Part 2 further reading: the strategic underpinnings

Strategic experiential modules

Modularity of the mind - the view that the mind is composed of specialised functional parts - provides a wonderful metaphor and practical lesson for experiential marketing: experiences may be dissected into different types, each with their own inherent structures and processes. As a manager, you may view these different types of experiences as strategic experiential modules (SEMs) that constitute the objectives and strategies of your marketing efforts.

Let me provide a brief description of the five types of customer experiences that form the basis of the Experiential Marketing Framework.

Sense marketing appeals to the senses with the objective of creating sensory experiences through sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. Sense marketing may be used to differentiate companies and products, to motivate customers, and to add value to products. As we will see, Sense marketing requires an understanding of how to achieve sensory impact.

Richart, a maker of luxury chocolates, employs an integrated sense marketing approach that fully exploits the experiential nature of chocolate purchase and consumption. This approach starts with the name of the company itself: Richart Design et Chocolat. Richart bills itself as a design company first, a chocolate company second. Attention to design is carried through all the marketing and packaging materials and into the products themselves. The Richart logo is done in an art deco typeface with a distinctive leaning “A” that graphically demarcates the words “rich” and “art.” Richart chocolates are sold in a showroom that resembles that of a fine jeweler, with items displayed in glass cases on a spacious, brightly lit sales floor. They are also available through a catalogue reminiscent of that of an upmarket clothing or jewelry designer, labelled “Collection 97/98”. Products are lit and photographed in the catalogue as if they were fine pieces of art or jewelry. Headlines are in French and English. Promotional materials are printed on smooth, heavy papers.

The packaging is no less elegant. Chocolate boxes are pure glossy white, with gold or silver embossed lettering. Red cloth ribbons seal the packages. Box liners are segmented so that each work of chocolate art is displayed in its own compartment.

The chocolates themselves are a feast for the visual sense. They are beautifully shaped and decorated with different patterns and colours of ornamentations (a special line displays a charming set of children’s drawings). Special chocolate plaques can be made to customers’ specifications. So precious are these chocolates that Richart even sells a burlwood chocolate vault with temperature and humidity gauges, like a humidor, for $650. British Vogue magazine called Richart Chocolates “the most beautiful chocolates in the world.”

Feel marketing appeals to customers’ inner feelings and emotions, with the objective of creating affective experiences that range from mildly positive moods linked to a brand (eg, for a non-involving, non-durable grocery brand or service or industrial product) to strong emotions of joy and pride (eg, for a consumer durable, technology, or social marketing campaign). As we will see, most affect occurs during consumption. Therefore standard emotional advertising is often inappropriate because it does not target feelings during consumption. What is needed for feel marketing to work is a close understanding of what stimuli can trigger certain emotions as well as the willingness of the consumer to engage in perspective taking and empathy.

An example of feel marketing is Clinique’s first new fragrance in seven years, called Happy. Videos at the point of purchase reinforce the name’s message, reflecting the product’s sunny orange packaging, showing the jumping, joyfully smiling figure of model Kylie Bax. Television ads incorporate movement and music with lively camera work. In mounting the Happy campaign, Clinique is riding a growing anti-grunge wave that is sparking a trend toward more cheerful fashions. As a tie-in, Clinique has produced a limited-edition CD of “happy” songs, inclining Judy Garland’s Get Happy and the Turtles’ Happy Together. Happy makes you feel happy.

Think marketing appeals to the intellect with the objective of creating cognitive, problem-solving experiences that engage customers creatively. Think appeals to engage customers’ convergent and divergent thinking through surprise, intrigue, and provocation. Think campaigns are common for new technology products. But think marketing is not restricted only to high-tech products. Think marketing has also been used in product design, retailing, and in communications in many other industries.

A good example is Microsoft’s new multi million-dollar campaign, “Where Do You Want to Go Today?” created by Wieden & Kennedy, the ad agency best known for its “Just do it” campaign for Nike. As a symbol for the campaign, the slogan does a brilliant job of encompassing all of Microsoft’s many ventures and activities. Microsoft is closely associated in consumers’ minds with the explosion in computers and the feeling today that with technology anything is possible. With this slogan, Microsoft positions itself as the company responsible for these infinite possibilities - t’s just a matter of naming your destination, and Microsoft will get you there. Indeed, the objective of the approach was “to creatively understand what it means for people to use computers...in the 1990s.” The spatial metaphor links well with the geographical metaphors of the Internet - web pages are spoken of as “sites” that can be “visited” - and Microsoft’s products for the net. The question “Where do you want to go today?” can be taken literally for Microsoft’s Expedia, the travel services web site, or its Sidewalk, the city site guide.

