Entertainment: The New Anchor

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How Smart Retailers are Adapting to an Experience Economy

Year after year, families line up during the holiday season to meet the man of the moment, your Jolly Old St. Nick. And if you’re a store near one of his renowned photo ops, you might owe him a cookie or two for being the reason behind your increased seasonal sales.

People show up for the Santa experience, and they’re going out of their way to do it. But what If you could drive the same sales year-round, without the portly, white-bearded man? Smart retailers have already begun to crack the code.


The words ‘Museum of Ice Cream’ (MOIC) probably inspire thoughts of timeline displays on dairy farmers and the history of the banana split. But MOIC isn’t a museum at all – it’s an interactive, experienced-based wonderland. And it illustrates the future of customer experience.

The MOIC is a playground for grown-ups, and every room – from its mirror-covered corners and rideable unicorns to its sprinkle-filled pool – promises visitors not just an experience, but a story. Wherever visitors look, there is something to eat, touch, or smell, usually in front of a unique, Instagram-worthy backdrop in a vivid shade of pink.

This has made the MOIC a publicity magnet: its photo-friendly exhibits are intentionally designed to translate well in a small frame, creating a series of Instagrammable moments. All of which are happily shown off on its visitors’ socials. Including the feeds of experience-crazed celebrity visitors like David Beckham, Katy Perry and Beyoncé.

Helping Visitors Create New Stories

If the MOIC isn’t really about ice cream (although they do sell the sweet treat), then what’s with the name?

Manish Vora and Maryellis Bunn, business partners who brought to life the arcadia, agreed on the term ice cream because everyone “has an ice cream story.”

The MOIC initially entices consumers with its visually pleasing attractions, but it’s the immersive and engaging qualities that make a compelling memory. Visitors are able to create, illustrate and publish their very own fantasy through a simple snapshot. And it’s this novel experience that has made the MOIC a viral hit.

By triggering visitors’ stories and personal experiences, they’ve tapped into a central truth that customer experience in an age of social media is never just about the product or service, it’s about the story.

What It Means for Marketers

If you give them an experience worth sharing, they’ll consider you first.

The success of this Instagrammable phenomenon sparked inspiration for the department store Macy’s, who recently launched their new ‘Story’ locations . The stores feature similar interactive pop-up experiences whose themes are expected to rotate every couple of months to always keep shoppers engaged and enthusiastic. Its opening theme being a rainbow esthetic with each color containing a relevant product (i.e. Blue = sleepy time goodies).

This story approach was aimed to create a “narrative-driven retail experience.”

At Spawn we recognize that entertainment has become the new anchor, in order to stay relevant all marketers will have to adopt experiential components to drive traffic, engagement and sales. And for those who have already begun to evolve, it’s paying off!

Want to talk more about making your product or service an experience? Contact ryan.mendenhall@SpawnIdeas.com

Mall Santa pic courtesy of our very own Account Planning Supervisor, Kaylee Devine.

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