Entertainment, as a powerful motivator for consumers, reduces bore-dom, generates excitement, provides new concepts and new ideas, and brings people together. American consumers spent $256.2 billion for recreation and entertainment in 2000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Americans have an unquenchable thirst to be entertained, with consumer spending on entertainment up nearly 50 percent from 1995.
As with so many other justifiers, entertainment is both what you buy and what you experience when you buy. "Shopping as entertainment" is a buzz phrase often heard in retailing circles. It has become so popular it has even spawned a new word: retail-tainment. The current trend in mall design includes combining traditional shops and anchor department stores with movie theaters, theme restaurants, museums, and other nonretail businesses. The Mall of America comes complete with an in-door amusement park featuring a full-sized Ferris wheel and roller coaster. The concept is sound. Consumers want to experience shopping in new, more dynamic ways.
Consumers want to experience shopping in new, more dynamic ways.
Today's consumers ask more of their shopping entertainment. Not satisfied to passively receive entertainment, consumers seek a shopping experience that combines learning with doing to involve the complete individual. Speaking at the 2001 Urban Entertainment Development Conference sponsored by the Urban Land Institute, Mark Rivers, executive vice president of The Mills Corporation, explained that customers are drawn to shopping venues where they can participate in the excitement of entertainment. So The Mills Corporation, one of the nation's largest mall owners, worked with Vans Shoes to create skateboard parks and with Gibson Guitars to create places for people to play as well as purchase guitars. Rivers said: "The buzzword is experience. People do not want to just be entertained. They want to participate. Creating these experiences is a good way to connect with consumers."
Consumers will be drawn to the next big thing in retailing that provides an entertaining respite from the drudgery of shopping.
What people buy and how they buy it has become part of a total experience. Neither part of the consuming equation can be divorced from the other. That is one reason why The Limited's Men's Express stores, which target the young male shopper, feature videos throughout the store playing music and fashion clips. Williams-Sonoma offers cooking classes, while The Home Depot will teach you how to install a sink, paint a room, or stain, clean, and even build a wood deck. The Disney Store plays Disney movies and cartoons around the clock. Big-box sporting-goods stores like Galyan's Trading Company, let the customer try out the goods before purchasing, even providing a three-story rock wall for the adventurous shopper to climb.
What's next in the one-upmanship world of retail-tainment? The sky is the limit. Be assured that consumers will be drawn to the next big thing in retailing that provides an entertaining respite from the drudgery of shopping.
ABC CARPET & HOME
An Oasis of Luxury in the Hustle and Bustle of New York City
With the tagline "Come to your senses at ABC," the ABC Carpet & Home store in the historic Flatiron District of New York, offers shoppers a truly one-of-a-kind shopping experience. Upon entering the doors of ABC's main building, the shopper is transported to an exotic world filled with wonderful things. The atmosphere is totally relaxing, luxurious, fascinating, and never-ever boring. ABC specializes in things for the home—rugs and carpets, furniture, antiques, home textiles, bedding, pillows, art, and collectibles. The experience is cocooning taken to extreme, spiced with objects from foreign locales and exotic places.
ABC describes its philosophy as NOT about decorating, but about collecting, "thus the process of creating one's home becomes less a makeover, and more a continual and passionate search to surround oneself with cherished belongings." The company carries out its mission in its merchandising philosophy. Its advertising describes it this way: "The ambiance of a flea market, a country antiques fair, a bustling Middle-Eastern bazaar, and a bargain-filled warehouse sale, yet with the personalized attention one finds in a boutique."
Each of the store's ten floors is thematically arranged, which offers the shopper a new shopping experience on each level. While the store is stacked and packed to the rafters with all kinds of merchandise, its atmosphere is anything but hectic. If you're feeling fatigued from wandering around such a phantasmagoria of home, you can rest and refresh in the food hall, featuring light fare, coffees and teas, pastries and other goodies. It even offers a full-course dining experience in its cafe featuring "Nuevo Latino" food. With cash registers respectfully discreet, but sales help readily available, the store lives and breathes its philosophy.
In this eclectic mix of home items from all over the world, the store encourages its customers to "trust your impulses; create your own heir-looms; value will never go out of fashion." What could be more relaxing? ABC Carpet & Home has taken away all the worry of decorating, sorry . . . collecting, for your home. It gives permission to mix an embroidered coverlet with a Ming chair. "Introduce the second piece to the first, and eventually you will have an extended family of furnishings. This is collecting, not decorating." And the shopping experience underscores the message to "relax, enjoy, explore, collect."
Entertainment as a justifier for purchase is rated equally by men and women. All age groups are motivated by entertainment in their discretionary purchases, but the younger group, aged 18 to 34, rank it even higher than the older consumers, aged 35 to 64, as very important in their purchase decisions. Blacks are more likely to consider entertainment a very important motivator. Consumers living in households of two or more individuals and those with children place a premium on entertainment value in their purchases. Moderate-to-high-income households are more highly motivated by entertainment, as are consumers with at least some college.