Image Source: Liquis Design

Combination logos feature the use of more than one type of logo mentioned above. One example of a combination logo is by the company McDonald’s.

Image Source: Web Hosting Billboard

Lastly, as the culture we live in and society as a whole advances, companies should make an effort to update their brands and logos in order to stay relevant amongst modern consumers. A logo designed to attract customers in 20th century may not be as effective in engaging the consumers of the 21st century. As a result, as companies develop, mature and expand, so must their logos. For example, in 1898 PepsiCo created its first logo. Since then, the PepsiCo logo has been updated almost twenty different times.

" A Revealing Look at the Evolution of Coca-Cola and Pepsi Logos "
Image Source: UPrinting.com

Overall, a company’s logo is a representation of the entire business and serves as the anchor for the company’s brand identity. Therefore, a professionally designed logo that portrays the company’s nature and motives is pivotal to the brand’s success.

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Lighting: Vital for Successful Retail Store Designs

June 23, 2016

The lighting concept is the one singular aspect that makes a store design concept succeed or fail. It is also the one factor that has the biggest impact on the sales performance of a store.

What is good lighting in retail design?

A lighting concept for a retail store is usually designed in four steps:

1. Product Displays

Product displays are the areas of the store that need to be the brightest and stand out. In the end, everything in a store is about selling. When thinking about the lighting plan for the display areas, factors that are important to consider are the size and height of the displays as well as the way the products will be displayed. The products have to be well lit from the front and ideally the side as well, even if they are displayed in different ways over time. One very important element is the lighting design of the store window displays, since proper lighting will attract customers from afar, drawing them into the store.

" Store Identity Design,Halti "
Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design
" Store Identity Design,Halti "
Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

2. Accent Lighting: Branding

Once the lighting for the product displays has been defined, it is important to identity areas that are important for branding and marketing purposes that require accent lighting. These include logo applications, signs, and poster light boxes. These elements need to be easily noticeable but should not be brighter than the product displays.

" Store Identity Design,Halti "
Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

3. Task Lighting: Work Areas

After the lighting for the products and brand elements is designed, it is time to think about the store's internal processes and work areas. The areas where people work require proper lighting: cashier counter, storage room and back office. Is this it? No! There is one more lighting aspect that is vital.

" Store Identity Design,Halti "
Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

4. General Lighting

The above three points are always required for lighting concepts that are part of store designs. When they are professionally planned they greatly affect the atmosphere and sales performance of a store. In the final stage of planning, the existing lighting design needs to be checked against the space planning to identify areas that are too bright or too dark. A good lighting concept contrasts and highlights the most important elements, while also providing a comfortable atmosphere for customers in the store. Where the lighting contrast (bright – dark) is too big, general lighting should be added. This is usually done in the center of the store or above walkways or corridors.

" Store Identity Design,Halti "
Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design

In general, the brighter a store, the more products it will sell. This does not mean that the quantity and brightness of the lighting products has to be increased – using too many lighting products produces heat in the store, damages retail products and overpowers the electricity system, resulting in very high electricity bills. It goes without saying that such lighting designs are not good for the environment.

What should be done instead is to design lighting foci and use smart solutions: highlight walls instead of the floor, use LEDs and a good mix of neutral and warm lighting.

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5 Star Plus Retail Design on Austrian National TV!

June 08, 2016

We proudly announce that Austria's National Television Channel, ORF TV, broadcasted a 45 minutes long documentary about our restaurant design project Tafelspitz in Beijing. The documentation accompanies the owners from the initial idea until the opening of the space and also covers our involvement during the restaurant design and building phases.

Tafelspitz opened as a new restaurant in Beijing in June 2015, representing Austrian fine dining and wine culture at the highest level of hospitality. Austrian design elements were implemented in the restaurant interior design in reference to the origins of the owners.

The film was created by independent TV producer Wolfgang Karg and his company Asia Media House, and was first broadcasted on ORF 3 on June 4th. The documentation will be repeated a number of times and is available online on the ORF official website until Friday June 10th.

" Unser Österreich: Tafelspitz für Peking "
Video Source: ORF TV THEK

After that, the film can be watched on Youtube at this link.

" Unser Österreich: Tafelspitz für Peking "
Video Source: Youtube

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An Integral Part of the Sales Promotions Strategy: Mother's and Father's Day Window Display Designs

May 31, 2016

The design and creation of window display design concepts for important festivals like Mother's Day and Father's Day is an integral part of every retailer's sales promotions strategy.

The trend for Mother's Day window displays this year was decorating with different kinds of images that reference the many facets of women and create emotions. Some stores used pictures in wooden frames for a more classic style. Other brands applied photos of real women creating a sense of warmth and comfort.

" Happy Mothers Day "
Image Source: Trish Burr Embroidery
" Mothers Day on Pinterest "
Image Source: Pinteres
" For Mom "
Image Source: Little Man
" Our Mothers Day window "
Image Source: Weddings on Waiheke

Father's day is coming up in a few days as well. Last year, most window displays used a grey background to put colorful products like shirts or bags into focus. We are looking forward to discovering this year's Father's Day window display design styles from around the world!

" The Bay Fathers Day windows 2012, Toronto "
Image Source: Retail Design Blog
" The Bay Fathers Day windows 2012, Toronto "
Image Source: Retail Design Blog
" The Bay Fathers Day windows 2012, Toronto "
Image Source: Retail Design Blog
" The Bay Fathers Day windows 2012, Toronto "
Image Source: Retail Design Blog
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Pop! Initiative Store Design Campaign!

April 29, 2016

It was the second year that 5 Star Plus Retail Design was invited to be a partner for the Luxury Properties Showcase 2016. The show was held on April 22-24 at the Sofitel Wanda, a glamorous Beijing CBD hotel. 120 international exhibitors from 35 different countries attended this event, and attracted around 6000 potential Chinese home buyers, luxury home owners and VIPs. The three day exhibition included a lot of activities, such as speeches, a cocktail party and a forum. We were glad to invite our clients, partners and friends to join us at the Just Design event.

As the biggest and the most important part of the event, we launched our "Pop!" Initiative campaign. The Pop! Initiative gives young creative fashion brands & accessory brands, independent fashion designers and startups with innovative products the opportunity to realize their dream, gain brand exposure and expand their brand with a temporary store. Through the Pop! Initiative the winner will receive a free pop-up store design, concept store design, a new visual identity concept and branding concept. The project is rolled out on three phases throughout the year. LPS offered us an excellent platform to meet up and communicate with those young and energetic designers.

" Pop! Initiative " > back to top of page
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China Fashion Week, Part 2: The 4 Upcoming Trends in this Fashion Season

April 29, 2016

China Fashion Week which was organized by Mercedes-Benz from 25 till 31 March 2016 is now over. This year's A/W 2016 collections were definitely different from the shows in the past seasons. The following four designer collections give an insight into what happened at the Mercedes-Benz China Fashion Week.

Sheguang Hu – Bold Statement and Controversial Review

Chinese-Dutch fashion designer Sheguang Hu presented a new collection which surprised the audience with blood as the key design inspiration. According to public opinion, the show was designed resembling a horror movie. Before moving back to China, Sheguang Hu owned a boutique – known also for its store design - in the Netherlands, Amsterdam and Doetinchem. The designer gave his Dutch stores up and came back to China, creating some outstanding fashion collections.

" China Fashion Week "
Image Source: Linda Nieuws

The show was full of noteworthy touches such as a model holding two dolls which looked as if they were covered in blood. While the design inspiration of the show might be controversial and not to everyone's taste, it must be said that Sheguang Hu made a strong design statement with bold colors, beautiful shapes and compositions and an almost artistic touch to all of his creations. Strong colors and bold, powerful cuts are one of the trends of the upcoming season.

" China Fashion Week "
Image Source: Daily Mail

E-hoo & FILYNN – Combination of 80ies & 90ies with the Future

The following collection created by fashion designer Li Shaowen is inspired by nature and its continuous cyclic change. The design theme is the circle and the whole collection is based on the colors blue, white and an accent of flashy yellow. While one can easily recognize references to the 80ies and 90ies, the collection also amazes with its futuristic feel through metallic fabrics and geometric accents.

" China Fashion Week "
Image Source: China Fashion Week
" China Fashion Week "
Image Source: China Fashion Week

B+ by beautyberry – Graphics and Contrast

Designed by Yu-Tao Wang, B+ by beautyberry envisions a new modern lifestyle and visual identity. With the oversized silhouette of the body inspired by the 80's wide shoulder design for women and combined colorful cartoon images the designer tries to bring back childhood feelings. The use of graphics and contrast in fashion, branding and store design concepts remains a strong trend.

" China Fashion Week "
Image Source: China Fashion Week

ZHAOQIANYAN – Casual Elegance

Long coats, oversized silhouettes and neutral colors were part of the autumn/winter collection of ZHAOQIANYAN observed at China Fashion Week. The new and prominent designer created a mix of textures between the skin and cotton, as well as through the use of denim and metallic details.

" China Fashion Week "
Image Source: China Fashion Week
" China Fashion Week "
Image Source: China Fashion Week

This season's fashion week was inspiring with an increasing number of local, young designers presenting new ideas. As one of China's leading brand and retail design agencies, 5 Star Plus Retail Design has launched "Pop!" Initiative. The campaign provides an opportunity to independent fashion designers and new brands to present their collections in a pop up store environment in a 5 Star hotel in Beijing. Regarding further details, please see our following articles. We are looking forward to Mercedes-Benz China Fashion Week in October 2016!

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Visual Sponsor at Swiss Traditional Dinner

March 31, 2016

5 Star Plus Retail Design is proud to have acted as Visual Sponsor at one of the most significant yearly events of the Swiss community in Beijing: The Swiss Traditional Dinner organized by SwissCham. Hosted by the Westin Beijing, the gala dinner was attended by representatives from Swiss companies, individuals, and chamber members.

Required for the event was the creation of a key visual that would represent Swiss and Chinese elements and communicate the spirit of a celebratory occasion. We created a composition of a Swiss city in water color style with Swiss mountains in the background and a mirror image of Chinese buildings in the water. The visual was then extended to a set of applications such as the entrance ticket, an email banner, menu, a backdrop, signage in public space, and podium signage.

More photos and information about the event can be found on

SwissCham's official website

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Top 3 Inspiring Retail Design Trends for 2016

March 30, 2016

The year 2016 has started with several exciting trends in the retail design landscape. Here are our top 3 trends that should be considered for the next branded store design concepts:

1. Emotions with Mannequins
The "experience factor" and successful communication of brand values and emotions is one very important factor in current store designs. Lately, a number of forward-looking brands have started to bring this concept to a new level by using mannequins to express emotions and artistic notions. The focus is put on the facial expression and the posture that creates a sense of movement. Different materials such as cardboard and acrylic rasin are used to create futuristic female bodies. The results look stunning!

" Cardboard mannequins at the National Art Center, Tokyo "
Image Source: retail design blog
" Moving mannequins at Harrods London "
Image Source: retail design blog
" Mannequins made from acrylic rasin at the National Art Center, Tokyo "
Image Source: retail design blog
" London Calling at Harrods London "
Image Source: retail design blog

2. Invite to A Journey of Discovery
There are an increased number of store concepts that provide an environment that is entirely different from what one expects and invite visitors to discover and experience. For example, 'Work in Progress' is a pop-up store featuring eyewear with a store design that is created from vintage elements.

The pop-up store design has the atmosphere of an unfinished workplace with old window panels and colored sand in the background as exterior decoration. Once entering, the metallic floor structure, together with the black screen, creates a more futuristic look. The store design concept is very different from other eyewear stores and definitely creates a lasting impression.

" Gentle Monster 'Work in Progress' pop-up store by Artefact "
Image Source: retail design blog
" Metallic wall by Artefact "
Image Source: retail design blog
" Optical designs by Artefact "
Image Source: retail design blog

3. Not just a Store – the Lifestyle Factor
Brands are increasingly realizing the importance of connecting with their customers on a deeper emotional level. This is achieved by creating concepts by which retail brands connect with customers on several points in their life and thus become lifestyle brands. This also explains why luxury and fashion companies are creating their own branded restaurants, cafes, bars and exhibition spaces lately.

Casa Perky, for example, is a shoe store that is designed as a cafe.

" Casa Perky shoe store in Porto Alegre "
Image Source: retail design blog
" Casa Perky shoe store in Porto Alegre "
Image Source: retail design blog

The tattoo shop in the images below was designed in the format of a bar which provides a welcoming atmosphere as a key element of the store design.

" QG Tattoo studio in Chengdu "
Image Source: retail design blog

Café and car salon Dapper Coffee Co. & Club9 is located on a restaurant street in Cape Town. The store concept combines a bar format with a classic and luxury sports car showroom, Club9.

" Dapper Coffee Co. & Club9 in Cape Town "
Image Source: retail design blog
" Dapper Coffee Co. & Club9 in Cape Town "
Image Source: retail design blog
" Dapper Coffee Co. & Club9 in Cape Town "
Image Source: retail design blog

All 3 trends observed focus on enhancing the consumer experience, impressing with the unexpected, and providing an environment that deeply connects with the lifestyle of their customers. With increased competition against the online retail industry, as well as fiercer market conditions in China and across the world, we expect to see many more trends in this direction.

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China Fashion Week, Part 1: Review of China Fashion Week A/W 2015

March 23, 2016

China Fashion Week in Beijing features many China's home-grown fashion brands and young designers. Started almost ten years ago in 1997, the project is organized two times per year by Mercedes-Benz.

China Fashion Week in Beijing is not as prestigious as its counterparts in London, Paris, and New York. It is definitely evolving, attracting huge crowds and promoting talented local fashion designers. Last year's A/W China Fashion Week in Beijing was energetic, creative, surprising, exotic and trendy. The A/W collection took place in the week of 25-31 March 2015, the same as in previous years. According to public opinion last year's fashion week had one collection at the runway which really stood out: The collection from a Chinese-Dutch designer named Sheguang Hu which created a lot of buzz in the media because of its colors and prominent design.

" Sheguang Hu "
Image Source: China Fashion Week
" Sheguang Hu "
Image Source: China Fashion Week
" Sheguang Hu "
Image Source: China Fashion Week

The design brings you back to the 1980s when traditional padded coats with bright red or green floral prints were very popular and part of our lifestyle. In the end, China is not only one of the biggest luxury fashion consumers in the world, but also a country with great creative design potential.

We are looking forward to this season's shows and new collections and will get back to you with a report on this year's trends after the event.

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Outdoor Fashion Brands at ISPO Beijing 2016

February 27, 2016

ISPO is the largest international winter sports exhibition and is organized in Munich and Beijing at the beginning of each year.

Taking place from February 24 to 27th, ISPO Beijing 2016 impressed with a large number of international and local exhibitors. In the outdoor sports fashion area, many exhibition khkhghkgkgkhkhkhkhkgkgkstand designs expressed their respective brand positioning and attracted visitors with bold colors, dynamic displays and interactive technology. Others focused on using an abundance of natural materials such as wood. cities.

In this specific segment of the retail market, promoting the "experience" factor has a particular importance. Some brands achieved to create a very dynamic environment with means of an interactive ski game on a large LED screen, hiring a disc jockey or arranging performances where products were tested in extreme conditions such as ice and water.

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Hanna Trachten – Flagship Store Design in Salzburg

February 24, 2016

Hanna Trachten is an Austrian traditional clothing brand that we have worked with three years ago to create the design of their flagship store in Vienna in early 2013.

A few weeks ago the brand has asked us to get involved again, this time for the store design of their new three story flagship in Salzburg, one of Austria's most prestigious and historic cities.

In this article we want to show how a typical store design project looks at the beginning and during the concept stage, therefore we have juxtaposed a number of photos of the construction site with hand drawn sketches and visuals.

The store is planned to open in March 2016.

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Visual Displays that delight – Spring Festival 2016

January 29, 2016

From a marketing perspective Spring Festival is a retailer's delight. With the Chinese season of giving, thanks and good wishes on our doorstep it is the perfect opportunity to reengage with customers and let them know that we have what they need when it comes to the Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year is the 7 day long holiday, dating back over 4000 years, where it is customary to give gifts of affection, love and gratitude to family, friends and colleagues. 2016 will mark the year of the fire Monkey in the Chinese Zodiac calendar which should help inspire cheeky campaigns portraying ambition and adventure. There are several ways that retailers are engaging customers for Spring Festival. This article will examine the luxury retail trends for the Chinese New Year 2016.

Monkey madness

As it will be the year of the Monkey in 2016 many luxury retailers have sought to embrace the monkey motif in store displays, exclusive product ranges and limited edition packaging.

Multimedia marketing

One noticeable addition to the Spring Festival scene is the sophisticated multimedia displays used by high end retailers. These displays set high end luxury retailers apart from their competition as it places them at the forefront of marketing technology.

Focus on spring

Other premium stores have chosen to represent the theme of spring with displays that are fresh and floral with vibrant colours. This gives their displays longevity even after Spring Festival concludes

Family focused marketing

In our opinion, the most ingenious displays and promotional materials were the ones that captured the appreciation of all age groups. With the understanding that this holiday is a holiday for families to spend time with each other, so some stores created interactive activities or displays to enchant children whilst they are shopping with their parents.

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Why Adapting Store Design Concepts to the Chinese Market is Important

January 27, 2016

Should international retail brands implement a global store design concept across all countries or should they make adjustments for certain markets such as China?

This is a strategic question that first requires an understanding of the differences of the markets and then the definition of priorities by the brand.

The Global Approach – Consistency of Brand Image

Reasons justifying a strict global approach are the consistency of the brand image as well as standardization allowing for an easier implementation on a worldwide level.

Adaptation to Local Markets – Consideration of local Culture for a Maximum of Brand Acceptance

A major factor that speaks against an implementation of a brand's store design concept, without adaptation to specific markets, is the difference in local customer motivations and behavior.

While consumers in certain markets purchase luxury goods to "fit in" (Japan, Europe), many people in China buy luxury brands to "stand out" in a crowd. This means that both the brand presentation and the store design face different challenges and requirements in the various markets.

The majority of Chinese luxury consumers do not, like European customers, purchase items that represent their personality, taste and lifestyle that they already have, but rather search for items that can convey a certain social status, personal wealth and style. The purchase of a luxury product in China is therefore somewhat an investment, an opportunity to acquire a certain lifestyle and status as well as appreciation among friends.

Stores that sell luxury goods in China, as a consequence, need to stand out as well, and have to look like they can provide this advance in lifestyle that Chinese consumers are looking for. Many well established international brands including Swarovski, Hugo Boss and Calvin Klein have recognized this in the past years and created different store design concepts specifically for Asia and China.

" Hugo Boss at Saks Fifth Avenue New York " Image Source: The Fashionisto
" first shop of Hugo Boss in Shanghai, China " Image Source: Zhulong

Store Design Elements to be Adapted

Here are a couple of store design elements that should be adapted:

- The Store format itself (boutique versus flagship or concept store)

- Color combination and accents, usually brighter colors with addition of some shiny accents (gold, silver, chrome) are used for China

- Material mix and textures: less emphasis on soft furnishings (e.g. less carpet to facilitate easy cleaning and high customer traffic)

- Addition of "Bling" factor: more focus on shiny elements, metal (gold, silver, chrome), mirrors

- The store façade needs to stand out

- Digital elements (screens, apps, O2O features) are even more important in China

" Calvin Klein in Toronto " Image Source: Wikiwand
" Calvin Klein in Shanghai, China " Image Source: souhu


Not to forget, Fengshui is a Chinese concept that needs to be considered as well: the colors white, silver, and gold represent the element metal and therefore money. Soft furnishings and rich textures slow down the "Qi", the flow of energy, and even stall the positive energy if it is overdone. Smooth surfaces, on the other hand, speed up the flow of energy. The key to success and a comfortable atmosphere in store environments in China is an appropriate balance of all elements.

Store Design as a Competitive Advantage

There is, however another important aspect concerning store design: Shopping malls and department stores in China are bombarded by brands that want to enter the market. Sales targets and store rents are high. Since the competition among brands is fierce and sales pressure is high, malls and department stores are looking for unique, fresh, and exciting concepts that are a safe choice for the few open store spots they currently have. A unique store design concept is also easier to market with the Chinese media.

Finally, most store locations are not street facing stores but within new shopping malls and department stores. This creates opportunities for retail brands to create impressive flagship or concept stores in new malls that are still under construction, especially when compared to typical locations in European cities that are often in traditional, sometimes listed, buildings.

In short, for international brands to realize the full potential of the Chinese market they need to understand and cater to its unique customer preferences and in particular store environments.

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Opening Party at Nordica Lounge

January 18, 2016

Nordica opened their first concept restaurant in Chongli, a city in the North Western province of Hebei which will host part of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, on December 12th 2015. 5 Star Plus Retail Design, as the design team for this store, were invited to join Nordica for their opening night. Nordica began with a cocktails and snacks happy hour from 5pm to 7 pm, followed by an exclusive dinner from 7 pm to 9 pm.

The chefs of Nordica lounge are from Italy and as such are able to provide some of authentic Italian cuisine. Guests enjoyed their fantastic dishes such as creamy mushroom spaghetti, pizza, fresh basil Rotini and decadent tiramisu. All dishes were generously portioned and well balanced in flavor.

This idea for this concept store began in spring 2015. Nordica, traditionally an Italian ski equipment brand, wanted to expand their current business model into the fine dining sector by opening 'Nordica lounge'. The restaurant provides a well authentic and delicious Italian food to Skiers. We used a red, grey, and black color theme for the restaurant design to help express Nordica's brand values of integrity, loyalty, courage and optimism. According to Nordica's Managing Director in China, Remigio Brunelli, 'The Nordica Lounge is the place that connects ski fans and outdoor lovers with what matters most: family, fellowship and the mountain.' At the same time, we also thought about the passion, quality, service, and comfort for the restaurant.

We paid most attention to two key elements of the design concept: the Nordica bar and the large window into the kitchen. Nordica invites diners to watch their food and beverages being prepared, with world class skill and expertise. In this way, Nordica can highlight the high quality of their menu items to their customers.

'Nordica Lounge', with the help of the team at 5 Star Plus Retail Design, were able to combine a unique dining experience with deliciously traditional Italian cuisine.

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Parkview Green FangCaoDi Shopping Centre Display Designs – Christmas 2015

December 23, 2015

The significance of Christmas in China has continued to grow exponentially, with each passing festive season a step is taken to make Christmas shopping just as important in china as it is in the west.

This trend is evident nowhere more than in store front designs throughout Beijing's international shopping centers. At Parkview Green FangCaoDi Shopping Centre in Beijing's Central Business District stores have continued to embrace the spirit of Christmas.

Most international luxury brands have taken a step beyond last year's minimal chic designs and have moved towards a more supporting role for the theme of Christmas. This year many stores have developed grander more unique displays that are designed to grab the attention of shoppers. Once a shopper has been engaged their attention is drawn to the brand product which always remains the center piece of the display. Some stores however still provide only a hint of Christmas to the consumer, using this subtleness to guarantee their brand is the focus of attention, this ensures their brand identity isn't compromised while still establishing a connection to Christmas. For people around the world Christmas has come to mean a time of giving and sharing with loved ones and those around them. It is this emotional connection that a store front attempts to create with a customer.

The main features that have been observed this year are an abundance of large Christmas decorations including lights, gifts and trees. This combined with the colours green, red and white have been used to frame product, often drawing attention to their quality and style. This year has also seen an increased use of fake snow for decorations.

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How is M-Commerce transforming the luxury retail market in China?

December 21, 2015

After China became the world's leading online retail market in 2013, M-Commerce or mobile commerce is now spearheading this trend as the demand for mobile devices continues to grow exponentially. This has presented opportunities for luxury brands that have openly embraced the trend while at the same time created obstacles for those brands reluctant to adapt to this growing trend. So let's take a closer look at how M-Commerce is transforming the luxury retail market in China:

How do Chinese luxury consumers shop?
The proportion of online sales made from mobile devices compared to PCs has been on the rise. The graph below with statistics sourced from iResearch Global highlights this increase since the first quarter of 2014:

The use of mobile devices to make online purchases increased 21.9% from Q1 2014 to Q1 of 2015. This is ultimately down to two factors: the first being the growing demand for mobile devices, and secondly the growing dominance of companies such as Alibaba who own a staggering 86.2% of the market share according to research acquired by iResearch.

How have luxury retail brands in China reacted?
With the increasing importance of m-commerce, most international luxury retail brands have responded by adapting their current practices to welcome the trend. Fendi for example, a high-end fashion retailer, have made their website mobile responsive, this provides their customers with the ability to view their website and make purchases easily from any mobile device.

Some brands like Chanel for example, have even created their own mobile app, which not only house the latest fashion pieces, but also doubles as a news bulletin where regular updates on the fashion industry can be shared with their trend hungry consumers.

Other luxury brands have turned to forming partnerships with leading e-commerce companies, utilizing their already established customer base. Burberry is just one example of a luxury brand that have partnered with Tmall to reach their online savvy consumer pool.

Understandably however, there are other luxury retail brands that refuse or find it difficult to fully embrace the trend. This is usually a result of their reluctance to associate themselves with brands that cater for the mass market, fearing it will devalue their brand image. Others perhaps feel their brands will not translate well online or wish to preserve the physical shopping experience

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Top 5 Luxury Consumer Trends in China of 2015

December 09, 2015

The luxury retail market in china is continually changing. Market conditions fluctuate and the preferences of luxury consumers are continually evolving. Therefore brands in china must evolve with their target consumers if they want to sustain their competitive advantage. Here are 5 Star Plus Retail Design's top 5 luxury consumer trends of 2015:

1. Anti-corruption Movement by Government Continues to Discourage Luxury Gift Giving
Xi's campaign to eliminate corruption has forced government officials to cut back on elaborate spending and gift giving. This has already had a significant impact on the luxury retail market in China as the demand for luxury goods as gifts, has fallen. Now, as more and more consumers purchase luxury goods for themselves, they have become more inquisitive and demanding.

2. The Intelligent Shopper
The novelty of having any-old international designer bag on your arm simply as a statement of wealth has begun to decline. Today's Chinese consumer is far more concerned with the quality and origin of material, workmanship, the quality of service at purchase and the corporate values of the brand. Armed with the knowledge of what they want, these informed consumers expect equally informed sales staff to confidently assist them or they'll likely take their business elsewhere. However the Chinese luxury consumer market is diverse and some will still happily make a purchase purely as a statement of wealth.

3. E-Commerce & M-commerce on the Rise:
As a significant proportion of today's Chinese luxury consumers are younger and more tech-savvy, it makes sense that a greater number of consumers are engaging with luxury brands online. However it doesn't stop there, M-Commerce accounts for a significant proportion of E-Commerce sales as many consumers today use smartphones and other tablet devices on a daily basis. Emarketer estimates that M-Commerce will account for an astonishing 49.7% of all E-Commerce sales this year and by 2019, this will rise to 71.5%. This is undoubtedly a result of WeChat and Alibaba's dominance in the online market, who are making online purchases very convenient and accessible for Chinese consumers. Brands like Chanel and Fendi have been quite reactive to this trend by making their sites mobile compatible, while some remain hesitant as they worry that the integrity and aesthetics of their brand will not translate onto the online sphere. To find out more about how Chinese luxury consumers behave online, please read our other articles.

4. Consumers spend on Fulfillment
In 2014, a common trend among Chinese luxury consumers was the personalization of luxury goods allowing one to be expressive and stand out from the crowd. This year, consumer spending has become more sophisticated. Fulfilling personal dreams and gaining invaluable experiences has become more of a priority. This as a result has led to an increase in luxury travel. Goods that hold sentimental value or have a deep meaning such as artwork have also become quite popular. Furthermore, in large cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, luxury hotel chains such as Sofitel and Bulgari luxury Hotels, are being constructed to cater to this growing need. The Giorgio Armani Group is also planning to design luxury residences in Beijing following their recent deal with Chinese real estate company, Smart Hero Group.

5. Demand for Niche Products Grows
This year the demand for niche brands has become increasingly popular. Research conducted by Bain based on 1,400 luxury consumer survey results explained this trend to be a result of increased knowledge from international travel, as well as the exchange of information on social media and its influence on consumers. Niche brands such as Balenciaga and Kate Spade have subsequently seen a growing demand from Chinese consumers this year.

