With the appearance of an always evolving online and digital technologies more and more present in our everyday life, and since the mid 90's, consumer behavior has changed.
It all started perhaps with the convenience of buying everything from books to groceries 24/7 in the blink of a click, whereas, going to the mall, supermarket or even browsing for a big purchase such as a home improvement project became a more direct relation between sellers and buyers. Hence competition also became more apparent.
Business from different industries became more creative and nurtured from other organizations models to graciously curate profitable spaces, not only in financial terms but also as a means of marketing and public relations of their brands.
In addition to that, business social responsibility also became an essential contributor to this shift in product presentation.
Luxury brands are the best and most explicit examples, well-known brands from organizations such as the LVMH, Kering, and Richemont Group took not only their creative directors as part of their branding strategy but also developed collaborations with contemporary artists embracing mediation forms, bringing these into their boutiques, fashion shows, showrooms, advertising and online presence.
As a consequence, this trend became more and more evident not only in luxury brands but in almost every other industry!
Therefore, that restricted museum feeling grew accessible in the mall, the supermarket, the coffee shop and so on, taking curating principles and using them to distinguish themselves from their competitors. As a bonus, they created an even clearer lifestyle market-segmentation.
See below for the make of Gucci Museum back in 2011; this enabled the brand to differentiate from others. The museum also includes a boutique, a café, and more recent additions are a restaurant and private gardens.
On the other hand, Museums also incorporated business practices into their day-to-day! Most noteworthy is the incorporation of technology, as this has made a significant impact in making cultural institutions more accessible to younger generations, people with special needs, and from different socio-economic backgrounds.
The recent economic crisis has impacted both sectors, business and museums have exchanged structures, forming each other to connect with younger generations and also to be better managed. Millennials are said to be more prone to spending on experiences than on "things", storytelling and mediation contributed on making "an experience" of that museum visit, the same way it will be associated when making a purchase, no matter the price.
We have different examples from around the world from various industries, below you will find more recent cases of what is known as edutainment (education + entertainment):
- Heureka Overseas Productions: A firm dedicated to spreading the expertise and productions of the Heureka science center on informal, less structured locations such as malls.
- Vivilte: A science center that in 2012 went out and about reaching new audiences in the shopping mall, although the project no longer exists, according to SVEIN ANDERS DAHL VilVite Managing Director based in Bergen, Norway. The experience allowed Vivilte to be part of a project in which "[...] Overall this was a positive experience for us. For my team, this was a great professional development opportunity: you learn a lot while working on other people's projects. As we acted as consultants, we earned money on this project. More importantly, we received warm feedback from the local community, and the project got attention and publicity in the media..."
- Science Center-Netzwerk: The Austrian firm conceived the Knowledge°room pop-up science engagement locations in empty shops. Their primary goal to tackle was social inclusion by eliminating "barriers." The strategy was to move into regular places that seem less intimidating. Moreover, the project received sponsorship from IKEA, as part of their social responsibility policy. This benefited both parties: whereas the Knowledge room was furnished with IKEA pieces, and hence brand awareness, as expressed by HEIDRUN SCHULZE Project Manager Science Center Netzwerk "[...] I did witness visitors to the Knowledge°room once, who thought they would be able to buy the furniture they had spotted through the window..."
Lastly, the project intention was to show the mix of fun and science in a common location.
In conclusion, we see how museum communication science is being used and adapted to different spaces in the commercial sectors, as well as the other way around!
Knowledge°room pop-up science engagement locations by Austrian institution Science Center Netzwerk are a good example of museum structures in a commercial structure. Images by Science Center-Netzwerk.
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