Act marketing aims to affect bodily experiences, lifestyles, and interactions. Act marketing enriches customers’ lives by enhancing their physical experiences, showing them alternative ways of doing things (eg, in business-to-business and industrial markets), alternative lifestyles, and interactions. As I will show, analytical, rational approaches to behavior change are only one of many behavioural change options. Changes in lifestyles are often more motivational, inspirational, and spontaneous in nature and brought about by role models (eg, movie stars or famous athletes).

Nike sells more than 160m pairs of shoes a year - almost one of every two pairs sold in the United States. One major part of the success of the company has been the brilliant “Just do it” campaign. Frequently depicting famous athletes in action, it is a classic of act marketing, transforming the experience of physical exercise.

Relate marketing contains aspects of sense, feel, think and act marketing. However, relate marketing expands beyond the individual’s personal, private feelings, thus adding to “individual experiences” and relating the individual to his or her ideal self, other people, or cultures.

Relate campaigns appeal to the individual’s desire for self-improvement (eg, a future “ideal self’ that he or she wants to relate to). They appeal to the need to be perceived positively by individual others (eg, one’s peers, girlfriend, boyfriend, or spouse; family and colleagues). They relate the person to a broader social system (a subculture, a country, etc.), thus establishing strong brand relations and brand communities.

Relate campaigns have been used in a variety of industries, ranging from cosmetics, personal care, and lingerie (to create fantasies about the other sex) to national image improvement programmes. The American motorcycle Harley-Davidson is a relate brand par excellence. Harley is a way of life. From the bikes themselves to Harley-related merchandise to Harley-Davidson tattoos on the bodies of enthusiasts, consumers see Harley as a part of their identity. The Harley web page gets to the heart of the matter: “Suppose time takes a picture - one picture that represents your entire life here on earth. You have to ask yourself how you’d rather be remembered. As a pasty, web-wired computer wiz, strapped to an office chair? Or as a leather-clad adventurer who lived life to the fullest astride a Harley-Davidson? You can decide which it is, but think quickly. Time is framing up that picture, and it’s got a pretty itchy shutter finger.”

Experiential hybrids and holistic experiences

Experiential appeals rarely result in only one type of experience. Many successful corporations employ experiential hybrids that combine two or more SEMs in order to broaden the experiential appeal.

An automotive hybrid is the new Volvo C70 coupe. Traditionally, Volvo cars have been built - and marketed - based on their solid reputation for safety. In 1997, when I spoke to a group of Volvo executives on their branding approach, they told me that safety alone was no longer enough: consumers rated key competitors’ cars (Mercedes, BMW, Lexus) just as safe. As a result, Volvo has been restyling itself to incorporate a sexier, more sensual image, while not giving up the claim as one of the safest cars on the planet. The new C70 coupe shows off its sleek and beautiful lines on a series of outdoor installations, with the advertising neatly and wittily encompassing various experiential appeals: “for those who combine a passion for living, with a passion for living”; “a surge of adrenaline, then a surge of peace-of-mind”; “ah, the sun, the moon, the side impact protection system . . . “; “the new Volvo C70 convertible: Ingenious new hair dryer from Sweden”; “protect the body, ignite the soul.” The hybrid appeal is explicitly spelled out in corporate promotions: “Call it a race car for the rational. Or the blissful marriage of safety and sensually sculpted beauty. Either way, the new Volvo C70 will move you ways Volvo never has.”

Ideally, marketers should strive strategically for creating holistically integrated experiences that possess, at the same time, sense, feel, think, act and relate qualities.

The internal structure of SEMs

I consider the five types of SEMs as modules. Like mental modules, they have their inherent structures and principles. Let me illustrate my point with advertising.

Sense TV ad campaigns typically dazzle viewers’ senses with fast-paced, fast-cut images and music. They are dynamic and attention-getting and may leave a strong impression after just 15 seconds.

Feel TV ads, in contrast, are often slice-of-life ads that take time to draw the viewer in, building emotion gradually. Successful Hallmark ads, the prototypical feel spots, all last for more than a minute.

Think campaigns are often sedate. They begin with a voiceover, then move to text on the screen, in order to be thought-provoking.

Act campaigns show behavioural outcomes or lifestyles.

Relate campaigns typically show the referent person or group that the customer is supposed to relate to.

