Why I had to join the experience retail media revolution

by Sarah O'Sullivan | CRO Situ Live

Nov 19, 2020

August 2020. Things were on the up. Brands were re-engaging and the out-of-home (OOH) advertising audience was finally returning at a steady pace after what had seemed like an eternity of a wait during the UK’s first national lockdown.

After more than 20 years in the OOH industry I had more fight in me than ever and was up for the challenge of rebuilding the value of the medium. I was inspired by the focus, innovation and enthusiasm of everyone around me.

But then I resigned.


Because sometimes a new opportunity is just too compelling to ignore. I hadn’t fallen out of love with OOH, quite the opposite, but I had been drawn to the chance to play a part in an innovative new movement that really grappled for my attention.

A chance to help solve the problems that have dogged innovative brands for years, and to make a real difference in their quest to improve people’s lives.

I’d happened upon an incredible team of people who were going to shape the future of retail. And quite simply, I had to join them.

A costly problem for brands

The modern world is full of incredibly useful technology and lifestyle products that have the ability to make our lives better.

Yet brands consistently suffer a costly problem: traditional advertising and the physical retail environment make it too difficult to showcase the multifaceted nature of these products, or demonstrate to the consumer how they would benefit from them in a real life setting.

Even when a brand crafts a creative media campaign, few above-the-line awareness strategies manage to deliver a completely personalised and wholly memorable experience for the customer, never mind facilitating an immediate path to purchase.

“We have seen some of the best brands lose out to the competition because retail is focused on margin and sales. Things are about to change. Physical retail is becoming a powerful new retail media channel.”

Warren Richmond, CEO, Situ Live

Brands urgently need strategies that put consumer excitement and interaction at their very core.

And that’s where Situ Live comes in, with a new approach that has the potential to genuinely improve lives.

Picture a living magazine, where you’re fully immersed in what’s going on around you. You’re experiencing, you’re learning, you’re having fun and there’s always something new to try out each time. A place where storytellers bring editorial to life. The ultimate sensory experience.

For me, this vision of retail brings to mind my first childhood trip to Hamleys back in the early 1980s. Consumers of every age like to be entertained, and to be told stories. It’s an art sadly lacking in today’s retail environments, but when we deliver upon it once again, consumers won’t easily forget it.

A new retail media channel 

This reimagining has been a long time coming. Yes, the pandemic has accelerated a shift in shopping habits and emphasised digital channels, but change was already on the way. Our report, Retail: The Quantum Shift, explores how consumers have become frustrated and desperate for something new, and what that means for brands.

If everyone sits back and does nothing, we could be looking at nothing less than the beginning of the end of the high street.

But at Situ Live we’ll be combining proven media strategies with a radical new retail concept.  Traditional media inherently focuses on a single part of the buyer journey, yet in comparison, our newly formed hybrid approach covers every phase of the path to purchase.

It is in itself a new ‘experience retail media’ channel. We will increase awareness, aid consideration, extend brand reach and ultimately create long-lasting emotional engagement with consumers by facilitating the perfect conditions for brand love to blossom.

I’ve come to think of Situ Live as a Swiss Army knife. Our approach solves multiple retail and marketing conundrums in one: reimagining how innovative products are presented and creating an opportunity for consumers to discover and choose the very things that will add value to their modern day lives.

A new physical and digital experience retail media format that blends the editorial power of lifestyle magazines, with the sensory energy of live events. It’s unlike anything brands have seen before, and will provide consumers with an experience like no other.

So that’s why I left an industry I truly loved. Why I had no choice, really. And why I’m more excited than ever for the future of retail.