New Adidas store in Toronto leads the way in experiential retail in Canada

Experiential retail is becoming ubiquitous in the United States, especially for sports brands. Over the past year, Champs Sports, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Wilson’s have created experiential stores. But Canada, as a much smaller market, tends to be 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 vast selection of Adidas lifestyle and sports products, it includes a lounge, a community activation space, a Toronto boutique featuring 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 Ayden’s Retail Report 2022 according to KPMG, 67% of Canadians prefer to shop in a physical store, compared to the global average of 59%. The report also highlighted that these consumers believe stores should be exciting to visit and offer more than just goods and services. Adidas’ new store aims to meet this demand. “We hope to see more stores like this begin to open across Canada,” said Alim Dhanji, President of Adidas Canada, adding, “For Adidas, an experiential retail model offers consumers the opportunity to freely explore our wide range of products. in a way that is not only available online or in-store.

In addition to its in-store features, the store will host various events with musical performances and guest appearances and hold pop-up events throughout the year. “To celebrate the opening of our store, we’ll be hosting a series of in-store training classes led by beloved Toronto instructors, a shoe customization pop-up and a World Cup activation ahead of the upcoming tournament this month,” shared Lesley Hawkins, Vice President of Retail at Adidas Canada. The company will communicate more details about these events in the coming weeks.

Demand appears to exceed supply at experiential retail in Canada.

Toronto, in particular, is a unique market. Although the Greater Toronto Area is home to nearly seven million people, there are only a few critical retail areas, most of which are home to traditional retail store experiences. And all the experiential concepts that exist are mainly produced by Canadian brands. For example, in 2019, Canada Goose launched an inventory-free experiment at 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 which consists of a cafe, coworking space and various fitness classes.

Beyond there is Stackt Market, which, like London’s Boxpark, is built from 120 shipping containers on 100,000 square feet of land and is a mix of shopping, food and community events. It has quickly become a hotspot for Torontonians looking for a new weekend hangout or a new shopping venture. The success of Stackt and the few branded experiential concepts indicate that the Adidas store will likely do well in the market.

That said, unlike other experiential concepts, Adidas focused on the design and programming of the store with city features. “Toronto is a multicultural center filled with dynamism in many areas – arts, sports, fashion, design. Adidas has been a proud part of the city for many years, making connections within its communities and working with local designers, artists and athletes to collaborate on projects. We wanted the new space to be even more personalized to the city and our pride in being here,” said Hawkins.

Although the brand has not specified where it will open its next stores, it plans to expand its physical footprint over the next four years. Canada has become a target market for many brands since the pandemic, with Reformation, all the birdsand Hello Yoga all locations opened in the Toronto area within the past year. But the opportunity for experiential retail remains vast. So, maybe Adidas’ new store will spark a wave of exciting and engaging retail concepts in the Canadian market.

James T. Quintero