In sum, each strategic marketing module has its own structure and executional principles. But how are the SEMs “instantiated?” How do marketers create these experiences? In other words, what are the implementation tools that marketers can use to achieve their strategic objectives of creating these experiences?

The instantiation of the strategic modules occurs by means of what I call “experience providers,” or ExPros. ExPros are tactical implementation components at the disposal of the marketer for creating a sense, feel, think, act or relate campaign. They include communications, visual and verbal identity, product presence, cobranding, spatial environments, electronic media, and people.

ExPros include advertising, external and internal company communications (such as magalogs, brochures and newsletters, annual reports, etc.) as well branded public relations campaigns.

Advertising: A powerful “sense” advertising campaign is paving the way for the renaissance of a once-popular brand: Clairol Herbal Essences shampoo. Clairol Herbal Essences was the first natural botanical shampoo in the US market. After a strong showing in the 1970s, when it attained an 8 per cent market share, by 1994 it had slipped to about 2 per cent of the market. Surveys found, though, that 80 per cent of American women retained fond memories of the product, and Clairol decided to relaunch the line of naturally based shampoos.

Wells Rich Greene BDDP launched a tremendously successful sense campaign for Herbal Essences. Rather than making the conventional claim that the product would promote beautiful, shiny hair, they marketed the experience of using the product with the tag line “a totally organic experience.” The campaign featured a TV spot that imitated a scene from the film When Harry Met Sally, in which Meg Ryan simulates an orgasm. In the commercial, a woman steps into the shower and begins to shampoo her hair. The shampoo smells great, and she responds with gasps of enthusiastic pleasure. The ad then cuts to a bored couple watching this scene on television, and the wife comments, “I wanna get the shampoo she’s using.”

Print ads echo the experiential message. Colourful layouts show a bottle of Herbal Essences, with wildflowers and herbs bursting out of it, with the headline, “When was the last time you had a totally organic experience?”

A three-year think advertising campaign was launched by the Newspaper Association of America, with the help of Jerry Della Femina and his team at Jerry & Ketchum. The purpose of the campaign is to promote literacy and encourage readership by showcasing newspapers as a vibrant and relevant medium. The campaign’s main theme is the important role that newspapers can play in learning by young people. The ads show celebrities reading a newspaper with the lines “Encourage your children to read every day,” and “It all starts with newspapers.”

The campaign has broad appeal through its use of a wide variety of spokespersons, who encourage us to think of newspapers and daily reading as an integral part of life. These include former presidents George Bush and Jimmy Carter, retired general Norman Schwarzkopf, MTV journalist Tabitha Soren, Super Bowl quarterback John Elway, and rapper LL Cool J. Publishers are also encouraged to give the campaign local flavour through use of local celebrities.

Rather than arguing for the health benefits of orange juice, Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice is running a series of relate print ads relating the brand to lifestyle roles. One ad that appeared in Golf Digest shows an athletic-looking man in workout clothes sitting on an apartment terrace with a city skyline in the background. He is surrounded by exercise equipment, taking a break from his morning workout to have some oj. The photo is in black and white, except for the bright orange juice. Superimposed over this shot are floating slices of juicy orange, and across the bottom of the spread a rich ocean of orange juice. The tag line reads, “Morning without Tropicana Pure Premium? Not an option.”

Magalog: Another form of communications ExPro is the magalog. As its name suggests, the magalog is a cross between a magazine and a catalog. Magalogs typically offer a mix of features ranging from catalog-like spreads of products and prices to evocative art photography to articles about lifestyle and image issues. The premier issue of Abercrombie & Fitch’s magalog, A&F Quarterly, included features on choosing the right dog (”Must-have mongrels,” which offered the advice “Similar to the golden rules of human courtship, never pick a dog that’s too desperate or too eager”), cool cars and trucks (including the New Beetle and Mercedes’ new SUV), the coolest beers and wines, and a travel note called “Sun, Surf, Sex, and Sydney.” In sum, the magalog is part of the company’s ACT and lifestyle branding.

