Eric Kuhn of BHDP Presents at IRDC Conference

vEarlier this month, Eric Kuhn, Design Leader at BHDP, along with Katie Baron of Stylus and Steven Derwoed of Macy’s presented a panel discussion at the international IRDC Conference in Austin, Texas. The session, titled Consumer X, A Love Story, focused on the process by which consumers and retailers build meaningful and lasting relationships that culminate in what’s described as ‘Brand Love.’

Using the rules of attraction and the general pattern of love, the presentation focused on how brands can use the same principals of dating to woo consumers to their brand. Eric, Katie and Steven explored examples of brands successfully employing a journey to commitment; from Nike to Macy’s to Columbia Sportswear, the session featured imagery of the latest examples of brands pushing the boundaries of consumer engagement and connection toward ‘love.’

Presented to an audience of over 150 attendees at the IRDC Conference, the session culminated in the distillation of five key insights that provide real-world application for branding practitioners and enthusiasts alike:

Embrace but Give Space
Yes, brands should leverage ‘Big Data’ to inform behavior, but it shouldn’t be prescriptive. Allow customers the ability to “lean in” (influence) how they experience a brand, essentially enabling personal interaction between the shopper and the brand. Ultimately, brands must stay true to themselves while being organic enough to invite perspectives from a wide demographic and psychographic of consumer.

Love is a Two-Way Street
In this new digital era, brands no longer drive the consumer relationship; rather, they must engage in a symbiotic interaction with the shopper. Both the shopper and brand act as co-authors—working together to create a strong and relevant story. Allowing the shopper to influence the brand’s story provides for brand authenticity while retailers manage the story’s trajectory and relevance.

Create Addiction
Pushing the old paradigm aside, retailers must create a degree of seduction—tease if you will—when building consumer commitment. Once shoppers do commit, the dance shouldn’t stop.

Avoid Boredom with Fluidity
Predictability equals death to most every shopper. Despite wanting the deepest levels of commitment, shoppers want to continually feel special. Allowing for a level of unpredictability enables the relationship to not only remain fresh, but to become more intimate through the mutual arrival at unexpected places.

Total Love = Omni-Strategic
It’s about having the ‘whole package’ in the relationship. And that ‘whole package’ can come to life in unexpected ways: from online to physical stores; from social events to personal interaction. This idea of holistic fulfillment is key to achieving the ultimate goal of ‘Brand Love.’ Threading into every aspect of your life (without being invasive) takes the highest level of retailing and is truly a balancing act—one that can only succeed through sustained dynamic interaction.

Click here for a sampling of slides from the presentation.

To learn more about how Eric Kuhn and BHDP can help your brand achieve the love of consumer through retail design, visit