I have a new favorite toy store brand.
I don’t know what their logo looks like. I have no idea how simple their digital user journeys are. I know nothing of their brand purpose, or even if they have one. What I do know, is that one experience I had with them this week has left a hugely positive and abiding memory… and it was all about the bubbles.
I have a 21month old son. It’s a fantastic age and it’s fascinating and beautiful to see him play happily. On a recent visit to Bath (in the UK) we popped in to a small toy store in the center of the city. The store was full of fantastic toys, but one display of toys in particular took our son’s attention.
I don’t know what it is about backhoes, dump trucks, and cranes, but our son is fascinated – and the display of a set of glorious, wooden construction vehicles was all he needed to keep him entertained. Now, while one of us was looking around the store this was great, and a welcome distraction that kept him busy. However, the big issue was when it was time to leave the store. Have you tried persuading a 21 month old boy, obsessed with construction vehicles, to walk away from a large set of construction vehicles? Not an easy task.
An experience with real value
Up to this point, our experience of the store had been fine. Nice toys, attentive staff, and a pleasant store. All good so far… but not memorable, nor particularly exceptional. However, this all changed when it was time for us to leave.
As I was using persuasion technique number eighteen to encourage leaving the construction set behind, a staff member approached my son and myself.
‘Have you seen the bubbles outside?’ she said to my son.
Well, the one thing more appealing than construction vehicles to this 21 month old is bubbles.
He looked up at her, wide-eyed. Bubbles?
At first I hadn’t realized what she was doing, but it quickly dawned on me that this was obviously not the first time there had been a child who was much more keen to stay than to leave.
This promise of bubbles had done the trick. The staff member led the way outside the store, and preceded to blow some bubbles – much to our son’s delight. Thirty seconds of bubbles washed away all memories of construction toys, and off we went on our day out as happy as we’d been when entering the store.
Make an impression. Be remembered.
Now, this might sound a little corny, but this small act made a huge impression on me. Had this staff member not intervened, my last experience of the store would likely have been a difficult one. I could even have still been there now trying to persuade him of the merits of leaving behind such great toys. As it was though, my last and abiding memory of the toy store was of one that clearly understands its target audience, and vitally the key situations they might find themselves in.
The Experience Economy
Experiences have become vitally important to the shaping of a brand. In ‘The Experience Economy’, Pine & Gilmore state that experience is the “fourth economic offering”. From commodity to goods, to service and then experience. A commodity or good has a finite usefulness and a service is a specific exchange, but an experience lives on in our memories forever. In fact, our memories are key to the experience economy. As Pine & Gilmore state “the value of the experience lingers in the memory of any individual who was engaged by the event”.
When working with clients, I often explain that a brand is shaped by creating and encouraging Associated Memorable Moments. These are moments that are memorable, hopefully for the right reasons, and that we associate with the brand. Whether this moment with the bubbles was a result of very smart and insightful staff training, or just one brilliant member of staff who really understood their customers, it left behind a memory which will help shape the brand of this toy store to me.
Understand what your audience needs, and deliver it.
Brand experience doesn’t have to be hugely expensive, or complicated, to be effective. To display an understanding of your audience, and a response which creates a positive experience for them, can be as simple as blowing bubbles.
(Note: If you’re ever in Bath, UK, why not pay a visit to the award-winning independent My Small World Toy Store. You might even get to see some bubbles.)