Experience Doesn't Mean Putting a Trade Show in Your Store

I get it, we are all programmed to understand and respond to edit out the familiar. It's a fundamental way of surviving sensory over load. So sure, if I say Experience Economy its totally understandable that the audience only hears "Experience Marketing". That used to mean booths, babes and bands. Today, it means that stuff plus AR, VR, and maybe large format display.

Ugh! :(

Experience Economy marketing does not mean Experiential Marketing (although it does encompass it). Experience Economy refers to the idea that consumers are looking to purchase experiences as discrete value measured by participation, sensation, and memory. Yes tech has a place to deliver that, but it is only every an augmentation, and never the star of the show.

This article is a great case in point. The author and his sources are "amazed" that VR isn't just totally shattering the retail model. Confronted with that, they go down a rabbit hole of mobile apps and tech integration and...bump (that was my head bouncing off my desk).

When consumers tell your market research firm that they want "experience" they don't mean they want to check out faster or use a phone to find a deal in a storethey are already standing in. Sometime I will tell you how much fun it was to try to get my Target web order with in-store pick up (hint, it ended badly).

Take the case of Ralph Lauren's connected dressing rooms. Yea, they are cool, but they are not experiences. Let's suppose the target audience audience are career focused millennials and younger gen x's. Let's further suppose they are coming to the flagship for a flagship experience. How about we provide them with one?

What if Ralph Lauren set up an amazing zillion dollar meeting space in their flagship store (or maybe the floor above)? How about allowing consumers (for a fee, remember you have to charge admission) to secure that space and get costumed in amazing Ralph Lauren clothing (up-charge for styling help, hair and cosmetics naturally) and then conduct that meeting (catered by the world famous in-house chef, for a fee of course)? You get to charge for the space, services and the clothing that goes into it? Wanna bet what the attachment rate on that would be? How about it's earned media foot print? Social engagement?...

Let's be bad ass. 

Bringing the Beach to a Store Near You

The Experience Economy is fundamentally about the idea of consumers paying for sensory experiences that generate memories. Those sensory experiences usually enable consumers to participate in something valuable and often lead to the purchase of mementos (products) to facilitate memory. So, how to you bring a Southern California Beach to consumers in Northern Europe.

Billabong decided to bring sensation into retail (fantastic) by streaming professionally curated music combined with locating scent dispensers around their stores in Europe. Those scent stations have a special scent called "board wax" and they release the scents as consumers pass them in close integration with the music. In this way, consumers are taken on a sensory experience to a Southern California beach. Of course candles, oils, and other scent products are available to remember the experience at home. Brilliant!


Ugh...Wasted Greatness

I just flat don't get it. You have one of the most iconic brands, Sears. Its fallow, in fact it has been terribly undeserved for decades. Revenue, shockingly is down (gee you mean US consumers don't want to conflate Sears iron clad bass tools with cheap clothes?). So the solution? Let's cut the footprint and reduce expense...weak.

I have another idea. Invest in being awesome. Take the brand into new areas, launch the Sears phone for contractors and handy people everywhere (like the Marshall phone did for music pro's), go after the Dollar Shave club millennials with hipster focused bad ass tools, take a big pill of self-inflection and strike out with the brand in a new direction. Spend your resources building a new chapter of awesomeness. Sell more.

Retreat sucks. It just makes loss take longer and hurt more. 

Sears to close more stores.

Shocker! People Like Dealing With People

Almost every day I am asked to advise on "process improvement" and "service delivery". Which is code for "I don't know how to increase sales so let's find a way to squeeze more costs". As we all know, people cost the most. Thus, really I am being asked to make things smarter so they can fire people.

Decision makers point to "the internets" (the s is on purpose) and "those millennials" . Executives continually look to Amazon and others as evidence of a strong desire on the part of consumers to increase automation in shopping.

Guess what? That's wrong.

What is true is that consumers no longer value purchasing. The act of purchasing is, in and of itself, a commodity and thus is of ZERO interest to consumers. On the other hand, shopping is an experience and thus is of high interest to modern consumers.  Check this out.