As Chinese luxury consumers account for a significant amount of sales in the global luxury market, understanding and anticipating their current and future needs becomes extremely important. Today's typical consumer is young, knowledgeable, tech-savvy, and desires brand experiences over the latest Prada designer bag. Brands must therefore learn how to adapt their promotions to meet these needs otherwise instead of evolving with their target consumer they will lose sales as demand for their products fall.

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Selecting the Right Chinese Company Name as Brand Strategy

November 30, 2015

Translating the brand name into Chinese is often a task that is underestimated by companies. Since the Chinese language uses characters with multiple meanings and often even multiple sounds (pronunciations), the translation, or better transliteration, is a somewhat complex process that needs appropriate planning.

Correct translation considers both the sound and / or the meaning of Chinese characters. Based on different combinations there are four ways to translate a foreign name into Chinese:

1. New name (different meaning, different sound), no relationship with the original name. Examples: Pizza Hut 必胜客 Bi Sheng Ke (Guarantee wins guests) "

2. Similar sound, no or different meaning of the characters Examples: Louis Vuitton路易威登 Lu Yi Wei Deng (meaning of individual characters: Street, easy, power, to board)

3. Same or similar meaning, but different sound Examples: Apple 苹果 Ping Guo

4. Similar sound and similar meaning, or a meaning that is associated with the brand Examples: Hermès 爱马仕 Ai Ma Shi (Meaning: love the horse rider)

For a powerful marketing and communication campaign, a name translation that has a similar sound to promote the global aspect of the brand as well as a relevant meaning is important. The more a brand name is able to communicate by itself, the stronger its impact and more effective the marketing campaign is going to be.

Here are a couple of things that a brand name can communicate:

- Foreign origin

- Industry or type of products

- Brand values

The brand name should also be easy to pronounce and to remember. Brands need a consistent and coherent brand image across all channels, therefore it is only logical that the name represents the brand's personality which is then extended to marketing campaigns, communication elements as well as design aspects such as the visual identity or store design concept.

Should you need advice on choosing the right Chinese name, do not hesitate to contact us at office@5starplusdesign.com.

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Nordica Lounge Opening Soon! – A Branding and Restaurant Design Showcase

November 30, 2015

Nordica, the Italian ski equipment brand, decided to bring its brand image to a new level by opening "Nordica Lounge" in Chongli, the city in Hebei province which will host part of the Olympic Winter Games in 2022.

Nordica Lounge is a restaurant and lifestyle concept that is located adjacent to a Nordica service shop. Ski and nature aficionados who spend the week end in the mountains will finally have a cozy European indoor space to enjoy Italian-style lunch, dinner, or drinks at any time of the day.

According to the brand, "The NORDICA Lounge is the place that connects ski fans and outdoor lovers with what matters most: family, fellowship and the mountain.

Integrity, loyalty, courage, optimism, these are our brand values that enable us day after day to offer our clients superior quality & services. This is the NORDICA way, and it goes out to the first run, the last run and the long run."

Inspired by the brand's visual identity, the color palette of the restaurant design is limited to red, greys, and black, and features abundant natural textures such as wood and some stone for a warm and cozy atmosphere. Further brand characteristics that needed to be part of the restaurant design are passion, quality, service, and comfort.

Based on its concept of simplicity and high quality food, two key elements of the design concept are the Nordica bar and the large window into the kitchen that allows customers to observe how the food is prepared. With the lounge, Nordica extends its brand identity to a three-dimensional environment where customers can relax, feel and taste the brand, and therefore goes one step further in establishing itself as a lifestyle brand.

Nordica Lounge will officially open with an opening party on December 12th, 2015. The launch coincides with the start of operations of Thaiwoo, which is China's largest skiing resort and also located in Chongli. The government just commissioned the building of a high speed train route that will bring Beijingers to Chongli in one hour in a few years.

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2 International Luxury Brands engaging with Chinese Consumers on WeChat

November 23, 2015

As it is becoming increasingly imperative for international luxury brands to utilize online platforms such as WeChat and Weibo in order to engage with consumers in China, more and more brands have established an online presence in hopes of attracting and strengthening the bond with their Chinese consumers. So let's explore how 2 international luxury brands, are engaging with Chinese consumers on WeChat:

Michael Kors
Michael Kors is an example of a foreign luxury brand making an effort to engage with its customers through sustained online and offline interaction. Last May, for the launch of their flagship store in Shanghai, they allowed attentive followers to truly experience the Jet Set collection launch event through the application. More recently, they utilize WeChat to keep their consumers informed about the latest happenings with the brand through informative articles and photographs.

Coach's approach to WeChat has evolved over the last few months; their initial posts were very product focused, more recently however, they have begun posting articles on lifestyle, possibly in favor of the growing luxury travel and lifestyle trend emerging this year. One of their most recent posts (July 2015) focusing on Summer and lifestyle proved very popular with their followers receiving more than 57,000+ views and over 140 likes. Furthermore, Coach; similarly to Michael Kors have focused their WeChat marketing on providing their consumers with the ultimate VIP experience through inviting them to become members, creating exclusivity and giving consumers a feeling of belonging.

It's clear that in this technological age, brands can enhance the customer's shopping experience through providing a combination of online and offline services. Michael Kors and Coach are just two examples of brands that have openly embraced this trend and are grabbing and maintaining the interest of local consumers. WeChat has been proven to be instrumental to international luxury brands looking to break into the market or even those who are already in the marketplace but needing to increase brand loyalty and customer engagement.

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5 Points to Consider when Creating a Retail Store Design

November 11, 2015

A store is a physical extension of the brand. Located strategically and it will lure customers from afar. Designed properly and it will enhance the physical retail experience of consumers. Below are 5 points that retailers need to take into account when designing any type of store, whether it is a flagship store or a shop-in-shop concept.

5 Points to Consider when Creating a Retail Store Design

The Brand’s Positioning
It is important for any retail brands, wanting to enter China or simply create a brand new store to fully understand the brand’s identity and the image that it wants to convey to its targeted customers. What is the brand’s positioning, commercial or luxury? We witnessed a lot of brands changing their positioning and price point when entering the Chinese retail market. What was a premium foreign brand would be promoted as “light-luxury” once established in China, adapting the store’s original visual identity together with factor such as pricing.

Concept of the Store’s Design
Select a few strong characters from the brand that would be reflected throughout the store’s design. This will act as a basis for the design concept. It will also guide the designers to create the perfect mood board, compiling images that best coincide the ambiance and the emotions wished to be expressed into the design of the space.

Having a strong retail design concept that is different from competitors and ideally memorable with the brand’s DNA, are what any team of designers strives to accomplish.

Store’s Floor Plan Layout
What products will the store have? Which of the products need to have a bigger visual merchandise area? Would there be any changes in the future regarding the quantity of products sold? Answering to some of these questions before hand ensures the design team, which you are working with, to come up with the ideal floor plan layout. Allocating the products correctly to the size of the shop can increase customer traffic and maximize the sales of each item. Have a look at our article about The Importance of Measuring Retail Design to know more on how to manage your store’s design potential.

Digital Features in Stores
The retail design field is getting smarter, allowing brands to use digital features in the design of stores. We cannot emphasize that brands wanting to survive long term need to consider technology as a creative way to communicate to customers. Incorporating digital elements needs to bring something fresh and exciting to the store. Giving the purchasing in-store experience a whole new dimension than online shopping. However, when it comes to consumer experience and shopping expectations, online and offline should both go hand in hand - seamlessly communicating the same brand message across all channels.

It may be the last point but it is by far one of the most important points. Have a rough overview of the design and construction cost as well as time required for the project’s completion, however be prepared for any future changes.

Overall the process of designing the perfect retail store can be overwhelming. Work with a team that understands all aspects of the brand, from positioning to marketing strategies. And consider all the above points to create an exceptional physical extension of the brand. Never underestimate the power of retail design!

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Salzburg Urstein Institut – A Premium European Education Institution at Exhibitions in China

October 30, 2015

The Salzburg Urstein Institut had its first appearance in China at the China Education Expo (CEE) and the QS Beijing and Shanghai from October 24th to November 7th 2015.

The education institution offers four types of master programs in the fields of Management & Entrepreneurship, Intercultural Communication, Media Science, Sustainability and European Culture, as well as Academic Modules and Learning by Travelling modules for short-stay, highly efficient learning. The courses take place in Salzburg and Berlin and are accompanied by an extensive Cultural Practice Program for first-hand experience of Europe.

We at 5 Star Plus Retail Design are delighted to support the Salzburg Urstein Institut with marketing activities and design services in China, including the exhibition stand design for the various expositions in China.

Listed as the only participating Austrian institution at the CEE, the Salzburg Urstein Institut welcomed several high ranking visitors - including the EU Ambassador to China Dietmar Schweissgut and Helmut Spitzl, Acting Director and Attaché for Science and Technology at the Science and Technology Section of the Austrian Embassy Beijing - at their stand.

Salzburg Urstein Institut China Education Exhibition Stand Design Salzburg Urstein Institut China Education Exhibition Stand Design Salzburg Urstein Institut China Education Exhibition Stand Design Salzburg Urstein Institut China Education Exhibition Stand Design Salzburg Urstein Institut China Education Exhibition Stand Design Salzburg Urstein Institut China Education Exhibition Stand Design
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How to Attract Younger Sophisticated Luxury Consumers in China?

October 26, 2015

Chinese consumers are becoming increasingly likely to switch between luxury brands. Therefore, brands have to offer more than just a product to outcompete each other. Especially to attract the younger more digital Chinese shopper; aged 25 to 35, seeking foreign brands and developing a sense of appreciation for the brand’s heritage. So how can luxury brands attract these consumers in China?

How to Attract Younger Sophisticated Luxury Consumers in China

Omni-Channel touch points
Omni-Channel touch points means inspiring and attracting brands across all retail touch points, from print magazines, social media channels, brand websites and mobile applications, to the design of retail stores. Effective marketing needs to be put in place where consumers are searching about the brands, to make sure touch points are not over looked. Retail brands in China can now no longer rely on simply selling goods in stores. They must use diverse marketing strategies, to attract consumers through online-to-offline retail; attracting younger more sophisticated Chinese shoppers who will be heavily influenced by online marketing strategies, such as social media accounts. By targeting social media websites with promotions and discounts on luxury goods, as well as advertisements, brands can try to push consumers to buy online as well as offline. In order to effectively engage with this segment of Chinese customers both in store and online, brands must make sure their image is consistent through all retail touch points.

Distinctive retail design concept
The design of retail stores is also being transformed now, so as to attract younger Chinese shoppers by creating a ‘branded experience’ with the use of technology. Digital technology is now being implemented in the design, including information terminals, interactive touchscreen and display functions. Another trend that is becoming more popular is placing LCD screens on the façade of retail stores, in order to entice customers in from afar.

Furthermore, luxury brands are also coming up with interesting retail design concepts to attract new customers, by setting up restaurants, café’s, hotels and pop up stores. These new innovative ideas promote the brand, especially to the younger Chinese shoppers who are looking for the entire brand experience, not just a product.

VIP experiences
In order to attract younger more sophisticated Chinese shoppers, brands need to offer VIP experiences, which make the customer feel special for choosing their brand over competitor brands. Additionally, these experiences will create brand loyalty from consumers, as an emotional connection will be formed with the brand. Luxury brands have now realized that younger customers want more than just the product and that an experience will provide more pleasure and satisfaction. Making sure a shopper has a VIP shopping experience with dedicated sales people and a private room is an effective strategy, as it establishes a customer relationship, possibly leading to the customer buying on impulse. For example, Louis Vuitton creates a VIP experience by closing selected stores for half a day and arranging private showings for customers who spend more than 200 000 Yuan.

It is clear that luxury brands now have to diversify their marketing strategies in China to attract younger more sophisticated shoppers. Online to offline retail is now equally important, as younger Chinese shoppers use online devices more than ever before. If luxury retail brands really wish to improve customer relationships, however, they need to make sure they focus on the experiences they can offer the consumer, rather than just the number of media channels they have.

Further information about online-to-offline retailing can be found on our website.

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3 Department Stores in China for Foreign Luxury Brands to Set Up

September 28, 2015

International luxury brands looking to break into the seemingly saturated Chinese luxury market, particularly in large cities like Beijing and Shanghai, may want to dip their toes in the ocean before diving in to avoid costly mistakes. By collaborating with local department stores, luxury retail brands can ascertain whether or not there is demand for their brand through shop-in-shop concepts. So here are 5 Star Plus Retail Design top 3 department stores in China for foreign luxury brands to set up in:

Lane Crawford

3 Department Stores in China For Foreign Luxury Brands to Set Up
Lane Crawford Yintai Centre Beijing

Established in Hong Kong in 1850 by Ninian Crawford and Thomas Ash Lane, today’s Lane Crawford has become a market leading luxury specialty store reaching out to customers in their Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu locations.

Lane Crawford boasts as having one of the largest handpicked luxury good portfolios, offering its customers a wide selection of the latest fashion, accessories, beauty, lifestyle and home goods. Meanwhile, the stunning interior and digital features sets the mood to provide customers with a unique shopping experience surrounded by thoughtful artwork.

International luxury brands wanting to trail their products must showcase their most creative and inspiring pieces to align with the corporate values and aesthetics of Lane Crawford.

Galeries Lafayette

3 Department Stores in China For Foreign Luxury Brands to Set Up
Galeries Lafayette Beijing

The comparatively newer department store, founded in 1912 in Paris, opened its doors to Beijing, China in 2013. The store in Beijing operates as a 50-50 joint venture between Galeries Lafayette and I.T Ltd.

Known for providing a playful, innovative and trendy environment, through tasteful animation and shop design, Galeries Lafayette are focused on providing the most unique shopping experience. International luxury brands wanting to trial their goods here, will need to display their latest and greatest trends, matching the fun and innovation this department store is famous for.

10 Corso Como

3 Department Stores in China For Foreign Luxury Brands to Set Up

10 Corso Como Beijing

10 Corso Como is a well-known shopping and dining complex originally founded in Italy in 1991 by Carla Sozzani and Kris Ruhsspend.

After entering various luxury markets around the world including both Beijing and Shanghai, 10 Corso Como echoes it’s ‘slow shopping’ philosophy where it believes shoppers should slow down to enjoy the experience of shopping. Surrounded by inspired art, design and fashion pieces, 10 Corso Como takes shopping to a whole new level leaning to the fulfillment trend emerging this year. Brands wishing to collaborate with this department store must think beyond the product itself and offer unique experiences for shoppers.

To conclude, Lane Crawford, Galeries Lafayette and 10 Corso Como all host luxury brands but in slightly different ways. Therefore, brands must ensure their brand values correlate with the values held by that particular department store for their shop-in-shop design concept.

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The Use of Celebrity Ambassadors to Market Luxury Retail Brands in China

September 22, 2015

Celebrity Ambassadors in China have become an established marketing strategy for companies in the luxury retail industry to market their goods and to target specific consumers. Celebrities are often effective when marketing a product as they are easily recognizable and therefore bring more attention to a brand. The celebrity therefore can give credibility to a product, making it more popular among consumers. Brands whose sales have slumped often look for a celebrity to boost consumer sales.

Benefits of such strategies
1. Increase sales: When marketing a retail brand or luxury goods products in China, choosing a particular celebrity who matches the brands image and values is important to increase sales, as the consumer will be influenced by that particular celebrity to buy the product. If a celebrity ambassador has a large fan base then the brand can use this to reach a greater number of Chinese consumers, who are more likely to pay attention to a celebrity, rather than the brand itself and therefore boost sales.

2. Create Emotional Connections: Well-known celebrities are chosen by luxury retail brands to promote their brands image as they create an emotional connection between themselves and the consumer. This connection is created by the celebrity’s large following who see the brands products as good enough for them if the celebrity feels they are worth having. Therefore those consumers will hopefully engage with the brand and hence remain loyal.

3. Improves Credibility: A celebrity ambassador can also increase credibility for a luxury retail brand in the Chinese market. The idea of a celebrity ambassador is to make the brand trustworthy and convince the consumers that they should associate themselves with that particular retail brand. Therefore, this should make the luxury goods that the celebrity ambassador is promoting, more desirable.

The Use of Celebrity Ambassadors to Market Luxury Retail Brands in China

Case Study – Rolex
Celebrity ambassadors in China are a central part of the Swiss watch company, Rolex, communication strategy and one they have used since the beginning of the brand. Rolex tends to choose successful individuals who are at the top of their respective fields, including a range of sportsmen, women and musicians. Rolex ambassadors have included the dancer Yuanyuan Tan, cellist Yoyo Ma, tennis players Roger Federer and Ana Ivanovic. Tennis has recently been gaining more popularity among wealthy Chinese, as it is a sport, which matches both their lifestyle and income. As a result, Rolex in 2011 chose Li Na, the most successful female Chinese tennis player, to represent their brand and to appeal to this type of consumer, who are looking to buy luxury retail items. The ‘Rolex’ brand has also been particularly successful at spotting young talent early on in their careers and then staying with them until they achieve great success. A strategy that is now used by other Swiss watch brands, such as Tag Heur and Omega. Rolex as a brand in China has now come to represent success, elegance and is easily recognized as a high-class watch for individuals who have achieved something in their lives, which is represented in their choice of celebrity ambassadors. This is clearly illustrated in their advertisements, in which they celebrate the ambassador’s achievements such as in the case of Roger Federer’s magazine ad, the phrase ‘Rolex. A Crown for Every Achievement’ is used.

Rolex’s desire to establish itself as a high-class brand in China has led to the creation of ‘The Rolex Experience,’ in its Shanghai retail store, at the House of Roosevelt. The retail design of the store has been cleverly put together to create an interactive experience for customers to become immersed in the Rolex brand and its accomplishments. This includes ‘The Heart of Rolex’ which celebrates Rolex’s partnerships and ambassadors, engaging customers by incorporating high-end technology in the store's retail design. Rolex also hosts celebrities from culture and entertainment in ‘The Pulse of Rolex’ to promote the brand.

As you can see, celebrity ambassadors can play an important role in a luxury retail brands marketing strategy, to widen their consumer market, or to target a specific type of consumer. However, it is important to make sure that the celebrity matches the brand’s image and values, for a celebrity ambassador to be a successful marketing strategy for luxury retail brands. This is a strategy which Rolex has been successfully carrying out to promote and excel its brand over the years.

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Top 2 Ecommerce Platforms for Luxury Brands in China

September 18, 2015

The amount spent on online shopping in Mainland China reached 2.8 trillion Yuan last year, making up around 10% of the total retail sales of consumer goods. Due to this, ecommerce platforms are becoming an increasingly popular online method for luxury brands in China to sell their products. Popular platforms are business to consumer (B2C) websites, which offer online direct sales to customers wanting high quality luxury goods. Popular ecommerce platforms include Tmall.com and JD.com.

Top 2 Ecommerce Platforms for Luxury Brands in China

Tmall.com is a business-to-consumer online retail website in China. The website currently features 70 000 international and Chinese brands, including online stores for luxury brands such as Burberry and Calvin Klein. Luxury Brands are now choosing to launch themselves on popular ecommerce platforms, such as Tmall.com, in order to increase sales in Mainland China. Tmall.com controls about 60% of the Chinese Business to Consumer market online product sales, serving more than 180 million buyers. Tmall.com has also launched Tmall global, offering foreign brands the opportunity to sell their products, without having a company in China.

Top 2 Ecommerce Platforms for Luxury Brands in China

Similarly, to Tmall.com, JD.com is also a B2C online retailer and one of the largest in terms of transaction volume. They are also China’s largest internet company by revenue. The website has around 133 million visits per month and features brands such as Gucci and Michael Kors on their website, at competitive prices. However, unlike Tmall.com, JD.com has it own storage and logistics teams, with 166 warehouses. JD.com has also launched its own website for worldwide shipping outside China.

Ecommerce platforms have therefore become popular among Luxury Brands in China, as they reach a wide range of top-end consumers who now prefer to shop online. However, Counterfeit goods have become an increasing problem in China, especially online. Therefore, many ecommerce platforms are now also bringing in regulators to make sure that the products they are selling are in fact real. As a result consumers are more likely to choose these websites in which to buy their luxury brand products.

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How is the Yuan Devaluation Affecting the Luxury Market in China?

September 11, 2015

China has enjoyed steady growth for several years and despite the fact that this growth had been sluggish as of late, news that China had devalued the Yuan by almost 2% on August the 11th, sent shockwaves through the global markets with the luxury retail market in China being one which was shaken by the news.

1. A loss of purchasing power for Chinese luxury shoppers
Traditionally, travelling Chinese shoppers looking to purchase international luxury goods would flock to Europe or Japan as the comparatively weak Euro and Yen generated a significant price gap enabling them to get goods cheaper abroad. Now, with a slightly weakened Yuan, this price gap has been narrowed making purchasing locally more attractive, as closer pricing means the benefit of buying goods abroad decreases. However, as the overall purchasing power of Chinese shoppers has dropped, in order to sustain demand from particularly price sensitive shoppers, some international luxury brands may instinctively react by further lowering the prices of their goods in China. However, if this were to occur, demand for their products may not increase as lowered prices could change the Chinese consumer's perceptions of the brand, as price is generally associated with perceived value and exclusivity.

2. Luxury brands may have to put counter-measures in place
Since entering into the Chinese market, luxury brands were rewarded with healthy sales as China’s fast economic development saw average wages increase and the trend to purchase luxury goods (for one’s self or as a gift to others) increase alongside it. More and more Chinese people saw purchasing luxury goods as a sign of status and so international luxury brands, which had entered the market, became increasingly popular in line with demand.

Soon enough, some brands became heavily reliant on China to account for a significant proportion of their sales. For example, Swatch – a high end Swiss watchmaker, according to figures derived from Deutsche Bank, report an average of around 20% of their total revenue to come from Mainland China, similarly, 14% of Gucci’s revenue is made up from sales acquired in China.

How is the Yuan Devaluation Affecting the Luxury Market in China
Image adapted from ATLAS by Deutsche Bank

Although the devaluation did not cause a significant loss in sales, if China were to devalue the Yuan further, and the brands did not have measures in place to counter this, they could see their sales take a hit as the overall purchasing power of Chinese luxury shoppers decreases.

3. Share prices fell as investors worry
Following the announcement that China had suddenly dropped the value of its currency, the marketplace was shaken and worried shareholders anticipated a change in customer behavior affecting the bottom line of some luxury retail brands. As a result, shares of some of the leading luxury brands such as Swatch and LVMH, both saw their shares fall by more than 3%.

4. Looking ahead
By devaluing the Chinese Yuan, yes it reduced the purchasing power of Chinese shoppers by making buying international luxury goods slightly more expensive however this should increase the quantity of exports, drawing more business in for a lot of Chinese firms. What is important to note is that Chinese luxury shoppers have evolved. Whilst some are still price sensitive, the majority sees quality of prime concern and price as secondary, and so the devaluation of the Yuan is unlikely to have much effect on most luxury good shoppers and in turn international luxury brands located in China. Alongside this, the government’s recent bid to abolish corruption in politics has had an effect on extravagant gift-giving and so sales have also been negatively affected by this. But China’s economy is still expected to grow and luxury sales should also flourish with it. If international luxury brands want to remain desirable to the Chinese shopper, they could increase or improve their online presence through social media channels and e-commerce platforms, or perhaps alternatively revive interest from shoppers through rejuvenating the overall aesthetics of their retail store design.

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Marketing Concept Recommendations for Brands Entering China

August 26, 2015

The Marketing Concept is the philosophy that companies should attempt to outdo their competition, by making decisions to satisfy the needs of their consumers. This means that brands new to China need to make sure they market effectively, ideally in a cost effective way. So, how can luxury brands market to Chinese brands in a budget friendly way?

Marketing Concept Recommendations for Brands Entering China

Social media marketing for brands new to China
Marketing through offline / print media marketing is very expensive. Therefore brands wanting to enter the Chinese market in a cost effective way need to create a Chinese landing page, which includes the implementation of social media channels.

Social media marketing is the most important tool for brands that are new to China and are trying to get the attention of the Chinese consumer. There are about 640 million social media users in China, on sites such as WeChat, Weibo and LinkedIn. The huge popularity of social media offers low-cost and effective marketing for brands. As a result of using social media channels to market a brand, better knowledge of the Chinese consumer can be gained, in order for the brand to outdo its competitors.

Benefits of Social Media Marketing
Increase Brand Recognition: Social media will increase awareness of a brand and is very important for a new brand in the Chinese market. The increased visibility online will make it more familiar to Chinese consumers and increase potential customers.

Richer Customer Experience: A social media account for a brand would also be an important communication channel, allowing it to interact directly with potential and current Chinese consumers. As well as provide information about the brand to the Chinese consumer.

Improve Customer Insight: Information about potential and current Chinese consumers can also be obtained from social media, which is important for a new brand in China trying to gain insight on what products consumers want. Furthermore, it can also allow them to monitor and update their marketing strategy.

Important types of social media
For a luxury brand entering the Chinese market, having online accounts on the three main Chinese social media channels; WeChat, Weibo and LinkedIn is important to target the more educated consumers, who will appreciate the brands heritage and values.

Marketing Concept Recommendations for Brands Entering China

WeChat: WeChat is currently the most popular social media platform in China with 549 million users. Official accounts can be created in order to market a brand, where messages can be broadcast to interact with a wide range of consumers. This is an effective marketing strategy for brands new to China, as it is good for customer relationship management.

Weibo: Weibo in China is equivalent to twitter and is very popular, with around 600 million active users. This form of social media is useful for any brand new to China as you can engage with consumers by responding to direct messages and publishing information for all your followers to see. As well as finding out what the consumer really wants from a product, to get ahead of the competition.

LinkedIn: Although LinkedIn only has 8 million followers; it is still an effective social media platform for brands new to China, as users are normally high-end well-educated professionals. Therefore, this would be a good form of social media, for a luxury goods brand, to increase awareness among their target market.

5 Star Plus Retail Design has recognized the importance of social media and therefore continues to partner with foreign brands, using our valuable experience to help them to enter the Chinese market.

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Luxury Brands Innovative Retail Concepts in China

August 19, 2015

To keep up with the rapidly growing Chinese economy and the changing preferences of the Chinese consumers buying luxury goods, luxury brands are coming up with innovative ways to increase sales in China. This includes setting up restaurants and café’s in luxury stores so customers can have the full brand experience. Below are three brands which are coming up with out of the box design concepts, in order to cater to the Chinese consumer.

Gucci has recently opened its first restaurant in Shanghai, 1921 Gucci, named after the year the brand was founded. It is located on the fourth floor of the popular IAPM luxury shopping mall and can only be accessed by an elevator from the Gucci Store. Gucci has joined other luxury brands in the decision to open a food and beverage establishment at select locations around the world. Gucci previously opened two coffee houses, one in Florence and the other in Tokyo. Many brands, including Gucci are trying to create new ways to promote their brand in the ever-changing Chinese luxury goods market. The new restaurant in Shanghai chooses to serve Tuscan-inspired food to represent the brands heritage in Italy. The restaurant was designed to represent the Gucci experience. This glimpse of the Gucci ‘lifestyle’ will increase interaction with consumers and hopefully attract new customers to the brand, increasing the sales of fashion products.

The retail design of the restaurant was intended to reflect the brand’s iconic style, with elegant interiors, including dark wood, velvet seats and gold accents on the tabletops. The brands logo can also be found on the napkins, silverware and cutlery.

Luxury Brands Innovative Retail Concepts in China
" 1921 Gucci Shanghai " Image Source: That's Mags

Vivienne Westwood
Vivienne Westwood is another brand that has chosen to increase its revenue in the Chinese market, as well as consumer interaction by opening a food and drink establishment. The Vivienne Westwood café is located in Shanghai in the K11 Art Mall.