A distinctly different lifestyle is targeted by the Hermes magalog, Le Monde D’Hermes. The Spring-Summer 1998 issue honours trees, and the magalog is prefaced by an experiential message from Hermes president Jean Louis Dumas-Hermes: “Where would we be without trees? Hermes is celebrating the tree all through 1998. This issue of Le Monde D’Hermes is dedicated to it. A haiku tells us to `look at a tree and become that tree,’ so let us encourage our young shoots, draw up the sap from our living roots, raise our eyes toward the distant horizons that beckon from the high boughs. And may our actions bear rich fruit! Hermes: fine tree of rare yet simple descent seeks connoisseurs for fruitful and pleasant relationship.” The rest of the magalog does indeed resemble a magazine for the connoisseur, sort of an upscale Smithsonian. Printed on glossy stock with copious colour photography, it includes features on bronze and pottery horses from the Han and Tang dynasties, mythologies of the tree, and the Gregoire Technical Training Center, where young people learn the art of saddlery and leatherworking. Hermes products are featured in lavish and beautiful fashion-photography spreads that carry through the “tree” theme, and beautiful photos of ancient trees appear throughout the publication. Even the advertising from other retailers included in the magalog echos the theme: an ad from the Discount Bank and Trust Company shows two little boys walking along a forest path; another, from Louis Roederer champagne, features decorative trees around a piazza at the Villa Medicis in Rome.

Annual Reports: Even the stodgiest of corporate communications, the annual report, is becoming an experiential tool. Victor Rivera, creative director of Addison, highlighted a few of his favorites in the 1997 issue of Addison Magazine. In an early example, in 1984 H. J. Heinz Company marked 20 consecutive years of financial growth by issuing an annual report celebrating the tomato. The firm commissioned eleven famous artists, including Red Grooms, to contribute their own visions of the tomato. According to Rivera, the result is an annual report that is a work of art and a tribute to the mainstay of over 500 Heinz products.

Visual/Verbal Identity: Like communications and other ExPros, visual/verbal identity can be used to create sense, feel, think, act and relate brands. The set of identity ExPros consists of names, logos, and signage. Visual/verbal identity is the prime domain of so-called corporate identity consultants.

Names: There are numerous experiential brand names for products, such as Sunkist (citrus fruits), Skin-So-Soft (an Avon product), Silverstone (a Du Pont nonstick cooking surface), Tide and Cheer (detergents), and Jolt (a high-caffeine cola). Experiential names are less common for industrial companies, which often prefer the names of the initial owner, acronyms, or descriptive, functional names. However, there are a few examples, especially in the high-tech industry. In a special report on information technology, Fortune magazine listed the following “cool companies 1998”: Teligent, Reality Fusion, Autonomy, Check Point Software, Efusion, Dragon Systems, and E Ink.21

Logos and Signage: Ciba Chemicals, a spinoff from the giant Ciba Geigy, took an experiential approach to its logo and visual identity from its inception. The logo is shaped like a butterfly, used as a symbol for Ciba’s transformation and appropriate to represent the company’s continued development into the future. The butterfly itself is made up of a collection of colored pixels of various sizes, each color representing a different division of Ciba’s business: blue representing Additives, aqua representing Consumer Care Chemicals, green representing Textile Dyes, etc. The overall corporate color, violet, was chosen to represent nobility and strength.

Another unusual and creative use of experiential logos and signage comes from Nickelodeon, the children’s cable network. “Nick” has set a few guidelines for logo design: all logos are to be in Pantone 021 orange with white lettering, the font is always Balloon Bold in all caps, and the lettering of the word “Nickelodeon” is always the same. Beyond that, designers have free rein to create different shapes and designs for the Nick logo, ranging from animal shapes to footprints to spaceships to exploding firecrackers and on and on. The creativity in the logo design policy mirrors the company’s connection with kids and their imaginative energy - kids can even design their own Nick logos!

Product Presence: Like communications and visual/verbal identity, product presence can also be used to instantiate an experience. Product-presence ExPros include product design, packaging and product display, and brand characters that are used as part of packaging and point-of-sale materials.

Today, there is no predominant style in product design. “There’s just more and more stuff that has been styled, molded, carved, folded, patterned, cut-and-pasted, prototyped, mocked up, punched up, laid out, recycled and shrink-wrapped . . . Today, the most powerful laws governing design are dictated by the marketplace. Catch the eye. Stimulate desire. Move the merchandise,” writes Herbert Muschamp, the architecture critic of The New York Times. Leading architect Rem Koolhaas has argued similarly for architecture, “our style of building is less and less permanent and more and more frivolous and flimsy: ‘

In addition to the core product design there are the product designs of the after-sales market. For example, the after-sales market for the Corvette includes T-shirts, mailboxes, car covers, and Corvette-shaped cookies - a $30m business in 1998 for Midamerica Design, the company that provides these items. In this market-driven environment, the right planning of the experience to attract eyes and feelings is key.

