Retail’s Pay to Play Model Offers Consumer Goods Growth

Retail’s Pay to Play Model Offers Consumer Goods Growth

Retail’s Pay to Play Model Offers Consumer Goods Growth 1440 428 Chute Gerdeman

Four years ago, NYC retail concept, Story broke onto the scene. It turned the traditional retail model upside down and brought with it an editorial story connecting consumers to products in a contextually relevant way. Aside from the ever-changing theme of the space, innovation came in the form of how those products were introduced. With a pay to play model, consumer brands were required to sponsor their space in the store. In return the brands were provided analytics and feedback, essentially serving as a learning lab.

Since then other up-and-coming retailers have adopted a similar retail strategy to expose consumers to new products and provide brands with feedback. Here’s a look at a couple retailers who are creating concepts designed for growth and discovery of consumer goods products.


Four former Nest employees set out to create an unconventional environment for consumers to discover, test, and buy the latest tech and IoT products in Palo Alto, California. Offering brands a monthly subscription fee, B8ta is geared to shorten the traditional length of time for market entry from months or years to more like days or weeks.

Currently the store offers 70 different products like smart home devices and futuristic gadgets in a hands-on setting. “We’re really looking for best-of-breed products. Things that catch your eye,” said B8ta CEO Vibhu Norby. “The end goal is anybody that’s making something interesting should be able to get space here.”

With a “no packing, just products” display rule consumers get a chance to fully interact with the product, learn about how it works, and even comparison shop online via iPad. B8ta staff members are on hand for demonstrations as well, sharing their up-to-date knowledge provided directly from the manufacturer. Beyond the product platform though, brands are offered real-time analytics like evaluating the time of product or interaction with a display to sales data. While the concept is early in its infancy it’s certainly got our attention as a way to equal the playing field for smaller brands.

Sampling Lab

Portland based retailer Sampling Lab brings new meaning to the term free sample. Operating on a “membership” platform, Sampling Lab has set out to connect CPG brands with the ever desirable Millennial consumer. Interested participants can sign up to be members to test out new products with no expense in exchange for feedback. They literally don’t even have a cash register. Members can shop daily with a one product per visit limit. They just can’t try new products until they’ve completed a detailed questionnaire, giving feedback on everything from taste to what they might pay for the product.

The store stocks an average of twenty local food products at a time with a long waiting list of brands eager to earn a spot in-store. The product mix is set to change every 30-45 days with plans to broaden beyond food with the introduction of personal care, health and beauty, and household items to come. While the term “lab” might imply a stuffy atmosphere, this retail space is anything but with its comfy lounge style design that encourages members to browse freely and even hangout for a bit.

Since store opening 9,000 consumers have joined, and 11,000 surveys have been completed. While the store isn’t exclusive to Millennials, 75 percent of members are 34 years old or younger… I’d say they’ve made a connection.

Takeaway: As emerging brands look to grow in a competitive marketplace, this new retail model may create a more accessible point of entry, as well as give brands a new way to reach consumers and gather feedback in a way that feels more natural.

Photo Credit: Cool Hunting | B8ta | Portland Monthly


A collection of insights research and observations across retail, restaurant, c-store and grocery. Helping brands provide a better experience for their customers. Enjoy.

Be the first to know about the latest POV releases. Sign up for The Gist quarterly newsletter.

455 South Ludlow Street
Columbus, OH 43215 USA
+1 614 469 1001
sign up for The Gist quarterly newsletter
Our website uses cookies in order to optimize the experience. By continuing you agree to our use of cookies.
Privacy Policy