Happy Foodie Friday! Last week, I shared part 1 of my presentation from this year’s IDDBA: Experiences that Engage. Today, we’ll dive into part 2 and talk about the Four Es of an Engaging Experience—and how I’ve seen this in action in my hometown of Nashville Tennessee! But before we do that, I’d like to share a story from the Pacific Northwest.
During my visits to this part of the country, I’ve repeatedly shared one particular example of a business that does a great job at staging experiences. Here’s a picture from a place I love to visit and take groups as part of our EatnLearn tours—Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle.
Back in 1986, they were near bankruptcy and decided that instead of giving up, they wanted to become world famous. One of the ways they were going to do that was to start throwing to each other and to their customers. Word spread quickly and film crews from all kinds of TV shows started coming out and filming them. Today, they attract 10,000 visitors a day. Needless to say, they avoided bankruptcy.
Now, should you start throwing cookies, pieces of cheese, or sticks of salami? No. It’s not about tossing things around your department. And while you can get great ideas from others, it’s not about copying others’ experiences, either. The experiences you stage need to be tailored or customized for your store, your items, and your customers.
You may think: That’s all well and good, but how do I even begin?
Pine and Gilmore have identified the four realms or elements of an experience: Entertainment, Education, Escapist, and Esthetic. These four realms fall on two continua—passive to active and absorption to immersion.
Entertainment is passively absorbed through the senses—for example, when you’re watching television.
Education happens when the learner is actively absorbed, such as when you attend a classroom lecture.
Escapist is when the individual actively participates in an immersive environment, such as playing a virtual reality game.
Esthetic happens when individuals immerse themselves but remain passive, such as hanging out at an art museum.
Let me tell you about what’s been going on in another industry in my home state of Tennessee.
Until 2016, you could only buy wine in wine and liquor stores. But in July of last year, they passed a law allowing supermarkets to sell wine. So how do these local wine and liquor shops deal with this new competition? Let’s look at how they’re using the 4 Es to successfully compete with the convenience and lower prices of supermarkets.
There’s an independent wine seller just a few streets over from our condo in downtown Nashville. In addition to selling their product, they host concerts that make the wine experience much more entertaining and enjoyable than sipping some Cabernet would be on its own. And when you leave, you are likely to take a bottle or two home with you.
Woodland Wine Merchant is a small, independent wine shop near my daughter’s home. They do an excellent job of educating customers. Each one of their wine-savvy employees can tell you about the regional characteristics of their wines. Don’t know what wine to serve with your evening meal? They’ve got you covered. Added bonus: the shop is filled with informative signs and notes to help guide your tasting experience.
Arrington Vineyards is a winery co-owned by country music star, Kix Brooks. It’s located in a beautiful setting just outside Nashville. You can sample their wines or purchase a bottle and enjoy the atmosphere, the scenery, and the live music for however long you like. Not surprisingly, the longer you stay, the more wine you buy!
Another local wine store partnered with a specialty Italian market to create an immersive dinner where a chef personally curated the wines to compliment the Italian dishes. The guests were transported to Italy without ever leaving Nashville. And of course, what happens after the dinner? The guests come back, again and again, to buy the wine—hoping to recreate some of the magic they experienced!
You may have noticed, some of these examples draw from more than one of these realms. The more realms you can incorporate, the better the experience. And the most engaging experiences draw from all four realms.
We experience practitioners call this “hitting the sweet spot.”
Next week, we’ll look at a world-class example of how this is done in the food industry!