Lessons from Comic-Con – the world’s biggest pop-up store
Comic-Con International is an extravaganza that turns sleepy San Diego into the world’s pop culture capital. It draws hundreds of thousands of costumed fans, industry professionals, Hollywood types, vendors and spectators. It transforms downtown San Diego into a playground for attendees and for onlookers.
Retailers, developers and brands should pay attention to how Comic-Con continues to captivate and delight its fans. After nearly 50 years, Comic-Con has turned in many ways into the ultimate pop-up store.
Seeking the secrets to Comic-Con’s success? Here are three that I’ve observed.
Comic-Con understands fans and delivers on their value proposition. Fans share common interests and values, but are extremely diverse. I observed every age, demographic, heritage and group. Attendees understand the rules and know that not everyone can get a seat in Hall H where the tops stars present and answer questions. Organizers, exhibitors, vendors and attendees know this as well and prepare in advance to make a great experience for everyone. There are tents to keep people cool, apps for pre-registration and engagement, Cosplay for photo-ops and amusement and loads of social activities for everyone to join in.
Comic-Con changes over time in accordance with fans’ expectations without straying from its original mission. It has morphed from comic books and sci-fi films to interactive technologies, immersive adventures, costumes, games and high-end collectibles. Organizers have embraced new technologies and expanded the scope of activities to further engage avid fans and to grow its base.
Comic-Con is an immersive experience. Everyone wants to learn, explore and purchase. Too many retailers focus on the purchase step, relying on price promotions instead of using new technologies to smooth shopping and differentiate with immersive experiences. While consumer price sensitivity continues to be retailers’ top business challenge, according to RSR Research, sales events will continue to fail if they are solely discount-based. (Check out the RetailWire BrainTrust LIVE discussion on the Build-A-Bear “Pay Your Age” debacle.) I loved seeing the interactive “activations,” social media and SWAG available to fans and the general public. These are much better ways of increasing the fan base than offering discounts.
Comic-Con’s ardent fans, continual growth and growth are to be admired (and enjoyed). Wouldn’t it be great if more retailers, malls and brands focused on attaining this level of relevance, passion and staying power?
- Comic-Con International: San Diego
- The Very Best of the Cosplay We Saw at San Diego Comic-Con – Gizmodo
- Comic-Con 2018: Activations and experiences happening outside the convention center – Los Angeles Times
- The State Of Online Commerce 2018: High Hopes – RSR Research
- BrainTrust LIVE! July 20, 2018 – With Bob Phibbs and Tony Orlando – RetailWire/Facebook
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What can retailers, malls and consumer brands learn from the Comic-Con experience? How can they apply this learning to their businesses?