The retail design of the café, inside the shop, is divided in to two areas – an 18th century tearoom and a shooting studio concept. The Wallace Collection, from a stately home London museum, inspires the 18th century French paintings depicted on the wallpaper in the team room. The vintage chandelier and furniture also add to the feel of an old century tearoom. The studio concept room has a suspended white backdrop, with Vivienne Westwood’s logo on it, designed to create the modern ‘studio’ feel. The two areas are separated by a glass partition, which features a 13-hour “World’s End” clock, with hands that move anticlockwise. This is a reminder of Vivienne Westwood’s World’s End London store, which has a 13-hour clock hung outside. Vivienne Westwood’s signature tartan design is also featured on all the tea sets and tins.

Luxury Brands Innovative Retail Concepts in China
" Vivienne Westwood Café Shanghai" Image Source: Cosmopolitan Hong Kong

Bulgari has gone one step further to increase its brand by setting up hotels in different locations around the world. Bulgari already has hotels in Milan, Bali and London. New Bulgari hotels are scheduled to be built in both Shanghai and Beijing by 2017. The Shanghai hotel is to be in the uppermost 12 floors of a 40-story building located in the historic Zhabei district. The Beijing hotel will be located in the exclusive embassy district, near the trendy fashion quarter of Sanlitun. However, the retail design of the new hotels in China will differ slightly from the European outposts, instead reflecting local style with traditional oriental themes combined with design patterns from western architecture.

Luxury Brands Innovative Retail Concepts in China
" Bulgari Hotel Shanghai " Image Source: Bulgari Hotels & Resorts

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Chinese Luxury Consumer Online Behavior

August 13, 2015

Chinese consumers are the most connected in the world, they are the most active online and on mobile than consumers in Europe and the US. The online world is an important source of influence in persuading the Chinese to buy luxury goods, as they can discover and make emotional connections with luxury brands, research and purchase luxury goods.

With the rise of digital marketing, luxury brands in China need to understand luxury consumer’s online behavior in order to build a brand experience beyond the traditional brick and mortar retail stores.

Chinese Luxury Consumer Online Behavior
Image adapted from "China Reality Check: Luxury and the Online Boom" Exane BNP Paribas

Luxury Brand Website
With 66% of Chinese Consumers in Shanghai seeking information on luxury brand website before making a purchase, official brand website is therefore a powerful resource for luxury consumers to gain insight about the brand’s heritage and values as well as learn about luxury goods. It is important for brands to have a website that is easy to navigate with educational content about the brand and its products. Furthermore, the quality of translation of luxury Chinese landing websites needs to be impeccable, where all content must be translated into Chinese. Unlike Stella McCartney’s Chinese website for example, in which some content remains in English, making the website appear disorderly and unclear to online shoppers in China. Chanel’s Chinese website is attracting numerous online consumers, as all of its content is in Chinese. Luxury brands wanting to effectively communicate to luxury Chinese consumers need to have a localized voice, making the brand’s website experience relatable and relevant to the Chinese consumers. The top 5 most searched luxury brands by Chinese consumers in 2014 were Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Longines, Coach and Cartier.

Luxury E-Commerce
China’s e-commerce market is forecasted to be larger than the US, UK, Japan, Germany and France combined by 2020.

Chinese Luxury Consumer Online Behavior
Image adapted from "China Reality Check: Luxury and the Online Boom" Exane BNP Paribas

Online and mobile shopping has reached an all-time high in China, particularly because of the well-established e-commerce, which is providing Chinese consumers another route to shop for goods in China. Luxury e-commerce is also increasing its presence across the board. According to McKinsey Research Company, about 6% of all luxury sales now occur online, and should increase to 18% in 10 years’ time. A study by KPMG in 2014 revealed that 32% shop online because it offers a wider range of products and brands. Convenience and accessibility is a key driver for online purchases. In general, women are more likely to buy luxury items online with a higher total spend. Men spend more on apparel shoes compared to females.
The Chinese online consumers are generally from outside of the mainland. It is found that the majority of China’s affluent middle classes live in smaller cities. Most of these cities do not have brick and mortar stores, and so result to buying online. Launching an official luxury brand e-commerce site or collaborating with marketplace platforms in China can be extremely beneficial for luxury companies as the Chinese market for luxury products tend to be younger and more willing to try new routes to purchase products. Coach, Estée Lauder and L’Occitane are just a few brands that have opened a virtual retail store via Tmall.

Online Payment Trends
The retail industry in China has changed significantly as online payments have been on the rise. This is particularly due to the fact that in the lower tier cities, there is a lack of access to brands. A study by KPMG in 2014 found that 10,200 luxury consumers of all age groups across China have greater confidence in online channels, including higher transactions when paying online. The average amount spent by respondents on their last item was RMB1, 515. And 17 have said that they purchased an item online of at least RMB2, 000. A greater proportion of consumers also now use online payment methods as opposed to cash on delivery. The study also found that consumers are shifting the way they purchase goods from PCs and tablets to smartphones.

Chinese Luxury Consumer Online Behavior
Image adapted from China Internet Watch

Luxury Social Media Channels
Brands are increasingly interacting with Chinese consumers on various social media sites and are therefore extremely important in markets such as China. Luxury brands can increase brand awareness and make connections with consumers through offline-to-online campaign approaches. This is when brands leverage online platforms to promote offline campaigns. With the rise of social networks in China, there is now a huge opportunity for global brands to interact with new consumers in this region. If successful, the rewards can be huge. 59% of Chinese consumers are willing to share product recommendations via Weibo or WeChat, which can help the brand raise awareness across the millions of users on social networks.

Chinese Luxury Consumer Online Behavior
Image adapted from China Internet Watch Albatross 2013 Journey of A Luxury Consumer

Online Customer Reviews
Before purchasing any luxury goods, Chinese luxury consumers tend to read online blogs and web forums, to research products as well as reading reviews and recommendations from other consumers. Luxury consumers in China prefer to hear feedback from other consumers rather than hearing directly from the brands. It is essentially a community in which they can comment and discuss on luxury brands and products. Not only are online customer reviews a powerful source for luxury consumers purchasing decisions, but it is also a great tool for luxury brands to gain insight into how they are perceived online. This enables brands to maintain an appropriate level of positive feedback and comments about them online.

The Chinese online luxury consumer continues to rise. It is important for brands to familiarize themselves with the behavior of Chinese consumers both online and offline so that they can adjust their marketing strategies accordingly. Even though traditional retail store promotes a physical brand experience, luxury e-commerce, websites and social media are all extremely important for brands to be up to speed in the Chinese market.

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Luxury Branding – an Integration of Art and Culture

August 10, 2015

Luxury brands such as Dior and Louis Vuitton integrate their branding with art, design and culture events. But how does this fusion of art and culture strengthen brand positioning in the luxury retail market, and contribute to better brand performance in China?


Promoting the brand’s image
As luxury brands host art and culture events, Chinese consumers are able to experience the latest in architecture, interior, exterior and retail design. The consumer has a memorable experience as they see the brand’s image alongside the creative and innovative designs on display at the event, and this supports brand image and recognition in the Chinese market. Consumers recently had this experience at the Louis Vuitton Frank Gehry exhibition in Beijing, as the luxury brand hosted the event, showcasing Frank Gehry’s cutting edge architecture. Chinese consumers value quality, heritage and attention to detail in luxury products and the joint promotion of Frank Gehry’s architecture complimented Louis Vuitton’s brand image perfectly.

Creating emotional connections with the brand
The integration of art and culture with a luxury brand can evoke certain consumer emotions and reactions. A colorful and vivid exhibition paired with a particular luxury brand may stir positive consumer reactions and emotions, whereas a darker and more sincere exhibition may serve to arouse consumer curiosity, and may serve to create an air of mystery and intrigue around a particular luxury brand. At the Frank Gehry Louis Vuitton exhibition, darkness was used in combination with subtle mood lighting and projections of Frank Gehry designs to create an interesting and thought provoking experience for the visitors of the exhibition.

Enhancing brand value in the eyes of Chinese consumers
By integrating a particular brand with world-renowned artwork and architecture design, a brand may raise it’s value in the eyes of Chinese consumers as associations are made between the two entities. For example, Louis Vuitton hosting the Frank Gehry exhibition in Beijing would increase Louis Vuitton’s brand value through the brands association with Frank Gehry’s world famous architecture. Displays of Frank Gehry’s prototypes for the final design were present, as well as impressive lighting effects which showcased design innovations such as the glass waves which form the structures roof. In Shanghai, Dior hosted an exhibition called the Espirit Dior culture and art exhibition that featured 100 dresses on display from 1947 to the present day, displaying the brand’s heritage to Chinese consumers, for whom heritage is important.

More luxury retailers are seeing the benefits of combining art and culture with their marketing strategies in China, as the Chinese consumer increasingly values heritage, exclusivity and quality in their luxury purchases. Through showcasing the latest in art and culture at luxury exhibitions in China, brands such as Louis Vuitton and Dior have solidified their brands positioning in the Chinese market, as brands of sophistication and heritage.


For more information regarding art, culture and luxury marketing in China, please read our article: Retail Design Meets Art: Bring Your Store to Life.

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4 Important Observations at Luxury China Exhibition

July 22, 2015

Held in Beijing from 3rd to 5th July, Luxury China is a major fair showcasing international luxury brands. From luxury fashion brands to jewelry brands, such as Vertu, Meissen Couture, Geminos, Luxury China unveils luxurious lifestyle to the Chinese consumers.


5 Star Plus Retail Design had the opportunity to visit the exhibition and here is a summary of our 4 major observations:

1. Exhibitions have becoming a great way to break into the luxury market
Attending Luxury China in Beijing gives companies, new and old, the opportunity to create brand recognition and exposure. It also gives international retail brands the chance to gain an overview about the luxury market in China. Luxury China, just like most other major exhibitions, boasts over 13,000 attendees that are on the look out for the next big brands or designs for luxury goods in China.

2. Chinese luxury is expanding and there is more Chinese investment in the industry
Luxury China demonstrated with its extravagant exhibits that there is an impressive amount of people aligning themselves to and adapting to the growing luxury market. The utilization of the booth design and layout of the space to represent the product was used effectively.

3. Luxury China has many franchising opportunities
The retail industry in China is steadily growing, thus many people who attend the exhibition are looking for opportunities to franchise the next big foreign company in China. A lot Chinese investors are risk takers and have the capital to take many opportunities.

4. Booth designs were innovative
The companies that had the best designs for their booths attracted the most customers. Some of the designs incorporated comforting and luxurious features that drew customers in and made them feel comfortable. The most impressive designed booths had product demonstrations and innovative product displays.

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4 Future Luxury Retail Hotspots in China

July 15, 2015

As the effects of saturation and market maturity begin to be felt in the market for luxury retail in China in tier 1 Chinese cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, where next should luxury retailers turn for opportunities for expansion in the future?


Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan province and the “land of abundance” is a prime example of a future luxury hotspot in China. Chengdu is becoming an increasingly popular destination for both wealthy Chinese tourists and foreign investors, with over 260 fortune 500 companies and 12 foreign embassy’s being established within the city. Chengdu is currently having many shopping malls under construction, increasing the amount of future luxury retail and luxury design opportunities that will be available in the city. In addition to this, the Chengdu metro system is currently being expanded, increasing consumer access and footfall in the shopping malls of the city.


Chongqing, located in southwest China is a prime example of a city that is ripe for the development of the luxury retail sector. The city remains relatively un-penetrated by luxury brands so that provides 2 opportunities for luxury retailers, lower market entry costs and lower levels of competition. In addition to this, the amount of newly developed shopping malls in Chongqing is increasing year upon year, which will provide more opportunities for luxury retailers to establish branches in the city.


With the recent opening of Hisense plaza and the Qingdao mixC mall, many consumers seeking to purchase luxury goods have been drawn into Qingdao, solidifying Qingdao’s role as fashion leader in the Shandong province. Sales of luxury items in Qingdao are expected to triple in the next 5 years, as the area becomes more urbanized and developed. This has drawn more luxury car dealerships and fashion boutiques into the area, creating a larger draw for those seeking to purchase luxury goods. It is expected that fashion good consumptions growth reaches 18% by 2016.


Wuxi city, located in Jiangsu province, is another city in which luxury sales are expected to triple in the next 5 years. Home to US style retail malls, Wuxi is becoming an increasingly popular destination for Chinese consumers, as car ownership increases in the Jiangsu province. Luxury retailers looking to establish boutiques in Wuxi should know that according to the Hurun report, the number of millionaires living in Wuxi increased to 14,200 individuals, an increase of 500 individuals over the previous year of 2013. Millionaires are being drawn to Wuxi by the economic development of the city and the booming local tourism industry, thus creating greater opportunities for luxury retailers.

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Branding in China: Smart Online Marketing Strategies of 2 Leading Luxury Brands

July 7, 2015

The Chinese continue to be the most enthusiastic spenders of luxury retail goods around the world, making up 46% percent of the global luxury market in 2014. Branding plays a huge part in nurturing Chinese luxury consumers purchase behaviors. Burberry and Cartier are 2 luxury brands that have successfully entered the Chinese market and this is why.

Burberry in China:
Burberry for example, is beginning to conquer China. Chinese customers in particular are looking for strong brands in order to symbolize their social status and prestige, and Burberry are meeting their expectations. As a result, Burberry has seen incredible changes with sales increasing by 20% per quarter since over a year. So how is Burberry capturing the attention of many Chinese consumers?


Innovative Store Design:
In April 2011, Burberry has successfully created a ‘buzz’ in China by opening up its first high tech flagship store in Beijing. The runway parade launch party used virtual image technology to project life-like holograms of models and products among actual models on the catwalk, a futuristic display of virtual reality. It was the largest public event to ever be seen in China for a luxury brand.
Currently Burberry’s flagship stores designs include LED screens broadcasting exclusive video clips, RFID technology triggering runway footage and product information in the dressing room, as mirrors turns into screens, as well as digital animated store façade design, which reacts to changes in natural light and weather. Every detail in the flagship store design brings the Burberry brand to life. The over-the-top use of technology is perhaps one main reason for its success in China.

Use of Social Media Channels:
In China, buyers of luxury products are generally under the age of 45 years, a lot younger than consumers in the US and Europe, therefore, Burberry has decided to target the young and fashionable people in China by using social media. Burberry is undoubtedly the brand that is present on the Chinese social networks. Presently, the total number of Burberry fans on Weibo is 944 387, 41 000 more in contrast to Louis Vuitton. Their offline operations are posted online and followed by millions of users on various social media sites. During Burberry’s Autumn/Winter 2014 show, the brand teamed up with WeChat where users had the opportunity to receive exclusive audio, pictures and texts messages about the collections from the designers, celebrities in attendance and models. Burberry’s major interaction with users on social media has made it one of the most well-known brands in China.

Cartier in China:
Cartier is also another successful brand that is popular among the Chinese consumers. It seeks to find innovative ways to generate brand awareness in the Chinese market.


Online Marketing Campaign:
With 1 3339 088 fans on Weibo, Cartier has certainly managed to set itself as a pioneer in digital marketing in China. One way it has done this is by targeting professionals aged 25-35 years old, through its Cartier Love series. In 2006, Cartier partnered with MSN where they created a microsite, themed around the definition of Love, in which users can share the site and its content with friends and family via Windows Live Messenger. The buzz around the Cartier Love series campaign in China was a huge success and received over one million page views. This increased its exposure online and marked the beginning of numerous online campaigns. Currently Cartier is promoting the Proposal collection with a series of 3 engagements story telling videos through Youku, the Chinese equivalent of YouTube. One of the videos has already been played more than a million times.

Adapting to Chinese Consumers:
Although Cartier’s Destinée romantic short film in 2013 has been broadcasted on western social media channels, it was particularly well received by Chinese consumers. The video played tribute to Parisian romance starring Taiwanese actress, Michelle Cheng, in which the proposal was done in Mandarin and the overall cinematic quality matched the Chinese market. All these little elements have created homage to certain Chinese elements, making Cartier a luxury brand successfully received in China. Furthermore, Cartier has been developing products exclusively to the Chinese Market, such as the Rotonde de Cartier watch featuring the number eight in Chinese characters, as well as designing watches for Chinese New Year celebrations, containing Chinese horoscope animals in the design of the watch. Cartier effectively adapts it products to the Chinese market, enabling it to raise more brand awareness in China.

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6 Great Reasons Why China Remains an Excellent Opportunity for Luxury Retailers

June 26, 2015

Recently there has been some buzz about the climate of the Chinese luxury goods market. Some say that the market has slowed down and doubt whether investing in China might not be as interesting as before. The facts say otherwise! Outlined below is why China is still the place to be for luxury retailers.


1. Growing Wealth
The Chinese market has grown tremendously over the past 20 years. In 2014, China's GDP grew 7.4%. Comparatively, the US grew 2.4%, Japan 1.3%, and Germany 1.4%. The amount of middle and upper class Chinese will have grown to 1 billion in 2030, creating the largest market for retail sales. These newly wealthy individuals,enjoy displaying their wealth more than any country. In Beijing there are an outstanding 324 billionaires and 143,000 millionaires according to China's Hurun report. In 2014 the amount of millionaires grew by 18%, much higher than the world average, creating more consumption growth.

2. Luxury Spending Is The Highest In The World
The amount of money spent by Chinese on high end goods is the highest in the world. Chinese shoppers spend a total of $217 billion USD on luxury products in 2013. That number has only increased from there, and will continue to increase in the future.

3. Disposable Income
China's new rich have moved from having to meet their basic needs, to a period of quickly enjoying their newfound riches. A study by McKinsey states that by 2020, more than 75% of China's urban consumers from 1st tier cities such as Beijing or Shanghai will earn between RMB 60,000 to RMB 229,000 a year. With higher wages within China, they are able to take more advantage of their increased income by spending it on luxury products.

4. Development of New Cities
Tier 2, 3, and 4 cities such as Chengdu and Xi'an will have massive increases in their middle and upper-middle classes. In the near future, the amount of new middle and upper class in these cities, will create around 300 million consumers with a thirst for the finer things in life. These consumers have been working to increase their standing in China, so many of them show off their hard work with newly purchased luxury goods. These cities have been widely untapped by luxury retailers although they have populations as large as cities like Berlin and Miami.

5. Ongoing Development
While China's economy is slightly slowing down, its GDP is still higher than in other countries. With the current retail sales volume growth at 8%, the retail industry in China remains a market with opportunities, where consumers easily accept innovations in e-commerce as well as m-commerce. Marketing to consumers in urban cities means using all available channels to brand the products and interact with consumers. Another important element this design is the retail store. This is where consumers want to experience a unique and luxuriou branded atmosphere.

As a result in China's two biggest cities, Beijing and Shanghai, integrating new technologies when designing retail stores is not only a trend but a must for brands.

6.Gift Giving
Only 48% of luxury goods purchased in China are for the individual purchasing the product. The remaining 52% go to their spouse, family, friends, or business partners. This idea of gift giving luxury items will not slow down because it is deeply rooted in the Chinese culture. A very important concept in Chinese culture is "Face", which is a reciprocal relationship. This involves showing others, the giver's humble nature, as well as the symbolic praise given to the receiver of the gifts. This practice creates more incentive to purchase luxury goods for the consumer themselves as well as other people.

As you can see, the Chinese market is as raw as ever, and certainly has the most potential for growth and revenue for new companies entering the luxury market. This opportunity to tap into an unsaturated, high-spending market will be best executed in the next few years since competition is continuously growing and spending is increasing.

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A Look at 5 Star Plus Retail Design's Company Visit Event

June 19, 2015

5 Star Plus Retail Design proudly hosted a company visit event at Tafelspitz, held jointly with many guests from the Swiss Chamber of Commerce on the 18th June 2015. Tafelspitz has been a unique project that we are very excited to be involved in. Invited guests who attended the event include Swiss Chamber of Commerce members, retail brands, food & beverage companies, restaurant owners and entrepreneurs. 5 Star Plus Retail Design portion of the event included pertinent information about "Building Up an F&B or Retail Business in China; the Differences and Difficulties in the Chinese Market".

This exclusive event served as a pre-viewing of the restaurant that was held during the last stage of construction in order for people to know about the process of opening a restaurant. It enabled us to strengthen our company as a foreign expert in the high-end retail and food & beverage consulting and design field in China.

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Unprecedented Price Changes in the Global Luxury Goods Market

June 12, 2015

There is a notable development in the luxury goods market – the adjustment of global price differences. Since premium positioned companies usually do not adjust their prices downward, the latest changes are big news in the industry.


What is Happening?
In the past years, luxury products used to be much more expensive in China than in the West. Now that more and more Chinese are purchasing abroad, luxury brands have decided to adjust their pricing strategy to offer the same price to consumers around the world. Brands are changing prices at a global level to create demand in certain places. Chinese luxury prices are already 20-30% higher than Europe's and are now becoming 60-80% higher because of taxes and now the Euro devaluation. How can luxury brands remedy this problem?

How Companies Are Taking Action?
Certain high profile companies have taken unique strides to fix this emerging problem:
- Channeling "Chanel": The famous French luxury house was one of the first brands to lower their Chinese prices by 20% and raise their Europe prices by the same percentage. While it has been a few months that Chanel has adopted this strategy, some luxury brands still remain uncertain about increasing and decreasing prices between continents.

- Cutting List Prices: A few Luxury brands, such as Richemont and Patek Philippe, have responded to this situation by cutting list prices by 15% in hopes of stimulating demand and increasing sales globally. However, moving forward into this direction could partially harm its brand image; seeing them as not exclusive and deficient in craftsmanship or quality.

- Partially Harmonizing: There are some luxury brands who harmonized their global pricing to better balance sales. Prada has followed suit in China by lowering prices but left their European prices the same.

- Testing It Out: Some Luxury groups remain pessimistic in playing this pricing war, wanting to test it out on a few of their brands before making a global decision. Kering, a French luxury group that owns Gucci, has made Gucci a test for a price change. They have cut their China prices to be only 10-13% higher than other global prices, creating a strong international presence. Gucci CEO Patrizio di Marco says he "wants to be fair to customers" because "Our customer is not price conscious".

- Wait and See: Burberry has hinted at an upcoming price change but has yet to make any changes.

- Passive: Others, such as LVMH, have stated that consistent pricing among markets is not a strategy they will take.

Reasons for such pricing strategies in China
Luxury brands in China are reinventing pricing strategy for these reasons:
- Reducing the Grey market: Combatting the on-going problem of the luxury grey market is one of the main reasons that certain luxury brands have adopted significant price changes. Brands in Europe, such as Chanel and Louis Vuitton, are already limiting the number of certain purchased products in-stores.

- Reducing Showrooming: Often Chinese consumers will check foreign luxury products in China before buying it outside of the country. In fact, an astounding 3/4 of luxury goods purchases by Chinese consumers happens outside of China. Purchasing luxury goods abroad is a common practice whilst on vacation for the Chinese. Most prefer a "Made in Italy" label instead of a "Made in China" for the stories they can tell about purchasing abroad.

- Euro Devaluation: With the Euro losing value there has been more of a gap between prices, creating more incentive for companies to cut prices.

Looking Ahead & Possibilities
Luxury brands that have adopted pricing strategies may need to focus on a few elements, in order to come out ahead of the curve:
- Need to Inspire Their Customers: Brands that are responding to this pricing strategy with something new and different are winning. Luxury brands, like Burberry, use digital technologies as a creative outlet to keep in touch with customers as wells inspiring them on a daily basis. Luxury brands can also inspire their Chinese customers by setting up retail stores in outlet villages offering products which had a bad season performance at an attractive price.

- Supply chain / Stock: Stores in China need to appropriately stock products that are increasing in demand. Basically luxury brands need to adjust their global supply chain system in order to redirect inventory to the latest global hotspots.

- Geography Retail Footprint: With the current demand of luxury shifting, international brands need to question themselves if they have the right amount of retail stores according to demand according to each country and city.

- Brand Level: It is required for brands wanting to survive this pricing strategy to think more about store design differentiation and product innovation. Limited edition in China feels more important than classic models; this is to ensure brand interest as well as sales.

Possible Outcomes
If pricing changes are a success, then those firms who have taken action will come out ahead of the curve with a larger profit as well as a consumer base that has shifted away from those without changed prices. Another possibility with this price change in China is that the brands that dropped prices will lose what customers view as exclusivity. Drastic changes in price will startle consumers and make them question the real value and positioning of the brand itself as well as their handcrafted goods, therefore changes have to be thought through and made very carefully in order to not affect customers and the brand's image.

Outcome Strategies
A price increase in Europe to closer match prices of China may be a viable option that retains brand exclusivity. This strategy sustains profits in Europe while increasing profit in China by shifting Chinese sales from European to Chinese stores. Will they abandon their strategy if it does not work? Will they hold tight without admitting defeat? Or will Chanel and Gucci set the precedent for the new pricing strategy?

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Welcome to 5 Star Plus Retail Design New Office!

May 26, 2015

The team at 5 Star Plus Retail Design is thrilled to show everyone our brand new office.

Welcome to 5 Star Plus Retail Design New Office Design!-1

As 5 Star Plus Retail Design is expanding, we have decided to move to a bigger space. Some of our main concerns when we were looking for a new office space were to find an environment that exudes design, creativity and comfort. A place where our interior designers feel inspired.

5 Star Plus Retail Design is now located on the 6th floor at Shangdu International Center, Dongdaqio Road, Beijing. We welcome everyone to visit us in the near future!

Welcome to 5 Star Plus Retail Design New Office Design!-2
Welcome to 5 Star Plus Retail Design New Office Design!-3

And this is the amazing view from our office:

Welcome to 5 Star Plus Retail Design New Office Design!-5
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Chinese Consumer Attitudes toward Luxury and Marketing Implications

May 22, 2015

Consumers in China have various attitudes when it comes to purchasing luxury goods. So, how can luxury retailers attract consumers into buying their products?


"Luxury China: Market Opportunities and Potential" by Michel Chevalier and Pierre Lu has identified 4 types of Chinese consumer attitudes toward luxury: luxury lovers, followers, intellectuals and laggards. These consumers are male and female between the age of 35 and 50 years old, living in mainland economic cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou or Shenzhen) with successful professional career.

Image adapted from "Luxury China: Market Opportunities and Potential" by Michel Chevalier and Pierre Lu

Based on this classification, 5 Star Plus Retail Design has identified current ways to attract these consumers in China. The goal is to increase sales, whether it's online or offline.

1. The Luxury Lover:
They know exactly what they want from luxury brands and enjoy everything that comes with the lifestyle: heritage, attitude and status. 60% of them are women who are very sensitive to trends, do not listen to other opinions, have a clear understanding and vision of what they appreciate from shopping luxury. They also love to share their brand experiences with their friends and family.

How to attract them?
As luxury lovers know exactly what they like in a brand, marketers need to present the brand's history and promises effectively through all channels (offline and online). Luxury brands in China need to focus on inspiring them with appealing product design featuring the brand's logo clearly, engaging advertisement campaigns in high-end fashion magazine (digital or print), out of the box video commercials and attractive retail store design concepts. The key here is to make the brand relatable to the customers.

2. The Luxury Follower:
They are the ones who are heavily influenced by the media and the public's opinion, rather than following their individual style. They are more likely to want to know why the brand is so famous with the number of retail stores, number of online followers on social media platforms and which celebrity are wearing their products. They are impulsive buyers, who want and need the latest seasonal luxurious items to feel included into their social network. 72% of luxury followers are women.

How to attract them?
Retail brands need to focus on producing popular product designs. The key is to create buzz around trendy luxury goods, by showing the luxury lovers that famous celebrity and social media stars are fond of their products. Asking celebrities to design a limited edition collection for a luxury brand will also attract these consumers to make a purchase. An example of a European luxury brand that has collaborated with stars on limited collections and has successfully built a strong presence in China is Modern Creation Munich (MCM). Designing their luxury items fun and trendy appealing to the younger Chinese generation

3. The Luxury Intellectual:
This category has a balance gender spread with 45% male. These consumers have their own understanding of luxury and are less influenced by the media and the public's opinion. They are very rational individualistic people and prefer discreet, classical luxury products. These consumers love to compare items and are very analytical about it.

How to attract them?
In order to appeal to them, brands need to design classic and simple products, with minimum appearance of the brand's logo. As they are analytical, a well-written description of each item on the luxury brands website is a must for attracting them. A good sales team with a vast knowledge of all the products needs to be in placed, to efficiently assist them in-stores.

