Hoogstraat 4, 3500 Hasselt

[The Retail Design Lab wrote this case study based on an extensive analysis of (and in consultation with) the retailer in question using our tools and scientific insights. This case study is intended to be an instructive 'best case'].

Rituals, since 2000 a brand with a huge range of home- and body products inspired by knowledge and traditions from different Asian cultures. With their philosophy they focus on converting daily routines into meaningful rituals (and from which the name Rituals originates).

We worked out a case study of Rituals' shop in Hasselt, which can be found in the centre of this bustling shopping city. The transparent facade of the shop in question welcomes you as soon as you approach the Rituals shop. This already gives passers-by a small sneak-peak of the interior and the extensive and colourful range on offer. The moment you walk into Rituals, you enter a large stylish space with a dark natural wooden interior that radiates warmth and cosiness.

The materials used in this shop mainly consist of earthy colours, which makes the products, characterised by their bright colours, stand out clearly. The products stand out not only because of their own colour, but also because of the lighting aimed at them. The products are sorted by colour and inside by species, this immediately catches the eye and gives peace and overview. Upon entering, the Rituals employees welcome you with a cup of tea and the typical Rituals fragrance, which immediately puts you at ease as a visitor. In this way, the 'zen feeling' takes centre stage.

Typical of the city shops of Rituals is the famous Japanese blossom tree. This is very characteristic of the brand and refers to the Asian cultures one stands for. On one of the walls you can find the philosophy of the brand: 'We believe happiness can be found in the smallest of things. It is our passion to transform your everyday routines into more meaningful rituals.

The shop in question is divided into 3 parts, the first part of which you immediately walk onto a large presentation island. Here the limited editions products as well as the discounted items are presented. A little further in the shop you can find the scented candles, which are presented together with the scented sticks and an extensive assortment of teas. A little deeper in the shop, you can find all kinds of make-up products. These items are displayed in an orderly way, so that they can easily be found by the customer. Nevertheless, this does not stand in the way of the experience and discovery of the brand. You can test all kinds of products, for example by washing your hands with scrubs and fragrant soaps. In this soothing experience, water at a comfortable temperature and soft towels are provided to make shopping even more enjoyable.

For the whole experience of Rituals, inspiration has been sought from all kinds of Asian cultures, such as their signature fragrances that have clear oriental roots. These fragrances are designed and composed with the utmost care within the various collections, such as 'The Ritual of Sakura' or 'The Ritual of Ayurveda'. In addition, there are always various limited editions available that are displayed at the front of the shop, immediately visible when entering the shop.

Rituals also tries to contribute to a sustainable world by using as many natural products as possible. In order to generate a smaller footprint, 97% of the products are produced within Europe, where safe working conditions for employees are very important. In addition, product development is never tested on animals. Packaging has also been very well thought out, for example, all items are sold in reusable boxes, making wrapping paper superfluous. Some products can be refilled in the shops, so less waste is generated; even the few paper used is FSC-certified.

Retailer story

Experience is very crucial for Rituals, because their entire concept revolves around it. So why is it so important to Rituals? Because experience lingers longer and works in the long term. It's not just about selling products in the short term, but also about creating loyalty and creating trust.

What Rituals understands by the term experience is clear. It is a sensory experience with which the customer is always tried to be surprised: in addition to the fragrances of the products, music is also attuned to the soft character of Rituals. In addition, a great deal is invested in sound attenuation: wooden floors, glass curtains, dark rooms, all this to create a homely, cosy atmosphere.

The customer expects a certain service and Rituals considers it its task to give more and more than expected. In principle, it's never enough and that's why it's important to keep evolving, to keep reinventing yourself. Not only because the customer expects it, but also to stay ahead of the competition. Questions from customers need to be answered in full knowledge of the facts. On top of that, employees have to give advice so that the customer is fully informed about the product.

Eddo Arnold, Rituals Director in Belgium & Luxembourg

Rituals also brings experience to the consumer by listening in the shop to the needs and wishes of the customer. Based on these needs, a certain ritual is chosen that best suits the customer's wishes at that moment. Subsequently, the products of the ritual are tried out together with the customer on the water island. The customer can touch and smell the products and feel how they feel on the skin.

When purchasing the products, the staff will also give you a tip. For example with the fragrance sticks: when the smell is gone, you can cut the sticks into pieces and put them in the vacuum cleaner bag and in this way you can get more benefit from the product by dealing with it in a different way.

