Ease into the week — who creates a lovefest for you?

Portrait of Walt Disney, 1 January 1954 Here i...Image via Wikipedia

I don’t know about you but Sunday nights are time for me to catch up.  On my reading, on my work, on my relationships — all with an eye on Monday morning and knowing that the 180 mph pace is about to resume.

Sundays also seem to be my day for deep thoughts.  I thought it might be fun to ease into the week together with a question that is sort of about branding and marketing but also has a personal element to it as well.  A chance to get to know each other AND talk shop.  Perfect for a Sunday night.

We’ve all read and heard about experiential marketing.  Marketing that goes beyond features and benefits and actually makes the customer a part of the selling/buying experience.  Great examples are some of the themed restaurants like Rain Forest Cafe or shopping/road testing a Harley.  These businesses have captured a powerful marketing truth.  People buy what they love and what they feel a part of.  So here’s this week’s question:

What business or retail establishment best envelopes you into the buying experience, creates a lovefest between you and them, and makes you feel like a member of the club?  And, of course,  how do they do that for you?

My answer?  Walt Disney World.  (not just any amusement park or theme park — just this one) I step onto the grounds and I change.  Physically, emotionally, mentally.   I’ll bet if you tested it, my blood pressure would drop 15 points.  The smells, the sounds, the visual stimulation — it all connects with me, heart and soul.  Its hard to explain and sounds a little nutty I suspect, but its like going home for me.  More on this later…

P.S. I plan on doing a 9-day blog series, "What marketing lessons can we learn from Walt Disney" in a few weeks, when my family and I make our annual pilgrimage to the mouse house.

P.S.S.  Runners up for me in this question…the Apple Store, Barnes & Noble.

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10 comments on “Ease into the week — who creates a lovefest for you?

  1. I’m with you on Disney World, Drew. Growing up in Florida, it was always a special experience, even when we went a few times a year. I remember being a huffy, cynical teen who turned into a wide-eyed 10 year-old just by walking through the gates. Now, that we’re no longer in Florida, traveling and staying in the park with my own kids is still a delight.

    Old Navy is another of mine. Cheap, comfortable clothes and I always get great service there. If I can’t be in PJ’s, their clothes are the next best thing. Perfect for a lazy dresser who likes to think of himself as stylish – with no guesswork. Plus any establishment that allows my favorite cargos to be considered fashion, is swell in my book.

  2. For retail lovefests, I’d give the nod to Barnes & Noble and Nordstroms. Even if I don’t buy anything, I feel appreciated and acknowledged.

    I’ll be a contrarian on the Disney brand. It doesn’t move me. In fact, it sort of enrages me a little because I find the “happy happy joy joy” persona forced and inauthentic. (I’ve never been to DW but did visit DL about 20 years ago. The place was shabby without the chic. I was saddened that it lacked the magic that was promised to this child of the baby boom.)

    My kids and hubby will force me to go to DW I know, so maybe I’ll change my mind. (After all, I was in “Up with People” in the early 70s. I can be bought if the tune is right :=)

  3. Tony,

    Thanks for stopping by!

    WDW is part of the fabric of my life. I have been there at least once a year since it opened. So I understand your comment about being the sullen teen who suddenly forgets he’s trying to be cool!

    I’m curious about your Old Navy comment. If the products stayed the same, but the service stunk, would it still be a lovefest for you? Does service trump the product or the other way around?

    Stop by again soon!


  4. Roberta,

    You are not the first person to make a face when I say Walt Disney World. I know its not for everyone and that works for me!

    What WDW does for me is that it lets me slow down and think about things like wishes and dreams coming true. It’s the ultimate of family time for me. It’s playtime.

    I also love seeing it through my daughter’s eyes. When she was little, the awe was palpable. I’ll never forget the first time she saw Minnie Mouse. It was as if royalty has just entered her view.

    I love Barnes & Noble too. It’s not so much the service, although that is fine. I just love being surrounded by all those books. It’s a place I can browse for hours. Of course, I am not sure I have ever walked out of there without buying a book. How do you do that??


  5. Drew –

    Amen brother. And I just heard last night that they now have a Cinderella’s Guest Suite that you can stay in that’s actually in the signature Disney Castle. Wow… can you imagine that “experience?!?!”

    Hey… you probably already know about this book, but “The Experience Economy” is a great book that supports your entire concept here. It’s been around for a few years, but it confirms the power of the “experience.”

    For me… another favorite experience for me is the Suites at 800 Locust in downtown Des Moines. It’s an incredible hotel that has been beautifully renovated… but it’s also about the level of service that they offer. It’s an amazing experience… if you get the chance to check it out!

    Keep up the good work Drew!

  6. You know, that’s a great point Drew. If I’m being totally honest, I’d have to say the service would have to be pretty horrible. So in this case, I guess the product does trump the service. And usually, it’s the opposite with me. Fortunately, I’ve always received great service too.

  7. <>

    Ahh, but you can say the same thing about a public library. So it’s gotta be more than just the books. Maybe it’s the comfy chairs and Starbucks just a few steps away. That’s two “experiences” in one place!


    I remind myself about the various piles of unread books waiting patiently for me to read them. I lose the battle, though, about half the time.

  8. Mitch,

    Actually, that’s the apartment that Walt lived in while WDW was under construction. He died before it was completed, but it was said that he would often sit up there at night and watch the progress unfold.

    You’re right about the Suites. I hosted a meeting of advertising agency owners last March and they all stayed there. They were all very impressed. You have to love a fireplace in your hotel room!

    I have read the book and you’re right. It really captures the idea of experiential marketing. I thought it was very insightful.

    Get that iPod yet?


  9. Tony,

    I feel the same way about Apple. I could go into the Apple Store and be ignored and I’d still be happy.

    I would bet there are only a handful of products that would trump service, for most people. Propbably the sign of some serious brand loyalty there.


  10. Roberta,

    You have me thinking here. In essence the library and B&N do have a lot in common and yet I get a completely different feeling in each space.

    Maybe it is the ammenities in B&N, but somehow the books feel different to me. Maybe its that so many of them are laying on tables, enticing me to read the back jacket blurb. Or how comfortable I am there, always able to find the section of books I’m looking for.

    Maybe its because I have to be quiet in the library!


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