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Strategic Process

Ask

Build brand love with customers by injecting Old Navy’s signature 'fun' into the in-store experience.

Background
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Since 1994, 'fun' has been a part of Old Navy's DNA. The company's mission is to democratize fashion and to make shopping fun again. 
 
The brand is known for offering fashionable clothing at an affordable price. Old Navy's 1,100+ brick-and-mortar locations account for the majority of its revenue. However, the company recognizes that there is a need to shift back to brand-building if they want to achieve their goal of doubling its footprint and increasing revenue. As mentioned by Old Navy's CFO, Teri List-Stoll, “We had frankly become too heavily dependent on messaging around discounting, as opposed to bigger picture brand messaging..."
Old Navy's future plan is to focus upon building its brand through the store experience.
What I Needed to Understand...
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Research Methodology
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Key Findings
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Despite concerns about the death of brick-and-mortar, retail isn't dead, it's changing. According to Forbes, 90% of shopping still occurs in stores. However, retail has become less about the product, and more about the experience.
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Source: Forbes (2019)
77% of retail executives believe consumers are happy with today’s store experiences.
The truth? Only 57% are satisfied.
Shoppers Expect
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Takeaway
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Brands are underdelivering on in-store experiences...
Consumers are over expecting.
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“It’s just not one of the stores that gives me an experience that makes me want to return often.”

- Survey Respondent

“It’s the store equivalent of a pair of khakis: boring but at least you know what it is.”

- Instagram Respondent

“It’s just there. Nothing surprising. It’s a boring, neutral experience.”

- Survey Respondent

“In line waiting, waiting, waiting. Bought 10 items…Rang up wrong…Manager sent me back in line to get a refund…Another hour. Not worth the wait!”

- Teresa S., Facebook

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“Doesn’t make me feel like I’m finding something specific to me. Feels like a warehouse of cheap clothes.”

- Survey Respondent

“[Cash experience] wasn’t personalized, more about doing the job.”

- Youtube User

Takeaway
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Old Navy is not ahead of the curve.
While shoppers appreciate Old Navy for offering great clothes at affordable prices, they're expecting a more enjoyable experience. Old Navy's fun mission and purpose isn't translating well into the store experience.
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I asked Recollective Participants to upload images and a write a few sentences about what fun means to them. 
I learnt that what's fun for you may not be fun for me. Fun is subjective. However, there were some common themes around what people described as being fun:
Source: Recollective (2020)
Fun can be...
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“Unplanned and adventurous.”
“I always have fun while I am travelling and exploring new places.”
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“Fun to me, is being with friends, specifically my best friends.”
“I always find fun no matter where or what I am doing when I am with my partner.”
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“Activities I like to enjoy — playing music, board games.”
“Shopping, Netflix, and coffee!”
While fun can be exploratory, social, and active. Play is exploratory, social, and active.
Fun is an outcome of play.
Play is...
A basic human need.
Often associated with children, and dismissed as adults.
Something that has many health benefits and is just as pivotal for adults as it is for kids.
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In today's world, due to health worries, financial stresses, and political uncertainty, play is needed more than ever.
 
Spend on play is growing. According to Mintel, the entertainment and leisure category experienced a 25% increase over the past 5 years. 
More individuals are seeking out ways to play, which is evident in the come back of arcades in the form of barcades, game board cafes, and wine and paint night experiences.
Takeaway
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Consumers need and are craving playful experiences.
Fun is an outcome of play, and there’s a serious need for play throughout our lives.
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As evident in pop-up experiences and flagship stores, a lot of brands are treating play as a unique, or one-off experience.

“One-off fun experiences don’t stick.

Gimmicks won’t build brands. 

Brands are built around consistency.”

- Kelly O’Keefe

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Play needs to happen in every single store. In every single market. Every single day.
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While there aren't many brands currently creating a consistent, playful, experience, one that stands out is Ikea.
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"‘Fun and quirky’ probably isn’t the personality that comes to mind when you think of a brand specializing in affordably priced flat-pack furniture, is it?” 
Source: NXT Book Media (2019)
Ikea was able to take the typically mundane experience of furniture shopping, and translate it into an experience that shoppers truly desire.
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Takeaway
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There is a lack of consistency in playful retail experiences.
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OPPORTUNITY
Make playful experiences accessible.
STRATEGY
Integrate evergreen play into Old Navy’s stores to form deeper connections with shoppers and ignite the magic of fun.
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Identify where the experience can be made more playful
Define what “play” means for Old Navy’s store experience 
Low cost, high impact solutions to improve the experience 
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Discovery
Trial
Purchase
BROWSING
FITTING ROOMS
CHECKOUT
Table Stakes
Shoppable Displays
Identifiable Employees
Properly Labeled Merchandise
Flattering Fixtures
Room for Clothing
Assistance if Needed
Friendly 
Reassuring 
Shopper Focused
Strategic Enhancements
Shoppers 
Way-finding
DIY Mural
Differing Decor
Snap and Share
Buddy Button
Play Until You Pay
Surprise Bags
Receipt Riddles
Pillars of Play
Primary: Interactive
Secondary: Shared, Unexpected
Primary: Shared
Secondary: Interactive, Unexpected
Primary: Unexpected
Secondary: Shared, Interactive
Impact
The emotional impact of play can bring brands to life.
Making Old Navy's stores playful can shift the perception of the brand from being value-driven and functional, to appeal more to the emotional side of consumers. 
Making stores more playful will...
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Research shows that for every 1% increase in time spent in store there is a 1.3% increase in sales.
Investing in play is priceless.