The retail sector will learn from popular culture tourism

Christine Lundberg researches popular culture tourism at the University of Surrey in the UK. Now she will come part-time to the University of Borås for a two-year project in collaboration with the centre SIIR, Swedish Institute for Innovative Retailing. The goal is to find developmental possibilities for the retail sector.

“We want to investigate and learn how to create engaging environments within popular culture tourism,” she says. “Is it through storytelling? Or through taking advantage of fans’ engagement on social media? We believe that these thoughts can be transferred to the retail sector. We will also connect the retail sector with tourism and find ways for creating holistic experiences based on shopping.”

One background for this effort is that many city centres in Sweden die out when retail moves to shopping centres more peripherally located. Christine Lundberg describes how this problem is typical for countries like Sweden, in which the area is large but the population small.

“This brings challenges in which the retail sector needs to think beyond itself and, for example, create a common brand, or something else large. For example, consider how retail in Gällstad has succeeded with its brand: there they build upon several different variables such as tradition, high quality, and the right price. However, that’s not so say that the price necessarily has to be low.” Days of Knowledge
To fund the "international guest researcher" project, Sparbanksstiftelsen Sjuhärad is providing SEK 516 565. This money will be awarded on 19 October at Days of Knowledge, a ceremony at which the University of Borås honours research and education. The event is arranged by the University of Borås, City of Borås, Sparbanksstiftelsen Sjuhärad and Swedbank Sjuhärad.

Focus in the current project will be on seeking funding for continued research within these areas, as well as testing and suggesting ways to create experiences for customers. The work will be conducted in collaboration with the partner companies within SIIR.

“Parhaps this can lead to our creating ideas for small showrooms that the retail sector can develop and that become more than a small store. Alternatives are needed, something that gives more. An experience so that customers receive both information and inspiration. We will see what we come up with, but perhaps something like an installation or exhibit more than a store.”

The project also includes efforts to communicate the results to business and further develop them together.

Text: Lena M Fredriksson
Photo: Private