“Marie’s Baby Circle” – the new baby brand from South Korean retail giant E-mart – places new and expectant parents centre stage, providing everything they need to enjoy their pregnancy and prepare for parenthood. Marie’s Baby Circle opened its doors at the launch of Starfield Hanam (Korea’s newest and largest shopping mall complex) late last year, and the brand’s first destination will be far more than just a shop. In a project that spanned strategy and brand creation through to design and communications, Dalziel & Pow has designed an aspirational “home from home”, a supportive community that talks to adults about all things baby. Instead of the chaotic nursery feel of standard baby stores, Marie’s Baby Circle offers shoppers modern domestic furniture cues and luxurious feeding and changing facilities.
At the heart of the store, pregnant women can sit back in comfort and enjoy a personal shopping experience, with products brought to them. The brand will stock a range designed “by mums for mums”, and works with bloggers and outside influencers – spotlighting these mothers’ recommended products in feature displays. This concept recognises the unique cultural and contextual needs of South Korean consumers. The country has one of the world’s lowest birth rates at just 1.1 per woman – making the majority of modern parents first-timers who seek knowledge and reassurance. Marie’s Baby Circle answers the call as a supportive, inclusive brand that offers to hold new parents’ hands.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s thriving m-commerce market and lightning-fast delivery can present a challenge to physical store visits. The solution? Social, interactive and supportive elements that enrich the store experience, encouraging parents to spend time with this new community of peers and credible experts. Marie’s Baby Circle also captures the excitement and joy of starting a family by weaving a thread of playfulness throughout the store via interactive, sharable moments. A family of snuffling and snoring giant bears in different textures form a tactile point where children can cuddle up and hear stories, while across in fashion you can see and hear a giant toy space rocket in “lift off” which also doubles as an innovative unit for displaying babywear.
Over in Sleep, owl and cricket sounds echo around the department as if under the night sky. One key focal point is an engaging, interactive and fun wooden digital projection wall for kids and parents alike. The wall, designed using projection and conductive ink, responds to touch, triggering different animations and sounds involving a new range of bespoke animated characters. Inhabiting their own weird and wonderful world, each character is dedicated to a different part of bringing up a baby – from Ice-cream Susan for feeding, to Lord Peter for sleep. These bespoke characters will hopefully become a key feature in the store’s communications and beyond, tapping into the hugely popular emoji and character-driven culture that is prevalent in South Korea.
The wall has been designed to appeal to all different heights of children and adults; the bottom half features more robust sound design for younger children, with simpler colours and geometric shapes triggered, while further up the wall the animations become more imaginative, colourful and fantastical. The store is intuitively zoned to cater to different shopping missions. Entering through an open, pushchair-friendly storefront, the first section presents collections of toys and fashion, which are most accessible to the widest range of shoppers from expectant mothers to gift givers looking for that special present. A Baby Canteen offers a nutritious menu for both adults and infants, with recipe inspiration, ample highchairs and buggy parking.
Around this space customers can browse pop-up displays, gift registry and baby shower inspiration. The final part of the store journey is dedicated to more in-depth purchasing of essentials, broken up into three key areas of the day, such as feeding, bathing/changing and sleeping. Helpful conversational communications focus on breaking down what can be an often overwhelming array of product information with intuitive adult friendly need-to-know messaging; a tightly edited approach combats choice fatigue, comprising only the best and trusted products, with room sets providing “get the look” ideas. Designed with a new generation of aspirational parents in mind, Marie’s Baby Circle is set to become synonymous with care, credibility and celebrating pregnancy.
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