Gabriela Baiter

Founder, Whereabout Studio
I'm the founder and Chief Creative Director of Whereabout, an experiential retail studio that helps brands navigate the future of retail through pop-ups and in-store experiences. Sitting at the intersection of brand marketing and experiential retail, our studio exists to transform passive showrooms into meaningful brand outposts for the new consumer.

With over a decade of experience crafting brand strategy at Uber and Facebook, my passion for the industry has manifested itself in to leading dozens of experiential projects for major brands in addition to workshops and revival programs for over 100+ brick and mortar retailers.

While working with founders is my first love, I've also founded retail concepts of my own including Dozy Rex, a DTC pet brand and Homemade Society, a wandering restaurant concept in Portland, OR.

Recent White Papers & Reports:
  • Posted on: 07/11/2018

    Is your culture your brand?

    Super interesting topic today. I definitely feel strongly that an internal culture has to stem from a strong sense of brand/self. If a brand doesn't know who it is or what it stands for, they are not going to attract employees who are passionate about their mission. This directly correlates to employee dissatisfaction which leads to temporary solutions of distraction that are out of touch. Rather than trying to only implement solutions that give employees a "break from work," brands should come up with ways to reinvigorate their minds through "work that doesn't feel like work." These tactics should always make employees feel closer to the product or service that the brand provides. A few examples that come to mind are Patagonia, Airbnb and Uber. Patagonia allows their employees to take one service-based trip a year that protects the environment. Airbnb gives their employees $1000+ travel credit a year to travel the world. Uber allows their employees to suggest real projects they want to solve and if their project is chosen, they provide them with a team and plane ticket to solve it for 10 days over holiday break.
  • Posted on: 06/26/2018

    Ralph Lauren’s Club Monaco takes pop-up strategy beyond its flagship

    I own an experiential retail studio that helps brands pop-up around the world. When sourcing locations, we often come across store-within-a-store concepts that can work for clients with a lower budget. While these can be great for niche brands to capitalize on foot traffic and audience fit, it can have its drawbacks for retailers if it lacks focus. As Club Monaco expands this concept, I'd love to see them brand the space and inject more storytelling. Showing off products and offering workshops across beauty, travel and home is a first step, but how can this feel even more integrated in the future? Perhaps they position it as not just a new destination in store but a "Clubhouse" for customers to try out new products that embody the Club Monaco lifestyle. For the travel category specifically, they can invite their customers into the Clubhouse to discover exotic destinations that inspire their collections. By featuring a rotating line of international products and fare, customers build a deeper connection to not just the pop-up brands, but also Club Monaco.
  • Posted on: 06/15/2018

    Sam’s to open small concept focused on tech, fresh and grab-and-go foods

    Perhaps they pivot from "club memberships" to a loyalty-based subscription model? This way they can downsize their inventory in-store while reordering people to reorder replenishable items online.
  • Posted on: 05/31/2018

    New Whole Foods’ store-within-a-store concept is ‘rooted in nature’

    The one thing that Whole Foods has on Kroger is a smaller store footprint and merchandising strategy with a carefully curated product mix. The plant and flower section in the front of grocery stores has been around for years, so I do see Whole Foods continuing to test this as a discovery zone. With Amazon's customer data and Whole Foods' retail expertise, I imagine we'll see a lot more store-within-a-store "tests" that appeal to the impulse buyer.
  • Posted on: 05/29/2018

    Target’s new Instagrammable collaboration is a sweet deal

    Totally agree Max. Given Target's similar brand values, this partnership makes so much sense. By leading with the experience, people will naturally want to buy and take a piece of it home with them.
  • Posted on: 05/29/2018

    Target’s new Instagrammable collaboration is a sweet deal

    I hear you Charles. The one thing I'd caution retailers on is having the brand be too much of a focal point here. While in-store photo ops are great, asking people to take photos with their purchase in front of a branded back drop isn't enough anymore. The Museum of Ice Cream takes this concept further by creating "Instagrammable" scenes that people naturally want to take photos of. By designing and positioning it as an experience vs. a photo booth area, they improve the experience overall while driving social shares.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2018

    AriZona Iced Tea taps ’90s nostalgia with pop-up

    A brand can't tap into nostalgia "just because." The retail story has to be an extension of the brand purpose and ethos or else it will be overlooked. This pop-up does a great job at combining multiple tactics that appeal to this generation of experience seekers without over indexing on one over the other:
    • '90s nostalgia = relatability;
    • Limited edition merch = exclusivity;
    • Temporary pop-up = urgency;
    • Speakeasy = discoverability/personalization.
    On an unrelated point, I also LOVE how they are paying homage to the "family business" and hope they continue to own that narrative moving forward.
  • Posted on: 05/15/2018

    Should Starbucks acquire Blue Apron?

