Interview mit Mayouri Sengchanh. Gründerin & CEO von Exalis GmbH

Tags: Future Of Retail

Mayouri's specialty - trend and the transformation of them into creative concepts.

Mayouri’s specialty – trend and the transformation of them into creative concepts.

For more than 20 years, Mayouri Sengchanh has represented clients and partners, now as a brand ambassador on international stages, advising brands and makers. She recently used her special skills on major projects in Paris, Frankfurt, Dubai and Bangkok to bring together international creatives such as artists, architects, performers, designers and free thinkers.

The future is the value, only products that still have demand after their primary use, also have a future. People will realize that it is not worth it to buy a new toaster every year or to have to change clothes for every season.

Stationary retail needs a strategy to break down gender stereotypes. “Will we need gender mannequins or gender-neutral changing rooms in the future? (Lego, for example, no longer labels its products for girls or boys).

Our society is becoming increasingly diverse. Retail should have adapted to these macro trends long ago! Now the diversification of gender must be considered carefully and respectfully towards the customers and implemented in suitable concepts. The era of the classic VM including the presentation of products with the mannequins has been long “passé”. New innovative concepts like the interactive Windows allow today to create the topic “New Genders” in an emotional and playful way. A story has to be written in the Windows or at the P.O.S.. The models or mannequins themselves are no longer enough! Especially in the new age of digital and gamification. Balenciaga, for example, beautifully showcased exactly this with their new Simpsons and Red Carpets collections during Paris Fashion week!

Fashion brands are focusing on virtual luxury with digital certificates of authenticity or non-fungible tokens (NFTs). NFTs =non-fungible tokens have been all the rage for fashion brands like Hugo Boss, Gucci, Karl Lagerfeld or Louis Vuitton for a few months now. Does the NFT boom open up new opportunities for the marketing of fashion or other luxury goods?

Absolutely! The brands and the industry have to become more and more innovative, especially after the hard times of the pandemic, to either inspire and fascinate their customers in a new way and to win new ones for them! It goes more and more after “ultra-VVIP exclusivity”. Guerrilla Stores concepts, Capsule collections were the first concepts to go in this direction a few years ago. Now, thanks to A.I, VR/AR et al, it is possible to create even more desirability and offer almost 1:1 each customer, customized exclusive products for a very limited time (increases desirability;): NFT is simply put the digital version of the former pop-up store Mindset! And this is not only for Luxury – no matter if Fashion, Art etc.. – but also possible in the future for multi-commercially oriented customers.

For example H&M’s new avatar-cloud concept or Fortnite Cosmetics where customers can buy “vital cosmetics” with their avatar for 12 USD per product.Now the keys to success in Virtual Fashion or Digital Consumption are : a perfect know-how of one’s customers, knowing their needs and expectations, a perfect working CRM, a strong Digital Marketing communication concept… among others!

Customer buying behavior has changed. Customer frequency in the city centers is decreasing, in some cases dramatically. Downtowns are becoming deserted, and more and more stores are standing empty. Retailers are finding that they are also losing the rest of their loyal customers to online retail as a result of the lockdown. Stationary retailers have already been badly hit by overpriced rents. What does the future of city centers look like?

I was lucky enough to live and work in Dubai and Bangkok for 4 years and met such strong future-oriented retail concepts! Our future is their presence!!! 24/7 Stores, actionable PhyGital ideas and concepts, unforgettable Customer Journeys…!

Back to the less modern Europe, it was hard for me to read that corporations like Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof are still looking for the “new” concept around the department stores (already the word is not contemporary anymore…)!!! I brought therefore from my journey, new impulses, innovations to our customers. But so that these become successful one must pay attention to certain rules, which are in Asia in particular already B.A.U (Business As Usual)! Namely: to get to know your customers and community properly, to communicate authentically with them and to get the customers on board as brand ambassadors. Additionally, physical as well as digital experiences need to be offered and branded communication needs to be enabled. Furthermore, the development of sustainable concepts is not to be forgotten and last but not least simply dare to enter new territories, i.e. invest!

Thus, it would not matter whether the store or the event takes place in the city or in off-site location: it will seduce the customers and they will dare the journey!

Climate change and the scarcity of fossil fuels affect us all. The future stands for sustainability. What options are there for sustainable visual merchandising in retail, or is there a contradiction?

The classic VM is no longer up to date! See question 2 ;). If the title is still to be kept – Visual Merchandiser – a VM should rather have “Storytelling Scenarist” as main activity nowadays! They should co-develop emotional campaigns with marketing and implement them with PhyGital. Whether mannequins or displays, for both it is a must that they select sustainable material and work with suppliers and manufacturers who follow transparent ways. The few mannequins and displays that are still at the P-O-S should become changeable (for each season, each campaign, etc..) but also sustainable. They will certainly be more expensive, but will last longer in use.

What does the future look like after Corona? Will we basically have to adapt our purchasing behavior to masks and vaccinations?

The pandemic has accelerated the process of change in our purchasing relationship. E-commerce was already increasing before 2020. Wearing a mask is just a new “safety gesture” / safety habit, which is not the most important thing in our new consumer behavior. A habit, by the way, that I have known from Asia for years. I always wore a mask in bangkok on bad air quality days, outside as well as inside! The new challenge for all sectors and industries is to offer Generation Z future-oriented and sustainable concepts. Physical, as well as digital. We have to build a safer and more beautiful world for our children now, before it is too late!

How algorithms will further change our buying behavior and commerce?

See question 2 ;). Masses of numbers are of no use if the brands do not develop a perfectly functioning CRM and use this data to design “the” buying experience concept without continuing to offer variations. It is not enough to create “one shot” great campaigns or events. The brands have to retain the customers in the long term and fully thanks to the analysis of their campaigns and sales in order to survive!

Is the consumer market still the right strategy in the age of climate change or do we already have a shift to the value market?

The future is the value, only products that still have demand after their primary use, also have a future. People will realize that it is not worth it to buy a new toaster every year or to have to change clothes for every season.

Hans Eduard Hahn, a good architect friend, so called Neo-Silver of 55 years, said to me concerning this question: “I have a car from 1967. You don’t believe that ever a Tesla will consume so little CO2 as to drive the same car for 55 years. I wear clothes that are partly 30 years old, so to say “timeless vintage wearers”.

There is already since the Millennials and now with the Z generation (Reminder: Gen Z represents 30% of consumer sales worldwide) a strong change in the definition of consumption. My daughter, 15, for example, is a vegetarian, buys only vintage and sometimes participates in the Friday For Future demonstrations. It is for her, her way of “consuming”. The word has a whole new meaning in 2021. We are no longer with Leonardo di Caprio in the time of “The Wolf of Wall Street” ;). We are becoming more and more aware that it is becoming more and more urgent in time to live more sustainably and globally to turn around consumption as we know it today. I would rather say that today and in the future we will want to “experience” more and more the products and lifestyles, have real “fun” instead of just “consuming”. And if we do, then in the form of a real shopping experience. Not in theory but in real and digital practice.

I look forward to more conversations and exchanges!


Mayouri Sengchanh

Brand: CEO Exalis GmbH