Goodbye shopping – hello experience spaces

Two of the biggest tech players, Samsung and Microsoft, opened new flagship spaces in London last month. One thing they definitely have in common….. they offer so much more than shopping alone. These are experience spaces on a grand scale – oozing innovation and play. Whilst Samsung invites you to connect with your passions through a jam-packed series of events, Microsoft invites you to learn new skills for free in its Community Theatre. Both brands bring the capabilities of tech to life through interactive, memory-making moments with AR, gaming and simulation. Plus, this isn’t all about the tech – the staff working here share the passion for the new possibilities technology provides and the know-how to solve our tech problems and transform our lives.

Not seen them yet? Take a look in our galleries below

Microsoft – Oxford Circus

Samsung KX – Coal Drops Yard

Kokoro Cuts – best of July

A round up of the best new experiences and campaigns we’ve seen on our travels. Here’s what you need to know about

Microsoft launches its first UK store with community focus (it’s not just a shop)

July saw two big tech giants launch experiential spaces in the UK – Microsoft and Samsung. Microsoft’s first ever UK flagship is impressive, not so much architecturally, but more because of the community focus. Yes it has an incredibly impressive gaming lounge but it also has a Community Theatre for students, parents and small businesses for lots of free learning. It’s great to see a brand put the emphasis on how it can help foster relationships with the community, and put its colleagues centre stage in delivering this, rather than just provide immersive experiences through tech.

Samsung launches the ultimate ‘experience space’ (no, it’s not a shop)

Samsung KX has just opened its doors in Kings Cross. Adamant that this is so much more than a shop Samsung has even put this message at the heart of its campaign “It’s not a shop. It’s a place you can #DoWhatYouCant”. The space is impressive architecturally but with all the friendly colleague faces to bring warmth to a sleek interior. It’s all about experiences – it gives people the freedom to try their hands at things like digital graffiti, DJing, the future of driving… plus the opportunity to connect with your passion through a plethora of daily talks and events.


Converse goes beyond the sustainability headlines

There are a lot of hyped-up headlines at the moment about brands jumping on the sustainability wagon as the Fashion industry looks to clean up its act. Most high street brands have upped the ante on sustainable ranges in the last couple of months. ASOS even has a ‘sustainable filter on its app! But looking beyond the headlines its Converse that really sticks out with its credible, honest stance. Its latest campaign has emotive creatives, a really decent product range (this isn’t eco bland basics) and an incredibly transparent and simple 3-step process of how plastic bottles are transformed into great product. This is what consumers want – 0% effort, 100% feel-good.


$50 boxes of cereal – this is value in 2019!

Who on earth would have thought of a collaboration between Travis Scott and Reese’s Puffs. Then who would have thought that an arty pop up at Paris Fashion Week could promote it. This collaboration has created quite a stir for an old American favourite. At $50 a box (yes we did say that correctly) you could have got your hands on a Travis Scott designed box for a mere 50 seconds before they all sold out! This is a fun way to create a surprise buzz and get big social coverage.  Reese’s Puffs’ official Twitter tweeted: “Missed your shot? Follow @trvisXX + @ReesesPuffs for more to come.”


Genius timely ad from Country Life

We just had to include this clever advert which manages to link butter to a feeling of Freedom by playing on May’s confession that the naughtiest thing she ever did was run through fields of wheat…. Great timing ensured this had maximum impact.

Applications for the fan club now open

Why feel-good ambassadors deliver the greatest return in customer experience

As consumers seek experiences and generally become harder to please, the best brands are saying goodbye to staff, and hello to brand ambassadors.

Simple smiles win

Brands full of staff who are happy and proud in their work really shine. We’re drawn to positivity. Those serving us in Nando’s, Virgin Atlantic and Apple radiate feel-good. They bring an extra spark to the experience.


Fanatics charm us

A sense of genuine passion for the brand and product brings authenticity. True brand ambassadors exude energy, and it’s contagious. Think Lego store, full of those proudly still in love with their childhood favourite. Book worms in Waterstones, beauty addicts in Sephora, animal lovers in Pets at Home, the wanderlusts in Kuoni – wow, because we’re all drawn to passion. It makes such a difference. The Harry Potter Studio tour would be a very different experience if it wasn’t guided by mega fans.


