Sundan Life Flagship:
From Commodity to Lifestyle
In-store theatre is often discussed but rarely achieved. Enter Sundan Life. Our exciting and dramatic flagship proposition and concept for this Chinese retailer truly puts compelling customer experiences and joined up storytelling at the heart of everything it does.
Under the context of shifting customer demographics and needs, the meteoric rise of online shopping and slowing sales, Chinese consumer electronics and homeware retailer Sundan found that its 7,000sqm, three-floor store in Suzhou was no longer fit for purpose.
A completely new store proposition and experience needed to shift perception away from that of a mass-market store selling commoditised products, and towards a lifestyle-led premium offer that targets more affluent consumers.
Today’s cash-rich Chinese consumers are much more discerning and sophisticated than ever before. They buy into products and brands because of heritage, provenance, craftsmanship, storytelling – and because some kind of lifestyle experience or opportunity is offered to them.
It was this insight that led us to define the Suzhou store’s offer around the ‘slow-life’ concept – take a moment to slow down and enjoy your life and the special things in it. This requires a highly experiential ‘try before you buy’ mentality.
By choosing the best and latest products from around the world, and by carefully curating them in interesting and engaging spaces, Sundan gives customers the power to improve their lives. Sundan becomes the guide for people who want to find joy in the journey, not just the purchase. It’s about inspiration, education, empowerment, interactivity, and play.
We also worked with the retailer to add new product categories that address a wider range of customer needs, and to provide advice on how to select and curate the most appropriate products.
Because this store is all about lifestyle, we renamed it Sundan Life. Moving away from a product-centric approach to retail, the in-store experiences are fun, immersive and cleverly educate on ‘better’ rather than ‘more’. There’s a joy to shopping here that’s never been seen before in Chinese department stores.
It’s all about letting customers try out the products in ‘real life’ environments to understand their benefits in situ: playing a guitar riff in the music room, interactive golf games to test the latest clubs, taking photos with high-end cameras in the photo studio, and much more.
People can also sign up to free one-off seminars or longer-term paid classes – and all in-store communications, activities and merchandising are now joined up. For example, cooking classes might teach Chinese dumpling making. Customers get hands-on experience with appliances and kitchen equipment during their classes, and within the store’s Home section they see dumpling recipes with captivating imagery, displays feature all the equipment needed to make them, and they can eat the dumplings at the restaurant on that floor.
A refreshed identity design adds the word ‘life’ to the existing wordmark and uses a warm, premium colour palette. A distinctive Sundan Life pattern is used across key architectural elements, furniture, communications and carrier bags.
Throughout the store, living walls of greenery and natural light combine with the natural materials and premium fixtures and finishes. The result is a human, relaxing, and welcoming environment.
In addition to defining experiential areas, store planning/flow, and the identity, our merchandising and store design principles are based around simplicity, authenticity, and bravery.
Designed so consumers fall in love with aspirational lifestyles, Sundan Life is performing beyond anyone’s expectations. One year post-launch growth includes:
Not only this, but Sundan has started to cascade some of the experiential elements into smaller, more mass market stores, and they’re reviewing locations for additional Sundan Life stores.