The world is not only getting smaller, it’s getting more personal.
Look to retail – consumers are taking a more pro-active role than ever before. “Cash Mobs” are the latest intersection of local, personal, social, and retail. This twist on “flash mobs” brings together a group to one store to support the community by buying local.
Activities like this are as much about highlighting and activating the buyer’s power in the transaction as they are about supporting local merchants.
Yet despite the overwhelming pressures on physical retail, some major brands such as Tiffany, Apple, Lululemon Athletica, and Microsoft are expanding their physical retail networks with great results. How are they succeeding in the environment of empowered buyers where organizations such as Best Buy are not? How are they viewed as “local” while being part of a global network?
The book The Experience Economy laid this out years ago: the differentiators of esthetics, education, escapism, and entertainment can transform a transactional retail environment into a desired experience.
These differentiators need to be focused on the individual. Vocational training, once thought for “dumb kids or the supposed misfits” is experiencing a revival. Focusing on something of personal interest, and with a hands on approach, can increase interest and therefore attention.
SAP began moving from SAP centric presentations to audience centric conversations several years ago at its SAPPHIRE NOW program. The micro forums (unstructured 30 minute conversations around one topic with no slides or presenter) have quickly become as popular as the theater sessions due to their personal relevance and interaction.
Successful retailers focus on the individual with personal shoppers, training, and experiences at – and away from – the store. And it doesn’t hurt that the products themselves are very personal, from “sleep number beds” at Select Comfort stores, to clothing, jewelry, and computers.
Another significant element of these retail experiences/outlets is the staff. They are the brand – not the retail distributors’ brand, but the product brand. Their excitement, the personal interaction, and the relationship translates back to the product. An informed, exciting, and energetic Apple or Tiffany or Lululemon retail employee makes the product exciting and desirable.
It is not surprising then to see some corporate retail outlets exceeding $1,000/sq. ft. in annual sales while larger retailers such as Wal-Mart average a few hundred.
Proprietary experiences and events are like these corporate retail outlets. They offer the opportunity for distinctly different, and uniquely managed experiences that a 3rd party tradeshow or “big box” event doesn’t.
Equally important, they allow for personal experiences between the product and the consumer or buyer and an immersive brand environment and experience. Apple has over 1,000,000 visitors each day at their stores – think of this as 1,000,000 attendees each day at their experience marketing events.
Does your experience marketing offer the right level of personalization and draw this level of engagement? Could it?
Note: As always, the desire of Janus Dialogs is not to adjudicate the appropriateness of any trend, but to bring it to the forefront for consideration by the caretakers for the shared moments in time we call experience marketing.