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VM interview: Propability founder Tyrone Cano on the thrill of experiential retail

Tyrone Cano

Q: Your passion is ‘retailtainment’ – but are stores losing the passion for it?

A: “It’s a interesting question! We’re extremely passionate about experiential shopping, but in lots of shops out there, it’s boring. Retailers are themselves driving people to go online – so they’re almost deciding they want to have fewer stores. That’s a shame. It’s our job to make shopping an enjoyable experience.” 

Q: Are you fighting a losing battle?

A: “Of course, technology brings the internet to six year olds on iPads. People rightly wonder where retail is going. But I still see the excitement in people’s eyes when they see great store experiences. I do what I do now because I went to Disneyland as a child and was blown away, and this summer I’m taking my children there. They are still thrilled by seeing models come to life, and that’s a positive thing. We do windows, and installations for the likes of Hamleys and Selfridges, and each time we do them, the products promoted double or triple in sales – so experiential retailing still works. But we’re never complacent. Achieving results is about being clever about how you bring a concept to the table.”

Q: How are you keeping experiential retailing front of mind for clients?

A: “It’s not the job of those at the very top of big retailers to think about displays and installations, so we need to continually talk about the ROI good display can bring. It’s an evolving conversation. Often we help clients spend ‘less’ with us. One client wanted a window full of umbrellas, and assumed they needed bespoke designed brollies. Our view was we could use ones that could be readily bought, so all we had to do was change the colours. It’s as much our job, and the job of others in our sector to have integrity when working with clients, as it’s this that creates long-term relationships.”

Q: Presumably they appreciate this?

A: “Absolutely. We also work with clients to design installations they can re-use. It’s not the most revenue-generating partnership, but clients want value, and if that’s what they want, we’ll help him. Continued business is our life-blood.”

Q: What’s the broader outlook like?

A: “Business is tough, but we’ll get through it. As I speak to you today, we’re pre-EU referendum result, but there’s already been uncertainty in the market. We do lots of work in Paris, Rome and Prague. Fortunately, my feeling is that work suddenly won’t be pulled, and actually when the dust settles, it could be exciting times.”