Events and Town Squares @ Your Store

shoesApple’s new retail chief, Angela Ahrendt, has a new approach for Apple Stores. She wants them to act more like town squares. It’s an interesting idea and it creates an end result that is similar to other approaches we have written about previously.  She wants the Apple stores to be places that people go to for events and to meet up with other people. She wants a place that people interact and talk about things that they share – in this case – Apple products.

Creating an inviting space that’s more than just shopping can create a community around the products that are being sold.  It’s really about a shared interest and experience that the customer has about a place and its products. It’s a place where the customer belongs.

Not to get too philosophical but creating a place to belong has long worked for luxury products, coffee shops and places like the bar in the old TV show Cheers (NORM!)  It’s an idea that most retailers can tap into and is great for creating loyal customers.

Here are some ideas of events that might work for you:

  • Fashion shows – Make sure to take pics and post to your social media.  You can also have a contest to determine the #OOD (Outfit of the day!)
  • DIY Event – Maybe you have some merchandise that requires a bit of skill – Bead Shops come to mind – have one of your expert customers teach a skill to others.
  • New Product or Item release party – Unveil the hottest new purses, greatest new games, newest charms or jerseys for the newest members of your town’s professional team.  Hand out branded “wish lists” that attendees can share with their loved ones detailing what they want and where to get it.
  • Show and Tell – Oftentimes, we see a product in a box and think, that seems cool, but I wonder if it really works.  You don’t have to be as “polished” as the setups at home and garden shows, but maybe have a demonstration night that gives customers some hands-on time with a product that they may have questions about.
  • Kickoff for seasonal/sporting events – football, the start of beach weather, or impending snow at the start of ski season.  Try doing a “delayed give away” – have attendees guess the date of the first touchdown by a certain player or the number of inches in the first snowfall – when the answer is known, invite the “winners” back to claim a discount on their next purchase.
  • Tastings – If you sell food or beverage items, the best way to hook someone, is to get them to try it with little or no cost.  Fear of not liking something is a real barrier to trying new food items.  Make sure to include pairings – if you don’t sell both food and beverages, partner with another local shop who complements your offerings.  You can share the expense of the event and gain a new audience when their customers attend.

These are some examples, but you know your customers best!   Try something and see what gets your customer’s fired up!

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