Experiential retail is becoming ubiquitous across the United States, especially for athletic brands. In the last year, Champs Sports, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Wilson’s have created experiential stores. But, Canada, as a much smaller market, tends to get left behind when it comes to new and trending retail.
Adidas aims to fill that void with its new 13,000-square-foot location at the Toronto Eaton Centre. Beyond the wide selection of Adidas lifestyle and sports products, it features a lounge, community activation space, a Toronto shop with unique products inspired by the city, and multiple digital touchpoints for customers to learn more about the brand and its connection to Toronto.
Canadians want to interact with and experience brands, not just transact with them.
According to the 2022 Ayden Retail Report by KPMG, 67% of Canadians prefer to shop in a physical store, compared to the global average of 59%. The report also outlined that those consumers think stores need to be exciting to visit and offer more than goods and services. Adidas’ new store aims to meet that demand. “We hope to see more of these types of stores start to open across Canada,” said Alim Dhanji, President of Adidas Canada, adding that “for Adidas, an experiential retail model provides consumers with the opportunity to freely explore our wide range of products in a way that isn’t offered solely online or in-store.”
In addition to its in-store features, the store will host various events with musical performances and guest appearances and have pop-up events throughout the year. “In celebration of our store opening, we’ll be hosting a series of in-store workout classes led by Toronto-loved instructors, a shoe customization pop-up, and a World Cup activation ahead of the upcoming tournament this month,” shared Lesley Hawkins, VP of Retail at Adidas Canada. The company will communicate more details on these events over the coming weeks.
The demand appears to exceed the supply for experiential retail in Canada.
Toronto, specifically, is a unique market. Although the Greater Toronto Area has close to seven million people, there are only a few critical retail shopping areas, most of which house traditional retail store experiences. And any experiential concepts that do exist are primarily produced by Canadian brands. For instance, in 2019, Canada Goose launched a no-inventory experience in Sherway Gardens that included various cold rooms with fake snow to test the product in the applicable climate. Lululemon also has an interactive store on Queen Street West that consists of a coffee shop, a co-working space, and various fitness classes.
Beyond that, there’s Stackt Market, which like London’s Boxpark, is built out of 120 shipping containers on 100,000 square feet of land and is a mix of shops, food, and community events. It quickly became a hot spot for Torontonians seeking a new weekend hangout or shopping venture. The success of Stackt and the few branded experiential concepts indicate the Adidas store will likely do well in the market.
That said, contrary to other experiential concepts, Adidas has focused on designing and programming the store to the traits of the city. “Toronto is a multicultural hub filled with vibrancy across so many areas – arts, sports, fashion, design. Adidas has proudly been a part of the city for many years, building connections within its communities and working with local designers, artists, and athletes to collaborate on projects. We wanted the new space to feel even more personalized to the city and our pride being here,” shared Hawkins.
Although the brand hasn’t said where it would open stores next, it does plan to expand its physical footprint over the next four years. Canada has become a target market for many brands since the pandemic, with Reformation, Allbirds, and Alo Yoga all opening locations in the Toronto area over the last year. But the opportunity for experiential retail remains vast. So, perhaps Adidas’ new store will spark a wave of exciting and engaging retail concepts in the Canadian market.