Drama seduces

One of the biggest buzz words in customer experience is ‘theatre’ – but what does that really mean? Well John Lewis recently hit headlines for sending their staff to drama school – teaching the tools and techniques of the stage to ensure every customer interaction is as magical as possible. When we visited we could absolutely feel the difference. Turns out, there really is a little theatre in us all.

Empowerment builds bonds

Independent, liberated teams glow. Brands who empower staff are renowned for brilliant service, Lush and Pret are great examples. Lush colleagues are genuinely passionate about the cause, know products inside out and there’s a real sense they love what they do. They are well cared for too, with incredible company-wide parties and celebrations which show them just how valued they are. But the real genius for us is the ‘surprise and delight’ budget staff are in control of. They can give customers gifts and do incredible product displays (writing off sellable stock) all to create theatre and memorable moments. Pret have something similar, a big charitable cause for staff to be passionate about, but also the ability to give away freebies. The key is these give-aways and gifts lead to customer wow-moments – but crucially are the choice of colleagues. They are in control. It’s powerful and that feel-good oozes in the experience.


Going against the grain gains traction

Lush hit headlines by taking a stance on social media. Tired of the fake, robotic game of algorithms, they wanted to hero authenticity and real community. So they are no longer on social media, instead their staff cultivate the feeling of closeness opening dialogue in human ways like email, telephone and face-to-face in stores. The revolution has begun.


Fancy a chat at 9pm? Sorry, **insert vague excuse here**

Why are we still loyal? We explore why we’re so connected and invested in Love Island

There’s those who swear they won’t tune in but end up getting hooked, those who pretend to ‘watch it if it’s on’ but really they started the count-down 2 weeks early, and those who are so addicted they’re lost on Saturday nights. For loads of us, Love Island is totally our type.

Naturally there’s lots to connect with on the show, beautiful young things in a glorious setting is an easy watch and it’s on almost every day so that regular drum beat keeps us engaged. Even though we’ve seen similar stories play out time and time again, the drama never stops giving. “Tonight on Love Island…” and we’re already excited.  We love the grafting, the texts, the toe stepping, the head turning, the recoupling, the debates on girl code and a juicy challenge (more twitter reveals please). It even widens our vocabulary! But there must be more to it than that, if someone asked me if I had a spare hour each day this summer to squeeze something else into my schedule, I’d roll my eyes, but somehow, I always manage to make time to for a trip to the villa. This show isn’t a pretty drama, its emotions run much deeper than that.

Connection is probably the Islanders most over-used word. We examine what makes us connect and take a look what drives us to be so emotionally invested in the show.

All-seeing audiences

As the audience we really get the measure of people – we know the two-faced, those really falling for each other, the starting of a feud before anyone in the villa. This connects us, because we like holding knowledge of course, but also because we can predict the drama. We’re constantly creating our own trailers and teasers in our minds for what will happen next, very few shows give us so many tools to do this.

Revealing our own boundaries

Glued to Love Island WhatsApp groups for live updates on friends’ reactions during the show and distraction over ad breaks. And if we’re not nattering on WhatsApp we’re doing it in person – watching with our partner, family or friends. Other addictive TV shows don’t see quite the same behaviours. Love Island helps us learn about our own relationships and boundaries, we can test each other without having a tricky conversation or picking a fight. Watching others navigate the highs and lows of friendship and dating allows us to see how our nearest and dearest would react – what they think is fair game, snaky or immature. We’re drawn to this, because we love to know where our nearest and dearest heads are at.

“He shouldn’t have said that in front of everyone”

“I agree”

**follows with a warm glow of aren’t we on the same page**

Compare to:

“He shouldn’t have said that in front of everyone”

“She’s such hard work though, I think she was out of line”


**follows with hitting the pause button and a bicker over how hard it is to be the one to put yourself out there

Validation for our fears and reactions

Emotions run high – every episode there’s tears or tantrums. We’re intrigued by this. We’ve all had moments where we haven’t been our best selves. Seeing these reactions validated as normal by watching others do similar, is a nice feeling. Getting a slightly smug reassurance as others do far worse than us can also feel nice.

Meme afterparty

For at least half an hour after watching the drama unfold we’re scrolling through Twitter and Insta. Not only are the comments and memes hilarious – they further validate our own reactions. The meme afterparty is open to everyone and helps us feel like we belong.