Product Design: An excellent example of experiential product design comes from a new Philips product, the Satinelle epilator. Created for women, the product design conveys femininity on a number of levels: the overall shape is suggestive of female anatomy, and the subtle shading of colors suggests the petals of a tulip. The feminine relate appeal is carried through in the product name, Satinelle, and the descriptor, “sensitive,” printed beneath the name.

Packaging: Another obvious place to look for experiential executions is in packaging. Indeed, consumers have become increasingly attentive to packaging and have higher and higher expectations of it. According to Paul Lukas, writing in Fortune magazine, “on merchandise ranging from chocolate-covered raisins to toilet paper, more and more packages are now explicitly calling attention to themselves, as if to suggest that consumers are more interested in the packaging than in the product itself.”

Consider packaging for beverages. The beverage formulation certainly matters, and beverage manufacturers are constantly inventing new formulas and trends (the “fruit smoothie” rage being one of the latest). But, asks Ken Miller, vice president of IDI, a packaging innovation consultancy that designed the new Whipper Snapple bottle, “what is it that makes these and the tried﷓and﷓true beverages really sing? Packaging ... It Ithe packaging] has become worthy of serious investment because major players have found it pays off big. “

Wallace Church, a New York City-based design consultancy and a leader in experiential packaging, claims that 70 per cent of all grocery purchase decisions are made at the shelf. The company redesigned the product identity of Jack & Jill ice cream to evoke the “ice cream man” that many of us remember from childhood. The new brand logo resembles an embroidered emblem that might have been on the ice cream man’s uniform. The background illustration on the packaging depicts a nostalgic neighborhood scene of children eagerly waiting for a treat next to an old-time ice cream truck. The shape of the packaging was also redesigned, creating a distinctive oval half-gallon that suggests a traditional hand-packed tub. In this integrated revamping of the brand, Wallace Church recaptured the emotion rooted in the brand’s history, from an era when the product was originally sold by the ice cream man. If handled correctly, nostalgia is a powerful emotion-building tool.

Brand Characters: Wallace Church was also quick to see the feel value in the Pillsbury doughboy when it inherited this venerable spokescharacter. The doughboy has been slimmed down and given a more dynamic expression; his engaging persona “celebrates anew the essence of family fun that is central to the brand’s congenial personality.”

Wallace Church has revamped several other old-fashioned brand characters with a new experiential feel. To celebrate Cracker Jack’s 100th anniversary, for example, Sailor Jack was transformed from a sailor to a Little Leaguer wearing a sailor hat; the redesign echoes the product’s baseball connections and has a strong relate appeal for kids of all ages. Even the KoolAid pitcherman has been streamlined and turned into an act marketing tool - he can now be seen playing tennis, spilling a bit of Kool-Aid as he returns a serve.

Co-branding: Like other ExPros, co-branding can be used to develop any of the five strategic experiential modules. Co-branding ExPros include event marketing and sponsorship, alliances and partnerships, licensing, product placements in movies, and co-op campaigns and other types of cooperative arrangements. Let me discuss two of the co﷓branding techniques, event marketing and sponsorships and product placement, in more detail.

Event Marketing and Sponsorships: As Mava Heffler, MasterCard’s senior vice president of global promotions and sponsorships, put it, “It is not enough for a brand to be seen or heard, it has to be experienced. Sponsorships are an important catalyst and component of that experiential marketing. “

To celebrate its 125th anniversary in 1998, Zurich Insurance Company created a special brochure (designed by Wirz AG, a Zurich-based identity firm) and sponsored a series of events, including a fireworks display over Zurich’s famous lake, a series of cultural workshops in conjunction with Unicef, a series of internal events for employees and management, and the opening of new outdoor fitness trails.

The purpose of event marketing, according to Mark Dowley, CEO of Momentum Experiential Marketing Group, is “forging an emotional and memorable connection with consumers where they live, work, and play. “ Event marketing requires a qualitative understanding of the appropriateness of a particular event as well as quantitative research to demonstrate its effectiveness in reach (eg, in terms of cost per thousand) and frequency. In general, special events tend to be more effective and less costly than media advertising. Media advertising is often characterized by huge clutter. Also, it may get awareness up - but rarely results in purchase intention or purchase. Therefore, to supplement media advertising, more and more marketers are turning to event marketing to create impact. Guinness uses the Guinness Fleadh events in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago to create an “Irish Village” theme with pre-event point-of-purchase efforts to retailers and promotions and lots of beer sampling during the events. BMW uses event marketing to get customers to buy its cars by traveling to six cities with its Ultimate Driving Experience.

