Borrowed Authenticity is a retail trend allowing retailers to walk the walk and talk the talk on being experts with heritage.

In a world where the internet allows instant price-checking, some retailers herald their credentials as experts or highlight their heritage to give customers a reason to prefer them. On our recent Retail Safari in Leeds we spotted a way to really show this in store, and the good news is that it’s surprisingly easy to do.

Essentially, it’s the use of props and merchandising in your store to hint that your brand or your staff are knowledgeable about a certain topic or theme, borrowing authenticity from those props. We found it evidenced in three ways:

  1. Neighbourhood

Many stores want to highlight the connection they have with their local area. This is especially true in sectors where independence or local knowledge are prized. We spotted several sports (and running) stores using this technique. The Leeds branch of Asics , like many other sportswear brands, has a large map on the wall showing several running routes around the city with leaflets and posters personalised to the region.

  1. Nostalgia

Adidas leveraged nostalgia really well, giving us a couple of examples. A poster collection downstairs hint at the brand’s connection with local music events over the years. In working with legendary sports teams they sell iconic kits linked to cup triumphs and again, imply that the brand has somehow facilitated this success (and that you can buy into this).

  1. Bibliography

In several stores we spotted piles of books, newspapers and journals dotted around the store with all of the titles themed to the shoppers’ aspirations. In some instances, these were piled on the stairs, in some arranged as merchandise in a display, in others given top-shelf priority usually reserved for hero products.

In Cotswold Outdoor their book collection covered off biographies of famous explorers and guides for walking routes and epic climbs. Some shops specialising in trainers had style and graffiti magazines lying around. The implication is that the brand is completely immersed in their industry sector – that they’re completely up to date with the latest reading and trends. Moreover, you might assume that the staff themselves read the literature and are genuinely experts.

While some of these books are absolutely for shoppers to buy, many are clearly theatre to tell a story and project the right image.

Here at The Behaviours Agency, we love finding shopper and retail insights such as Borrowed Authenticity from store visits. Why not contact us to curate your own Retail Safari or Inspiration Tour? Get in touch and we can discuss how to help you innovate in your sector to deliver real results.