In this interview, Jürgen Feuerstein, CEO of Molotow, Feuerstein GmbH, discusses how urban brands can be successfully integrated at the point of sale in specialist DIY and fine art shops, and how they can stand up to the online giants.
To what extent does graffiti have an influence on the paper, office supplies and stationery market, and the hobbies and fine art market?
Jürgen Feuerstein: "Traditional markets are looking for new ideas to revitalise their own business. This also applies to the hobbies and fine art market, which is again oriented towards modern art applications. An example is the hand lettering trend, which is nothing other than graffiti for the 'mainstream'. Ten years ago, we were the first 'graffiti brand' to exhibit at Paperworld. Just take a look around now and you’ll see how many other manufacturers have followed suit, with urban products in their product ranges. Graffiti has its own raison d’être – even in the fine art market. This is what’s happening now, and the trend is growing."
What do you think will happen in the retail trade? How will it change?
Jürgen Feuerstein: "If you ask around stationary retailers, you’ll find that they’re all facing the same difficulties. The stationary retail trade is being forced out by online giants, such as Amazon, and there are fewer and fewer traditional artists. By implication, this means that the potential buyer group is shrinking, so many shop owners see themselves as being in direct competition with online traders. Prices and reductions are frequently banded about, but there are much smarter and more sustainable solutions, in the shape of conceptual shopping experiences and a feeling of security, which cannot be bought on Amazon.
The hobbies and fine art market needs to get away from overloaded and outdated counter displays and yellowing posters. Customers want more these days: in other words, they’re looking for an accessible brand, an entire brand world. Those who have understood this, will survive. The rest will not be able to prevail against the fast-moving internet or keep up with the trend."
Do you think the stationary retail trade urgently needs a radical change in mindset? What are you doing for your retail business?
Jürgen Feuerstein: "Yes, indeed. How many 'handicraft shops' do you see now when walking through town centres? As business people, we need to be open to changes and trends, which are what make new opportunities possible. This includes further development for employees and the prospect of leaving our own comfort zone: moving towards specialist retailers and away from the concept of a 'major distributor'.
Very many years ago, we gave our graffiti retailers a prediction of how the sector would change, and we began to develop business concepts accordingly. These range from modular point of sale systems, to shop-in-shop solutions with full product ranges, and flagship stores. Customers can then decide where the journey is heading and whether they’re on the right track with us.
But there’s always one important issue at the start of ventures like this: the brand experience and consultancy. The latter is needed to remove initial fear of contact and to establish product safety – it’s all about providing information! So we work closely together with retailers and their employees as well."
So you’re offering the brand experience to retailers as well as end customers?
Jürgen Feuerstein: "The brand experience is part of our communication and distribution policy, part of our entire marketing mix. If you want to earn customer loyalty, you need first to be emotionally loyal to a brand. The end customers feel the conviction and authenticity – at the very latest, when they’re actually standing in the shop."
How do retailers receive your point of sale concepts?
Jürgen Feuerstein: "The customers with whom we have trading relationships have grasped how we position ourselves. Our agile communication and, above all, quick response to their questions and needs, provides transparency and security – two factors that we consider to be very important within business relationships. Retailers are very receptive to our concepts, because we at least take our customers by the hand and meet in the places to which they are emotionally tied: their shops."
You say that you have developed various point of sale concepts for integrating into fine art shops. What do these concepts look like in concrete terms?
Jürgen Feuerstein: "Not only is our point of sale system visually appealing and self-explanatory, it’s also modular. We have put our core product range into a four metre display in reduced quantities. This shelving system can also be expanded within the modules and the fittings can be varied according to different needs and wishes. Many new customers start with this basic concept and they’re all the more pleased that there are various marketing supports included in the four metre system. All the other concepts build on this. As mentioned, we like to meet our customers in their actual situations, so we visualise our point of sale system in their shops – by first showing it in quite a neutral way and then applying the brand identity. When they eventually see the visualisation, most of them understand where the journey is heading and know that they are on the right track with us."