Samsung Store Sells Experience, That’s It
Paco Underhill, the author of Why We Buy and the founder of Envirosell, told The New York Times recently that in the era of big-box retailing, “The theatrical side of retail was lost.”
Today, Mr. Underhill said, consumers are looking to move past the clutter of the average retail store and “get deliciously lost” in the experience of something different than what they’ve become accustomed to.
Samsung Electronics is hoping that it created the type of environment described by Mr. Underhill with its first “experience store” in America.
Located in midtown Manhattan, the 10,000-square-foot store has all the consumer
electronics wonders the Korean company produces. Consumers are encouraged to
check their email on Samsung computers, watch shows on Samsung flat-screen
televisions, hang out on a couch and listen to music on an MP3 player or even
make long-distance calls on Samsung cell phones. One thing the folks at the
Samsung store won’t let visitors to its stores do is buy something there.
Nope. Consumers are there for the experience only and, if they want to actually buy a Samsung product, well, they’ll just have to go to one of the company’s resellers online or down the street.
What Samsung is doing is not that unusual. A number of others, primarily manufacturers (retailers have gotten involved in pop-up stores), have opened stores to engage consumers through the use of their products in a comfortable environment. What is different here than say an Apple Store is that Samsung is not looking to move product from the premises. That doesn’t, however, mean that product isn’t moving.
According to Paul Kim, senior manager of North American marketing for Samsung, 31 percent of consumers who took in the experience at the Manhattan store and bought a high-definition television set within a year of their visit purchased one of the company’s models.
Last year, according to Mr. Kim, half a million people visited the store. The company projects those visitors will eventually spend $55 million on Samsung brand products. (Now that’s an experience many retailers would welcome.)
Discussion Questions: What are your thoughts on the Samsung “experience store”? Is this a concept that will only work for a manufacturer? Do you believe the experience will lead to greatly increased purchases of Samsung products over the lifetime of visitors to the store?