4. The Luxury Laggard:
84% in this category are women. Advertisements, trends and other external factors have little effect on them. These consumers in China purchase for functionality rather than fashion. They want to purchase quality products that are practical and durable. Luxury laggards are rational, impulsive and opportunistic buyers that love a great luxury bargain.

How to attract them?
Brands need to focus on functionality, quality and usefulness of the product. They are price-conscious and very impulsive buyers. An effective way to attract this group is to set up a store in an outlet mall, where reasonable pricing is in place. Creating other pricing opportunities, such as sales, will allow brands to invite and pull them to purchase in-stores and online.

Foreign luxury brands wanting to effectively strengthen their presence and positioning in China's luxury market must appeal to all consumers. Taking in account different consumer attitudes toward luxury into their marketing strategies. From conceptualizing the layout of the retail design store to any branded event, never forget to consider to whom you are selling your products to and how the brand's message and image are delivered.

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The Retail Consumer Experience in China

May 18, 2015

Fashion shows, product launch events, retail exhibitions, and store design developments are all occasions that needs to be implemented into an exciting branded consumer experience. In fact, 73% of Chinese consumers consider shopping as a leisure activity. It is crucial for retail brands to focus on creating the perfect retail consumer experience in any physical retail branded situation.


From a store design concept, to any retail events, there are many effective ways to create an enticing shopping experience in China that will persuade consumers to stay longer in any branded environment; in hopes of increasing sales as well as retaining and strengthening consumer brand loyalty.

Successful retail consumer experience means creating a thrilling and an emotive atmosphere. Enticing, attracting, and inspiring consumers with the brand's universe.

When it comes to achieving a successful retail consumer experience in China, brands need to learn from Swatch, where multiple touch point elements were used to interact with consumers. During their Swatch new Irony Xlite watch collection product launch:

1. A large LED screen with a dynamic video was used in accordance with the dance moves and dancers, this was in order to draw consumer's attention during the presentation of the Swatch Irony Xlite product collection. As well as the reveal of the brand ambassador: a Robot.

2. Having a Robot as a brand ambassador where guests could physically interact with him makes the event unique than any other product launch event in China.

3. Buzz was created when attendees can experience the 360 degree high-technology photo booth, where they could take a picture while jumping in the air, and received it instantly as it was printed out there on the spot.

4. Color changing LED lighting chairs were placed for added enticement. At the beginning the chairs were all completely white but as it drew to the end of the event, chairs were lit in different colors creating a little feeling of surprise and element of fun.

5. Colorful lighting projection placed at different parts of the space creates a dynamic, fun and lively retail consumer experience.

6. Integrating online digital marketing features, brands subtly push consumers posting their pictures during the launch event on different Chinese social media platforms, making Swatch brand up to date and relevant to the sharing philosophy of today's era.

There are so many elements to take into account when it comes to creating the perfect retail consumer experience in China. Once a brand achieves to grasp the consumer emotionally through the brand's universe, it will definitely succeed in strengthening its position as well as inviting consumers to interact with the brand on a regular basis. When it comes to the retail consumer experience in any branded environment, nothing is too big or too outrageous!

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5 Star Plus Retail Design an Official Partner for A Luxury Property Showcase: LPS Beijing 2015

April 28, 2015


5 Star Plus Retail Design was cordially invited to be an official partner for the Luxury Property Showcase 2015. Held at the prestigious Legendale Hotel in Beijing from 24th to 26th April 2015, LPS provided visitors with a unique experience by showcasing some of the world's most extraordinary international high-end properties, from historical chateaux to luxury holiday villas which are currently for sale. LPS Beijing has been the talk of the town happening and we were pleased to be part of this successful event by inviting some of our clients to attend and enjoy the experience. The three day affair included private events such as the LPS Gala Cocktail Party, luxury and lifestyle themed receptions and seminars about the foreign property market.

Several architecture & design companies as well as luxury lifestyle brands such as Anne Fontaine, Maserati, and Grand Marnier were invited as official partners of LPS, providing exhibitors and visitors further expertise and insights into the luxury market in China. Having been part of this exceptional event, we are very much looking forward for the next Beijing Luxury Property Showcase to take place in 2016!

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5 Stages of The Chinese Luxury Consumer Purchasing Decision Process

April 17, 2015

How are Chinese consumers choosing and purchasing luxury items? What are the factors influencing their buying decision process? And what happens before and after their luxury purchase? Here are the 5 stages of the luxury consumer's purchasing decision process as observed in the economic hubs in Mainland China, such as Beijing or Shanghai.


1) Inspiration:

On a day-to-day basis Chinese consumers are inspired by their latest shopping experiences, trendy retail design concepts, social media idols, seasonal trends as well as their individual personality and fashion sense. All these aspects will cause an emotional desire in wanting or needing a luxurious item. We can classify three types of want/need:

• Functional where the feature of a product is important for the shopper
• Social where buying luxury goods makes consumers belong to a social environment
• Need of change like replacing an obsolete item with a new one
These days it is important for luxury/high-end premium brands in China to inspire their existing and future customers in wanting certain fashionable luxury products across all marketing channels whether it is online and offline. Read more about Online-to-Offline retailing in China here.


2) Shortlist:

Once the need is recognized, luxury consumers in China would then start identifying brands that are inclined with their personality and values, as well as brands that are familiar to them. In the past years, Chinese consumers have been recognizing more and more premium and international luxury brands as well as appreciating their unique quality and artistry.

Image adapted from Global Research of China Luxury, a KPMG study

3) Research:

After selecting the brands that they desire to purchase, Chinese consumers will then start researching the best offer or deal that they could possibly get. During this stage many will receive feedback regarding the luxury product via friends, search information online or visit a retail design store to attest the feel and look of the luxury goods.

Luxury fashion trend-setters tend to be more subjective due to a more emotional drive; they are buying luxury goods to enjoy it as well as making a fashion statement, while consumers wanting to purchase a luxurious car or technologies tend to be more rational and seek extensive unbiased information.

Image adapted from Digital Luxury Group and Luxury Society

4) Purchase:

Once consumers have evaluated all the information and understand the value that the luxury product will bring to them, they will make a purchase either in the store or online.

At this step the consumer's purchasing decision will certainly depend on the selection made in previous steps, however it will also be affected by external factors such as the quality of their shopping experiences (online or offline), the retail design layout, the customer services in stores, the availability of the item and/or promotion, and the terms and conditions of a return policy.

5) Post-Purchase:

At this final stage Chinese consumers will often seek positive validation from their friends or social network in order to justify their luxury purchases. Chinese consumers will also compare the adequacy of the product or the brand with their initial needs and expectations. They will feel either a sense of satisfaction, guilt or disappointment, which will then influence their future purchase decision process. This is a very important step for marketers that should not be overlooked as it can lead to brand loyalty and increase future sales.

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Opening in June! Tafelspitz, a Fine Dining Experience

March 31, 2015

We are excited to announce that the location for the Tafelspitz flagship store has, as expected, been confirmed to be at Nali Patio's 4th floor besides Acqua in Beijing's Sanlitun area. Construction is scheduled to begin this month and be completed by June / July 2015. We are looking forward to a wonderful Opening event that will be hosted at Tafelspitz in early summer.

At 5 Star Plus Retail Design, we are excited to be part of this project by supporting the brand with a very important detail: the restaurant's store design. While recently most restaurants in Beijing and other parts of China chose a "raw" or vintage inspired style, Tafelspitz had to look exclusive, a bit classic, yet modern and chic at the same time. Moreover, the store design had to suit both formal business dinners and more casual family meals while catering to consumers from both China and Western countries.


The brand has already created a buzz around its soon-to-open restaurant by offering its culinary products during a number of international and German-speaking cultural events since last year, such as the visit of the Austrian president in Beijing on March 26th. Here are a few questions that we asked the owners:

1. How is Tafelspitz different from other high-end positioned restaurants in Beijing?

Well we can't speak for other restaurants, but the core philosophy of our restaurant is to guarantee each guest a unique and wonderful evening. Key in achieving this is our use of organic food, a lot of Austrian 'Know How' as well as the Austrian and Chinese teamwork.

2. What is Austrian food like and what is different to other European cuisines?

Austrian food is rich in texture and has a unique flavor. The most frequently consumed types of meat in Austria are chicken, beef, and pork and a lot of them are totally organic. Austrian pastries, sweets, jams, and cakes are also very famous.

The difference to other European cuisines is not easy to describe because the Austrian cuisine is unique. It was influenced by the countries which surrounded it (Germany, Hungary, and Italy as well as France) when Austria was the middle kingdom of Europe.

3. What was the key requirement for the retail design of your restaurant?

The main goal of the design was to create a pampering atmosphere where the guest wants to come back again and again because he feels the Austrian way of life. To accomplish this we work with selected, beautiful materials which are also commonly used in local restaurants in Austria (wood, stone, glass, steel and copper).

4. What is special about your in-store experience (the space) and the design as compared to your competitors in China?

Firstly, we put the focus on the bigger size and high quality equipment of the kitchen to guarantee a unique Western style dining experience. Every restaurant should be planned around the kitchen and not vice-versa.

Secondly, we offer very big tables so that the guest can really enjoy the dining process and the evening and is not sitting too close to other people.

And finally, we created a modern and traditional Austrian restaurant together with our design team that includes some typical Austrian elements but won't have the classic "kitsch" some would expect.

5. Who would be your ideal dinner guest?

We do not have an ideal dinner guest, but heartily welcome everybody who finds pleasure in the culinary side of life and knows to appreciate excellent service and a unique environment.

For us, an "ideal dinner guest" would be a returning guest who recommends our restaurant to his friends and business partners turning our food, service and environment into an increasingly acclaimed, first-choice dining experience.


Tafelspitz will be the first authentic Austrian restaurant in Beijing. Thanks to the richness and variety of the Austrian cuisine, we are convinced that the restaurant will entice a broad range of people. Additionally, with its chic store design, it might just be the right place to host your event.

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CHIC Fashion Exhibition Shanghai 2015

March 26, 2015

Taking place in Shanghai for the first time, CHIC International Fashion Fair attracted hundreds of exhibiting brands and thousands of visitors.


For those who did not visit the exhibition, here is a summary of our key observations:

1. Chinese fashion brands are increasingly paying attention to design.

Chinese fashion products are evolving and becoming more international, chic and stylish. At the same time, local brands have realized the importance of designing branded marketing materials, exhibitions stands and stores.


2. Local brands focus on creating branded franchising concepts.

Brands who used to be manufacturers in the last few years have now realized the potential of the franchising market. By investing into the creation of a brand, with a brand story, visual identity, marketing materials, and eye-catching, well-designed exhibition stands these companies are able to attract a large number of potential franchisees.


3. International exhibitors at the CHIC are still primarily production-focused without giving thoughts to building a brand.

Most fashion companies in the international pavilions are manufacturers where the existing brand identity is minor (with a brand name and perhaps some fashion shots and a company brochure at the most) or simply non-existent. Accordingly, there are no branded elements or interestingly designed features at the exhibition stands beside the products themselves.


4. Little adaptation of foreign products to the local market.

Many foreign brands fail to find distributors and decide to not exhibit any more after attending one or two consecutive years. One of the reasons for their difficulty to find partners in China is that many foreign brands underestimate the Chinese market, its complexity and consumer preferences, and do not adapt their products to the local market. Chinese consumers usually need different sizes and cuts and prefer more colorful, patterned garments.

5. Technology Focus.

New technologies that created sounds and movement to attract people were seen everywhere. Most commonly used were music, LED and LCD screens, projected images, videos and logos; the use of QR codes, and lighting as a key design element.


Chinese brands are learning fast and are committed to develop commercially successful, branded businesses. If foreign fashion companies want to take a foothold in this exciting market, they need to first research and understand the country, the various geographic areas and diverging consumer characteristics, and the dynamics of the local retail market. Then, a strategy with achievable milestones and measurable targets needs to be defined to facilitate the establishment of a successful business in China.

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10 Key Points for Successfully Working with Franchise Partners

March 18, 2015

China and its cities Beijing and Shanghai are on top of the list of new sales territories for many retail brands. While there are many ways to enter the market (such as e.g. export – directly working with wholesalers or distributors, working with licensees, or founding a subsidiary in China), many brands choose a franchising model where they work with one or more local partners as expansion strategy.

A franchisee sells based on a proven brand concept and has to adhere to many different regulations imposed by the brand headquarters (including e.g. the store design, staff attire, product range to be carried, product display, and prices).


In our view, the most important things that are to be considered when working with a local company are two: the selection of the right partner who shares yourvision and then a consistent follow up and control of the implementation of the brand image. Here are our top 10 key aspects to consider:

1. Select your Partner Carefully: Many brands can't wait to come to China and when finally a local company shows interest in the products, the brand headquarters often jump at the opportunity andshortly sign aditribution or license agreement. It is important though to do a thorough background check and select the right partner. Check the track record, the geographic presence, existing relationships with landlords (department stores and shopping malls in Beijing, Shanghai and other bigger cities) and network of sub-distributors in smaller tier cities and other regions.

2. Exclusiveness– yes or no? Are you looking for a general distributor or do you plan to work with several partners in China? A general distributor or exclusive franchise partner has more responsibilities and control over the brand in China. This usually includes the responsibility to invest into brand promotion and the right to work with sub-distributors. You need to decide whether the license should be limited to certain geographic areas and whether you want to contractually reserve yourself the right to also enter the market directly.

3. The Contract: Make sure you know what you want and have a clear long term strategy and then cover all points in the contract. Certainly to be included are the duration of the agreement, geographic territories, and termination terms. Prices should be controlled by the brand headquarters and new store locations need to be approved beforehand.

4. Minimum Purchase Order: Purchase prices and other conditions depend on the minimum purchase order value that is specified in the contract for the first and following years.

5. Marketing Expenses: General distributors and exclusive franchise partners are typically contractually committed to invest a certain yearly amount into marketing and promotion for the brand in China.

6. Marketing Materials: In many cases, local partners do not have a very strong marketing team. This means that there is often a sub-optimal marketing strategy and the brand is not promoted in the right way. In order to avoid that the franchise partner creates and publishes their own marketing materials with inaccurate Chinese marketing messages, the brand headquarters need to regulate the details of the collaboration on marketing issues in the contract. For an efficient promotion of the brand in China, the marketing department at the headquarters needs to understand that in China speed is fundamental and needs to give full support to the local partner.

7. Store Identity Handbook: When working with franchise partners, it is crucial to ensure that all retail stores are built in line with the international brand image and worldwide store design standard. Most brands develop a store design or store identity handbook that specifies all details related to the store design, including all products and materials required for the façade, areas in the store, furniture and fixtures, product displays, and other elements. With a store identity (SI) standard, brands can reinforce a globally consistent brand image.

8. Control of the Brand Image: Even with existing guidelines and a standard detailing the store design, it is important to regularly visit the stores to reinforce the correct implementation of the brand image. To be checked are the store design (first check and approval before the opening!), the product display, the staff attire, sales techniques and customer service, among other things. Especially stores in smaller cities in China are likely to more or less diverge from the brand standard.

9. The Pricing Policy: Ensuring consistent prices across China is another challenge. Good practice requires brands to specify the right to exercise control over the retail prices in the franchise agreement. Most brands will publish retail price lists for the different markets on a yearly basis. Regular site checks will ensure that distributors and franchise partners comply with the price regulations.

10. Regular Training of Staff: Be aware that your franchise partner is also your customer and that the more support they get the more and the better they will be able to represent your brand and sell your products. Especially the sales team will need support and regular trainings to understand the brand philosophy as well as uniqueness and true value of the products. Only if they are convinced of the products and have no doubts they will be able to sell effectively. Assign someone to conduct frequent trainings.


Whether to franchise or not depends of the size of the brand, the amount of resources the headquarters are willing to spend on the Chinese market, as well as the amount of control they want to exercise over the brand development and image in China.

At the moment, the brands that most successfully work with franchise partners over many years are medium-sized companies that have a certain heritage and are often still family-owned. Companies of this size typically focus on creating high quality products in a sometimes rather traditional environment and fewer efforts are spent on marketing and business development. Working with a local partner that has well established sales channels and relationships in the market absolutely makes sense.

By contrast, products that are very new, creative or innovative would require more groundwork for creating brand acceptance through the use of a more creative marketing and design strategy. Since many franchise partners still work with rather traditional marketing and sales channels, such retail brands should consider entering the Chinese market by opening their own stores.

Independently from the expansion strategy chosen, ensure that you have a globally coherent brand image and give increased support to the local marketing and sales teams.

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Top 5 Worst Case Scenarios When Opening a Store in China

March 10, 2015

Before coming to China and actually opening a store it is hard to imagine all the things that could go wrong. Here is our top 5 list of possible worst case scenarios. They are happening on a day by day basis!


1. No Staff:On the first day, your new staff does not show up. Or, a few days before you open, the landlord (department store) informs you that they have very strict requirements for sales staff (Hukou, height, weight and other personal details) and that part of your sales team does not fulfill those requirements and is therefore not allowed to work in your store.

2. No Products: You have started to ship your products a few months before the planned store opening and now your products are still stuck at China Customs. Your retail store is empty and you have no products to sell.

3. Selling not allowed:Your store is open and the products, the team, and everything else is ready. Then the landlord comes and checks and asks you for your product tests reports. With some landlords, you need to provide product test reports for every product type you carry. You also need to have correct and complete Chinese labels on your products and packaging as per the Chinese law. Otherwise, you will have to place signs into your shelves and counter saying that you are just "displaying" and not selling products at the moment.

4. No Credit Card reader:In stores where you have a cashier desk and POS you will also need a credit card reader from a selected bank. It can sometimes take months to actually get the credit card reader, and if you are selling premium products and do not have a credit card reader in the store yet, chances are that customers will rather walk away than search for the nearest ATM to withdraw money and then come back to you to pay.

5. Construction Delay:Construction projects all over the world are usually delayed, and although everything in China happens much faster, you should be prepared that fit-out projects are usually delayed too. This might not necessarily be the fault of the general contractor but could also be related to the approvals granted by the landlord and government bureaus. When delays occur, you might have to shift your opening date backwards.


Even in China's most developed cities like Beijing and Shanghai problems can and will occur frequently. If you choose to go to second or third tier cities, certain situations will become even more complex and harder to solve.

What can you do to avoid any of the above and make sure that your new flagship store or boutique opens as planned?

Be prepared for the unexpected and talk to as many people in the industry as possible. A network of contacts in your business area might also enable you to solve problems more efficiently.

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Our Top Five Storefront Designs for Chinese New Year:
2015, the Year of the Goat

February 13, 2015

The run up to the new lunar year is officially under way with some of the globe's most prestigious brands fashioning their store front designs in honor of the upcoming year of the goat. Many deluxe retailers opted for minimalist schemes with understated red features and goat silhouettes, whereas others fabricated more vibrant displays. See our top five Beijing storefront designs for the Chinese New Year here.

5. Thomas Sabo


A subtle goat feature was integrated into Thomas Sabo's Beijing retail store, designed with perfect continuity to the Sabo brand.

4. Calvin Klein


In true Calvin Klein style, simplicity, streamlining and minimalism was a running theme throughout their Beijing window display, corresponding seamlessly with their collection.

3. Parkview Green


An architectural landmark to Beijing and home to the most luxurious retailers available; Parkview Green mall exhibited the most energizing and celebratory displays throughout the entire city's retail complexes, with goat sculptures and a lantern bridge flowing across the building.

2. Camille Fournet


Camille Fournet took a unique approach to their retail design, applying goat horns to amplify focus on their handbags.

1. Bottega Veneta


Bottega Veneta demonstrates how a prestige brand can maintain an elite image through a themed window display. With goats molded into rich gold tiles, this ingenious design radiates luxury placing them at our number 1 spot for the best Beijing retail storefront design for Chinese New Year of 2015.

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A Must for Survival: Online-to-Offline Retailing in China

February 6, 2015

With more than 632 million internet users and around 520 million smartphone owners in China, there remains no doubt that the digital world is an integral part of the lives of Chinese consumers. Foreign retail brands that want to survive and expand their presence in mainland China need to start fusing digital strategies with existing retail design concepts to bring the brand's shopping experience to a whole new level.


1. What is Online-to-Offline retailing?

O2O (Online-to-Offline) retail strategy is defined as a plan of action designed to simultaneously integrate online assets into brick-and-mortar stores in order to provide a consistent brand image across all channels and from a global perspective in order to ultimately increase sales. The goal is to use online marketing strategies to drive customer traffic and purchases in physical stores and vice versa.

2. The importance of brick-and-mortar stores

Despite the fact that consumers retail habits are evolving in being more tech-focused, with Chinese consumers "show-rooming" 26% of the time (IBM data) they spend in stores. Retail brands need to remain present in the offline world by re-defining and re-establishing the image of brick-and-mortar stores.

Retail stores, especially flagship and concept stores, remain a vital branding and sales tool for all brands. Only a physical space can offer a fully branded customer experience where consumers can see and touch the products in a branded environment. A consistent brand and visual identity across all marketing channels and implementation of these aspects into the store design are key to promoting customer loyalty. While digital channels offer convenience and additional information, consumers visit and purchase in store because of the multi-dimensional brand experience. This includes the testing of products and the customer service. In addition, customer loyalty schemes such as VIP customer cards and occasional VIP customer events have proven to be very successful in binding customers to specific store locations and promoting regular return visits.

Retailers need to see technologies as a means not only to survive offline but also as a strategic long term investment into their positioning in the market. Ideally this is implemented by creating an exciting digital experience in the retail store and providing services that cannot be offered online. A famous department store in China, Lane Crawford, has managed to successfully execute a digital feature in celebration of their first year anniversary. Lane Crawford's flagship store in Shanghai was transformed into a mobile interactive environment where consumers who had downloaded the appropriate application onto their smartphones could view exclusive content when scanning different signs.


3. The key technologies

The key in implementing digital features in retail design concepts is to use them as a creative channel to showcase the brand's personality and aesthetics. Here are a few digital technologies that can be applied for many premium and luxury brands in cities such as Beijing or Shanghai.

1) In-store Wi-Fi: Consumers connected to the free Wi-Fi and who have previously downloaded the brand's mobile application could receive messages regarding in-store promotions via push-notification.

2) QR Codes: Scanning these signs applied on or besides displayed products could direct consumers to a video on the brand's website that shows how the product works.

3) Mobile Application: By May 2014, 65% of the Internet users in China were using WeChat to scan QR codes, share their experiences with friends, follow brands and purchase products. Creating a WeChat account can help retailers to keep their customers updated on new products and promotions.

4) RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) Sensors: Having sensors that trigger the display of a selected collection on an LED screen when consumers are near a certain area of the store, this can make the shopping experience surprising and enticing.

5) Interactive LED display: Consumers can virtually try on different products, save their preferred look on their smartphone and share it with their friends on social media before purchasing an item.

Source: the wall street journal

4. Advantages of online-to-offline retailing


At 5 Star Plus Retail Design, we believe that integrating digital solutions into your retail design concept will be beneficial for the brand's positioning in the long term while effectively increasing the brand's retail revenue. In addition, retailers will have more control about the brand's online and offline image.

Here are 5 of the most important reasons why retailers need to implement digital strategies into their store:

1) Increase in-store footfall: Creating a buzz for a new product launch by promoting customer interaction with the product and asking consumers to share their experience on social media. This is done via a hash tag created specifically for the event and will attract both new and loyal consumers into the physical store. Measuring the impact of a retail design concept is very important for managing its success; you can read more about The Importance of Measuring Retail Design here.

2) Maximize upselling opportunities: A tablet next to the displayed product can play a video showing customers how they can pair the item with another fashion piece in the store.

3) Nurture and promote customer loyalty: Designing a mobile application where customers can track current store promotions and personal loyalty points can help consumers to shop for certain items in the store and others on the e-commerce website. Social media campaigns need to include information about promotions designed to drive customers into the store rather than only posting general news about a new collection in order to again promote in-store sales and performances as well as customer loyalty.

4) Improve customer engagement: Offering a consistent brand image by connecting digital and in-store services can really boost customers to engage with the brand on an online and offline basis.

5) Improve customer data collection: Brands need to collect customer information for data mining, analysis and adjustments of the marketing strategy, as well as for customizing promotions to push sales. Retailers can now gather more information about their online customers, via their e-commerce website or mobile application, and motivate these consumers to shop in a physical store. Information collected generally includes geographic and gender-specific data, the pages and items that were browsed on the retailer's website/mobile application, how many minutes were spent online, and upcoming birthdays. Brands can use this information to drive online customers into physical stores by simply sending an email with a discount on that specific item that the customer has been searching for. The key here is to use existing information in a more effective way.

To sum up, online-to-offline retailing is a must for both high-end/luxury brands as well as mass retailers. Brands that do not embrace digital technologies in a strategic and future oriented way and as part of their overall retail and marketing strategy will lag behind and not survive in the long run. New technologies should be implemented in a creative and unique way in stores to make shopping a fun, dynamic and enticing experience. When it comes to the consumer experience no idea is too big!

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2015 Top 10 Store Design Trends

January 30, 2015

2015 is finally here and we, at 5 Star Plus Retail Design, wanted to share with you our top 10 trends in store design for this year. These trends are true for retail stores in major cities in China such as Beijing and Shanghai, but are also evident in other places.

1. Hi-Tech

LED screens showcasing the collection on the runway, tablets in the stores for customers to browse products and interactive window displays are just some of the technologies used in store designs by forward looking brands. Brands who want to survive need to integrate digital strategies with their brick-and-mortar stores, not only to avoid "showrooming" but to create a consistent brand image across all channels, drive in-store sales, and promote brand loyalty. One brand known to be one step ahead in terms of O2O (online-to-offline) strategy is Burberry, and others are quickly following.

2. Pop-Up Stores

More and more brands are using pop-up store designs as this is a very effective way to create a buzz. This is achieved by implementing very conceptual or creative, eye-catching design elements that are sometimes not practical for retail stores. Pop-up stores are also a very cost-effective way to test out new territories or launch new product collections, since the financial investment is kept to a limit.

3. Back to Nature / Sustainability

Many brands like Aesop or Starbucks are making sustainability or authenticity of materials the key philosophy of their store design concept. This trend of using natural materials, textures, or a natural theme for the concept is observed in a broad range of special retailers and F&B chains.


4. Futuristic Displays

To create a more futuristic and trendy store design, luxury brands and medium-positioned retailers are opting for unique shapes such as curvy or streamlined customized fixtures for clothing rails as well as product display cabinets for shoes and bags. Examples of brands known for their futuristic displays are Marni, Alexander McQueen and Stuart Weitzman.


5. Mix of Materials & Design Styles

More and more brands take the bold step of launching a new store design concept that is based on an eccentric mix of materials which are traditionally not combined. This allows retail brands to express different facets of the brand image and distinguish themselves clearly from other competitors. An excellent example here is Kiehl's which surprises customers with a store design comprising of industrial elements (brick wall, neon), premium accents (chandelier and marble), natural features (wooden display furniture) and clinical touches (uniform of the sales team, skeleton, almost-clinical product packaging).


6. Local Design Elements

We have worked with a range of international brands that all decided to integrate Chinese features into their adapted global store design concept. Adding local elements will add context to the location of the space and increase acceptance of local consumers. Design features which are often applied to the store are Chinese stools, display cabinets and screens, ancient door elements as well as ceramics on display.

7. Warm Color Palettes / Femininity

Marsala is the color of the year 2015 and can be perfectly combined with other warm color tones such as taupe, olive and grey. Grey in general will make a space look more elegant and premium.

In the past years, many retail spaces looked a bit cold because of their combination of neutral white lighting, white walls and other cool color tones. Recently, a number of brands are (finally!) realizing that the majority of their customers are women and that in order to have them stay in the store and try on products, a warm and feminine atmosphere is required. Besides an adjustment of the color scheme, soft furnishings and textures are tools that can be applied to achieve a warm store design concept.

