Retail on the Magnificent Mile

Chicago's Magnificent Mile

A few members of the Theory House team just returned from Chicago where our VP of Retail Brands, Christopher Durham (left below), hosted a panel on private brands at the Shopper Insights in Action Conference with (L-R) Liz Berman, Director of Portfolio Strategy at Safeway, Kathryn Henkens, VP of Marketing, Petco, and Juan C. De Paoli, SVP Brand Management and Own Brands, Ahold USA.

Private brand panel

One of the benefits of travel to Chicago (aside from the great restaurants) is the opportunity to walk the Magnificent Mile (pictured above) and soak in some of the world’s leading retail experiences. The 13-block stretch of North Michigan Avenue is a spectacular showcase of style, flavor, and entertainment with more than 460 stores, 275 restaurants, 60 hotels and unique entertainment and attractions packed and stacked along its length.

Case in point: the photo of the cosmetics counter below could mistaken for Nordstrom or some other high-end department store. But in fact it is from Walgreens flagship store on Michigan Ave.  

Walgreens Chicago  

And I don’t know about you, but my local Walgreens does not include a beer cave. According to a recent article in USA Today, “Walgreens wants customers to be able to grab a smoothie, pick up a prescription, find a bottle of wine for dinner and get a mini makeover — all on their lunch hour.”

Walgreens beer cave

One of the keynote presentations at the insights conference was from Paul Roth, President of Retail Sales and Service, AT&T Mobility who spoke about the importance of shopper experience design in their stores. Walk into their location on Michigan Avenue and it’s clear to see his vision expressed. “Every aspect and every innovation of our Michigan Avenue store has been designed with the customer experience in mind,” said Roth. “From the design and layout of the store, to the way we display products and services, to the in-store technology and our brand ambassadors, everything is an extension of our goal to be the nation’s premier retailer and our brand mission to make people’s lives better.”

AT&T retail store

Burberry’s flagship store at Ontario Street, features what Burberry calls a “retail theater” concept that allows live runway shows and globally synchronized content to be broadcast via nearly floor-to-ceiling “digital walls.” It also houses eight brick-and-mortar selections from Burberry Bespoke, a digital initiative that allows consumers to customize a Burberry trench coat from more than 12 million possible designs. It’s quite an amazing experience – with price points that match its luxury appeal.

Burberry Chicago

I could write a post a day about all the amazing retail experiences along these 13 blocks. But a common thread is the retailer’s focus on elevating the shopper experience. One of the key advantages that brick & mortar retail has over online is the opportunity to fully engage all the shopper’s senses. And the one’s who succeed and thrive will embrace this idea and use it to their advantage.

To learn more about Theory House – The Agency Built for Retail and our expertise in retail brand development visit

Related Post

Want to chat? Let’s get in touch