Seeking Super Fans
By Tom Ryan
Only a few stores — Apple, Trader Joe’s, Bass Pro, Ikea, Nordstrom Rack and
Krispy Cream — have at least a few ‘super fans’. These are fanatics who will
drive hours to reach their favorite store. They’ll also follow rumor mills
regarding store openings and even sleep overnight in parking lots in hopes
of being among the first to experience a new store.
A profile of this customer type by the News & Observer in Raleigh,
NC compared their passion to the way sports fans are obsessed with their favorite
teams. One such fan interviewed in the article was Kirsten Gebhardt, a 39-year-old
mother who anticipated the opening of Container Store’s first North Carolina
store months before its opening.
“My breath was taken away,” she described of her first time visiting
a Container Store. “I was overwhelmed.”
The article also profiled a former 46-year old Californian, Heather Klausner,
who every few months would drive from her home state of Tennessee to Atlanta
to visit a Trader Joe’s. When the first Trader Joe’s store opened in Nashville,
she rented an RV for the weekend and dispersed samples of her favorite Trader
Joe’s items in the parking lot to others waiting overnight for the store to
Analysts told the News & Observer that these loyal fans are much
more likely to buy product from a retailer vs. buying from competitors
on discount and are also very likely to offer recommendations.
Discussion Questions: What do you think makes ‘super fans’ of stores? Is it limited to a select group of retailers or can others capitalize on this fervor, especially around grand openings?