For one day only, Puma opened its own East London fitness studio to offer consumers a more experiential and hands-on way to try on its new LQD CELL sneaker through short workouts matched to their mood. Innovation researcher Charlie Lloyd booked himself in for a session to try it out.
The Endorphin Store pop-up from Puma stood out to me as worthy of a visit because of the way it combines two of the trends we’ve noticed recently at GDR, namely: experiential fashion and footwear trial, and products and experiences being personalised according to the consumer’s mood. In terms of experiential trial we’ve seen Adidas run a pop-up (with a much heavier social media focus) for its BOOST sneaker, while Lululemon’s new store in Chicago runs fitness classes that shoppers can take part in while trying on clothes from the store. And as part of the rise in wellness we’ve seen lots of brands from different categories, from hotels to cosmetics use mood as a platform for prescribing products and experiences, so I was interested to see how these two phenomena would combine at the Endorphin Store.
The Endorphin Store was being run out of Protein Studios in East London’s Shoreditch. As you enter, a store associate hands you a tablet and asks you to rate how you feel across three metrics using a sliding scale, gauging stress levels, fatigue and concentration. Despite having already had my first coffee of the day, I was still a little tired that morning and so it was no surprise to me that I was prescribed a ticket for the ‘Energy’ experience. I was also given a shiny new pair of the LQD Cell sneakers to try out during the experience.
There were three six-minute experiences on offer that were prescribed based on participants’ answers, although we were welcome to skip the diagnosis and choose the one we wanted to do. The Calm experience involved breathing and meditation exercises while immersed in calming colours and sounds. Energy, the one I was given, was a HIIT workout in which visitors follow instructions on a video screen to a set of intense exercises. Alas, there was a momentary technical hitch while I was preparing myself for that one, so I instead headed over to the Focus area.
The Focus experience was dance-oriented. I was given a pair of headphones that provided both the music for the workout and the instructions, recorded by a local personal trainer from BLOK just down the road. As the music played, I had to step on one of a set of LED squares whenever they lit up, in a set up very much the like dance arcade games from the late ‘90s. After the six minutes were up, I reluctantly swapped back the Puma trainers for my own, and was given a scratch card for a free gift which won me a water bottle.
Rating the execution
There were a few elements of the experience that prevented it from reaching its potential. Aside from having to change to a different experience, the one-in-one-out set up of the Endorphin Store did result in quite a lot of waiting around, and the dance experience itself was set at a pace that even I found a little on the dull and unchallenging side.
Strip away these teething problems, though, and you’re left with a really engaging experience. I genuinely considered buying the sneakers, not least because the length of my engagement with them had shown me how comfortable they are. Had I tried them on normally, I may not have appreciated that. I don’t think the matching of the experiences to the consumer’s mood was executed perfectly but I do think that letting customers trial products the way they want to – and the way they’d normally be using them – makes a lot of sense.
The Endorphin Store is the latest sign that footwear retail is moving away from the tired old way of trying on shoes, and that is very good news.