Product Placement: Product placement in movies is becoming an increasingly rich source of co-branding. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Even before paid advertising began appearing . . . for the holiday release of Tomorrow Never Dies, the image of actor Pierce Brosnan as James Bond was being seen in commercials. There was 007 dashing around in this BMW, wearing his Omega watch and using his Ericsson cell phone. The Bond movie was also featured in ads for Visa International, Smirnoff Vodka, and many others. Those commercials signaled a breakthrough; never before had a studio been so accommodating in sharing movie images and properties. “

Tie-ins have been a staple of studios like Disney and partners like McDonald’s for many years. But the growth of “event” movies has lured more and more new promotional partners to Hollywood, including Reebok, Sony, Casio, and Shell. And promotional tie-ins are no longer limited to children’s movies; new partnerships have included Tanqueray gin and Volcano, Holland America and Out to Sea, Gulden’s mustard and Picture Perfect, and Apple Computer and Mission Impossible. Ray-Ban tripled sales of its Predator 2 line of dark glasses through its tie-in with Men in Black. Even R-rated movies, traditionally harder to sell, are getting in on the act, although six airlines and Bekins Moving passed on the noir hit LA Confidential. Microsoft, Packard- Bell, and the Sci-Fi Network were apparently made of stronger stuff and forged partnerships with the dark and gory Starship Troopers.

Spatial Environments: Spatial environments include buildings, offices, and factory spaces, retail and public spaces, and trade booths. Experiential environments are often the most comprehensive expression of what John Bowen, the chairman of Bowen Consulting, calls “brand culture,” the values and behaviours of the managers behind a brand.

IBM’s new corporate headquarters in Armonk, New York, expresses through architecture and landscaping the way the company perceives itself and the experience it wants to create for its customers and employees. Situated on the site of its old, shoebox-like headquarters, the new building lies close to the ground, following the configurations of the landscape. An example of corporate downsizing, the building is 120,000 sq ft smaller than the old headquarters, housing a third fewer employees. The new site represents 1990s’ ideas about corporate hierarchy, with fewer office doors that close, and more cubicles with windows that overlook the surrounding woodlands. Among the cubicles are loose arrangements of chairs used for brainstorming. Parking lots are hidden from view, and a jogging trail rings the grounds. Both exterior and interior convey IBM’s new vision of itself. The design, by the Manhattan firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates PC, is close to the ground, close to nature, compatible with its natural surroundings; the interiors, by Swanke Hayden Connell Architects, are simple, adaptable, and unstructured.

Experiential marketing is also becoming common in retail spaces. Just think about Pottery Barn, Starbucks, Niketown, and theme stores and restaurants (such as Coca-Cola Disney, Warner Brothers, NFL, Planet Hollywood, Harley-Davidson Cafe), as well as numerous designer boutiques and department stores. The challenge for experiential marketers using retail branding is to make sure that each store follows the experiential marketing approach. This task can easily be overwhelming when you are dealing with several thousand store owners as part of a franchise system.

“Traditionally, retail management has said `Quality, Service, Style, Selection - if we do those things right and get the pricing right, we will be fine,” states Gerald Lewis, chairman of New York-based CDI Group Inc. “But the customer says, `I want an experience.”

“In a store or restaurant, the customer’s experience is vital: One bad encounter, and you’ve lost a customer for life,” write Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks Coffee, and Dori Jones Yang.

The experience is also a critical component of the Sephora cosmetics stores in New York City, Orange County in California, and Coconut Grove in Florida. Owned by French luxury goods company LVMH, Sephora features high-end cosmetics displayed alphabetically in free-standing racks. Sephora provides an environment that customers can enjoy and where they are not disturbed by intrusive or snobbish salespeople.

As retail spaces become more experiential, product displays become more important ExPros. Home furnishings stores like Pottery Barn have created comfortable, homelike atmospheres where products are displayed as they might appear in your home. More relaxed than traditional furniture showrooms, these sales spaces allow customers to plop down on sofas and take their time making decisions. Smaller products, like clocks and glassware, are integrated into these environments, making the whole retail space a kind of mega product display. And Pottery Barn’s experiential space doubles as a Design Studio, where the look and products you like can immediately be tailored to your own home environment.

Extracted from Experiential Marketing: How to get customers to see sense, feel, think, act, relate by Bernd Schmitt (Free Press, 1999)

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