Sophie Bolsens, Marketing Assistant

The purchases are given in sturdy cardboard bags that are also sprayed with a nice Rituals fragrance, this way customers take the feeling out of the shop before using the products at home. Fragrance bracelets have also been used, whereby the chosen fragrance is sprayed on the bracelet to stay in the atmosphere of Rituals for a while while when stepping outside.

When the weather permits and there are a lot of people in the shop, a mobile water island is brought outside to help and advise people on the street.

Céline van Durme, Rituals Retail Coordinator in Belgium & Luxembourg

Once the CRM system is operational, it is also the intention to continue the experience and to send the customer a message after the purchase with, for example, an inspiration video about the purchased products.

By experience Rituals also means contributing to a better world and to general well-being. The baby line is called 'Tiny Rituals' and is linked to the charity 'Tiny Miracles Foundation' (India). 10% of Tiny Rituals' income goes to this charity. The products of Tiny Rituals can also be sent very compact, and are delivered with a large envelope/slim packing box in such a way that you can send the gift to the (future) parents.

Eddo Arnold, Rituals Director in Belgium & Luxembourg

And what should Rituals' shops radiate? Rituals' shops should be a resting place in the city, where everything slows down for a moment. We aim for a homely atmosphere where everyone can take the time to test and ask for advice. We want to radiate a Zen feeling.

If you could translate this into character traits, you could say that this is a bit like the way the staff is recruited: open atmosphere, personal approach, intrinsically service-oriented (and not just because it should be), friendly, well-groomed appearance etc.

Céline van Durme, Rituals Retail Coordinator in Belgium & Luxembourg

A great deal of work has already been done on the CRM system, which should better map out the entire customer journey and better coordinate the steps. In order to assess the customer experience, we work with mystery shoppers: each branch is visited and assessed 4 times a year. The following ratio is used: 60% in-store, 20% online via website and 20% with the CRM system.

Customers are not explicitly asked for feedback, but can always leave their comments on the service form on the website or in person in the shop. The comments received via the website are also always passed on to the branch in question.

From September 2016, Rituals started a CRM system in branches in Belgium (total software package for managing customer data) that was linked to the existing app. The system manages the shop, keeps track of visiting frequencies online and offline and measures customer satisfaction via email/newsletter communication. The website also offers an instant overview of the products and orders can be placed directly, without any specific subdivision to a 'shop'. In the first place, the website (and therefore also -shop) is meant to buy.

Via the app you can make purchases, order gift vouchers, consult the magazine online, look up the various branches and there is a meditation guide with tutorial.

Social media is strongly deployed, and each channel also receives specific content; the content on social media channels is even differentiated by postcode. Photos, tutorials, blog stories are posted, actions and products are put in the spotlight, announcements are made, but most of all these channels serve to create an atmosphere. However, it is not just about posting 'fun' images or photos, they are always framed with content that fits within the Rituals philosophy and are intended to provide inspiration.

Twice a year, a paper magazine is distributed to buying customers (one is published around the end of the year (gift season) and the second for the summer months). The magazine always features the new limited edition in the spotlight.

Most customers or potential customers really do make conscious purchases in one of the shops because they want to experience the total experience. Repeat purchases can easily be made via the website, but the power of Rituals lies precisely in the in-store concept and the attention and pampering that the shops have to offer.

Offline can no longer do without online to tell a full story and to be able to serve the customer fulltime. The experience of the shop continues through the stories on the website and the meditation app. On different levels and in different ways the customer is stimulated and immersed in the world of Rituals.

Sophie Bolsens, Marketing Assistant

Rituals also thinks about how to approach the customer with the communication: Always trying to be personal; appealing in the communication with "you" instead of "you" in order not to create a distance and this is also continued in the shop: there is no counter, only a cash register. The staff gives your purchases personally and comes from behind the cash register. All products can be touched and tried, there is nothing behind glass so that as few thresholds as possible are formed.

The staff also receive training to deal with the customer in the Rituals way: the so-called selling ceremony. The staff always explains to the customer what the product consists of, how it works and what it does, the advantages of the products are also explained. They are trained to create an in-store environment that gives customers a desire to come back.

