5 Innovation Tips for Making Magic for Customers.

Magician with top hat, wand and coloured stars symbolising making magic.

High street retailers in many towns are struggling. News stories, by turns blame internet shopping and the economic recession. By contrast, some retailers are not just surviving – they’re thriving. They’re secret? They’re innovating to create magic for their customers.

In the retail sector, the buzzword is retailtainment – creating entertainment in retail. Stores such as Disney, Nike and Apple are leading the way. They want their stores to offer a powerful brand experience, to be leisure destinations and to enable customers to immerse themselves in the brand. It seems that brand owners believe that if they deliver an intense, emotional, brand experience, then over time, this will translate into both in store and online sales.

Perhaps you’re thinking, well, it’s OK for Disney, their brand lends itself perfectly to retailtainment and brand experience – but we’re in gardening equipment/office furniture/dry cleaning. It won’t work for us. Right? Wrong.

In the book Innovate the Pixar Way, readers are told to look at their brand, product or service as if through the eyes of a movie director. This is to help them strive for excellence in customer service and  identify what’s necessary to create a magical experience for customers. It's good advice.

Customers and in particularly teens and young adults need to be wowed. They've grown up in a world of fast paced and vivid computer games. They're often blasé about the sophisticated computer graphics served up to them at the movies. And now, smartphone in hand, they have a gadget that offers unending access to games, amusing apps and entertaining distractions.

So, if this is the customer coming to your store or evaluating your brand, product or service. Are you able to keep up the magic?

All business to consumer businesses need to consider how they can make magic. What’s more, increasingly business to business companies will need to be thinking about it too.

Of course, it’s great if your brand or product lends itself easily to creating this type of experience. And even if it does, it will require serious brand investment. The M&M retail outlet in London cost a reported £10 million.

However, the good news is, making magic for your customer is not only about transporting them to a magical kingdom or ‘world’ as do Disney, Nike and M&Ms in their retail outlets. There are other ways to innovate to make magic.

5 Innovation Tips for Making Magic.

  • Helps customers escape ‘the mundane’- fulfil their dreams. Use creative thinking techniques like Disney. Encourage your team to stretch their imaginations to the limit and create an involving and original brand experience.
  • Create ‘personal’ magic for customers –  make your product work from customers as individuals. For this you will need to understand your customers at a deep level. Creative research techniques and a customer insight process can make the difference. Magic in retail isn’t just about escapism.  It can also be about store assistants knowing their stock and having a sense of style and sharing these talents with customers. It’s about suggesting complimentary garments/ accessories that will make customers look fabulous. Or in the DIY sector having staff who, with a few key questions can gauge the customer’s level of expertise accurately, in order to suggest appropriate ways to tackle a diy job.
  • If buying your product solves a problem – but creates others too – solve those problems too. This may require business model innovation. When Apple developed the Ipod there was no easy way to download music legally. In response Apple developed ITunes.
  • Care about your customers – and show it whenever possible. You may be offering a tangible product but consider service innovation to support your product. Can you make your customers feel like VIPs?  Virgin Airlines offers limousines to the airport. Mercedes invites customers to the factory to see their cars being made.
  • Offer customers something ‘they never thought’ possible. Typically product innovation involves trade- offs or compromises of the various features. In drug development the more active compound that is in each dose, the greater chance of unwanted side effects. Consider using TRIZ to solve such contradictions. TRIZ helps you approach innovation differently so you can find ways to offer more of the ‘good stuff’ and get less of the ‘bad stuff’. Consider the  magic of disposable contact lenses when a material was developed that was high enough quality to deliver the customer's prescription accurately, but cheap enough for the lenses to be disposable and require no cleaning.

More about retailtainment.

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