“The holy grail with retail is to appeal on an emotional level; to inspire, delight, transport and entertain.” Kate Ancketil

Empathic Experiential Entertaining Retail

Interview: Kate Ancketill is with GDR Creative Intelligence, a retail trends research agency that draws upon a large global network of leading and up-and-coming designers and architects.

Key Facts on GDR Creative Intelligence
* Founded 1992
* Help clients to identify appropriate design agencies


Q: Why do you think TIME TO THINK is a good theme for the conference?

Kate Ancketill: Time is the new luxury commodity. It is rare and precious but companies that create the space to step outside the daily grind and think about the future creatively are more likely to innovate successfully.

Q: How do you work with retail trends at GDR?

Kate Ancketill: We monitor and analyse global retail design at the very cutting edge and extrapolate forward to predict how the mainstream will develop in the medium-term future. We look at interiors, technology, VM, POS, technology and service.

Q: Have GDR always worked with retail trends this way?

Kate Ancketill: Our work has evolved. We set up in 1992 purely to select creative agencies internationally on behalf of clients like Virgin Atlantic and Unilever. In 2000 we combined this unusual role with the publication of quarterly global innovation reports, cherry-picking the best agencies’ work for inclusion.

Q: How do you personally get new ideas and refresh your thinking?

Kate Ancketill: Travel; exposure to the work and thought of thousands of leading designers and architects worldwide; attending conferences; sifting news, magazines and the internet; working directly with retailers, hoteliers, brand owners.

Q: What lifestyle changes do you think will be most important in years to come?

Kate Ancketill: Consumers will expect products and services to be uniquely customised to their needs and interests. Stores will have to become much more experiential and entertaining to compete with the internet. Western consumers will increasingly demand zero environmental impact with regard to corporate activities and this will lead to more ‘balanced commerce’.

Q: What is your future vision for GDR?

Kate Ancketill: Our vision is to strategically partner with the word’s most innovative brands, inspiring and informing them, introducing them to the world’s most creative designers. We also see ourselves as a cultural barometer, which if used correctly enables clients to measure today and tomorrow.

Q: Retail seems to have become a more and more complex field – what is the reason behind this and what is your advice to retail stores?

Kate Ancketill: Above the line advertising is reaching fewer people in a more dilute manner. We are now in an experience economy where brands gain massive benefits from touching each of the five senses in a 3-D environment, and spend is subsequently moving away from TV towards store interiors, POS, pop ups etc. The complexity arises from the need to bring every sensory touch-point into line with the brand without simply using a cookie cutter approach. The holy grail with retail is to appeal on an emotional level – to inspire, delight, transport and entertain.

Q: Can I get a speed conclusion?

Kate Ancketill: Innovation with authenticity, integrity and corporate transparency at its heart will differentiate the winners from the also-rans in the future. Service will have to move centre stage. Technology that entertains, is intuitive and in the service of the customer (not just the provider) will be also be key to success.

Interview: Questions by Kjaer Global for the Time to Think Conference, November 2005

1.The Memory Wall: Jason Bruges’ Memory Wall, installed in Madrid’s new Hotel Puerta América, watches what its room’s inhabitants are wearing, and colours the interior to match >>
2. Kate Ancketill


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