We are all Iain Stirling

Iain’s sharp commentary is the reality check every viewer needs. Quick to highlight oddities and contradictions – we often find ourselves making similar comments simultaneously or regularly thinking how spot on he is. Iain is important, he’s the down-to-earth voice in a glossy, image-obsessed show. Which means we all feel connected, not alienated, even if we are watching it while wearing a facemask, in our PJs, binging on ice cream.

Kokoro Cuts – best of June

A round up of the best new experiences and campaigns we’ve seen on our travels. Here’s what you need to know about

Marketing with Pride (not just rainbows)

June was Pride Month and as 2019 marked the 50th anniversary there was an explosion of brands launching new campaigns, products and events to show their support. Many brands got it wrong – with token efforts or bizarre rainbow redesigns (think Pride antiseptic mouthwash from Listerine!) rather than real authentic commitment to the LGBT+ community. Here’s two campaigns that made a strong stand. Converse once again launched one of the most impressive Pride product collections. What makes this different to other brands is that a huge 100% of proceeds of sales are donated to several supportive LGBT+ organisations. Sephora wanted to do more than just sell colourful Pride make-up (which it also does very well) so it launched a campaign called ‘Identify As We’ which features big members of the LGBTQA, transgender and gender-fluid community. The video to their campaign ends with the words “We Belong to Something Beautiful” which reflects the company’s new manifesto – including a mandate to build a community “where diversity is expected, self-expression is honoured, all are welcomed, and you are included”.

Source: Converse

Empowering women’s football campaigns

June marked the most anticipated Women’s World Cup in history. As interest in the sport surges brands have most definitely jumped on the bandwagon. Tubular Insights claims that in the past 90 days, Women’s World Cup-related content scored 71.2M views across social video platforms. It’s sad that England are no longer in the running but there’s been some cracking campaigns to encourage nations to get behind the sport. Here’s our top three. Nike’s “Dream Further” campaign is truly empowering and has racked up a whopping 20.2million views since it was released on its twitter account. Lucozade Sport launched their moving #ThreeLionesses campaign and re-wrote the 3 lions song. It also released 16m special edition bottles featuring members of the England squad. ING’s commercial for the Dutch women’s football team “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us” does a great job to capture the energy, grit and determination of the sport and its players.

Primark’s truly instagrammable Central Perk café

Don’t just sell coffee – sell an iconic experience that is sure to draw in crowds and end up in their memories. We dare you to follow the footsteps of Primark and create something as ‘Instagrammable’ as their Friends throwback Central Perk café. Everything from the coffee cups to the pieces of art, the iconic orange sofa and famous window scene create opportunities for Primark to end up on your social media account! See more in our gallery

Customers’ dangerous desire for everlasting (self) love

It feels everywhere we turn, we’re encouraged to be kind to number one, open up about mental health, strive for balance and prioritise self-care. We ask, in a bid for self-love, are we creating another unattainable standard?

On the surface, it’s tricky to see how talking about feelings and being kinder to ourselves can be anything but good. It’s making us more understanding to one another; we’re no longer plugging such a strict view on ‘perfect’. By opening up, we’ve given permission to talk about tricky topics, fewer people are suffering alone and more feel supported. These feelings are sparking real action as more of us question and critique messages that threaten our ‘be kind’ manifesto.

Our image of self-love is actually piling on the pressure

The reality of prioritising exercise, committing to a natural skin care regime, practicing mindfulness, running a side-hustle, living in the moment, joining the crusade to be kind to others, doing our bit for body positivity and opening up about our feelings can be overwhelming. Especially, as to truly nail this self-love standard we have to make it look natural, authentic and effortless a la Meghan Remarkable.

We predict we’ll reach tipping point soon

We’ve created a new aspiration, it might sound more wholesome and healthy than those we’ve had in the past, but it’s certainty not easy.

Self love will become a new way to critique ourselves, we’ll see consumers snap. We already seeing ‘30 day self-love challenges’ and ‘self love hacks’. How long before we hear the phrase ‘I’m really falling behind on my self-care” or start downloading self-love tracker apps?

