From Stores to Stories: Immersive Experience and the Future of Retail

November 9, 2023|26 Minutes

On this episode of Gensler’s Design Exchange podcast, we explore the growing trend of immersive experiences and consider how designers can help realize new frontiers. As consumers seek more meaningful connections in a digital world, brands are increasingly incorporating immersive experiences to better engage audiences.

Brandon Larcom hosts Gensler’s Bob Weis, Rob Bischoff, and Lara Marrero, as they unpack what truly makes an experience immersive and how designers play a major role in shaping the landscape. Drawing on decades of past experience leading Walt Disney Imagineering, Bob Weis discusses fostering a sense of belonging in physical spaces. Digital Experience Design Leader Rob Bischoff highlights the role of technology innovation in the built environment and Retail Leader Lara Marrero dives into the future of retail and how design can increase consumer engagement, spark collaboration among creatives, and convey brand values across diverse experiences.

The conversation focuses on better defining immersive experiences, merging technology with in-person interactions and creating places people love through repeatable, higher capacity designs. The podcast discussion offers a vision for expanding new frontiers while keeping the user experience central.

Top 5 Takeaways

  1. An immersive experience engages all the senses and allows users some agency or impact on the story.
  2. Physical retail serves to inspire customers and allow brands to understand them better through data, while digital enhances the in-store experience.
  3. Connecting a brand’s values and products to locations like stadiums through layered experiences, keeps audiences engaged and returning more often.
  4. Personalization through understanding individual customer preferences and relationships with a brand allows for storytelling that opens minds to new discoveries.
  5. Accessibility is ensured by designing for higher efficiency and repeatability at lower price points, while sustainability is achieved by partnering with local communities to bring exciting concepts to more places.
Bob Weis
Bob leads Global Entertainment for Gensler. As former President of Walt Disney Imagineering, Bob brings more than 30 years of experience in pioneering large-scale groundbreaking and story-driven experiences. In leading Entertainment at Gensler, he further expands the firm’s ability to drive design innovation that meaningfully shapes the human experience. Contact him at .
Lara Marrero
Lara is a Principal, Strategy Director, and Global Retail & Consumer Experience Leader at Gensler with over 20 years of experience spanning retail, hospitality, and lifestyle and entertainment experiences. She translates complex global consumer trends into innovative and powerful strategies that generate engagement between brands, places, and people. Lara is based in London. Contact her at .
Robert Bischoff
As a global leader in Digital Experience Design (DXD), Rob focuses on bringing technology innovation into the built environment. He combines experience strategy, design, and bespoke technology to create more meaningful human experiences for our clients and their customers across diverse platforms. Rob is based in Los Angeles. Contact him at .
Brandon Larcom
Brandon is a global leader of Gensler’s Product Development practice. As Co-Director of Product Development, he specializes in business development, identifying future design industry trends, and licensing for global product rollouts. Brandon currently hosts and co-produces the Gensler Design Exchange podcast, facilitating a dialogue between design experts, creative trendsetters, and thought leaders to discuss how Gensler is enhancing the human experience through the world of design. Contact him at .