Creating a Theatre of Dreams

Pilar’s Story toyshop in Barcelona. Source:

How do you activate the drama of a retail brand where it matters and turn shoppers into buyers? How do you compete in a tough industry that has local and global competition? It’s through Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy that stores can transform the retail experience into something Irresistible and become theatres of dreams for their consumers. This exercise will help you discover practical ways in which Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy can be applied to the retail environment.


According to Alan Penn, director of the Virtual Reality Centre for the Built Environment at University College London, IKEA’s maze-like layout actually encourages people to discover new areas and products which they may not have originally planned to seek out. Jimmy Choo launched a Foursquare Treasure Hunt (2010) that allowed fans to keep a pair of Jimmy Choo trainers if they could track them down in London.  Both are example of brands that have used Mystery to take their consumer on journeys of retail discovery.

Imagine that you are a major national retailer of sporting equipment. What are some ways in which you can infuse a customer’s in-store experience with Mystery using the following mediums?

  • Mobile phone or tablet
  • In-store interactive display


  • Write down one characteristic for each retail outlet shown that relates to sight, sound, smell, touch and taste.
  • Look at all the words you have written down and rank them starting with the most important to convey in a retail environment.
  • Take your top 5 items. How would you physically implement those adjectives to a store that sold bicycles?

Sources:, Sandy Austin,


  • Look closely at these retail situations.
  • Imagine possible background stories for each image. Why did this person come to the store? What are they looking to purchase?
  • List 3 opportunities that you could demonstrate intimacy to each person in the form of empathy, commitment and passion.

Sources: bionicgirl, blindeen,