Experience Branding" ? How to Survive as an Online Retailer

Experience Branding

Experience Branding" ? How to Survive as an Online Retailer

"You have experience?" guitarist Jimi Hendrix asked 35 years ago. Jimi wasn't talking about e-commerce? but his question is appropriate for the current economic climate. These days, many retailers, including online retailers, are finding that their business suffers if they don't implement an "Experience Branding" strategy. What's that?

"Experience Branding" is a way of describing a method of linking an identity to a business or product that involves customer interaction. In the long run, this method leaves a more lasting and, in most cases, LASTING impression on the consumer.

Here is an example:

100 years ago, a person bought coffee beans and ground them. Then came the pre-ground coffee. Eventually, you could go to a vendor and buy a nice pre-made cup of hot coffee. Today, companies like Starbucks don't just give you hot coffee, they also give you a nice comfortable chair to sit in, a newspaper to read, music to listen to, and an eclectic setting to enjoy these things. EXPERIENCE. This is why people are willing to shell out over $4.00 for a cup of coffee!

An early case of this branding method put into practice was the 1963 Macy's department store Leisurama houses. Back then, you could go to the seventh floor of the Herald Square store in New York City and see a full-fledged house , fully furnished. You could buy the house there and then 3 months later move in (these were built in Montauk, New York). The finished house was furnished down to the toothbrush and everything was included in one single price. This experiential branding method was so successful that, to this day, the owners of many of these homes still own the towels, dishes, etc. that came with the house. They enjoyed the experience and wanted to preserve it.

Today, this method can be applied to anything, including web-based businesses. An online provider can give the viewer an experience that will leave a lasting impression. Some offer games for viewers to enjoy. Most consider it to provide special information, an article that provides background on a given product presented with a human interest bias. It's enough. Viewers can be invited to "register", giving them access to an area of ​​the site not available to the general public, where special information can be presented. This gives the viewer the feeling that they are part of something special: a private club.

An example of this online "Experience Branding" method is WeightWatchers.com. A registered user has access to message forums and a special catalog of dietary recipes. A registered viewer becomes part of a community. It is an experience that will keep them coming back!

"Experience Branding" is also useful for non-profit organizations. JohnTaylorGatto.com, an alternative education resource, provides an online discussion forum that engages teachers and parents, encouraging them to discuss educational issues and share war stories. The Odysseus Group, the organization that owns JohnTaylorGatto.com, reports that interest in their website skyrocketed when the forum launched.

So what do we learn from this? Gone are the days of impersonal service. If you want to survive? Offer your customers an experience!