We’ll look to brands to help us navigate

We believe some brands will win by feeding the frenzy – making it easier for us to achieve Markle-status. We suspect subscription models, services which advise and curate for us, propositions built around easy multi-tasking will soar in popularity. Helping us achieve the impossible.

We imagine the brand to re-calibrate this and liberate us from the new unattainable aspiration, will thrive. Our money is on brands who play in the empowerment space, like Nike. Which breaks down our image of greatness, democratising fitness with liberating perspectives – summed up in their crusade, ‘if you have a body you are an athlete’.

Our unique work with emotions tells us this sense of freedom is one of the most transformational feelings we possess. We help brands reimagine customer propositions to do just this.

Truly instagrammable – Primark’s Central Perk café

Primark has started serving coffee in Manchester, but not through a standard coffee shop or franchise affair. Instead, it’s launched something rather unique for the coffee world – a Friends throwback Central Perk café. Genius idea or big let down? We got close to the customers using it to see whether the customer experience really lived up to the hype.

Unique, memory-making

‘Instagrammable’ is the one big theme that comes out about this coffee shop from customers. Yes, it’s got a good choice of food and drink, the staff come across as really friendly and happy to be there and the pricing lives up to the Primark promise, but undoubtedly it’s the Friends touches that make memories here. Everything from the coffee cups to the pieces of art, the iconic orange sofa and famous window scene create opportunities for Primark to end up on your Instagram account! “The café was different to anything I’ve been to in Manchester, off the top of my head I can’t think of a café or restaurant with such a strong theme.”

Not seen it yet? Take a look in our gallery

Customers don’t care about your stuff!

Is your brand creating enough memories?

It’s really easy to forget that people aren’t that interested in what we’re trying to put in front of them most of the time, especially when you’ve poured your heart into designing it! It’s not like they hate and actively avoid your stuff. People just have other things they’re prioritising right at that split second in time. They aren’t that focused on the many features, messages and influencers that are being put in front of them. It’s a concept the book ‘Nobody wants to read your sh*t’ demonstrates so brilliantly. We forget how hard we have to work to make customers see something, feel something and create memories.

So just make more stuff?

Yet when brands aren’t hitting their targets we often see them create even more stuff to put in front of customers. They’re very efficient at churning out more services, more POS, more training checklists, more menu options, more deals, more Instagram posts, but don’t have laser focus on improving the big things that could truly transform.

Stop just asking, start seeing

80% of decisions are made on feelings – so customer comments alone won’t drive successful business actions. Here at Kokoro we’re experts at making sense of the emotional – allowing you to know what really motivates your customers. One of the ways we do this is biometric measurement. Out and about in real environments from bars to airports to homes – we see the world through customers’ eyes and measure the emotional response to brands in their real lives.

  • Eye tracking – shows us what does and doesn’t get even a millisecond glance and the time to notice it. Data is amalgamated to create heatmaps of the elements dominating attention
  • Video capture – shows us how the space is used – the natural flow and what’s causing some products/messages to get completely missed
  • GSR (galvanic skin response)  – the level of sub-conscious emotional arousal a piece of stimulus creates
  • Facial expression analysis – we harness Affectiva human perception AI to see the positive and negative emotions generated from facial patterns

Make better investment decisions

Combining this powerful biometric insight with our other emotions-led tools like 5Drivers lets you better understand what aspects of your experience are making customers feel something. So you accentuate the strong feelings, fix those that agitate and find ways to zap new life into those that are simply too flat. After all we all know feelings build memories and memories build brands.

Kokoro Cuts – best of May

A round up of the best new experiences and campaigns we’ve seen on our travels. Here’s what you need to know about in May

A creative concept that really makes memories

Check out this pick-me-up from Mellower Coffee Shanghai. It’s served with a cloud of cotton candy and rains sugar over your coffee. Irrational, but so feel-good. We know immersion is one of the most powerful aspects of customer experience. This really makes for an unforgettable experience. No doubt its helped this brand boom quickly into an international success in the cut-throat market of coffee shops.

Source: Mellower Coffee Shanghai

Campaign with real empowerment

Natwest say if women started and grew business at the same rate as men the UK economy would be £250 billion better off. We’re excited by their ‘Back Her Business’ campaign. Our work with emotions makes it clear that real empowerment must be energising #Freedom, not just the basic #Control tools. This female-only crowdfunding initiative aims to inspire 400,000 female-led businesses by 2025.

