Interview with Jean-Pierre Lacroix of Shikatani Lacroix Design

Jean-Pierre, can you please tell us a bit about yourself personally and professionally?

I grew up in Germany where my dad was in the Canadian Royal Airforce and when we returned we moved to Ottawa to be close to my parents’ families. Even at a very young age I always had a passion for creativity and design. I still can remember receiving a wind-up tank when I was only seven for Christmas and my interest was not to play warfare but to take the tank apart to learn what made it work. I always was inquisitive in my approach to life and learning constantly, trying to understand how things worked or how it could be made better. In my last year of high school, I got introduced to a substitute teacher who was an industrial designer. I did not know what design meant but the projects he had us work on made me realize I wanted to pursue a career in this field. I was accepted at Sheridan College in Graphic Design studies where I graduated winning the Intercity Paper Awards.

Imagine that you met someone in an elevator and was asked to explain Shikatani Lacroix in 30 seconds or less… Can you give us a 2 sentence ‘elevator pitch’ about your business and what you do?

Shikatani Lacroix leads the transformation of the customer experience by designing immersive purchase moments that connect in the blink of an eye. Our unique ThinkBlink process helps strategically design the customer experience to create a deep emotional connection to our client’s brand. We achieve this through conventional and neuroscience research to measure the experience and to quantify it.

How did you get started in this business?

My first job was working for Fifty Fingers, a firm that allowed me to design album covers for various artists in addition to some cosmetic packaging. Working for my first employer was when I realized my goal was to own my own firm and focus on packaging and retail design. In 1980, I started my first firm, Boulevard Communications, with my best friend and we grew to about 200 employees with offices in L.A., Vancouver and Toronto. In 1990, we decided to part ways and I started Shikatani Lacroix with Edward Shikatani, who at the time was a junior partner at Boulevard. We grew the firm, handling global assignments, and in 2000 Ed decided to tender his shares as he wanted to pursue a better work/life balance. I have been running the firm since and recently opened a second office in China.

Can you describe your customers / what type of customers does Shikatani Lacroix have?

Our client roster consists of Fortune 500 companies that are looking for either a major brand transformation, specific design needs or a long-term design agency with whom they can partner. Our business is divided among two main groups: retailers and packaged goods companies. In both groups, we provide positioning, strategy, design, digital experiences and implementation. More than 50{bfa08a400c7550404055ff04715e84c9172815d33c25eb3b84e230636ecdc007} of our clients are located outside Canada, and our firm has done work in more than 23 countries.

What are some of your “keys to success” in building your customer base?

This is a great question. I believe you build your customer base by building a strong reputation in meeting their needs. We initiate a study on how our clients perceive our firm each year and the findings support a major study on our firm conducted by the Schulich School of Business as part of their MBA program. In both studies, our firm is recognized as being strategic, creative and proactive. These qualities align with our clients’ needs as they look for growth and to remain relevant. Our business is also driven by word-of-mouth and client referrals, in addition to awards and media coverage. Our focus is to constantly meet and exceed our clients’ expectations by providing strategically sound creative solutions managed through a high level of service.

Is there anything about your business that you feel makes it special?

We coined and own the term Blink Factor which represents our strategy and design philosophy that most purchase decisions are made emotionally and are executed in the blink of an eye. With today’s complexity of choice, the blurring of channels, and the rise of digital, emotionally connecting with consumers has become a bigger challenge, and in return there is a larger prize. We are also one of only a few privately held firms globally specializing in major brand transformations that can handle the entire omni-channel experience. For example, our work on M&M Food Market involved developing a new identity, store experience, in-store digital signage, sales choreography, packaging and e-commerce website.

What kind of technology advances do you see that will likely affect this sector over the coming few years?

We have a reputation for being innovators.  We were the first globally to combine virtual reality and neuroscience as a new way to evaluate store concepts. We were the first 27 years ago to use an animated virtual store walk-through as part of a major new retail program for Eastman Kodak in Latin America. We were also the first in Canada more than 20 years ago to use digital signage and gesture technology for a major telco retailer. We strive to constantly be at the forefront of innovation. We currently have a digital accelerator lab in our offices where we constantly experiment with the newest technologies and systems.

Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years? In the next ten years?

No one has a crystal ball, so planning beyond three years is a real challenge…a case in point, who would have predicted Trump would have been elected President of the U.S.? We are focused on a lateral growth strategy by expanding our capabilities across various geographical regions. We are currently setting up an office in China where we are involved in some major retail projects. Our goal is to open two additional offices to expand our business footprint with the next office most likely in the U.S. to serve both that market and Latin America. We may also open a second office in Canada to serve our western-based clients. Ultimately, we will continue expanding our business globally with an emphasis on building a reputation for leading the transformation of the customer experience by designing immersive purchase moments that connect in the blink of an eye.

Jean Pierre Lacroix

Jean-Pierre Lacroix
Shikatani Lacroix Design
T: +1-416-367-1999
F: +1-416-367-5451