    You can make an argument for Starbucks to acquire any ready-to-eat meal company. However, just because Blue Apron has a similar audience doesn't mean you can change the product's entire value proposition to fit in. People equate Blue Apron with DIY meal prep, not ready-made, period. The only way I can see this working is if Starbucks kept the integrity of the product and served it up for the late-night crowd (4 p.m. to 8 p.m.) who is working late and needs an easy solution. Either way, it's a stretch.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2018

    The importance of prioritizing high(er)-value customers

    Agree with your point here. On the data front, retailers have to stop using their own data to identify "potential" high value customers based on past purchase behavior alone. Machine learning and artificial intelligence can now predict with more than 90% certainty who is willing to buy more from you using a combination of rich mobile data (i.e. social habits, apps, purchasing behavior). Retailers should also consider basic logic in their approach. For instance, college students will never be your highest value customers based on spending behavior, but by nurturing them early on (via lower priced products / targeted experiences), brands are making a critical investment for the future.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2018

    DSW’s rewards program includes ‘emotional experiences’

    I couldn't agree more. 5/6 things mentioned are discounts/cost savings, but disguised as something different. (Birthday gift discounts, early access to discounts, etc.) Their program already has 25M members, so I hope DSW plans on highlighting each of these benefits independently to avoid getting lost in the shuffle. Other emotional experiences they can explore:
    • After hours shopping events for VIP members;
    • Access to personal shoppers/stylists (virtual and in-store);
    • First to access exclusive product including limited edition collaborations, etc;
    • Reserve shoes online, try on in-store.
    The key is to eliminate pain points in the outdated wear-house shopping experience and make their customers feel special. If they can reward "the hunt" across channels, the value of their loyalty program will vastly increase.
  • Posted on: 05/08/2018

    Walmart associates check out customers on the floor in pilot program

    This is an interesting one. I applaud Walmart for innovating their check out experience, but why not also test this out in different areas of the store? With the size of their footprint and larger product inventory, there is an additional pain point of people who wind up dragging large items across the store to later change their mind. If Walmart removes the inventory and turns these sections into showrooms, these spaces can be dedicated to experience and trial. Associates can use "Check out with me" to reserve the items that people want to buy and place them in their car when they drive up to the back. As far as associate vs. shopper enabled check out -- I am all for having the customer do the least work while they are shopping. Until other retailers can duplicate Amazon's "Just walk out" technology, human touch is a huge benefit to improving the customer experience inside these retailers while making life easier for them. While check out is a first step, I hope to see Walmart experiment with other assisted selling tools that empower the associate with product information and CRM capabilities that create more of a dynamic shopping experience.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2018

    New Brookstone concept brings makers to the mall

    As someone who lived down the street from Roosevelt Field growing up, it's great to see them continue to innovate. For the Makers, the visibility that Brookstone offers will be great for initial product feedback. However, rather than targeting people in suburban areas who have more discretionary income, they should consider placing these concept stores in major urban cities where early adopters are more prominent.
  • Posted on: 05/02/2018

    Will shoppers go to Walmart to buy a car?

    I'm all for testing, believe me. I just hope that Walmart puts enough investment behind the pilot to improve this notoriously negative customer experience.
  • Posted on: 05/02/2018

    Will shoppers go to Walmart to buy a car?

    I don't have much faith in this one, Mark. It almost feels like these mega-retailers are becoming the new malls with fragmented experiences across the store that are vastly different from one another. Two reasons why I don't see this big bold bet working out for them:
    1. To your point, car salesmen already have a bad reputation among shoppers. Unless Walmart plans on dramatically improving this experience, will a customer on the hunt for $5 floaties appreciate someone selling them a $20,000 car upon walking into a store?
    2. No one goes to Walmart to stay a while. Pushing a customer to consider a car purchase when they are in a rush could do a disservice to the car brand by having people overlook features when they aren't in the right frame of mind.
    I'm all for meeting people where they are, but this seems like a stretch.
  • Posted on: 04/30/2018

    Kellogg’s advises CPGs to differentiate online

    Every shopper has their routine. Outside of brand differentiation, these sites need to also offer a differentiated service or price point to build loyalty. Auto-ship features would remove the friction of their customers needing to continuously return to the site when they run low. Even if they choose to just buy once, the initial data capture alone will allow the brand to deliver a steady drum beat of content that builds brand equity over time.

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