Every retailer has an ideal customer type, be it wealthy women over 30 with a penchant for exclusivity, or students seeking fast-fashion at bargain prices. As such, buyer personas have become an integral part of the retail design process.

Semi-fictional representation of the perfect shopper, founded on their attitudes, wants, interests, demographics, purchase behaviour, etc., retailers use personas to appeal directly to their target audience; at the right time, in the right way.

When it comes to retail environments, personas are key, and stores are now using contextualisation to stand out from the crowd, demonstrate that they understand their audience, and boost sales. But it’s not always as simple as creating one persona per brand.

Take skincare retailer Aesop for example. “Horrified at the thought of Aesop evolving into a soulless chain," with over 60 stores across the world, the retailer considers each space individually; looking at both the customer and the context and drawing on cultural influences to create an environment that integrates into the surrounding area.

"There’s a direct correlation between interesting, captivating store spaces and customer traffic within a store"

Dennis Paphitis, Aesop Founder

The result is that no two Aesop stores look the same, while still retaining that all-important brand essence.


Aesop I.T Hysan One, Hong Kong


Aesop Grand Central Station, New York


Aesop Leipzig


Aesop Mayfair, London


Contextualisation in retail design is becoming increasingly important. However, it’s not just merchants who see the value in putting the customer experience and the environment at the heart of their creative approach.


Context in interior design

Just as with retail, in the business world context matters. So, it's no surprise that commercial interior designers are catching up with this trend, and creating spaces that are relevant to where they’re based and who they want to impress.

A physical premises is one of the most critical manifestations of a brand; particularly for businesses that invite customers into their offices.

Just think about it. There’s no good having a meticulously created set of brand guidelines to promote your “innovative and fresh approach” if your office space is tired and dated. Architecture and interior design are critical when it comes to making the right brand impression.

Also, it’s well established that as many workers spend a substantial portion of their day in an office environment, their working environment should be safe, efficient and comfortable. What’s more, workplace productivity is directly linked to environmental design, with access to suitable spaces having a real impact on employee performance and satisfaction. So building and interior design have never been more important.

But what suits staff and customers in one part of the world (even within the same country) might not work in another. As such, today’s interior designers must create spaces that have the desired impact on their target audiences (internal and external) while at the same time, taking into account the styles of their various offices and their locations. All while creating a holistic brand experience.

Just look at how Microsoft are doing it…

Microsoft Sydney

© Tyrone Branigan

Microsoft Washington

© Benjamin Benschneider Photography, Charlie Shuck (courtesy of Microsoft)

Microsoft Moscow

© Alexey Zarodov

At Unibox, we help our customers to create customised retail and interior design solutions. With a deep understanding of contextualisation, everything we do is designed, not only to look good, but more importantly, to help your business succeed.

With unique manufacturing capabilities on site, we’ve brought many intelligent products to the market, including a number of LED lightboxes and Neonist LED signage which are perfect for interiors.

If you’d like our help bringing contextualisation into your business, or for a quick chat to find out more about how Unibox does things differently, contact us today.