8. The New Metal: Copper

Copper seems to be the metal that is slowly replacing gold or silver. Retail brands can include this rosy ashy metal into their store design with clothing fixtures, pendant lamps, product display tables or even wallpaper designs. Having touches of copper on a white backdrop, with grey furniture accents and wood flooring can make a store feel luxurious and modern.

9. A Touch of Luxury: Marble Effect

Many luxury brands are using artistic painting techniques to create a marble pattern effect on walls, floor tiles and even onto counter surfaces. This in turn makes the store chic, modern and trendy. Retailers on a budget can use real marble on a few selected surfaces, tiles, wallpaper or rugs to obtain this effect.

Givenchy HongKong, Source: Givenchy

10. Industrial Style

Going back to basics with monochrome colors, exposed steel beans, big windows and concrete flooring creates a sense of depth and communicates a certain authenticity of the brand. In addition, products usually stand out well with an industrial background.

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The 6 Main Purchase Motivations of Chinese Luxury Consumers

January 20, 2015

In China, a country with sales of luxury goods of 22 billion euros in 2014 and still increasing, it is important for international luxury brands to understand the main purchase motivations of different Chinese consumers for successful branding strategy and marketing sales. So why do Chinese consumers purchase luxury goods?

Image adapted from Global Reach of China Luxury, a KPMG Study

Our retail consulting team in China has observed six purchase motivations for both Chinese men and women consumers in different tier cities in China.

1. Boasting

In 2008, 70% of the Chinese consumers saw luxury brands as a means to demonstrate their status and success. However today still both Chinese men and women consumers buy luxury items to impress their peers as these products make them feel special and increase their confidence. Aware about "losing face", they also want to confer a feeling of success among their family members and friends.

Consumers tend to have planned purchases by buying popular luxurious products that are known and appreciated by the minority. Why is boasting such an important purchase motivation? Chinese consumers consciously think that the more famous the brand is, the more social and financial acknowledgement they will earn. They are also not frightened to publicly display social climbing through material.

2. Self-Reward

In the last years, we have been observing an increase of Chinese consumers spending more money on self-indulgence as well as self-enjoyment in search for luxury experiences and these numbers are still on the rise today. A recent survey from KPMG showed that 53% of the respondents want to enjoy the high quality through luxury experience. These consumers pamper their success by purchasing luxury goods for their own contentment. They are willing to experience luxury by purchasing items that are emotionally meaningful to them such as cars, hotels and resort stays, restaurant visits and spa treatments. These modern Chinese consumers are seen to have more hedonistic tendencies, which were only in the past linked to western culture. Consumers motivated by self-reward tend to have planned purchases as well as impulse buys however marketers need to deliver on emotive attributes too when it comes to touching this segment of consumers.

3. Self-Expression

Chinese consumers are now more aware of different niche and uncommon luxurious brands; 90% of modern Chinese women bought niche luxury brands on their last trips abroad. These Chinese consumers use these items as a way to reflect their personality and express their individuality. These trendsetters who mix and match different luxury brands are very fashion-forward, young, knowledgeable and work as white-collars. Consumers who are self-aware have a certain snobbism when it comes to luxury goods, meaning that they planned to spend less on product that the majority of consumers are buying. They are searching for unique, limited editions and curated pieces from popular luxury brands as well as less famous products.

4. Investment

Many consumers in China believe that buying luxury goods is an investment for the future, as its value will increase; this is true for watches, wines, jewelries, antiques and arts. The luxury market in China is growing in sophistication where more local consumers, around 29% in 2013 by KPMG research, are able to appreciate the heritage and history of a luxury brand. Moreover collecting unique luxurious items is also a way to reflect personal taste. These purchases are mostly planned as finding and collecting distinctive artifacts requiring a considerable amount of time and expertise.

5. Gifting

Gifting in China has been identified as an important motive in purchasing luxury goods and accounted for more than 20% of luxury consumption in 2011 according to Bain & Company. The motivation of buying luxury goods for special occasions or holidays is a planned purchase. Besides wealthy consumers purchasing luxury goods for family members, gifting to employees, colleagues, superiors, business partners and friends, promotes harmonious business relationships in China.

Below you can find the top 15 luxury brands that are chosen as gifts by women and men in 2014 in China.


Images are adapted from Hurun Report Chinese Consumer Survey 2014

6. Stress-release

In a recent research by McKinsey, Chinese luxury consumers show the highest tendency to make impulse buys against their global peers, around 40% of the people purchased luxury goods within one day of wanting it. Women consumers generally buy luxury goods out of an emotional reason, while men seldom make emotional impulse purchases. These spontaneous consumptions are desires that need to be satisfied directly. Retail therapy is a way for them to lift negative feedback such as depression, sadness or anger. After encountering a stressful experience that challenges their self-image, these consumers tend to distract themselves by purchasing luxury goods in order to regain positive emotions. However many consumers also use luxury products to protect themselves against potential danger to their self-image. They become selective in what they would like to purchase prior to future challenges. For example, a woman would buy an expensive bag out of stress of feeling perceived as unsuccessful when meeting old friends.


While in the past showing-off was a very important purchase motive, this purchase reason has become less significant for consumers in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai. The present luxury retail market in China is more refined where many are appreciating the heritage and image of international luxury brands as perceived through the store design or advertisements that are in line with their personal aesthetics and values. In fact we are observing that Chinese consumers in different tier cites are getting more emotional, a huge factor that motivates many consumers in self-reward, gifting and self-expression.

In order to touch consumers on emotive attributes it is important for brands to create campaigns that convey a certain feeling or personality when owning luxury items, a store design that is appealing to their targeted audience, VIP events for loyal customers as well as training store teams in being meticulous to support consumers at the point of sale.

In general consumers in China are not homogeneous in their motives for buying luxury brands. Some might purchase for impressing others while others are buying as a stress release. Whatever the motives are, luxury takes different forms for various people and is dependent on the experience of the consumer him- or herself shaped by the brand's identity and image.

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Who is the Chinese Luxury Consumer? 8 Customer Profiles - Part 2

December 29, 2014

For this second part you will find the last four of the eight customer profiles in China.


5. Little Emperors

These young brand conscious consumers are the consequence of the one child policy with six sources of disposable income (parents and grandparents). It is known that half of the income of urban Chinese families is spent by the youngest member. The older "little emperors" who are around 30-35 years old and have a salary, still try to research the best for themselves, resulting in luxury-conscious consumers that expect the best in products. They are also not shy about demanding it or flaunting it, as luxury goods are a strong social symbol in China.

6. White-Collars

The number of highly educated white collars working for big corporations in urban China is on the rise with a monthly income of around 6,000 Yuan. These consumers are mostly young, sensitive to luxury brands and trends. While their income is relatively respectable they can't afford to spend all their salary in one go. This segment consists of male and female focusing on the primary level of luxury consumption such as cosmetics, perfumes and small leather goods.

7. Connoisseurs

Connoisseurs are collectors of valuable items. Male connoisseurs collect watches and expensive furniture while female connoisseurs collect jewelry and bags. These consumers, when shopping, search for unique and heritage pieces with remarkable craftsmanship. They are opinion leaders among their friends and gain a high level of satisfaction from luxury collections.

8. The Web Luxury Boomers

With 632 million internet users in China, e-commerce is on the rise, offering new and additional opportunities for luxury brands. These web luxury boomer shoppers are between the age of 20 and 50, have middle to high income, and have access to internet via computer, tablet or smartphone. They search information online about luxury brands (websites, forums and social networking sites) at least once a month. These web luxury consumers tend to buy luxury products based on brands, product design and quality. Some search online for a luxury bargain others won't even be bothered about the price. While many Chinese people are purchasing luxury goods online, others are still a bit skeptical over product authenticity, safe payments and a lack of e-commerce regulations.

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Who is the Chinese Luxury Consumer? 8 Customer Profiles - Part 1

December 19, 2014

The luxury business in China is still going strong with consumers between 20 and 50 years old with diverse backgrounds, lifestyles, incomes and jobs. For this first part you will find below four of the eight customer profiles of luxury goods in China.


1. The Officials

Historically consumption of luxury goods in China was targeted towards males, especially officials which comprise of party members, politicians and government personnel. While these consumers were one of the first luxury consumers, it has in the last 10 years declined due to the anti-corruption efforts of the Chinese Government.

2. The Traditional Rich Business Elite

In 2013, FORBES estimated that China had 157 billionaires and the numbers are still increasing. These rich elite consumers are generally male, more than 40 years old, are fairly concentrated in large urban areas and are successful entrepreneurs and business owners with a lot of "guanxi" (professional relationship). This segment has been consuming luxury goods for a long time and pursuing the best high-quality products available on the market.

3. The New Luxury Shopper

This is a mixed segment comprising of business people, entrepreneurs, and celebrities who are newly rich. They are slightly younger than the traditional rich business elite shopper however they are willing to spend a high amount of their earnings, rather than saving for their old age, in quality products to suit their extravagant lifestyle. These modern luxury consumers are well educated and can tell the difference between authentic and fake brand products.

4. Independent and Empowered Women

While in the past, 90% of luxury goods in China were purchased by men. Women are now becoming more financially independent, spending more on luxury goods. This segment consists of business woman, celebrities and newly rich wives. Their buying power is still rising as women are outperforming men in academic achievement, career progression and entrepreneurship.

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China World Shopping Mall Window Display Designs - Christmas 2014

December 17, 2014

Stores in China World Shopping Mall, Beijing, have finally put their Christmas decorations up convincing customers to partake in this season of giving and trying to make Christmas shopping just as important as it is in the West.

Most international luxury brands in China created their Christmas window display designs in a chic yet minimal way, showcasing their unique offer of luxury goods. The main purpose for having such a simple window display design is to position each product as a centerpiece of their brand's identity, an effective marketing strategy to reinforce their branding as well as reminding customers about the quality and remarkable craftsmanship of each of their products.

What we have observed as the main trends this year were extra-large decoration objects such as Christmas ornaments, ribbons, and gift boxes arranged around the products, large shiny and high gloss surfaces mainly in the colors gold, silver and red, and animal elements related to the season.

Below are a few Christmas window display designs in China World Shopping Mall that have caught our eye.

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2014 Christmas Store Window Displays from Around the World

November 27, 2014

Christmas is just around the corner and stores in China and around the world have started to decorate their window display for this joyous occasion. While Chinese retail stores are welcoming the holidays with a more minimal retail design with hints of glitter and sparkly decorations, international retail stores designed colorful, high-impact Christmas window display concepts to attract passers-by. Here are some of our favorite Christmas store window displays from different cities around the world.

1. Window Displays in New York

Glamorous lighting and magical decorations make the Christmas window displays of New York's stores some of the best in the world and not to miss.

Bergdorf Goodman, Source: Harpers Bazaar

Macy's, Source: New York Post

Barney's, Source: Barney's

2. Festive Store Window Displays in London

London's retail stores translated the art of storytelling to life into a three dimensional design for some very enchanting Christmas store window displays.

Harrods, Source: Harpers Bazaar

Selfridges, Source: The Guardian

Harvey Nichols, Source: Harvey Nichols

3. Store Window Designs in Paris

There is a mix between playful fun and classic feel to Parisian stores window displays.

Galeries Lafayette, Source: Galeries Lafayette

Printemps Haussmann, Source: Harpers Bazaar

Le Bon marché, Source: Le Bon Marché

While this season's Christmas window displays are being admired by people on the streets, big department stores are already starting to think about the themes for next year's Christmas store window designs. It has become a tradition for department stores to showcase their market positioning and compete through a unique store window display for each season, inspiring and enticing young and old while effectively drawing people in their stores.

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What Is Branding?

November 25, 2014

Branding has become a fashionable word that seems to be applied to a broad range of marketing and design activities, from advertisements to store design but what does branding really mean?

History of Branding

The practice of branding first started with the marking of cows that showed ownership of individual ranches then gradually transitioned to become symbol to distinguish manufacturers from their competitors. Nowadays branding is not just the process of applying a logo to a company's products or services it also means having good brand management to ensure brand quality by focusing on brand differentiation and recognition.

Branding A Marketing Strategy

Branding is all about embellishing your customers' expectations and perceptions of your brand's identity, what it is known for. In other words, branding is about creating a name and an image through a diverse medium. The aim here is to differentiate from your competitors while establishing a unique presence in the market by offering the only solution to your customers' specific need or problem.

Knowing when, where, what and to whom you are delivering your brand message is key in attracting new customers as well as building loyal consumers. From distribution channels, such as store design, to visual and verbally advertisements all this are aspects of branding that your company should not neglect in your marketing strategy.

Four Good Reasons To Do Branding

1) Promotes brand recognition: From your logo to your store design every brand wants to be noticeable and be remembered, for example when you see a robin egg blue box you directly know that it is Tiffany & Co.

2) Increases sales: One of the purposes of branding is to assist in sales by making the item you are selling the most desired one.

3) Adds brand value: The essence of branding is to build a strong brand that will add value to the concept, product or service that you are selling and thus allowing to charge more for your brand than for a similar item on the market.

4) Creates emotional connections: Branding can help your brand appeal directly to your customer's emotional needs. You want them to feel good when they buy your product or service and thus making them wanting to engage more with your brand.


The Evolution of Branding With Social Media

Branding is indeed very cost center however having the possibility to use social media as a branding tool is a great alternative that is practically free. With the use of social media you can have a personal relationship with your consumers. Communicating your brand's identity directly to your customers has never been this easy. It is a fast way to update your shoppers about the latest sales or new store openings.

Nowadays sharing our daily life via social media is a routine and feeling integrated in a community where customers perceive the same value as your brand is key to a successful presence on social media.

Branding enhances the communication between your brand and its customers by creating a trustworthy relationship. Thus consider how you are going to convey your brand's message in every aspect as it will reinforce your brand's presence.

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5 Guidelines For Creating A Strong Brand

November 20, 2014

You want to build a strong brand but don't know where to start? Here are 5 guidelines that you should incorporate throughout your brand's lifespan, from understanding your brand to engaging with your customers.

1.Be Clear On Its Purpose And Mission

When you start creating a brand you need to be clear about its identity and who they are not, who their consumers are and what differentiates your brand from others. There should be in fact a close connection between your brand's image and your customer's perception.

Answering to questions such as "What business am I in?" or "What makes my brand distinctive from others?" can help unlock values that your brand wishes clearly to convey to its consumers.

2.Be Consistent

You need to express your brand's message in the same way across all communication channels whether it is offline or online. It is also important to always stay true to what your brand's values are and what it stands for.

Showing your brand's true identity could be portrayed consistently throughout your retail design for example.

Aleybo is a brand offering colorful kitchen and lifestyle accessories. The brand is known for their design aesthetic and their bold colors. To accentuate Aleybo's characteristics we created a visual display and merchandising concept as well as designed the store's window display.


3.Build A Solid Relationship With Your Customers

Having a strong brand means being visible to your targeted audiences as well as always being there for your customer's needs. Therefore every brand should remain active in conveying their brand identity by engaging and interacting with their consumers. However, do not spam your customers about how great your brand is.

4.Be Interesting

Try to be unique and unexpected. Your brand should stand out from the crowd in order to have competitive advantages in the market and reflect what your brand is really known for. Every brand should also look for new and refreshing ways to articulate its promise or its brand message.

A branded gift when purchasing luxury goods could be a great way to make your customers feel appreciated. These gift items could be a simple cosmetic pouch or a key ring with the brand's name. We at 5 Star Plus Retail Design have designed a branded key ring for Ivanka Trump Jewelry Collection, a refreshing way to show their consumers about their brand's quality and their brand's identity.


5.Understand Your Brand's Context

Timing is everything in business so planning for when and where you decide to launch your brand, your new advertisement or even your new collection is critical in grabbing your customer's attention.

With every context in mind you should always think of your customer's experience in every step of your marketing strategy from distribution channels such as retail design to visual/verbal communication.

Building a successful brand takes time and effort. Whether is conceptualizing your retail design or trying to convey your brand's message to your customers, don't forget to consider all of these five facets for creating a strong brand.

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Tafelspitz – an Austrian Culinary and Cultural Experience in Beijing

October 29, 2014

Tafelspitz is a well thought-through, sophisticated Austrian restaurant brand that offers high quality food and wines in a beautifully designed environment. The brand also hosts art exhibitions, wine seminars and cooking classes, all of which are organized by the incredibly hospitable Austrian owners Haoxin Qu and Walter Lampersberger, as well as head chef Alfred Krasser.


The top-notch Austrian restaurant is still evaluating a number of locations for its Beijing flagship store at the moment. Tafelspitz will be situated in a central Beijing area where Austrian food lovers and wine connoisseurs can have easy access and where the brand can unfold its full culinary and cultural potential.


We at 5 Star Plus Retail Design had the privilege to design the Tafelspitz restaurant. While the store design had to mirror the high end positioning of the brand through exclusive materials and surfaces, Austrian elements were applied in a modern and chic manner to showcase the origin of the owners and the cuisine. At the same time, the design concept had to cater to the retail design and consumer tastes of people from China and abroad.

Here is a glimpse of the store design:


A black, glossy glass wall underlines the high end positioning and emphasizes the logo. Natural materials and a forest motif on the glass wall on the right are a reference to Austria's landscapes.


The bar area – we are looking forward to those cocktail parties!


The dining area – classic, with a chic touch, and flexible enough to accommodate art exhibitions and other events. Part of the area can be closed off for VIP events.

With its high quality product offering, we have no doubt that this restaurant, along with the passion of the owners, the mix of cultural events and its exclusive store design concept will be highly popular in China.

Another update on Tafelspitz will follow next month.

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Retail Design Meets Art: Bring Your Store to Life

October 28, 2014

Designing a retail store is much like deciding on what products to stock. You have to consider your target audience, what will attract them and what they might be looking for. Customers today are looking for a unique and engaging experience when they go shopping; therefore retail stores have to consider ways to imprint on customers and potential customers in order to gain their custom.

The development boom of Chinese Retail Design

During the mid 1990's there were no such thing as shopping malls in China. Since then the enormous development boom in Chinese retail design has led to competition between the large cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen to develop the countries, or even the world's, largest and best shopping mall. This can been seen in the Chinese retail designs of its shopping malls, which have developed to places where people can come for a day out, as they include everything from children's play areas to art viewing. The combination of art and retail is becoming more prominent across the world as a means of customer engagement.

More than just a Mall

The K11 Art Mall in Shanghai is an example of a mall that is mixing luxury brands such as Burberry and Chloe with an art exhibition, by Claude Monet. As art and commerce mix within Chinese store design, the art is used as a marketing tool to lure customers away from the competition and into their stores.

The Parkview Green shopping mall in Beijing opts for a distinctive and interesting retail design, encouraging modern contemporary art and sculptures to be displayed throughout the mall. Although the shops are largely high-end expensive western shops, the addition of art makes the shopping center worth a visit for all people due to its unique, exciting and vibrant experience.


Hybrid Store Design

There are a number of designers and retail stores that have incorporated art into their retail design.

"The Converse San Francisco store blends lifestyle with apparel ". The store has been designed with the distinct focus on the street culture and aesthetics that Converse has come to be known for. "It has been expertly designed to be something of a destination rather than a shop".


The Aksel Paris NYC men's shirt store transforms into an Art Gallery at nighttime. Pieces from up and coming artists are used throughout the store to display their garments, such as the orange 3D-printed, wave-like rack shown in the photo below, made by Gregory Okshteyn. Company CEO Yazid Aksas chose the pieces selected in the store as he thought that his European style men's shirts paired perfectly with the contemporary works on display. "You need to inspire people... A lot of people have been doing the same kind of retail for decades – you just put clothes on racks. This is a way for us to connect with the art community and people who enjoy anything creative" said Aksas.


Urban Outfitters aims to tell a story with their store designs, for example designer of their New York store, Ron Pompei, says that his inspiration behind the design was "a story of the streets of New York as they once were". Urban Outfitters store 'Space 15 Twenty' in Los Angeles incorporates vendors that complement the brand, installs monthly pop-up shops featuring different designers and hosts artists and musicians in its various courtyards and galleries creating a comprehensive brand experience.


The Outcome

Overall, designing your store in a way that is going to have a profound effect on your customers is the ultimate vision. Using visual aesthetics to do this can leave customers in admiration of your ability to bring a store to life. This has the proficiency to stay with a person as a memory rather than a forgotten thought.

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High-impact Retail Design: The Importance of Creativity

October 23, 2014

In today's society, the need for retail creativity is becoming more apparent, making it a must in the store design process. This is no different for Beijing or the whole of China for that matter, as the desire to produce innovative store designs is becoming more and more necessary. One reason for this is as a result of today's multi-channel environment where all shopping can be done from within the home, which has lead to less consumers shopping in stores. Despite this, there is still the desire for a tangible shopping experience, resulting in increased competition between retail stores to capture the attention and create an experience that is valued and appreciated by the customer.

Creating a Buzz: Keep it Fresh and New

Word-of-mouth marketing has been sped up by social media to the click of a button. This means that good, but also bad news travels fast. Therefore retailers have to find fresh, new ideas to keep customers interested and create a buzz in order for people to spread the world. This can be accomplished by an enjoyable and unique shopping experience, which is achieved through strategic retail design.

Why is it important?

Let's be honest, when we shop we want the things we are looking for to jump out at us, making our shopping experience as smooth and stress-free as possible. As customers, there are two main reasons why we shop: because we need to, or because we want to. However choosing where we want to shop is usually based on how we perceive the store, and how the store makes others perceive us. If you want to attract young and hip customers, your store needs to provide a young, hip environment. If your store is looking to attract the older generation, then you need to design your store experience accordingly. In other words, design your store with your target audience in mind.

Some examples of shops that have used clever creativity to make themselves stand out are shown below.

Run Colors Sneaker Store – Poland has steered away from the usual sneaker store layout, with a refreshingly simplistic, yet colorful and affective store design.

creativity-retail-design-01 creativity-retail-design-02

Kirk Original Eyewear – London opted for a more dramatic store design to display their eyewear. The plain black background and sparse furnishings were all intended in order for their products to be the main focal point of the shop. Designing your store in this way is low in cost and very affective.

creativity-retail-design-03 creativity-retail-design-04

The HIT Gallery – Hong Kong incorporates an uncluttered and clean yet bold and daring store design, providing an all but ordinary shopping experience. The hypnotic styled flooring stands out against the sky like walls, becoming the ideal backdrop for the clothing sold in the store.

creativity-retail-design-05 creativity-retail-design-06

Let your design do the talking.

If you are able to make your retail design differentiate you from others in your industry, this will give you a competitive advantage. Good retail design is a stores best advertisement as it can draw customers into your brand experience, acting as a silent salesperson. Take Apple for example, the products that they sell are functionally similar to others in the market, however they are the dominant company in their field. This is down to the fact that they are not just selling a product; they are selling an overall experience and lifestyle.

Using your physical space to the best of its ability will help drive sales and customer engagement. This is done through an enjoyable, well-lit, easy to move around and a clear display of products in the store. It is important that everything about your store design reflects on your brand identity.

Also read our articleORA Creation launches new Store Design in Solana, Beijing to check out our creative work on a store design in Beijing for Ora Creation.

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Showcase: Branded Gifts for Luxury Brand VIPs

October 14, 2014

Every luxury brand faces the challenge of convincing customers of their unique positioning and the product value. For a number of companies, discounts and special offers are a key pricing strategy used to encourage sales. However, true luxury brands do not give discounts as it is seen to devalue their products. Despite this, they often realize the persuasion power of incentives that make consumers spend even more – a branded VIP customer gift!

While many Chinese consumers do not mind about paying a premium price for luxury goods, they want to feel appreciated and see their purchase valued by the brand. A branded pin, key ring, or cosmetic pouch, that is given when a transaction exceeds a certain amount, is a very effective means of stimulating and increasing purchase behavior.

These gift items are a low cost investment for the brand, however are perceived as a branded gift item by the consumer, making them feel special and increase brand loyalty.

What has to be considered when designing VIP customer gifts?

1.Brand Identity

The design needs to be in line with the brand by using similar colors, shapes and textures that are used for the brand's visual identity, store design and products.

2.High quality craftsmanship

If you offer ultimate quality and perhaps handwork with your products, the custom-designed gifts need to be of the same standard. When manufacturing in China, visit the factory and ask for several samples before awarding the contract to the supplier. Make sure, in advance, that products that come with the batch which are faulty will be replaced.

3.Appropriate Value

Do not offer gifts that compete with your product offering. Meaning that when you sell accessories, you should not give branded accessories as gifts. The expense of the gift has to be of lower value then the products that are being sold, but should be perceived as a complementary product.

These are the branded key rings that we designed for Ivanka Trump Jewelry Collection. Designed based on the brand's signature oval shape, found in the logo and key jewelry collections, the gift items offer a high level of quality visible in the regular sewing, cutting and type of leather. The production of 5 customized samples was necessary before fabrication of the final pieces in order to ensure maximum quality.

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The Importance of Measuring Retail Design

October 11, 2014

Having understood the power of retail design, it is now necessary to understand the approaches to measure its success.


If You Don't Measure It, You Can't Manage It.

Improving a stores retail design is not purely just to enhance its own image, it is also with the intent to boost sales and increase customer loyalty. Therefore, measuring the outcome of a retail revamp is an essential way to analyze its success. There are five quantitative measurable recommendations for analyzing the success, they are as follows:

5 Measuring Methods

1.Return on Investment (ROI)

This is the most common way to measure the success of retail design. In its most basic form it can be calculated by:

ROI = Net performance / Net cost invested.

When conducting a retail facelift, it is essential to measure the ROI prior to and after the renovation for a valuable analysis to see how it has helped improve sales. It is advisable to monitor the ROI at least one month after completion of the facelift, as typically in the first two weeks a brand might experience a sudden surge in retail sales, due to the hype from the revamp or press coverage.


Measuring customer traffic allows you to analyze the number of people that enter and walk by your shop. This provides you with an opportunity to determine key ideas such as purchasing opportunities that have been missed and those that have been achieved, which can be used as a method of analyzing how to encourage a passersby to come into your shop, increasing the overall footfall.

3.Average Transaction Size

Analyzing the average transaction size gives you the opportunity to see how many products customers typically purchase. From this, implementations can be enforced to improve this.

4.Average Visit Duration

Calculating the usual time spent by customers in your shop is a good way to examine whether the brand experience you are offering is an effective method.

5.Average Return Frequency

The frequency of returns is an essential way to look at the customer loyalty. The more often your customers return to your shop, the more loyal they are to your brand.

These figures can be used to provide an indication of the success of a retail facelift by being carried out before and after.

The outcome

Effective retail design can have a tangible and far-reaching impact on a business. Evidently, it is essential to go beyond merely furniture planning and functionality of store space, to a place where brands are able to establish an emotional connection and create a memorable experience for consumers.

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Swatch House: A Head-to-Toe Brand Experience

September 22, 2014

SWATCH HOUSE is the name of the watch maker's marketing concept that expresses the background of each collection. The launch of the new Swatch autumn and winter 2014 collection has been displayed through a house, in order to show the intended lifestyle of each collection. The brand experience took place at The Commune, a boutique hotel at the Great Wall. Requiring a complete re-design for the occasion, 5 Star Plus Retail Design were in charge to create all design work for the event.

Swatch-House-space-design-01 Swatch-House-space-design-02

Different rooms had to be designed in line with the global marketing strategy to express the lifestyles of the four latest Swatch collections: Highland Mix, A World in Colors, Classic and Let it Shine. Their aim was to use color, creativity and the element of surprise to make a strong design statement.

The new Swatch collections are as eye-catching, creative and fashionable as we had expected: The Highland Mix collection takes a stand against the ordinary, featuring patterns inspired by optical illusions. A World in Colors displays all the vibrant spectrum colors of the rainbow, whilst attaining a few nostalgic designs.

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By contrast, the watches from the Classic collection are stylish, polished, yet kept in more neutral tones. Let it Shine items are elegant, glitz and glam pieces that are "fit for a queen".

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Is there any better way for a brand to convey their image and build momentum than through elaborating the design and lifestyle of their collections through to the three-dimensional space the products are displayed in? In this way customers can see, touch, feel, and often even hear and smell the brand experience, fulfilling both the tangible and intangible experience. Retail spaces that should be designed in such a manner include concept and perhaps flagship stores, exhibition booths and event venues.

