Promote the Lifestyle, Not the Product

I was at the Eaton Centre in Toronto a few weeks ago. My mission was to buy a new phone as my old one had been run over by an SUV (but that’s another story). So after walking around for a few minutes I came across the Apple store and was instantly drawn by the mere sight of it. I have never been a Mac or iPhone owner but something about the aura of the store just pulled me in for a closer look. There were groups of people socializing outside. Filtered lights and music were setting the mood.  People passing by would turn their heads to take a peek inside. This place had the feel of a lounge.

So I walked in and took a quick 360 glance of the store. There were bench seats along the walls of the store with several long white tables in the middle. Collectively, the tables displayed every single Apple product available, plugged in and ready to go. There were no sales pitches and no interruptions, just you and the product for as long as you’d like. Anyone was invited to pick up an Apple product and spend time living the life of an Apple customer, and it worked. Some were listening to music, others browsing the web. There was even a young couple kissing while they shared a single headset from an iPod (I’m not kidding). I almost had to take a step back to make sure I really was in an Apple store. It was all subtly done; in the few minutes you spent at the Apple store, you got a taste of the Apple lifestyle. A lifestyle that ended once you walked away, unless you took an Apple product home with you. Apple was spreading their message, and it was all done without a single store representative saying anything.

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t only about the lifestyle. A quality product is the foundation of a favourable lifestyle that a brand creates. But consumers don’t want to know what a product does; they want to know what a product does for them. Would you rather know the 0-60mph time of a Bentley coupe, or how it felt on an open road with the windows down? The choice is pretty obvious. When you immerse yourself into an attractive lifestyle a part of you becomes attached to that lifestyle from all the experiences that you embrace (and sometimes imagine). A feat that promoting products can’t easily mimic. So instead of offering consumers products and specs, try inviting them for an experience and a lifestyle.

Closing thought:

Afterward, while I was on my way to the Telus store, I thought I’d take a headcount of all the major mobile stores I passed by to see how they stacked up against the Apple store. The highest count was 7, roughly the amount of consumers at each table in the Apple store.

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