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NRF Student Challenge: Sensory STORY

The runners-up of the NRF Student Retail Challenge were the University of Pennsylvania’s Jake Fischer, Anissa Lee, Holli Li, and David Pang. Under the mentorship of Priyesh Upreti, the students tackled Sensory STORY (or as they framed it, “Feel the Moment” STORY), arguably the most abstract of the three concepts on which the competition was based. The STORY took customers through a “day in the life” with the aim of amplifying sensory experience within four different spheres: New York, Office, Home, and Self.

The group suggested that Feel the Moment STORY be co-sponsored by Polaroid Swing – the app that allows people to share moving photos on their phones – and Ariana Huffington’s Thrive Global. The strategic partnership merged the underlying concepts that life’s fleeting moments should be captured, and that each moment should be lived as “fully” as possible. “A moment is not still, it’s in motion,” they noted. “If a photo is worth a thousand words, a moment is worth infinitely more.”

Feel the Moment STORY’s merchandising strategy leveraged the myriad ways in which moments can be experienced, heard, tasted, and captured. Products such as Spectacles by Snapchat (the “Google Glass for millennials), Google Home, Buddha Board, and Livescribe Moleskine notebooks all reflected the physical-meets-digital ethos of the STORY. Event programming further capitalized on moments that can be experienced and captured – from Virtual Reality tours of New York City museums, to  yoga and meditation sessions with Headspace. A highlight was “Breathable Beverages” – a multi-sensory cocktail experience in which the space is infused with (flavored) vaporized alcohol that saturates the air, allowing visitors to get a little fuzzy in the fog.

Looking into Feel the Moment STORY’s future, the team envisioned an experience that stretched beyond the store’s 2,000 square-foot space. “Looking at STORY 2.0, there will be a marriage between pop-up shops and crowdsourcing that will bring localized stories across the nation, helping cities tell their own stories,” they noted.

After the students presented to the panel at KPMG and caught some well-earned rest, they regrouped for a “mocktail” reception at Home for the Holidays (though teammate Jake unfortunately had to take the train back to Philadelphia to catch a class).

“We’ve been to the store before, but it’s our first time at Home for the Holidays,” Lee noted. “It’s interesting to see some of our own ideas incorporated into the physical space, like the use of the Microsoft Surface devices to further illuminate product details.”

Impressed by Feel the Moment STORY? So were we! Be sure to meet the other two finalists – Travel STORY and Made in America STORY.