Sophie Bolsens, Marketing Assistant

If you complete the DIY Fashion store audit for Rituals, you arrive at the following result:

audit tool_rituals
Type: Sagrada Familia

In this shop, the space (architecture of the building and the shop design) is equal to the product range. These two elements support each other in the retailer's story, but one is not more important than the other. Senses are stimulated, but this happens rather subtly, like a quieter seducer. The shop is balanced and inviting both in terms of form and content, which makes the threshold very low. The customer can both browse and shop pleasantly and purposefully.

Each type is accompanied by possible pitfalls

A possible pitfall with this type of shop is that little news happens, it is a shop like there are 12 in a dozen. The middle field in the figure is the image in which the majority of fashion retailers enter. Creating a more specific and personal experience can differentiate your shop from and give it a head start on the rest of the market.

We typically see this type of shop in the middle segment of the market".

Experience matrix

Although the sensory matrix is a design tool, we use it here as an evaluation tool to illustrate the use of the matrix.


In the top row are the 4 Rituals brand values, followed by their type of product and the type of building they are in. The table shows what Rituals has bet on: which brand value has received which sensory translation. This tool can therefore be used during the design process to translate what the shop stands for into a suitable shop design.

+ & - points

When we test Rituals against findings from research and literature, we arrive at a list with a large majority of strengths in terms of shopping experience. There are a few areas for improvement that can still be tackled in order to increase the in-store experience.


ATMOSPHERE - Every detail fits into the bigger picture. A story is told. The interior gives a rustic and natural atmosphere that calms you down. This perfectly matches the products they offer. If one would take the products out of the shop, the design and experience would still make it clear who one is and what they sell. The shop really suits the product and the design communicates the brand values. (Quartier, 2017)

PRODUCT PRESENTATION - The products stand out immediately. This is partly due to the fact that the lighting is focused on them and they are sorted by colour. Lighting influences the experience of the atmosphere of a shop and the perception of price and image. (Quartier, 2011)

SERVICE - The salespeople immediately ask if they can help with anything. You will also be offered tea upon entry. All employees clearly have a good knowledge of products. Because of this knowledge, helpfulness and cordiality of the employees, the customer will have a positive experience when visiting a Rituals shop (Kulkarni, 2013).

MUSIC - The quiet music fits the theme of 'zen' and 'well-being'. The volume and tempo of the music have an effect on the shopping behaviour. The music should be suitable for the context in which it is used to increase the conviction to buy. (Charles S. Areni and David Kim, 1993)

TACTILE SENSE - You can always test products such as perfume and cosmetics. People like to try new things. It's an ideal way to gain customers' confidence in a product. (Wu John, 2010)

SUSTAINABILITY - The products have not been tested on animals. Rituals also uses recyclable products. This is also very good for their image.

EYECATCHERS - Eyecatchers (such as the blossom tree that is always at the centre of the shop) attract attention and ensure that the consumer is guided through the shop (Chan & Chan, 2007). They stimulate the customer and create amazement and curiosity (Pecoraro & Uusitalo, 2014).

CHARITY - Rituals supports charities.

STORE LOCATION - Rituals' building in Hasselt is beautifully situated. You can find this Rituals shop at a well-known and cosy little square (the Botermarkt), which allows many customers to see the shop perfectly and lures passers-by in easily.

LIGHTING - The light in this dark space is mainly focused on the products, making them stand out even more. A well-chosen lighting helps to radiate a certain image and can strengthen the retailer's identity (Quartier, Vanrie, & Van Cleempoel, 2014).

FACADE - There are many windows, making it easy to look inside. It is also very recognizable by the famous Rituals logo. The facade immediately stands out in the streetscape that attracts the attention of passers-by from afar. In this way the retailer distinguishes himself from the masses (Bellizzi, Crowley, & Hasty, 1983).

SCENT - The scent present in Rituals shops come from the product range and the many testers. A customer has a more positive attitude towards the shop when scent and product are in agreement. (Martijn Hendrikx, 2018)

EMOTIONAL WARMTH - If you walk into a Rituals shop, you are immediately offered hot tea. This heat is absorbed by the hands throughout the body, triggering an emotional reaction. As a result, the consumer will immediately see the shop staff as much more caring and generous. (Williams & Bargh, 2008).


RISK OF OVERSTIMULATION - In order to create an overall experience, it is not a question of pulling out all the stops and using as many stimuli as possible. It is about finding the right balance and using incentives in the right proportion, appropriate and in accordance with the concept that the retailer wants to put in place. (Retail Design Lab, 2017)

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