The stronger the brand experience perceived, a more valuable consumer loyalty will be acquired. In the case of Swatch, who invited representatives from media and shopping malls across China to their product launch, their aim was to use color, creativity and the element of surprise to make a strong design statement. Attendants of the event were greeted by an authentic bagpipes performance and given a tour through the Swatch House. The product collections were revealed through presentations and videos, which were accompanied by carefully selected music.

Swatch proved once more that alongside selling some of the world's trendiest watches, it has developed a successful marketing concept through its brand integrity.

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3 Steps for Creating a Branded Store Window Display

August 25, 2014

In Beijing, Shanghai, or similar cities, with a seemingly infinite number of stores, window displays are an essential component for retail brands to stand out from the crowd. The window display is the face of the store, sometimes even the first glimpse a customer has of the brand, and a large determinant in whether or not someone chooses to enter. Some brands say that 80% of their customers have mentioned in surveys that they entered the store because of the window display!

So what aspects need to be considered when designing a visual display and merchandising concept for a store window?

1.Attract customers from afar

People passing by should be able to spot the window display from a distance. The lighting, color and an eye-catching design all play a large role in drawing people in for a closer look.

Take this Gucci display for an example, they effectively use lighting, color and an entrancing geometric design to attract customers.

Source: Window Display - Photos of Window Displays

A second example is Louis Vuitton, where they embodied the theme of a circus in this fun, intriguing window display. At first sight, the life-size mannequin with its dynamic pose looks like a real person!

Source: The Mannequin Madness Blog

The display should be enticing and elaborate enough to cause the customer to stop and look at the window, but not too complex to the point where the display appears cluttered.

2.Stimulate customers to enter the store

Product Variety & Positioning

Once the display has successfully attracted the potential customers from afar, it should be further utilized to draw the customers into the store. This is achieved by strategically placing the merchandise. The product should be the central focal point, inspire and perhaps promote a certain lifestyle. By this way aspiring customers are encouraged to enter the store to see more.

In general, the display should both accurately indicate the price range and represent a good selection of the various product types the retail brand has to offer.The bigger the size of the store window(s), the greater is the opportunity for the brand.

Product Quantity versus Conceptual Designs

Well known retailers and luxury brands sometimes choose to minimize the palette of products on display in exchange for a high impact window design. One example is this Louis Vuitton display, which strategically makes the purse the focal point of this colorful exhibition, effectively letting the bag stand out to customers walking by.

Source: Retail Design Blog

Another example is this Milan Armani store which tastefully promotes many pieces of their line through the window display. The design is not too cluttered; it allows their products to be the center point.

Source: Retail Design Blog

3.Promote your Brand

While the creation of a strong design concept and selection of the right product mix for your store window are important, there are a few more branding and marketing considerations to keep in mind.


The display is a form of branding and free advertising for the company and should therefore serve to promote the retail brand. When planning a visual display and merchandising concept for the store window, it is important ensure that the design accurately reflects the brand's values and style for a consistent brand image.

Target Customers

Besides this, other marketing requirements tend to influence the store window design as well. In China, a country which has an extensive number of market segments more so than anywhere else, the display should aim to attract the selected target group(s) of customers.

An example of a high quality window display design in line with their brand is Hermes, whom creatively used an Ostrich to display its Ostrich line of merchandise.

Source: The Two Dog Blog

There are a number of different techniques that can be utilized to form a unique product display.

Some highly effective display techniques are:

- Triangular grouping for an organized and effective display of a varied and broad selection of the merchandise.

- Color blocks for big impact areas or the display of promotional collections.

- Mannequins for big impact areas or the display of promotional collections.

- Combining 2D and 3D elements for a window design with depth that communicates a certain lifestyle. 2D elements can be graphics, posters, stickers, or a light box. 3D elements can be shelves, decorative objects, mannequins, and the products themselves.


Independently from what type of visual display and merchandising design you use for your store window, keep in mind the following three points:

1.Big Impact: Your main goal is to attract attention and perhaps even create a buzz.

2.Branding: Your design needs to accurately reflect the brand positioning.

3.Marketing & Sales: You need to display an appropriate selection from the merchandise – not too much and not too less. It is necessary to discuss with the marketing and sales teams about what collections and specific products are on a promotion or should be on display for other reasons before making a final selection.

Also read our article 5 Points on How a Well-Designed Signage Can Drive Customers into your Store to learn how a well-designed signage is important.

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Launch of our new Visual Identity!

July 31, 2014

A couple of months ago, we decided that it was time for a new, more consistent visual identity. We wanted one coherent design that would make a strong design statement.

Within the scope of the project were the update of the 5 Star Plus Retail Design logo, business cards, stationary including presentation and letter templates, as well as the email newsletter. The website had to be redesigned and become responsive.

Making a first and lasting impression to clients and business partners, the visual identity design had to accurately represent our positioning; it had to look professional, sophisticated, inspiring, bold and creative. The new visual identity and website are especially important as they would indicate the creative services we are providing, ideally by featuring a number of sketches and design work.

One of the major changes as compared to the old visual identity was the switch from a formal black background, to a white background for increased readability and a more professional look. The addition of selected design elements, such as different applications of the logo, as well some conceptual images, ensured a creative vibe of the website and documents.

The result is a powerful visual identity that works with the contrast of black and white and leaves a lasting impression.

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5 Star Plus Retail Design in Shanghai

July 29, 2014

We keep expanding further – 5 Star Plus Retail Design now have extended their team in Shanghai!

To better support brands in the south of China, our new representative will offer a more direct point of contact for clients located in the country's fashion metropolis. For project inquiries, please send an email to office@5starplusdesign.com.

Shanghai is 5 Star Plus Retail Design's third regional presence after Beijing and Paris.

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Retail Design as Branding Opportunity: 4 Awe-Inspiring Stores

July 21, 2014

Can you remember one store that had such an enticing design concept that you just had to walk in? Well, a team of retail design specialists were behind that decision, and realization that you needed just one more pair of shoes. Retail design is all about catching customers' attention and effectively reach out to a target audience. But more importantly, a store design is also a great branding opportunity, arguably more effective than many other marketing tools. Utilizing retail design to create a branded space, that is built around the values and key message of your brand, where customers can see, touch and feel the products and services, as well as listen, smell and breathe in the store experience.

Retail designs are constructed increasingly on a more conceptual rather than only functional basis, with an aim of creating a lasting impact in the minds of consumers. What better way than to use your own products or services to create an eye-catching retail design.

Let us now explore four interesting examples of retail designs with an eco-friendly edge that fittingly portrays a brand's positioning and image.

1.Aesop Melbourne Store

Retail design-Branding 01
Source: Aesop website

Aesop creates outstanding products for the skin, hair and body and is a brand that is heavily committed to using both plant-based and laboratory-made ingredients of the highest quality. Aesop is renowned for pushing the envelop for unique and inventive retail concepts with every store it opens globally, while paying homage to the brand's spirit of eco-friendliness.

To illustrate, the interior of the Aesop store in Australia, Melbourne, is fashioned almost entirely from industrial-grade cardboard – the kind used to ship Aesop products. They are using one of their services to create a distinctive retail store design concept that epitomizes the brand's passion for innovative design and eco-friendly proposition.

2.Aesop Adelaide Store

Retail design-Branding 02
Source: Trend Hunter

In another example, the ceiling of Aesop's retail concept store in Australia, Adelaide is crafted entirely out of recycled bottles arranged in a stunning wave pattern. Aesop certainly successfully injected a large dose of cool into the brand's supposedly dowdy concept of eco-friendliness and sustainability.

3.Diptyque Paris Store

Retail design-Branding 03
Source: Retail Design

Diptyque, a Paris-based luxury purveyor of fragrances and scented candles, have charmed visitors with its opulent and revolutionary retail designs. Drawing inspiration from the brand's steep design heritage, each Diptyque retail concept is a true reflection of the brand's proposition of discovery, creativity and distinction. They make the customer feel like they deserve luxury from the use of their own services in their retail design.

4.Breadbox Café New York

Retail design-Branding 04
Source: Retail Design Blog

In New York, Breadbox Café is architecturally distinctive as a bakery due to an innovative design of wooden dough rollers as the brand's exterior façade. They are in cooperating their style of business into their retail design, effectively making it known to shoppers on the street what they sell at the same time as being a really trendy place to grab a coffee.

Check out our previous blog articles The Power of Retail Design and The Store as Brand Extension: What are the benefits? to read more about branded retail design.

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ORA Creation launches new Store Design in Solana, Beijing

July 02, 2014

There is a niche customer market that desires unique fashion that separates them from the crowd and gives them a sensual gratification of their own personal identity. These customers style themselves just as luxury shops do with retail design—uniquely enough to stand apart from the rest and resonate their own sort of brand. Retail design is to luxury shops as fashionable identity is to certain customers.

5 Star Plus Retail Design was hired to create an original retail design identity for Ora Creation, a fashion company importing and selling limited European designer brands that offer customers a unique fashion identity, opened their doors on May 23, 2014. 5 Star Plus Retail Design translated the brief of Ora into a newly designed retail store which successfully reflects their sophisticated, yet uniquely modernistic brand in Solana mall, Beijing.

The new Ora store in Beijing’s Solana mall is a multi-brand store selling a number of European niche brands, which are not available anywhere else in China. The brief required an elegant, playful and neat store design where the brand could express its personality and provide customers with a design-oriented, yet dynamic European lifestyle.


Ora, like its unique fashion, needed to stand out among its surroundings, and considering its location was in a quiet area of the mall, designing with a limited construction budget was the main challenge. Asking for flexible space with a dedicated focal area for two key brands and adjustable sections for the remaining fashion brands, Ora also wanted a warm color scheme and dynamic concept with some energy and contrast. 5 Star Plus Retail Design answered with a creative, fresh store design that fulfilled all of ORA’s demands. Obtaining materials that were available at a limited cost, were flexible enough to be sculpted into dynamic shapes and that added some structural strength was a task in itself. Inspiration for this material was taken from existing designs in nature and the human environment, such as spider webs, fishing nets, woven elements and metal mesh used for fencing.


The overall design features a black shiny entrance with “ORA Creation” illuminating above in LED light to give a bold contrast to the more neutral shades behind the logo. On the left of the entrance is a diagonal, vertical wall where a panel is fixed, which outlines the various designer brands sold there. All of the fixtures along the left wall were hung with an angle to offer a dynamic energy in the space.


Enticing customers from afar, the wall decoration was the key design element of the store. The effect was actually created with two layers—a grey wall with sporadically flowing shapes painted in red and gold, and in front is the second layer made of a natural white metal mesh. This creates a sense of depth and movement when the customer walks through the store.


To draw customers to the back the store design implemented an accessory display shelf and a curved counter painted in a vibrant red. Not far from the counter and toward the fitting rooms is a mirror wall, created with triangular mirror tiles. The mirror wall and fitting room paralleled with each other offer a balance between modernity and traditionalism, once more underlining the unique luxuriousness of Ora.

Showing the true beauty of the European garments, we utilized natural white light to focus on the display areas. Despite the cool lighting color, a sense of comfort was still created through the warmly colored surface materials on the wall.

Overall, 5 Star Plus Retail Design took Ora’s brand, along with the store’s location and space challenges and successfully created a design that reflected Ora’s elegance, modernity, Europeanism, and energy, but also what would appeal to Ora’s key customers.

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The Power of Retail Design

June 16, 2014

Customers hear of a sale, or see a promotion for a store and they begin the hunt for this amazingly advertised brand… but upon their arrival, the store isn't quite what they were expecting. Common marketing tools employed to drive retail sales usually include promotions, discounts and advertisements, but none can permanently retain customers. Furthermore, these tools might influence customer retention for short bursts, but there are alternatives to establishing long-term sales growth, one of which includes retail store design-the element that implements a customer's experience.


What is Retail Design?

Retail design is a specialized interior design profession that focuses on creating commercial design concepts for retail brands. Factors that are taken into consideration include a brand's positioning, target customers, customer movement within the store, visual display and merchandise, and branding with materials and finishes as an extension of the retail brand. Retail design needs to be fundamentally in alignment with the brand's DNA, in order to present products in a way that is most aesthetically appealing and inviting to attract the target customers.

Why is it worth your time?

From flooring to graphics to visual merchandising displays to signage, design in the retail sphere is increasingly moving towards spaces that are unique and engaging. The brands' products are no longer the only intent of consumers' visit. Retail designs now serve as visual cues to shoppers to evoke the essence of the lifestyle that the brands' customers are either accustomed to, or aspire to.

Brands seeking a retail turnaround or wishing to establish long-term sales growth, do engage in retail revamp as one of the alternatives. On average, within the first few days after the retail facelift, stores experience a minimum sales increase of approximately 20% to 25%, alongside with an approximate increase of 30% to 35% in customer footfall. So how does retail design directly link to these increases?

Retail design provides the platform to narrate the brand and product story, and educate consumers about the products. A retail space is crucial in creating an immersive retail environment that resonates with consumers, to stimulate them to purchase and consequently, inspire true brand advocates.

After all, the longer a shopper lingers due to a fulfilling in-store brand experience, the higher the propensity to spend


In fact, for luxury brands, there has never been a more important space than that of their retail space. Ranging from the lighting to the elegant flooring, from the music to the bespoke furniture, boutiques and retail concept stores offer an unparalleled environment that encourages brands to creatively express their values, and effectively encapsulate the stature of the brand. Discounts are akin to the four-letter word in a luxury goods industry, hence, boutiques' retail designs are increasingly emphasized as stores now host exclusive events, VIP cocktail parties, private cultural exhibitions, and certainly, memorable shopping experiences. Gregory J. Furman, founder and chairman of the Luxury Marketing Council, spoke on the importance of retail design, especially in luxury brands, in a recent interview with China Daily. Furman said that as Chinese media has not yet developed to the level to facilitate "luxury education" via media advertisements, it is essential for retailers to channel their resources to creating that perfect retail experience.


Essentially, a retail design that accurately portrays the brand enhances the desirability of the displayed products, and ultimately, leads to increase in sales.

Read our article The Store as Brand Extension: What are the benefits? to learn more..

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A Closer Look at the Retail World: Pop-Up Stores

May 11, 2014

Amidst the 21st century's global economic volatility and consumers' insatiable appetite for novelty, pop-up stores look set to take the retail world by storm.

What is a Pop-up store?

Pop-ups are by definition transient, a special event, a happening of sorts. These initiatives have a tendency to pop up unannounced, quickly attract a crowd, and then disappear. As such, pop-up stores pique consumers' curiosity and satisfy their desire for novelty and a need for "instant gratification". Pop-up stores are typically made when a brand wants to test the market before establishing a permanent store, launch a new product line or a seasonal marketing promotional campaign.
Let us now have a look at a few successful pop-up stores:

The MOMO Shop popped up in a busy shopping mall in Hong Kong. The store is made from dozens of recycled windows.

MOMO Pop up Store Design
Source: Inhabitat

Uniqlo's High Line Roller Rink Cubes at New York

Uniqlo Pop up Store-Design
Source: Racked NY

Kate Spade opened up an inviting igloo for 3 weeks in New York City's Bryant Park. The brand handed out free hot chocolate to keep shoppers warm.

KateSpade Pop up Store Design
Source: Racked NY

In today's digital age, brick and mortar stores face intense competition from e-tailers, hence the need to continually innovate to capture shoppers' attention. An increasing number of retailers have recognized consumers' need for novelty as the impetus towards temporary retail pop-ups. Since the overarching goals of brands interested in pop-up stores are to increase brand recognition and personal connections with customers, let us now explore considerations to keep in mind in order to execute a successful retail pop-up.

1. Identifying the right location:

Location is key to a successful pop-up store. Hence, it is critical to engage in due diligence on area demographics, competitors, visibility, footfall etc. It does sound like plenty of work, but it absolutely pays off when the surrounding area embraces your brand as its new neighbour.

2. Start planning early:

Ensure you have allocated a budget and identified the objectives of your pop-up. Planning early ensures you have sufficient time for execution of the pop-up retail design, logistics and staffing.

3. Pop-up retail design:

Due to the temporal nature of pop-up stores, it is even more crucial that the design space creates a lasting first impression on visitors. Lighting, theme, furnishings, visual merchandising and product display – these are critical in creating an atmosphere that amplifies your brand.

4. Leverage the power of social media:

From pre-event to post, be sure to pull on multiple marketing levers such as your existing Facebook or Twitter (or other social media platforms) followers, hosting blogger and press days. Create interesting hashtags, upload exciting photos that inspire visitors to pop by, partner with influential Instagrammers, pinners and bloggers to spread the word in the social media sphere. In addition, send newsletters to your customer base informing them about the upcoming pop-up store.

5. Educate your sales staff:

A pop-up store is a great way for consumers to experience and learn about your products and services. Ensure your sales staff are well educated and trained on the unique selling points of your products and services, and that they provide quality customer service.

6. Follow-up:

Retailers should prepare follow-up forms with customers. Once the pop-up store closes, retailers and their sales staff should conduct a follow-up session, either through phone calls, e-mails or social media platforms, to keep the customers engaged and gather feedback about the product and service. This will ensure that new customer relationships and consequently, brand loyalty are forged.

Follow the above tips to ensure optimal success of your retail pop-up store!

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Reminiscing CHIC 2014, China International Clothing & Accessories Fair

April 25, 2014

The 22nd China International Clothing & Accessories Fair (CHIC) met with resounding success as it ended on 29 March 2014. Cemented as one of the world's fashion capitals, Beijing was the home of CHIC for the past 21 years, having first been inaugurated in 1993.

CHIC2014 poster

Sprawling over 100,000 square meters in eight halls, CHIC Beijing 2014 occupied the entire New China International Exhibition Centre. This clothing and accessories fair successfully attracted over 100,000 visitors and more than 1000 domestic and international fashion brands. There were 8 feature areas: men's wear, women's wear, children's wear, casual wear, garment related resources, overseas halls, fashion accessories, and growth brands.

The exhibition has always been highly regarded as an international exchange forum for different stakeholders in the fashion industry. Various on-site events were conducted during the exhibition including the China fashion business forums, Chic shows, press conferences and the fashion trend seminars.

henry poole tailor custome a jacket henry poole jackets

In recent years, the rapid advancement of technology and design has been superseded by an increasing demand for timeless quality and exquisite craftsmanship, a trend reflected in the luxury fashion industry embracing the exclusive and bespoke. A renaissance of the British illustrious tradition for tailored suits was showcased within the CHIC 2014, English Pavilion where Henry Poole & CO (as seen from pictures above) demonstrated the extraordinarily skilled process of tailoring bespoke suits, ties, garments etc. Unsurprisingly, this generated a massive crowd who were captivated by the fine craftsmanship and timeless design that channels into shaping a business suit into a luxurious item that uniquely reflects each customer's personality and style.

French Pavillion CHIC2014 Italian Pavillion

With both A.T. Kearney and Euro Monitor International confirming China's top position as the key growth market for apparel retail development due to its sheer size and strong growth in clothing sales, it comes as no surprise that international exhibitors and visitors are steadily increasing at the fair – with approximately 40 percent of the exhibitors of CHIC 2014 hailing from outside China. Noticeably, brands from the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Austria and Germany were all prominently featured in their own pavilions (as seen from pictures above).

Waikai-exhibition Waikai exhibition

To illustrate, Wakai, a lifestyle brand was featured in the Overseas Hall. The retail store design was carefully crafted with passion and dedication to reflect a seamless marriage between the rich Japanese cultural heritage and modernity (as seen from pictures above). Interestingly, the store design included an interactive element, which allowed visitors to redeem a Wakai souvenir through the Wakai vending machines (as seen from pictures below). A brilliant marketing strategy which attracted a massive crowd!

Waikai exhibition3 CHIC2014  Waikai exhibition4 CHIC2014

CHIC certainly looks set to grow from strength to strength. Keep a lookout for CHIC 2015!

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What are the Best Cities in China for Luxury Retailers to expand into in 2014?
Part 2: Retail Sales in the Chinese Market

March 12, 2014

In part one, we looked at the relationship between luxury stores and millionaires to find out the market potential in China's top cities. Part two of this article offers a closer look at China's retail market and a store count comparison between 2011 and 2013, begging the questions: are the annual retail sales of these cities consistent with our earlier observations, and which markets still have the best potential? The Chinese retail market has been booming for the last five or so years, and according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), is predicted to surpass the United States to become the world's biggest consumer retail market by 2016. What's more, as shown in the graphic below, this growth is expected to skyrocket well into the next decade and China is to have almost doubled the value of the United States retail market by 2022. It is no coincidence then, that China also has one of the largest luxury retail markets in the world; after surpassing Japan in late 2012 and the United States for a brief moment in 2013, China current ranks second in the international luxury market. So how much is each major city contributing to the retail market?

graphic picture of the retail market in china
Image adapted from The Economist Intelligence Unit, 2013

The graphic below details the total retail sales for consumer goods in the top tier cities of China in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Whilst this doesn't specifically show the sales from the luxury market, it is still an excellent tool for analysing the Chinese retail market. Observing the figures, we can see that all the cities have experienced positive growth, at an average rate of 15 percent per year over the past couple of years.

graphic picture of the retail market in china
Adapted from: DTZ Research Property Times, Jones Lang Lasalle China Retail Profile, Colliers International Research and Forecast Report

From this, there is a clear distinction as to why Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are listed as tier 1 cities: their retail sales combined to a staggering total of 2.1 trillion RMB in 2012. Shenzhen is a relatively new addition to China's prestigious tier 1 list and ranks fourth in 2012 with retail sales totalling 401 billion RMB. As the competition in retail markets in tier 1 cities gets tougher, there is a shifting focus onto developing the retail landscape tier 1.5 and other lower tiered cities. In particular, we will have a look at Chengdu, Chongqing, Hangzhou, and Shenyang, as these are the cities we feel have the most luxury market potential in the coming years. To help us with this analysis, the graphic which shows the store count of selected* luxury retailers in 2011 and 2013 will also be used.

graphic picture of the retail market in china
Adapted from: Li & Fung Research Centre, Luxury Market in China, 2010, Fung Business Intelligence Centre Luxury Market in China Huge Potential Ahead, April 2013 *Data collated for 10 luxury stores: Armani, Burberry, Cerruti 1881, D'Urban, Ermenegildo Zegna, Gieves & Hawks, Gucci, Kent & Curwen, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Ferragamo.


As the capital of the Sichuan province, Chengdu was once better known for being one of the country's leaders in economic, transportation and communication services than for its retail industry. That being said, in the early 2000s, the market in Chengdu was 'ripe for the picking' and since the expansion of the second ring road, the tier 1.5 city has become an attractive investment option for retailers and developers. Furthermore, the selected luxury store count increase from 2011 to 2013 was also one of the highest in the country, which could be attributed to the city's rising popularity as a tourist destination by wealthy Chinese people with interest in luxury goods and considerable spending power. From our point of view, expanding into Chengdu is a must. Considering current urbanisation rates, the EIU predicts that Chengdu will have a population comparable to the UAE by 2020, and with a healthy supply of future retail development projects, as Jones Lang LaSalle (2012) predicted, the retail market is expected to more than double in size by 2016.


As seen in both graphics, while the retail sales in 2012 were the fifth largest in mainland China, the city is still relatively unpenetrated by luxury brands. What does this mean for luxury retailers wishing to expand in the future? Lower market entry costs and less competition. Luxury brands that were quick to capitalise on the retail market in Chongqing have been handsomely rewarded, with Armani having its highest store sales in the country there, and Burberry Chongqing recording better end of year sales than its partner stores in Beijing and Shanghai. What's more, newly developed shopping malls are predicted to double the retail stock levels from the beginning of 2012 to 2016. Considering the many more people that will come towards the CBD as a result of urbanisation, in 2020, urban Chongqing is predicted to have a population comparable to Portugal and thus the city presents itself as a great opportunity for retailers to tap into.


As a major hub city in China's North East, Shenyang has great potential to be the one of the country's premier shopping destination for luxury goods. Being a tier 1.5 city, the 2012 consumer goods retail sales in Shenyang seem surprisingly low, placing it just ahead of tier 2 Ningbo and tier 3 Wenzhou. In spite of this, as mentioned in part one of this article series, Shenyang has a prosperous luxury retail market, with one of the highest concentrations of luxury stores in China. This is reinforced by the number of selected luxury stores increased from 21 in 2011 to 39 in 2013. Shenyang's urban population is set to exceed 10 million and become one of China's many megalopolises by 2020, making it comparable to the size of Greece. With the city's total stock to double by 2016, Shenyang's claim to being the major hub in Northeast China remains relatively unchallenged.


An interesting fact is that Hangzhou is the only city in China whose habitants spend more money each year on fashion items than food. Like Shenyang, Hangzhou is a tier 1.5 city but falls into the lower end of the spectrum regarding annual retail sales of consumer goods. Despite this, Jones Lang LaSalle claims that Hangzhou has the most developed luxury retail market amongst all tier 1.5 cities. As shown in the graphic, luxury brands are continuing with their expansion into the city, with an additional 7 selected luxury stores established between 2011 and 2013. The city is also known for having strong private enterprise and the rising standard of living in recent years has contributed to Hangzhou being the main hub for shopping in the Zhejiang province. According to Jones Lang LaSalle, there is ample space for more shopping centres to be established, considering the city's abundance of wealthy people. In conclusion, it is increasingly being realised that store expansion into tier 1 cities may not be as lucrative as it used to be. While this comes as a result of a variety of reasons, one of the biggest ones is that the competition there is incredibly fierce and tough. For this reason, lower tiered cities need to be seriously considered. This article has placed particular emphasis on such cities, with Chengdu, Chongqing, Hangzhou, and Shenyang all showing great potential. In fact, ongoing urbanisation, increasing household disposable incomes and a rising demand for luxury goods are particularly prominent in these cities and their future seems promising.

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What are the Best Cities in China for Luxury Retailers to expand into in 2014?
Part 1: Millionaires and Luxury Stores

February 26, 2014

Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen have long been recognised as the "blue-chip" cities for luxury retailers to expand into, but as market maturity and saturation becomes all the more imminent, the big questions are: is there still market potential in China's big four cities, and what are the cities to be on the lookout for in 2014 for luxury retail expansion? To begin part one of our analysis, is it important to recognise the city hierarchy in China, which categorizes major cities into tiers ranging from 1 to 4 based on economic and real-estate development. Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen currently make up China's four tier 1 cities, while there are numerous cities in their 'transitional' phase such as Chengdu, Chongqing, Shenyang, Tianjin and Hangzhou, which are classified as tier 1.5 cities. It is therefore in the best interest for luxury brands to expand into these cities because they boast not only strong economic growth, but they are homes to many of China's wealthy individuals; the Hurun Report in 2012 revealed that China is now home to over one million millionaires. With this in mind, global brands wishing to open flagship stores in the Chinese luxury market should be aware of where most millionaires are located in China. It is also important to determine the number of luxury stores at these locations, as this will give an idea of the level of market saturation and competition future stores face. So is there a direct relationship between the number of millionaires and luxury stores in China? We think so. The figure below shows the millionaires in China worth over 10 million RMB and the number of selected luxury stores* present in these cities.

graphic picture of the retail market in china
Source: 2012 Hurun Wealth Report, KPMG Global reach of China Luxury – a KPMG case study 2013, Fung Business Intelligence Centre Luxury market in China – huge growth potential ahead April 2013. *There were 18 luxury retailers considered in the study, which included the likes of Armani, Burberry, Chanel, Dior, Ermenegildo Zegna, Fendi, Hugo Boss, Louis Vuitton and Prada etc.

