”The department stores, these big malls, need to drive young consumers — and how can they do that?”
On how to turn a Gen-Z audience into DIY designers
October 03, 2023
Who are you?
— I’ve just started a new concept, called DRMLND, aiming to personalise jewellery and mobile decoration for kids, says Söderlindh.
How did you come up with the idea?
— From seeing how personalisation has become the new way to share things on social media for Generation Z and Generation Alpha. Because to share something on social media, you need to have something that is unique and that is not mass market bought. And it needs to be something that you can stand behind, something you have created. So we saw that Do It Yourself has become really, really big in social media and especially in TikTok. And with this, we saw the opportunity to create a brand that drives personalisation.
What’s the reason why so many big corporations are struggling to reach out to this growing consumer group?
— Our aim was to create a retail experience that integrates social media and how kids use social media in their everyday lives. Today, they Snap everything they do and they share everything. We wanted to create a retail experience that they can share all along their process while they create their own jewellery and mobile cases and share the moment once there. Then, once they’ve completed it, we’ve built in a station in the retail unit, so that the product they created can be professionally product shot. So, their product will look like a factory-made product.
What have been the main challenges when creating the concept?
— In all honesty, we haven’t had any challenges with the concept. With all the brands, concepts, and businesses I’ve started (Happy Socks, The Cords, Häxan, and more, Ed’s note) we’ve always had a bump or ’we didn’t think of this, we didn’t think of that’. I think the challenges are gonna come once we open because they’re always there, but they haven’t been there so far in the creation of the concept.
Can you share the lessons learned from when speaking to your kids, about how to reach them and their consumer group?
— The lesson learned is that I don’t understand social media and how they share everything online. And that’s why they’ve been guiding me through the process, of how we create this. I just signed up to Instagram a week ago, so I’m getting there, and I’m also on TikTok. And what I’ve learned is, that it’s an entirely different way of hanging out and how they interact with the phone. The phone is always the centrepiece; they look at a video, they share, and it’s in their life. It’s not as I use my phone: I pick it up to check an email. They socialise around the phone in a much different way.
For you, it’s purpose-driven.
— Exactly. And for them, it’s one another person in the game.
And then we come back to the challenges for retailers to reach out to this audience. How can they do that?
— When we presented the idea of the concept that we had developed for Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (the property owner, Ed’s note), it was about that we clearly saw that the department stores, these big malls, need to drive young consumers to the malls. And how can they do that? They need to offer something that speaks the language of Generation Z and the coming Generation Alpha. Currently, the retail concepts don’t do that. And I also think that’s the reason we see so many malls with empty spaces because they can’t put it together. There is no reason why I should go to a mall if I can order it online and have delivery the next day.
— So, to bring something to the table, you need to create an unforgettable experience that you can get in the store. It needs to be something — a bigger assortment, or that you need to have this social part, which we’ve also integrated into our concept. It’s not only: ’OK, now, when creating my product, I get a workstation, I sit down… Instead, it’s fully made, so that you can document and share it while you’re doing the work. But we have also integrated an ice cream shop, a candy shop, and a photo booth opportunity. So, it’s an experience going to the shop, something you want to share on your social media, that I’ve actually been to this physical place.
And we will only see ’social shopping’ grow, right?
— Yes, social shopping and I also think about the fact that there is something to do. What should you do? It’s a purpose, an activation in the shop, creating a destination.
You also have an online presence. Can you explain?
— Our online presence is a part of the fact that if you are proud of the jewellery or mobile case that you created and you think you’ve accomplished something amazing, you can put it up for sale on our platform so that anybody can buy your design. The person that buys it will buy your design, but they get it home to their house and they get it in parts. And instead of the old classic Lego where you buy a box and then look in the booklet to read how to build your Lego, you get a TikTok video from the person who designed the product: ’This is how I created my product.’ So the manual is already online. The phone is integrated into the product creation and you still get the benefit of decompressing and creating the jewellery yourself, but you didn’t do the design.
And the key here is that everyone can be a designer.
— Everybody can be a designer. That’s the mantra. We want to give the opportunity to anybody creative. It doesn’t matter what background you come from. If you’re talented creatively, you can go in there at the same level as anyone else, create something that is unique, and start selling it on our platform.
You travel the world visiting retail spaces. What else has caught your attention in terms of trends?
— Yes, I’ve been working with retail for so many years, I’ve been studying retail, and walking in all these malls around the world, says Söderlindh. And I see that everybody is trying to integrate another coffee shop into the retail stores. Why are we building another one? In some shops, it works, but not in all. And it appears that some brands think that this is the solution to give an experience to your brand when shopping. But I think it needs to be something that is a little bit more connected and gives a reason to stay in this shop more than ’here you get a coffee’.
— And I think everybody is searching for what actually works with their brand and their product to get an experience in the store — we’re all striving to get there. And for us, it’s very natural with what we created in our shop, the fact that it’s a massive ice cream shop and a candy store. It fits to the pearl. It has the same shape, dimension, and colours and everything matches together. And, it’s also something you wanna do. If you’re sitting there doing your jewellery and you’re talking to your best friend, then it’s natural that you wanna snack on something. It fits very well.
What else are you looking at right now?
— During challenging economic times, it is advisable to embrace light and fun experiences. By adopting a casual tone, businesses can attract and engage customers, providing them with a refreshing escape from the downturn. This approach has the potential to create lasting connections and foster resilience amidst difficult circumstances.
”By adopting a casual tone, businesses can attract and engage customers, providing them with a refreshing escape from the downturn”