Source: Natwest

Travel as unique as your DNA

Yet another great idea from Airbnb to link its proposition to wider trends beyond the travel sector. This time tapping into the growing quest to understand our family ancestry by teaming up with DNA testing leader 23andMe. Users can find out their heritage then plan their end-to-end heritage trip. It would be handy for our ancestry to be traced back to somewhere with a great view and a bar nearby.

Source: Airbnb and 23andMe

IKEA ‘for real families’ transports us from reality

IKEA moves what could be a really boring campaign into an immersive territory by using real IKEA products to recreate iconic rooms from hit shows ‘The Simpsons’, ‘Stranger Things’ and ‘Friends’. Giving customers #Freedom to feel like they really can achieve anything with their homes and at a decent price. Really clever campaign.

Source: Ikea

If it’s not on Insta, did it even happen?

As we exceed tipping point of peak stuff and seek to experience more, we look at the conflict of collecting souvenirs in the form of posts and likes against soaking up the moment

We’ve been talking ‘experience economy’ for ages, sounds cool, but we think it’s fake news; an epic fail. Instead, we’re in a souvenir economy and it’s a tough landscape to prosper. In our quest to open ourselves up to experiences, we think we’ve missed the point. We’ve accidentally put up new barriers and started collecting something else. No longer ‘stuff’ – we’ve moved on from that – now we’re proudly telling people, with perfectly shot, filtered and curated photos , followed by a heap of likes and glowing comments. Thank goodness for Insta Stories, where we can post pics that only score a 9/10 on beauty, wit and a ‘life to be jealous of’. We’re grateful to have a space for the things that are not quite Instagram-worthy, that don’t deserve a perfect square.

Experiences like Friends Fest, become a photo taking exercise

Instagramable products are the making of eateries, like Taiyaki NY

Striking interiors draw us into spaces like Sketch London

We’re being careless with our own version of events

Experiences are complicated. We tell ourselves, it’s about the moment – but really it’s about the memory. And our memories are very easily influenced. An enjoyable meal catching up with old friends, full of laughter and ‘we must do this more often’ is ruined by the uptight one who gets on their calculator app to squabble over a fiver. The meal itself was full of fun, but now our memory tells us different. It has been altered. We can’t help but worry that, in a time when if we forget to take a photo, we may as well not have gone out for dinner at all; likes and comments are the currency. They equate to good experiences, as our memories are validated, our souvenirs celebrated.

Ok, now we’ve really lost it

During a recent birthday celebration for a friend, a charming waiter clocked the presents, chinking glasses and delivered a free – but more importantly stunning – cocktail. The elegant drink, in a  champagne flute, transitioned from sophisticated yellow nectar to almost pink, with a subtle dry-ice smoking effect. My friend complained: “He could have warned me so I could Boomerang. I missed it, I missed all drama.” It was her birthday, so I avoided an eyebrow raise, but reflected, “Did that just happen? What is wrong with us all?!” She didn’t miss it, she saw every wonderful moment.

Brands are winning (short-term) by helping us fast forward

The rise of the Trip Advisor Instagram tours (yes the image that conjures of a photograph relay-race about a beautiful city is correct) and apps that read books for us makes it oh-so-easy for us to skip the real experience. A win in the short term – but we predict we will wake up and slow down.

Brands, which help us get a grip, will thrive

We don’t want to live in a world that’s dull! We believe brands, which help us live in the moment and create great narratives, will connect. Festivals and gigs are some of the first to open our senses and push us to watch for ourselves, not through a screen, but with blanket bans on devices. But where’s the feel-good in that? Getting kicked out for using our phones with no refund, might be a funny story at some point in the future, but it doesn’t feel-good in the moment and certainly does not fit with our personal Insta-brand. Being policed on a night out isn’t going to create good memories.  We think brands who encourage (not force!) us to live in the moment will win. Imagine a restaurant which takes your phone on arrival , charges it – so you can enjoy an immersive dinner  – then gives it back , with a full battery,  and the bill? Let’s demand more and create better products and experiences

Smart brands play up to the obsession with stunning exteriors we can’t resist posting to spread their brand buzz