Aesop’s new store locations are often based on ‘gut feeling’ – not demographics.

Australia’s Aesop is among the best in the business at building out immaculately designed retail locations. But there’s a science to it. Everything about this firm is deliberate — even if it comes down to intuition.

Here’s how that process goes down, according to Aesop general manager Thomas Buisson, who recently sat down with London’s Courier Paper. (continued below…)

The Aesop retail approach:

  • They don’t care about how others do it, Aesop’s decisions are often based on gut feeling: “There’s a standard method most retailers use of taking information about people in an area: average incomes, education and things like where they go on holiday. . . . [But we] also use a lot of intuitive, gut feeling.”
  • They like to go in first: “To look for interesting places and be the first to commit to these areas is a big part of what we do. There’s a balance between being in emerging areas and more commercial ones.”
  • Expanding into Germany has been hell: “There’s ferocious competition in places like Munich. Especially compared to the softer economies like France which we have been used to. You need to sell yourself to the vendor like I had not experienced before. Sometimes, even after you spend legal fees and everything, they [the vendor] can decide to go with someone else.”
  • Buisson’s advice for brands opening their first stores: “A lot of people who are building chains today want stores to work from day one. Retail takes time. Great retailers will tell you how long it takes to build a following. You can’t just turn it on and off.”
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