Apple Lends A Little Magic To Disney
Walt Disney Company announced earlier this month that in an effort to reverse the ill fortunes of its 340 U.S and European retail stores they would be undergoing a transformation. What was perhaps even more interesting was the fact that they enlisted the help of Apple’s prophetic leader and Disney board member Steve Jobs. Jobs was reportedly brought into the project over a year ago to lend vision and design sense to a concept that Disney is now calling Imagination Park.
While Jobs certainly didn’t do the heavy lifting on the project, he’s credited with urging Disney to “dream bigger”. Rather than simply renovating their stores, he opened Apple’s retail playbook for Disney to study, transferring many of the mechanics of Apple stores over to the new Disney concept. Not surprisingly, his influence yielded a decidedly experiential direction for the new store concept.
While we mere mortals could never dream of engaging the help of someone like Steve Jobs, there are some valuable lessons that we can take from this. Lessons that are transferable to any size of retail operation.
1. Product knowledge isn’t everything: If Steve Jobs can’t name all seven dwarfs it doesn’t matter. What he clearly understands is experiential retailing and that’s what Disney’s relying on to breathe life into its stores. The world really doesn’t need another Mickey Mouse t-shirt but it certainly needs new and exciting retail experiences. So, don’t get hung up on product. Always be on the lookout for great ideas and innovations outside your own product category.
2. Even great companies get stuck: You’d assume that if anyone could stage a store experience it would be Disney, but even they needed outside coaching. Don’t feel bad if you hit the odd creative rut in your business and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Call in people you respect from a wide range of professional and personal backgrounds and keep an open mind. You may not agree with everything they have to say, but you might also pick up an idea that transforms your business.
3. Experiences are tough to copy: Whether it’s a Tinkerbell tiara or snow tires, your product can be knocked off or substituted. Experiences on the other hand, are not only difficult to replicate, they allow you to command a premium for that very same product or service. Choosing what to sell is the easy part — designing the experience through which you sell it is where the true payoff lies.Continued on the next page