As seen, the majority of Chinese millionaires reside in the tier 1 cities, with Hangzhou also making it into the top five. Not surprisingly, Beijing and Shanghai have the largest retail footprints (112 stores) and share a combined total of millionaires closing in on 340,000. There is also some correlation between the millionaires and luxury stores for the first seven cities, ranging from Beijing to Wenzhou, but the trend becomes less apparent from Ningbo onwards. Why is this so? From our point of view, the consumer behaviour in each city is greatly influenced by its geographical location in China; that is, North, South or West of the country's centre. To reiterate what was said in a previous article Beijing or Shanghai for Brand Headquarters? the consumers of Southern tier 1 cities Guangzhou and Shenzhen have a stronger tendency to travel to neighbouring Hong Kong to buy luxury items at cheaper prices due to lower import and consumption taxes. There is also a cluster of top-ten-millionaire cities (Hangzhou, Nanjing and Suzhou) surrounding Shanghai that have well developed luxury markets. In fact, a recent profiling of the Chinese retail market (Jones Lang LaSalle, 2012) affirmed Hangzhou as having the most developed luxury retail market amongst the other tier 1.5 cities.

What about the Northern Chinese cities? Shenyang – which doesn't have enough millionaires to make the top ten - is considered as having one of China's largest concentrations of luxury stores and retail space, making it an important destination for luxury shopping in regional China. This is supported by the graphic, where we can see that Shenyang has the third most number of selected luxury stores in the country, despite having fewer millionaires than the majority of cities. Also situated in the North, Beijing's neighbour Tianjin has received considerable interest from international big name brands, with the recently opened Galaxy Shopping Mall bringing in dozens of luxury brands. However, a presence of supply doesn't necessarily mean that there is demand, and while the luxury retail landscape of Tianjin is slowly evolving, it is still in its early stages of development. In the West, Chengdu also shows a similar trend to Shenyang, with only 16,000 millionaires, but has 55 selected luxury stores. In fact, a case study by the Economist Intelligence Unit identified Chengdu as a premier real-estate market and a place for luxury shopping, especially since big-name boutiques such as Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Prada have opened up flagship stores in the luxury shopping mall, Yanlord Landmark.

Yanlord Landmark
Yanlord Landmark, Chengdu (Image courtesy of Yanlord Landmark)

Aside from the top tier cities, we can also see that tier 2 Ningbo and tier 3 Wenzhou have a healthy number of rich Chinese individuals but a relatively low number of selected luxury stores. This is because their respective luxury markets are still in the early stages of development. Perhaps then, 2014 isn't the year for these lower tiered cities, but if the favourable growth rates China has experienced in recent years continues, then it won't be long until we see them enter the luxury market as real contenders. In summary, this case study has shown us at face value that while most of the rich and stores for the rich still belong to the tier 1 cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, they may not necessarily be the best places for luxury retailers to expand into. There is also definitely potential for further expansion into cities away from the limelight, such as the transitional cities Chengdu, Hangzhou and Shenyang. Among the tier 2 and tier 3 categories, Ningbo and Wenzhou also show great potential for a future luxury market due to a large presence of millionaires in both cities.

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Storefront Designs for Chinese New Year: 2014, the Year of the Horse

January 30, 2014

As most of China begins to wind down for the Chinese New Year festivities, luxury retail stores have produced some creative and eye-catching storefront designs to celebrate the coming of the year of the horse. Interestingly, most of these stores have opted for more elegant and modern designs, rather than the more traditional Chinese red and gold designs. For example, the retail design in the JKJY stores by Stella Luna in Taikooli (former Sanlitun Village Beijing, top) and Shanghai (bottom) employ a purple and silver colour scheme for the shopfront window design. To commemorate the New Year, cut-outs of horses have been strategically placed in a descending formation to greet prospective customers as they enter the store. The addition of horseshoes and origami along the storefront also adds a subtle touch of oriental authenticity.

StellaLuna Beijing CNY2014 StellaLuna Beijing CNY2014 2 StellaLuna Beijing CNY2014 3

In Taikooli Sanlitun, French high fashion house Lanvin has been more explicit with a Western representation of Chinese New Year for its storefront design. As seen, the year of the horse theme has been ingeniously integrated into the window display by having a chessboard with a red knight chess piece on a white square. Although the design and layout is quite simple, the colour contrast between red and gold against the black and white backdrop effectively draws attention to the New Year theme.

Lanvin Beijing CNY2014 1 Lanvin Beijing CNY2014 2 Lanvin Beijing CNY2014 3

On the other hand, the Kate Spade New York store in Sanlitun has gone with a more traditional Chinese New Year themed storefront design. This is shown through the extensive use of red paper lanterns and gold hanging decorations, which is made complete by the cut-out of a golden horse speckled with glitter.

KateSpade Beijing CNY2014

The new IAPM night-time shopping mall in Shanghai is home to many big-name boutique stores, including the Italian luxury shoe store, Tod's. In the lead up to Chinese New Year, the store has opted for a traditional-styled window display through the use of a red background with horse sculptures positioned in the foreground. Additionally, the horses have been moulded using plastic, which adds a very sleek and modern feel to the overall design of the storefront.

Tods Shanghai CNY2014 1 Tods Shanghai CNY2014 2

The Chinese New Year decorations inside the shopping mall culminate on the ground floor with an elaborate display of pink and red Chinese plum blossom trees, golden arch entrances (paifangs), red hanging lanterns, lotus flowers, golden koi fish and a statue of a golden horse in the centre of it all. These decorations highlight the beauty of using traditional decorations, which is accentuated by the contrast with the polished and modern shopping mall surroundings.

IAPM Inside CNY2014

Overall, the storefront designs exhibited by luxury retailers in Beijing and Shanghai have been successful in adding a touch of Western culture and a modern feel to the Chinese New Year decorations.

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Christmas Decorations of Stores in Europe

December 27, 2013

The holiday season is always hopeful for retailers as a time to push sales and encourage traffic in stores. A primary way of engaging with customers is through the display of annual Christmas decorations. Over time the designs have become less conventional and custom designed for different spaces and individual brand images. Below are a few examples of how different stores have been decorated this year in Vienna, Austria also the home of one of 5 Star Plus Retail Design's offices.
French brand Hermès who are famous for their high quality leather goods and accessories.

Hermes store Hermes window display

The family company rejects mass production and prefers to be subtle when it comes to branding their products. This approach is seen in their simple white cut outs that reflect the winter festive season. Austrian Glassware Company J. & L. Lobmeyr that continues to be a family owned since its founding in 1823 have taken a more traditional and classic approach in the design of their decorations and window display.

French luxury brand Louis Vuitton have integrated their product displays with the winter theme, using custom build sleds to present bags and accessories from their Haute Joaillerie line.

Lobmayer store window Window design

Spanish clothing brand MANGO has integrated oversized Christmas baubles and ornaments as props in their store windows with mannequins using them as seats.

mango store display

Austrian producer of luxury cut lead glass 'crystal', Swarovski, known for their elaborate display designs have embraced the Christmas spirit with lights and snowflake motifs that sparkle and flash. Their window displays have been transformed into a winter wonderland with tree branches and faux snow.

Swarovski window- esign Swarovski window design decoration

American multinational luxury jewellery and accessories company Tiffany & Co. have also used the winter season as a backdrop for their Christmas displays. Prints of apartment buildings and mini Tiffany boxes surround warmly lit jewellery pieces.

tiffany Window design

Italian brand Dolce & Gabbana who are known for their flamboyant designs have created a lavish sparkling frame to surround their window display items. Swiss shoe company Bally have also used enlarged Christmas symbols such as the Christmas tree bauble to display product items. Decorative candelabras have also been used as part of the window centrepieces.

Bally shop DG sotre window design

One of the oldest existing watch companies Breguet have kept their Christmas display design minimal using simple silver cut outs of Christmas trees as a backdrop for their watches.

Breguet shop window design

Iconic British brand Burberry have taken a slightly more abstract and modern design approach in their Christmas window displays focusing on the material side of Christmas through the representation of gifts and presents. A stack of boxes and Burberry shopping bags are balanced on mannequin legs surrounded by foil love hearts that hang from the ceiling. The gold colour scheme is eye catching and classic, these elements all working to reflect Christmas season shopping and gift giving.

Burberry window design Burberry window design
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Beijing Window Displays – Christmas 2013

December 26, 2013

In the months and weeks leading up to Christmas in the West, it seems that every store and shopping centre has Christmas decorations and promotions ready to take advantage of customers and their Christmas shopping while also engaging in some holiday spirit. In Beijing the capital of a country without an official religion and Christian minority, it might not be as expected to see an embracing of such a holiday. Although it is not widely celebrated, Christmas decorations in the Central Business District of the city have become more and more extravagant in recent years as economic growth and the accessibility of the country to foreigners has increased. Christmas window displays by brands are a way for them to engage with the public, potential and existing companies while continuing to establish their aesthetic, values and beliefs. Most brands that have established themselves internationally are consistent in their decorations and window designs across all stores. This year however, major brands appear to have either opted out of creating Christmas themed displays altogether (Saint Laurent, Céline are exmaples) or been more subtle in their approach. Below, are just a few examples of luxury fashion houses and the ways that they have chosen to display their holiday spirit. French high fashion house Chanel has taken a more subtle approach in the design of their window displays during the holiday season. No obvious references to Christmas have been made in their galaxy print backdrop and hanging star decorations. The star is a common symbol of Christmas so the display may be interpreted as a Christmas decoration or simply a minimalist product display.

Chanel Window design

Louis Vuitton has also taken a more simple approach in their window display for the holiday season. The glossy background in the store window can represent both Chinese celebrations and Christmas while the grey geese figurines with Santa Claus hats are playfully placed and positioned to offer bags and accessories to clothing mannequins.

Louis Vuitton window display

Italian luxury house Bottega Veneta as well, taking a simple approach to their Christmas decorations. The brand whose image is very focused on creating products that are of high quality without logos or obvious branding. This is further seen in their approach to their Christmas display using generic and more traditional style green Christmas trees with white string lights shaped in the brands iconic bags. The display design is classic with the brand's own flair staying true to the house's classic style.

Bottega Veneta

Stella McCartney's window display uses conventional Christmas kitsch in their colourful, flashing lighting installation. The shapes of Christmas trees, bells, stars and 'Merry Christmas' among other symbols are outlined in flashing LED lights in a style similar to neon signs seen in many cities and contemporary artwork.

Stella McCartney's window display

Italian fashion and leather goods brand Gucci have also used the star motif in the holiday season decoration of their stores. The brand has used glossy gold rods to construct oversized sparkles in their window display.

Gucci window display

Despite the extravagant external displays created by many Beijing malls (read our blog post here), high end brands located in malls such as Shin Kong Place, Parkview Green and The Place have all taken a modern, minimalist aesthetic in their Christmas display design.

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Beijing Holiday Season 2013 Mall Decorations

December 23, 2013

In the lead up to the holiday season Beijing gradually becomes more and more illuminated with the twinkle of LED lights. Beginning with Christmas, buildings all over the city use various styles of decoration in an attempt to embody the festive mood despite Christmas not being a national holiday. Retailers also begin to adorn and embellish their spaces with seasonal decorations not only create a festive mood but also act as promotions for various stores and serve as reminders for customers to begin their Christmas shopping. Below are a few examples of major shopping malls in Beijing and the ways they have expressed the holiday season.

China World Mall

Located at the heart of Beijing's Central Business District, China World Mall's Christmas decorations are so extensive that multiple posts would be needed to cover everything!

The exterior of the buildings have been cloaked with LED lights and a huge Christmas tree carousel had been constructed in the courtyard. Indoors, decorations are continued throughout the mall. Not all store windows display Christmas decorations, possibly relying on the corridors and centrepieces instead. Brands such as Shanghai Tang and MCM have created single standing installations to show their embracing of the holiday season.

holiday decoration

Panorama image of the flashing lights outside of China World Mall.
flashing lights outside of China World Mall
China World Mall Christmas tree carousel
Shanghai Tang's centrepiece Mode Creation Munich
Shanghai Tang's centrepiece in the corridor of China World Mall (left). MCM (Mode Creation Munich) have created an edgy reincarnation of the Christmas tree using studs and spiked mace balls using their bags as ornaments (right).

The Place

The Place on Dongdaqiao Road

Using their large LED screen as a backdrop in the evening, The Place on Dongdaqiao Road have also embraced the holiday season using large constructions and frames which support lights and tinsel. Their own carousel is also a popular spot for photos in the mall. Indoors there are hanging lights, jesters juggling and a central tree adorned with white tinsels and red and purple ornaments.

The Place Xmas decoration there are hanging lights

Parkview Green

Parkview Green view

While the exterior of Parkview Green is kept relatively simple, with the use of Christmas present markets and some LED lights, the interior features large Christmas sculptures, lights hanging from every floor and mini Christmas market-like stalls.

Decorations Parkview-Green
View of Parkview Green's interior decorations.

Shin Kong Place

Another upscale mall is Shin Kong Place in the Chaoyang district. Their Christmas decorations were not as wide ranging or consuming as other malls but still featured a centrepiece with decorations hanging from the ceiling and some decorations in entrances and exits.


The large 'Shopping Lifestyle Centre' has fully embraced the holiday season with various attractions that decorate the pathways and intersections of the outdoor mall. The central courtyard also features a large stage adorned with oversized Christmas baubles and an LED lit gazebo. Curtains made out of strings of LED lights also feature heavily outside at SOLANA. Indoors, the theme is continued with Christmas trees and basic tinsel and hanging decorations throughout the shopping centers.

Picture of Solana Decorations Picture of Solana Decorations
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Indigo Christmas Market: A Temporary Retail Space

December 7, 2013

Indigo Mall in Beijing has been organizing a Christmas Market from November 15th to January 5th. Feliz Events, the assigned Event Organizer, have been collaborating with 5 Star Plus Retail Design in the design aspects and organization of the Christmas Market.

The event is an opportunity to celebrate the winter holiday season with family and friends, and targets both Foreign and Chinese consumers. Located in Indigo's winter garden, the European style market covers an area of approximately 700 square meters and is essentially a pop-up space for brands selling food, beverages and Christmas gifts.

With the brief asking for a highly interactive event concept during the winter season, we created all conceptual and technical design works for the market and the Christmas decorations in Indigo Mall. This temporary retail space was designed to attract new customers, facilitate sales for the retail brands, and increase the foot traffic and brand image of the landlord.

render Christmas market indigo
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10 Tips to Sustainably Increase Revenue in Stores

November 25th, 2013

In order to sustainably increase revenue in stores, retail brands need to design a perfect in-store experience and create long term relationships with their customers. Here are a few tips to achieve this.

1. Optimize your store's exterior design.

The store façade and window should be designed to represent your brand and products. They are also the perfect means to create brand awareness and educate customers. Make sure your logo is designed to be visible from far, and a good selection of your products is displayed in the store window

Shop Render

2. Welcome Customers entering your store.

Greet all your customers entering your store, irrespective of gender, age, and other characteristics. It is important to give customers a warm welcome, make them feel comfortable and let them check out your products, even if they have no purchase intention.

3. Design your customer service to be barrier free.

Ensure to use an open body language when talking to your customers (no crossed arms!) and remove any furniture from the store space that could be perceived as a barrier between you and the customer. Examples of such barriers could be the sales counter, island furniture, or columns. Since furniture cannot always be removed, make sure to stand at a location with no barrier when talking to the customer.

4. Guide the customer through the store.

You want to make sure to give each new customer the best overview of your brand and introduce the various collections. Don't leave customers alone in your store – guide them and add a few sentences about each product at which they look for a few seconds, even if the customers mention that they "just want to have a look".

5. Adjust your sales approach according to each customer.

Some people are more communicative, others prefer a quiet shopping environment. Some customers need more space, others again want more information. Be sensitive and adjust your sales approach and the amount of information that you give to each person's individual needs.

6. Create a personal connection.

Purchase decisions are emotional choices. Most consumers don't purchase merely because of product characteristics, but because of something else about the product. This could be the artistic design, the heritage of the brand, the unique manufacturing technique, or other abstract values that can be hard to define. Each retail store should therefore target to create a personal connection between the customer and three very important things: the brand, the sales person, and the product. If they love the brand, you, and the product, you will make a sale. Sales consultants need to speak to the unique emotional needs and motivations of each person.

7. Support the customer in finding the perfect piece for him or her.

It is not up to the sales consultant to recommend an item; it is rather about finding out the needs, preferences, and expectations of the customers and to discover accordingly the perfect piece. Again, what is sold is not only a "product"; it is a manifestation of emotions, values, and a lifestyle, to the customer.

8. Reconfirm the choice of the customer.

Many customers doubt during the payment process whether they really have made the right choice. It is important to compliment the customer on their choice and assure them that they will enjoy the product for a long time.

9. Personalization and customer relationship management.

Be equally friendly and polite to all your customers, and remember the names and preferences of your repeat customers. Support your sales team with a digital customer relationship management system where customer preferences, personal data and purchase history can be stored and traced. Nothing creates more loyal customers than a personalized welcome "Good morning Mrs. X", accompanied by an honest smile.

10. Pack every product like a gift.

You want your customer to feel happy when carrying your product around and be excited when opening the packaging at home. Pack all products, including the ones which are exchanged or repaired, as nicely as you can. Plus, customers who carry your shopping bag around the mall are great advertising for your brand.

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5 Star Plus Retail Design in France

November 2nd, 2013

Thanks to our increasing international development, we are proud to announce that 5 Star Plus Retail Design now have a representative in Paris, France. This is to further support our design projects in Europe and facilitate a retail expansion into China for French brands. For inquiries, please contact us at office@5starplusdesign.com.

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Visual Display & Merchandising Design for Aleybo

October 29th, 2013

Aleybo is a brand that offers a range of European and American kitchen and lifestyle accessories. Design, function and color are product characteristics that are essential to the brand.

As part of the redesign of Aleybo's Beijing flagship store in Solana Mall, 5 Star Plus Retail Design was assigned to create a Visual Display & Merchandising concept which included the design of the shop window area and all product displays. The brief, besides the creation and implementation of a Visual Merchandising concept, also included the design and production of visual supporting tools such as display stands, price displays, and posters. In addition to this, 5 StarPlus Retail Design was asked to conduct the Project Management during the store's redecoration period.

The main challenge of this design project was to integrate the various brands the store stocks; KOR, Contigo, Mikasa, Chantal, Turmix, Zyliss, and Arzum. They had to become part of one uniform product display style in the Aleybo store. At the same time, the Visual Display concept had to be smart and creative.

Based on the dynamic brand image and requirement of having a space capable of being used in different ways, a flexible solution for the window area was needed. Since the original store design had not planned for a window display and store construction works had only started, we were free to produce a creative solution. Our goal was to create something smart, elegant, and simple, that would support the rest of the store's design yet create a big impact and draw people into the store.

In order to achieve maximum flexibility, we created swing like shelves made of glass and stainless steel chains that suspended from rails in the ceiling. The hanging height of the shelves can be adjusted in intervals of 20 centimeters and can be repositioned in the store window by being pulled along in horizontal directions – such features allow the shelves to adapt based on changing product display requirements.

For maximum impact, we built on the strong, colorful design of the products and designed large posters, which hung from rails behind the shelves. The position of the posters can be changed in the same way as the shelves. Most importantly, different store window display scenarios can be installed with a varying number of posters in different shapes and sizes in different locations based on seasonal and marketing needs. During events, the store receives a sense of privacy by hanging a semi-translucent curtain on the rails where the posters are usually placed


All flexible structures were designed to be as convenient as possible for in-store staff to operate and adjust. To complete the window design, we produced a flexible lighting scheme to highlight products and posters in this area of the store.

In the store, our main thought was to create a neatly organized product display. To achieve this, we grouped the products according to brands and placed several items of the same design and color side by side. This emphasizes the richness of the colors which stand out against the white setting and creates a rainbow effect.

The newly designed Aleybo store opened on October 12, 2013.

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Store Design: MASH Flagship Store in Beijing

September 11th, 2013

MASH, a stylish European fashion brand from Verona, Italy, is positioned in the upper medium segment of the market. The collections are casual yet chic, with Italian sophistication apparent in the quality of materials, especially the detail of the garments and the overall design of the clothing. This approach had to be reflected in the atmosphere and design of their flagship store in Beijing.

Mash store

With the flagship store located in Beijing's Solana Mall, 5 Star Plus Retail Design created a store design inspired by a conceptual design scheme provided by the Italian brand as well as the geographic environment of the fashion producer – the city of Verona. The main design goal was to use the store's design to tell the brand's story and to create an easily recognizable connection to the city of Verona in order to clearly distinguish MASH from its competitors in the local Chinese market.

Mash store inside

The display areas for MASH Queen and MASH Uomo, the women's and men's fashion collections, were created as islands to the right and left side of the store with different flooring and wall finishes. While the space for MASH Queen has a more sophisticated feel thanks to dynamic display fixtures with slightly varying shelf heights and bright mosaic flooring, the area around Mash Uomo is more masculine, characterized by a weathered wooden floor and a three meter high custom-made casual display unit. The central floor space is kept in a neutral grey shade and is a reference to Verona's main river Adige and leads customers to the store's back wall which features arcades with abstract black-and-white views of the city. An open arcade leads to the fitting rooms.

Mash store wall display

The fact that MASH is a new fashion brand in China was an important consideration during the whole design process and influenced strategic design aspects. As many Chinese are quite familiar with Italian culture and architecture, it was important to use classical Italian elements and interpret them in a contemporary way to emphasize on the brand's origin. The store concept is laid out to further enhance MASH as an Italian brand with casual yet chic design. The MASH flagship store in Beiijng opened on August 30th.

image dressing room image clothes display
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The Building of a Fashion Store

September 4th, 2013

How are stores being built? Below is a brief introduction to the process.

After the design brief is confirmed, the next step in a retail store project's practical work always starts with a site survey.

store site survey

Then, the store design concept and technical plans are created during several weeks.

fashion store design

After approval from the landlord and fire protection bureau, construction work can start. A simple retail store construction project lasts at least four to six weeks.

The 1st week: A steel frame for the shop's ceiling and walls are created. Partitions to divide the space are built.

store cnstruction 2nd week

The 2nd construction week: The store's ceiling and part of the wall covering are produced.

store construction

The 3rd and 4th week: Built-in furniture is created, the walls are finished and display fixtures are mounted on site. Then, lighting fixtures and flooring is installed. The end of the store construction is marked with the delivery of movable furniture pieces and accessories and a deep cleaning session.

store construction 3rd week

After being been inspected by the landlord and the fire protection bureau, the store is ready to be opened!

fashion store fashion store
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The Mystery of the Store Design Process uncovered

August 22nd, 2013

For many people, it is neither obvious nor traceable how designers create a store design for a brand. The whole underlying design approach is a mystery to them. There is, in fact, a standard process which we have outlined in the following paragraphs. It is important to note that for a store design project to be successful, all of the below stages are imperative and equally important.

1. The Client Brief

A project generally starts with a client brief. This is a document created by the brand listing the background, expectations, and limitations of the store design project. Sometimes, the design team meets with the client several times before writing all information up into one document becoming the client brief. The client brief usually needs to be signed by the brand and becomes the basis for all future design and project related work.

2. The Information Gathering & Analysis Phase

During this phase, the design team collects information about the background of the client and project, does a site survey and analysis, conducts market research about the products and competitors, and looks for potential inspirations which could be suitable for the store design project. Sometimes, the designers will ask the brand to provide additional information or fill out a questionnaire. This allows them to better understand the client company's strategic and marketing objectives, and involve stakeholders from different client departments. The analytical work done at this stage usually also includes a space analysis, evaluation of the work flow in the store, as well as diverse charts and visual representations.

It is very important that the brand's marketing goals and strategic objectives are well understood by the designers considering a store's design is as important as advertising in communicating a message to customers. Therefore, sufficient time needs to be spent by both the design team and the client on discussing the brand identity, heritage and proposed values.

3. The Preliminary Design

Based on the collected information and analysis, the designers create potential spatial layouts and concept development sketches. The goal is to better understand the properties of the store space, the brand characteristics, and create possible concept directions by bringing the various factors together.
Space planning also includes identifying strategically important areas in the store. This can include positions for signage, the logo, a brand story wall, and/or a featured product display.
Once the conceptual direction of the store design project becomes more concrete, the designers create a preliminary design scheme. This includes the proposed style, color scheme, as well as some preferred materials and finishes to be used in the project. This preliminary design concept then needs to be discussed and agreed on between the brand and the design team. Everything to be designed from here on should be according to the agreed design concept.

4. The Detailed Design

After the design concept is confirmed, the design team can start with the detailed design development: the creation of 3D visuals, technical drawings, and selection of products.

3D renderings (visuals) are usually created of views of the façade and different interior perspectives. Technical drawings include different floor plans with furniture, elevations with fixtures and furniture, detail drawings and furniture specification drawings. The design team will select suitable materials and compose a sample board, as well as producing prototypes of fixtures when required.

A very important part of a store's design is the lighting scheme which has to be confirmed at this stage. The designers will create a lighting plan and select suitable products. At the same time, the amount and positioning of light switches, electrical power outlets, telephone and internet ports, speakers, and alarm systems have to be confirmed and marked on the respective plans.

To complete the set of technical drawings required for a design submission to the retail landlord or fire protection department, a set of electrical and fire protection plans also needs to be prepared.


As in most cases, frequent communication between the brand and the design team is key to the success of the project. It is important that both parties understand the steps of the store design process and are aware of each other's expectations. In addition, designers need to ensure that sufficient time is spent during the information gathering and analysis phase to guarantee that all options are considered and that the client is presented with the best possible store design solution.

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Introduction to China's Premium Shopping Malls

July 27th, 2013

Unlike ten years ago, China now offers a range of options for high end retail brands who wish to open a store. While department stores and malls traditionally had a focus on well-known luxury watch, jewelry and fashion brands, more and more shopping malls now resemble their Western counterparts. Retail landlords are not only targeting international medium to high end brands, but are also giving attention to design, creative and artistic aspects. All of these malls have their own advantages, and brands have to determine which location is best based on their brand image, including positioning and retail design, as well as their planned expansion strategy. The following paragraphs list some of the many options that brands have today.

Shinkong Place

Since opening in Beijing in 2007, the mall has changed the city's retail landscape sitting at the forefront of luxury retail destinations. It is a standalone mall with the highest reported single mall revenue in China since 2011. In 2012, its revenue reportedly exceeded 7 billion Yuan (approx. 1.13 billion USD), increasing 12% year-on-year. Despite appearing like a shopping mall, Shingkong Place is operated as a department store. Originally attracting consumers with the flagship stores of Prada and Gucci, the landlord has put tireless efforts in further upgrading the premises, moving designer brands to higher floors in order to create space for a new Dior store. A Louis Vuitton flagship store is scheduled to open there in August 2013.

Hangzhou Tower

Before 2011, Hangzhou Tower in the East of China held the rank as Chinese mall with the highest revenue for four years. With revenue of 5.9 billion Yuan in 2012, the department store now ranks second in China. Hangzhou Tower is in fact a conglomerate of several shopping mall buildings (everything from luxury, high end, to medium and lower end) which are connected by air bridges and corridors.

Yansha Friendship Store

Also ranking high in terms of sales revenue, Yansha Youyi Shopping Center exceeds Shinkong Place when it reports its figures as a group. The Yansha group comprises Beijing Yansha Liangma Shopping Center, the Beijing Yansha Jinyuan store and its Department Store in Taiyuan city in Shanxi province. Brands that want to open in the Yansha Liangma flagship store, which offers the best foot traffic, are often asked to also open in the other two stores. Yansha Liangma Center is one of the oldest department stores selling international high end products in Beijing: partly state-owned, it started operations in 1992.

China World Mall

Being located in the heart of Beijing's Central Business District at the bottom of the capital's tallest building (China World Tower 3), China World Mall occupies a premium location in the city. China World Mall is also one of Beijing's earliest international shopping malls, being open since the early 1990s. The mall's foot traffic and sales revenue were somewhat impacted by the opening and strong marketing efforts of Shinkong Place, but the mall is undertaking extensive restoration and upgrading the overall retail design. Due to its central location in the CBD, the mall has a steady customer flow.

Recently, many of the world's top tier luxury brands including Hermes, Fendi and Max Mara have been expanding their shop floor size from the first floor into the lower ground level. Chinese brand Shangxia, who is backed by Hermes, decided to open its Beijing flagship store in China World mall. The store features a spectacular store design created by world renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.

