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More Than Skin Deep

I have a huge problem with creating experiences for the sake of creating an experience. I also loathe the expression ‘eatertainment’. I think it waxes over and trivializes the need to not only design experiences, but create experience management systems to truly manage experience value ongoing.

I have a huge problem with creating experiences for the sake of creating an experience. I also loathe the expression ‘eatertainment’.

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I think it waxes over and trivializes the need to not only design experiences, but create experience management systems to truly manage experience value ongoing.

A case in point is Krispy Kreme. I believe the company talks a good story about being experience-driven, but, I question the rigor and depth of understanding of the experiential value proposition. Yes, part (but only part) of the experience is the ‘eatertainment’. The real value is in the unconscious emotional stuff that’s underneath the ‘intellectualization’. I feel that one critical part of their experiential value proposition centered on the principles of scarcity. It was part of the experience to only be able to purchase the doughnuts at the hallowed locations in in distinct parts of the country. But with expansion the experience of scarcity has not been managed well at all. In fact, the expansion made you feel there was Krispy Kreme apleanty. And I believe it’s contributing to some of the problems they’ve suffered lately. Not soley responsible, but part of the problem.

In my book, I outline what I consider the poster child for mismanagement of the experiential value proposition–Howard Johnson Restaurants. Cool restaurant experiences come and go, it’s those that have staying power that connect in a deep and distinctive way that keep customers coming back again and again.

One of the concepts that I’ve most recently experienced is one conceived by Darden Restaurants Seasons 52. The one prototype is in Orlando, Florida and they are about to open more. The restaurant and the myriad of clues imbedded in it connect with the deep emotional needs of diners. In fast food, I know that Taco Bell has some very interesting tests underway.

Often it isn’t the obvious, over- the- top experience for the sake of experience that has the staying power. Novelty has short lived value. Understanding and fulfilling deep emotional needs has longevity. Durgin Park in Boston is a great example of longevity, yet it would be considered by many to be absolutely miserable customer service.

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