Biejing PVG mall

Plaza 66

In Shanghai, Hong Kong Hanglung groups's Plaza 66 lead the way as a first choice luxury retail location until IFC Mall opened. Plaza 66 is ocated at Shanghai's prestigious Nanjing Xi Lu shopping street among other high end retail malls. Louis Vuitton recently redesigned and expanded its store space there and opened with a huge store front which represents a great branding opportunity in this busy upscale shopping area. The store design for the 16th Maison of Louis Vuitton was created by Peter Marino.

The Hanglung group has also been expanding into other cities, especially Shenyang, with projects like Forum 66 and Palace 66. In Shanghai, they further operate Grand Gateway 66, a mall with medium to high end branded stores.

IFC Mall

Also in Shanghai and owned by Hong Kong's Sun Hung Kai Properties, IFC Mall opened in 2010 and is located in Lujiazui financial district not far from the Pearl Tower, making it an interesting shopping destination for local affluent residents and tourists alike. Most top tier luxury brands have secured a store location in this mall.

Other Malls

Two groups who are operating shopping malls and should be watched are Charter and MIXC. Changchun-based Charter is a mainland Chinese group that built up several successful malls in Northern China, before acquiring a property in Beijing's West which is now also marketed under the Charter brand. For cities in the north, Charter malls are a first choice location for high end brands.

MIXC is quite unique in its positioning, since they are one of the few landlords that also targets international medium and designer brands. Based in Shenzhen, the group has built successful malls in Hangzhou, Shenyang and Chengdu, and is further developing in several other cities.

n the last few years, several new and exciting mall projects have been built, with two interesting examples being Parkview Green in Beijing and K11 in Shanghai, both exhibiting art pieces and attracting a new generation of international designer brands. By creating a flair of art and design, these malls successfully differentiate themselves and bring the shopping experience of Chinese consumers to a new level.

Also see our article on Chinese cities with the highest potential for new store locations to learn more about a successful retail expansion in China.

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How Can Smaller Brands Make a Profit in China?

June 2nd, 2013

Smaller brands often struggle with a successful retail presence in China. While the most popular luxury brands are frequently paid to open a flagship store in malls, the smaller brands are the ones that have to cover this cost and pay very high store rents. Marketing and communication efforts in a country with the size of China are also expensive. In order to succeed, brands have to understand the Chinese market and sometimes need to apply strategies which are different to their usual approach. We have outlined four tactics that have proven successful for smaller brands.

1. Start small and test your products in the local market

Sell your products on Taobao (the Chinese eBay), e-tailing platforms, or in collaboration with multibrand retailers before opening a brick-and-mortar store.

shoping mall china

2. Once your products have proven to be popular among consumers, and you have achieved a basic level of brand awareness and some media interest, continue to build up your retail strategy

Design a concept store to further build awareness and educate consumers about your brand and open smaller stores and corners in shopping malls or department stores which offer good foot traffic. Alternatively, build your brand awareness mainly through online channels and then promote your products at a media event, exhibition, or similar, before opening small sales points. Entering into a franchise agreement with a well-established distributor is a good way to delegate costs and risk. Remember to maintain control over where stores are opened, retail design aspects and advertising, since these factors directly affect your brand image.

3. Build up relationships with fashion and lifestyle media

If editors like your brand and products, they are often willing to introduce your products without cost in their magazines, and use them for fashion shoots.

4. Make sure you have the basics right

All your efforts will be lost if you haven't built up your legal entity that permits you to do business in China. Also ensure to test your products at authorized entities in order to ensure you conform to industry requirements, print Chinese labels, and arrange your POS system including a working credit card reader in time. These things can often take several months in China.

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5 Points on How a Well-Designed Signage Can Drive Customers into your Store

May 23rd, 2013

A logo signage is an integral element of a brand’s visual identity. What are the key points to consider when designing a logo signage for the brand’s store façade? How much business could you lose because your signage does not create customer interest?

1. Visibility is the most important aspect. Having logo signage that is not visible is like operating a store without a name or brand identity. Great brand awareness building and potential sales opportunities are lost with a logo that is not apparent.

2. A signage on the façade needs to create a strong impact. The goal of the retail designer is to create a 'Wow!' factor that makes customers stop in front of the store.

3. In addition, the signage has to spark interest to attract customers into the store.

4. An often overlooked point is legibility: Signage featuring a brand name needs to be designed in big enough, clear letters for customers to read. What would be the benefit of designing your store signage in a font that customers cannot interpret?

5. The last important aspect to consider is the alignment with the Brand Identity. A signage has to represents a brand’s identity and be a crucial element of all retail design efforts and the visual identity concept. Colors, forms, materials and typefaces, all serve to express intrinsic brand values.

Ensuring that these five aspects are implemented correctly when designing logo signage for your stores will maximize brand awareness, sales, and brand loyalty as a result.

Here is a list of the most common mistakes that brands make:

1. There is no signage

2. The logo is too small and cannot be read

3. The logo is positioned at a non-strategic location and is therefore not visible

4. Unsuitable materials are used for the signage which e.g. reflect the light or do not contrast with the background – the signage is unreadable

5. Complex or script style font is used in the signage – the brand name is hard to read

We especially like the design of the GAP signage (these pictures were taken at their store in Parkview Green). By having their logo placed above and on the two sides of its entrance, customers definitely notice the brand name. The logo is designed in clear, large, white letters on a dark background, making the logo easy to read. A cube version of the logo signage as well as a large format style ensure that the brand name is visible from all sides and very far away.

Store design gap Store design gap Store design Gap

The following brand signages are designed especifically well and are very effective in achieving their marketing goals (pictures were taken in China World Mall and Parkview Green):

store design Spige tommy Hilfinger store design rimova Gieves Hawkes

Gieves & Hawkes has two signages visible from the entrance, one on the store front above the door and another one inside, mirroring the first one. Thanks to the viewing perspective it seems like the interior signage is directly below the exterior logo.

And here are some examples of less than perfect signage designs:

Bad store design Bad store design 2 Bad sotre deisgn 3

Can you find the logo? Can you read it? (A hint: the signage on the second picture is hidden behind the plant!)

Let us look at some of the lessons learned from the above examples and summarize the key points: 1. Try to represent your brand image and what you offer through your logo signage.

2. Maximize readability.

3. Maximize contrast. White letters look larger than the same text in darker colors. Light letters also seem to be closer, while darker letters seem to recede in the background.

4. Serif and Sans Serif fonts: Sans Serif fonts communicate a strong image, while Serif fonts project a more traditional, and sometimes more sophisticated positioning.

5. Be aware of the background and surroundings of the signage and avoid that it gets lost in the environment.

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Beijing or Shanghai for Brand Headquarters?

May 15th, 2013

Retail brands need to consider carefully whether to establish their China headquarters in Shanghai or Beijing. The majority of fashion brands has opted for Shanghai in the past, but Beijing, the capital city, has a lot to offer too. In fact, Beijing as a headquarters might be more suitable for certain brands. Why? Let's take a look at some of the characteristics of these two Chinese metropolises.

Historically, Shanghai used to be more open and westernized, not only as a city but also in terms of government regulations and the way business was executed. As a consequence, consumers in Shanghai are already very familiar with Western styles and foreign designer brands. The city also offers interesting architectural styles, many green recreational areas and an international entertainment, bar and restaurant scene that allows foreign executives to feel at home without difficulty. All these factors combined made Shanghai a first choice for a market entry into mainland China.

Today, with a large number of luxury and designer stores, the city continues to lead the way as the fashion capital of China, but other cities are rapidly catching up. Beijing, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Chengdu, and Shenyang, among others, all offer well-developed fashion and lifestyle brand landscapes, an appetite for foreign brands and government regulations more moderate than a few years ago. The argument of Shanghai's openness and better developed fashion taste does not suffice any more to justify a brand's investment into a head office location, or does it?

From our point of view, Shanghai's strongest advantage that justifies the establishment of a local headquarter is its central geographic position in mainland China. So far, the majority of cities usually targeted for an expansion by brands are located in the East of the country, and all important cities in the North and South can be reached by plane in about two hours. Of course, this implies that the brand we are talking about does plan for a balanced expansion strategy into the North, South and West of the country. This would mean, for example, opening retail stores in Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, (both close to Shanghai / central China), Beijing, Shenyang, Harbin (in the North), Chengdu and Chongqing (in the West), and Guangzhou and Shenzhen (in the South). But should a brand plan its expansion like this?

map of china

Well, this would depend on each brand's unique positioning, financial resources and planned commitment to Chinese market expansion, as well as their production capacities. Some brands choose to maintain their flair of exclusivity by opening not more than five flagship stores in mainland China, others (look at many watch brands!) together with franchise partners have opened hundreds of points of sale including "global flagship stores", concept stores, boutiques, and department store counters all over the country. There are others again, such as smaller, often family owned businesses, who manufacture and craft the pieces by hand, and can therefore only expand in pace with their production capacity. Read our articles on Chinese cities with the highest potential for new store locations and the potential of the Chinese luxury retail market to learn more and optimize your expansion strategy in China.

In each case, a brand needs to analyze the different submarkets in Chinese cities and where the products might sell best based on local consumer preferences and culture. Marketing means and product offerings may have to be slightly adjusted accordingly, but need to remain part of an overall brand strategy and visual identity. And by researching the characteristics of different consumer segments and geographies, brands might realize that opening more stores in the North rather than the South makes more sense to them.

Many people know that Beijing, as the capital city, is where most of the government and military bureaus are located and their employees are regular consumers of luxury brands. Aside from government and military, most media headquarters are also located in Beijing. This includes high-end fashion magazines such as Vogue, Bazaar and Marie Claire, but also social media such as Sina Weibo, art related institutions and many new creative agencies. To market a brand successfully, it is necessary to stay touch with the media and regularly attend their industry events.

Beijing is also the city where most of China’s millionaires live and where most of the retail sales revenue is made. According to a report published by Hurun in 2012, Shanghai ranks no. 3 as home to wealthy Chinese after Beijing and Guangdong province. Northern Chinese consumers have a large appetite for luxury goods and are less likely to travel (and purchase) abroad than their counterparts from the South. This is another factor that makes Beijing and the North of China an attractive location. Guangzhou and Shenzhen (both in the South) are located very close to Hong Kong, and local consumers are tempted to take a daytrip to Hong Kong to purchase the latest luxury products for a much lower price, due to the low import and sales taxes there.

Shanghai has been promoted as China’s “Fashion Mecca” in the past, but the truth is, that many luxury stores act as store front showcases only to create brand awareness, raise the image and pave the way for an expansion into smaller second and third tier cities. This sad detail might also be due to the fact that Shanghai is surrounded by other, smaller, well developed and very livable cities (Hangzhou, Nanjing, Wuxi, Suzhou, and Ningbo) which are also home to a range of luxury mall developments. As a result, luxury sales are spread over the region rather than concentrated in one of these cities.

In contrast, Beijing is considered a "stand-alone" market. Thanks to the government's various programs to stimulate the capital's economic and cultural growth, the city has been able to continuously attract tourists and business travellers from all over China. All have had a strong impact on luxury sales. Tianjin, Beijing's sister city, despite extensive government promotion in recent years, has not experienced the same take-off in demand for luxury goods.

It is no coincidence that most luxury brands have opened additional, bigger and better stores in Beijing than Shanghai. These stores are designed to impress and showcase a brand's heritage through oversized store dimensions. People in the North also tend to be more attracted to "bling" and showing off their luxury purchases, tending to spend a higher portion of their savings on luxury items as compared to residents in the South.

In summary, China is a country with a size and amount of submarkets comparable to Europe, and should be treated as such rather than as a single geographic entity. It is worth investing in detailed market research to understand the motivations that drive different consumer subdivisions, as well as considering the infrastructure of locations in order to determine an appropriate distribution strategy. Taking into account the brand's requirements for government and media relations, the availability of partners such as licensees or producers, and after defining the overall strategy for China, it will be easy to choose the right city for a brand's headquarters.

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Increasing Sales through the Transition Area

April 6th, 2013

The utilization of the transition area in stores is a strategy that is often overlooked in retail design. This negligence has a direct impact on the effectiveness of a store's design and may lead to the loss of potential sales opportunities.

store entrance

A transition area is the space in a store located near the entrance that acts as a buffer between the outside world and in-store brand experience. Its most important function is to slow down the customers' speed and level of stress so that they can start to focus on the actual store environment and products on display.

The busier and noisier the area outside of a store - be it a street or a corridor in a mall - the bigger and more effective the transition area needs to be. Certain strategies can be implemented even in very small spaces as part of a store design to optimize the transition area. Power displays close to the entrance function as barriers that cause the the customer to slow down and familiarize with the products and their new location without having to wait until they explore the whole space.

Transition areas should also instill a buying mood and bring customers from their own world into the brand's realm. A good approach to do this is to appeal to different senses with music, color and smell in the entrance area. Interesting products or items, which can be touched and felt, may be placed there as well.

Essentially, transition areas need to be optimized to increase the effectiveness of a store's design and merchandising strategy in order to stimulate customers' brand awareness and purchases.

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Opening of Hanna Trachten in Vienna

April 5th, 2013

The Hanna TrachtenFlagship store in Vienna designed by 5 Star Plus Retail Design invited us to their big opening event on March 20th, 2013. The event included attendance by some of Vienna's most well-known celebrities.


The brand, founded more than 60 years ago, has successfully repositioned itself as a provider of traditional clothing with a modern twist. All garments are designed, manufactured and sold by the brand itself.


For the Vienna flagship store, located in the city's high end shopping district, 5 Star Plus Retail Design created a themed, yet elegant store design scheme featuring traditional Austrian furniture pieces. As customers enter the store from the city, their surroundings transform into a fairytale world and magical forest.

The design of the first rooms' plays with the vaults of a medieval town building and references Salzburg, the hometown of the brand. A corridor that acts as a virtual passage into a mystic world, leads to other sales rooms and displays children's clothing and walls decorated with illustrated animals of the forest.


All shelving fixtures of the store are custom-designed to fit the vaulted and irregular walls.

To promote brand awareness, a strong focus is kept on positioning branding elements throughout the store: signage and logos are strategically located on walls and above fixtures. Further awareness is created with a poster light box and the brand's history in the VIP customer area.

hanna_trachten_opening hanna_trachten_store_2
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The Store as Brand Extension: What are the benefits?

March 25th, 2013

It is well-known that a good store design results in higher sales figures. This applies to China just like everywhere else. But why is it so important that a store becomes an extension of the brand?


Today, with the expansive range of brands and product choices available to consumers, creating a strong brand with a clearly defined personality and values that emotionally connect to customers is more important than ever.

Impressions of a brand to customers are usually first created by media, online presence and/or physical visits of stores. This creates customer expectations of the kind of look and experience a store of the same brand will have. When the store environments do not meet these expectations, customers can be disappointed.

In fact, each retail store and its design are a unique opportunity for a brand to express their personality and interact with customers. Well trained and motivated sales staff can educate customers about a brand's background and valuable information beyond just the products which might be a brand's heritage, handicraft, or certain lifestyle the brand promotes.

By selecting appropriate colors and materials and with a creative retail design concept, store environments can be an actual representation of a brand by becoming a 3D manifestation of an otherwise abstract concept. This promotes the emotional attachment of customers to their favorite brand and sustains brand loyalty. Sometimes, certain elements of a global store design

concept need to be locally adjusted to match characteristics of China's specific target consumer group.

The bottom line is that stores have to be designed to amaze and excite based on a brand's personality, independently from whether this is with a themed, abstract, tied-down or traditional approach to a design concept

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10 Things to consider when bringing a new brand to China

March 24th, 2013

"China is a place where quick money can be made." This is one of the common misconceptions many brands make before coming to China. In fact, there are many crucial factors to consider first when planning a brand's expansion. Some important considerations have been listed here.


1. Research the market to make sure that there is the required market potential and that your brand can compete against rivaling companies. In most cases, business models and product ranges that are effective in other markets need to be altered.

2. Analyze the brand image and check whether details of the brand's corporate identity and positioning need to be adjusted to the Chinese market. This could be an emphasis on certain values, or an adaptation of parts of the visual identity such as colors and materials used in the store design.

3. Be realistic about the financial investment and long term commitment that is required for a successful presence in China. Store rents, salaries, advertising and import costs are higher than many expect. Plan for the long term.

4. Choose a city for the company's headquarters and first store. Both Beijing and Shanghai have their own advantages. You should look at the existing brand landscape, consumer behavior, established competitors, but also at available access to media, government institutions and business partners. In every case your decision needs to be in line with your expansion plans. Visit our blog post on the retail potential of different Chinese cities for more information.

5. Look for store locations which both offer high foot traffic and satisfy brand requirements. Traditionally, many retail environments with a well-established, wealthy customer base were housed in rather outdated spaces. This affected the image of many international brands; store designs in China could not be executed in the same way as other locations but modern and well-designed shopping malls could not offer the same foot traffic as established malls. Things are slowly changing, but brands will continue to have to make a compromise.

6. Spend time researching and planning your distribution strategy. Make careful considerations when choosing between working with shopping malls as opposed to department stores – each model has their own advantages and implications on setup and accounting.

7. Ensure that the brand message in advertisements and in stores is aligned. Many brands communicate a different image in print media or on their website than through their store design. Sometimes, products promoted in media are not available in stores, and in many cases the store environment including design, merchandise and sales staff is not up to the customers' expectations. Make sure that your brand's image is consistent across all forms of communication.

8. Hire a motivated team for office and stores right from the beginning to push the brand's development. This is because it takes time for a new brand to create awareness before taking off. It is important to make the best first impression with the market as possible.

9. Make sure that you choose the right partners with experience in your market. This applies to registration and accounting companies, but also retail design practices or licensees.

10. Stay in for the long run. Keep in mind that China is a very quickly developing and dynamic market so it is important to stay updated to be ready when changes are necessary. On the other hand, due to cultural reasons and the obvious size of the market, good things can take time to develop. Build a solid foundation and observe your progress.

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The Transformation of Department Stores

March 24th, 2013

Department stores all over the world are realizing the need for change. Initiated by their counterparts in the US, an increasing number of shopping mall projects has seen Chinese department stores attempt to keep up by redesigning their retail environment, aiming to create a better experience for their customers. The following are some examples of elements that are being introduced and incorporated into Chinese department stores.

Bringing in natural light

By opening up perimeter walls, the addition of windows, atriums or skylights, previously excluded natural light can penetrate the store interior and create a completely new feeling of wellbeing and relaxation. Light flooding is especially effective in cafes and restaurants to invite people to spend more time in-store and as a result, purchase more.

Aligning the interior with the brand strategy

The modern customer does not want to shop in an undefined, boring space. Today, brands are constantly developing means to differentiate themselves and communicate with customers, particularly through in-store experience. Many department store chains such as e.g. Macy's have started to create a new store design concept that translates their brand values and positioning into a three dimensional environment and can be rolled out to stores of different sizes. Materials, colors and shapes are used to express an attitude or view of life that is part of the brand strategy and appeals to target customers. In common areas, good design with unique details can play a vital role in distinguishing a store from its competitors.

Increasing flexibility & design collaborations

Department store retailers have further been putting the focus of their design efforts on increasing flexibility. This is to allow for seasonal changes and other adjustments of the floor plan as required. Some have been partnering with luxury brands, designers or celebrities to create limited edition product collections or sub-category departments with the goal of drawing more people into stores and keeping them there.

Taking advantage of technology

Retailers are becoming more experimental by trying out new concepts and technologies in selected test stores. While some of these initiatives focus on the improved interaction between the customer and sales staff at better designed kiosks, others want to bring the customer experience to a new level by equipping sales personnel with new and sometimes interactive technology. Examples include iPads and displays that make use of items such as LED lighting and LCD screens.

Source: VMSD

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Luxury Store Design Trends in 2013

January 28th, 2013

As industry sources recently analyzed - including The Financial - there are currently two major trends in luxury store design. Many major brands have been expanding with an increased number of store openings in second-tier cities in China. This has seen their exclusive brand image being affected by the increased accessibility of their products and stores. In fact, many Chinese consumers feel that brands are less high-end when readily available.


In order to decrease this risk inherent to store expansion, luxury brands are adopting a number of strategies, one of which is, of course, to express their premium position throughout the store design. While branding is always a very important part of retail design, further elements, such as specific characteristics of target customers, local culture or art integrated into a flagship store design all help to correctly reflect the brand's intentions and ultimately strengthen the brand positioning as well as result in higher sales.


Another trend created by forward-looking luxury and high-end brands is to build a retail experience for their customer that is welcoming, open and relaxed. Pioneers adopting this strategy are Apple and Burberry, who recently opened a new flagship store on London's Regent Street.


As announced by Burberry, the brand's goal is to "bring the Burberry.com digital experience into a physical space, future-proofed to stay ahead of, and allow for, the continuous evolution of the brand". It is about a brand showcase beyond just a flagship store, and has the goal to integrate Burberry's online presence with the physical world. To achieve this, it features abundant digital technology to create a multimedia and multi-sense retail experience for customers. Mirrors and walls that can transform into screens respond to products with RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags to show specific information when pieces are moved. The sales personnel are equipped with iPads to provide a further personalized shopping experience, taking advantage of the preferences shown in online profiles of customers. Burberry also installed a high tech 39 square-meter sound and display system which creates a virtual, synchronized rain shower that appears throughout the whole store at regular intervals of time. This effect further expresses the Burberry brand whose products (their trench coats in particular!) are designed to function with the weather. According to consumers who visited the flagship store, the place is accessible and relaxed, and customers do not feel pressured to buy, but are rather encouraged to stay and experience.

The furniture and fittings created by British craftsmen during many months of labor are classic in style and create a feeling of sophistication and elegance in the listed 20th century building. Heritage pieces which are displayed in a museum-exhibit-like style further build an awareness of the history of the brand. While the realization of Burberry's new global flagship store was undoubtedly a large investment, the brand has successfully managed to strengthen its positioning and continues to lead the way as forward looking luxury retailer.

For more details on Burberry's new flagship store design visit Business of Fashion and Time Out.

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Opening of Galaxy Soho Mall in Beijing

October 29, 2012


Galaxy SOHO Mall in Beijing invited 5 Star Plus Retail Design to a formal opening event on October 27th, 2012. This new project comprising a combination of several retail floors, offices and apartments is located at the East Second Ring Road. It is just beside Chaoyangmen and the popular Chaowai Shopping area. It is therefore likely to attract a number of leading international retailers for investment. In addition, Galaxy SOHO is situated not far from Dongzhimen with its successful malls such as Raffles City, but is also expected to leverage on the many government and MNC offices based in the area.


The project was designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, who also attended the opening event. According to the architect, the building is a modern interpretation of a traditional Chinese courtyard, consisting of five surrounding buildings and a central courtyard.

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What are the Top Potential Cities for New Store Locations in China?

October 28, 2012

It is not easy for retailers to settle on a market expansion strategy and choose between Chinese cities. A few years ago, approximately five to six Chinese cities were considered as being attractive enough, i.e. would present the level of maturity and demand for international and luxury retail goods to qualify for a new store location. Today, there are many Chinese cities that should also be considered for brands to expand their market.

Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) observed in a recently published China real estate report (China 50 – Fifty Real Estate Markets that Matter) that several cities, which were classified as Tier 2 cities in 2009, have developed rapidly in the last two years and should now be classified as tier 1.5 cities. These cities comprise Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Shenyang, Suzhou, Tianjin and Wuhan. JLL justifies this new classification with the strong increase in maturity as well as the rapid infrastructure and economic development in those areas. All nine cities have a critical mass of international retailers and hotel operators, domestic firms and MNCs making them predestined for new store locations of premium brands in China.

Source: Jones Lang LaSalle

The graphics on the right show retail sales and the concentration of luxury retailers in the biggest Chinese cities. Tier 1 cities are Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen, followed by China's Top 50 classified into Tier 1.5, Tier 2, and Tier 3. China's top 50 cities have an economic size comparable to Germany today and are further growing. JLL expects that by 2020, China's top 50 cities will have exceeded today's Japan.

How does this transition affect the retail market and retail sales? The retail market including retail sales and supply of stock are expected to further shift from Tier 1 to lower Tier cities. By 2020, Tier 1 cities will only constitute 21% of the retail stock market, while they had a share of 39% in 2011. The share of the Top 50 cities will increase from 61% to 70% until 2020.

During the last years, luxury brands appeared to adopt one of three different expansion strategies: (1) a presence only or mainly in the Top 3 Chinese cities Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou (2) a focus on the Tier 1 and selected Tier 1.5 cities (3) rapid expansion into Tier 1.5 and Tier 2 cities to leverage on the low density of international brands to gain market share

Often it is brands who wish to remain exclusive or have a limited production capacity, who open stores in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou only. A strong presence in the Top 3 cities allows for the creation of a strong and exclusive brand image, but comes with increased rental and personnel costs. The retail expansion strategy which focuses on Tier 1 and selected Tier 1.5 cities is the most widely adopted among high end brands at the moment. On one side, the stores in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou increase brand awareness among both consumers and retail landlords. On the other side, shops in Tier 1.5 cities give access to a fairly wealthy and educated customer base that are hungry for international products.

Opening new store locations in China's Tier 1.5 cities is a rather safe bet today, the markets are however slowly becoming as mature and saturated as the Top 3 cities Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. The opening of stores in Tier 2 and lower Tier cities is somewhat more risky and brands need to allow for more time to see a return on their investment. Until today, most luxury retailers with a considerable presence in those cities are brands who are perceived as rather traditional, and watch brands. The charts below give an indication on various brands and their adopted expansion strategy.

Investment_in_top3+Tier1 Investment_in_Top
Source: The Bain Consulting Group (BCG)
Source: The Bain Consulting Group
Source: The Bain Consulting Group
Note: BCG classifies some of the JLL's Tier 1.5 cities as Tier 2 cities

Since there are so many cities in China, deciding on one of them for a new store location of a specific retail brand is a difficult task. According to firms who conducted several years of in-depth research on this topic, Hangzhou, Chengdu, and Shenyang are the most attractive cities for retailers today. This again is based on factors such as the mature economic development, income and spending level of residents of these cities. After that, brands should look at Tianjin, Nanjing, Wuhan, Chongqing, Qingdao, Ningbo, Dalian, Suzhou and Wuxi.

Source: Jones Lang LaSalle
Source: Jones Lang LaSalle
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How big is the Potential of the Chinese Luxury Retail Market?

August 29, 2012

Today, China's biggest cities have a similar number of designer luxury fashion and jewelry stores per capita as developed countries do. The number of luxury watch stores is even higher. Beijing and Shanghai, for example, have as many luxury point-of-sale locations per capita as New York, and China's Tier 2 cities are catching up.

In recent years, a rapid expansion of all major high end retailers has been witnessed in mainland China. From 2005 to 2011 alone, the number of stores of many luxury brands in the country has more than tripled. The chart on the right gives an indication of how much luxury brands have been expanding - Louis Vuitton and Gucci have opened more than twenty stores in mainland China in the past five years, while Hermes has opened 15.

Source: McKinsey

Many people are wondering, however, how much the Chinese luxury retail market is going to grow in the next years, and whether it can maintain its predicted growth rate of 15% annually. This concern is mainly caused by new online sales channels and the increasing ease with which Chinese customers can travel and purchase abroad. McKinsey published an interesting report in 2011 (Understanding China's Growing Love for Luxury) comparing the number of stores between China and Japan. Since China is expected to overtake Japan in luxury retail sales by 2015, such a comparison is plausible. Market leader Louis Vuitton has closed the gap and has a similar number of stores in both countries. Most other retail brands, however, still have a fair way to go. In 2009, Chanel had only eight stores in China while operating 50 in Japan, while Hermes had 20 in China and 45 in Japan. If the Japanese market is an indicator, the Chinese luxury retail market is far from being saturated. Furthermore, luxury retail brands are continuing to announce their local expansion plans.

Source: McKinsey

Luxury jeweler De Beers told the media they would open five new stores and upgrade existing facilities in China in 2012 and Coach has announced that they will open an additional 30 stores in Greater China this year. While most of the high end retailers focus on China's biggest 15 cities, McKinsey predicts that cities with considerable pools of luxury goods consumers will increase from 30 to 60 cities over the next five years.

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