Thursday, October 31, 2013

Another Disney Post: Learning Retail Smarts

On a recent Physiospot Voices post: Business Opportunities: Services versus Products, I mentioned the need for physical therapists to move into the business of researching, developing, marketing, and selling products. This post is a partial follow up to that post filled with gleaned wisdom from my most recent visit to Disneyland.

Oh! If you're interested in my previous Disney posts, look no further!

Learning Retail Smarts from Disney
I've always been a big believer that if you are to learn anything, learn it from the best. Disney is perhaps one of the best companies out there when it comes to customer service and retailing. Specifically, Disney excels at turning the retail experience into one of welcome entertainment and gleeful spending. Their secret: set your products up for success! It sounds so simple... so easy... so matter of fact / common sense. And, yet - why is it so difficult for just about any other retail enterprise?

Well, after another trip to Disneyland, I decided to pay careful attention to the specific retail practices which Disneyland employs. Additionally, I made note of what commonalities every retail location had in common. This is what I found out:

Disney retail is always linked to the Disney brand
It didn't matter which store you were in: the Buzz Lightyear store, any store on Main Street, the Bippity Boppity Boutique, even the "Sword Store" next to Peter Pan, in close vicinity to the "Sword in the Stone" attraction - ALL Disney retail locations served to link it's content, design, culture, and service experience to the Disney brand. One of the strongest examples of this is the Star Trader at the exit of Star Tours.

A most popular collectible, now on its third series, is the Disney Star Wars Vinylmations. Blending the figure of Mickey Mouse with the visual design of popular Star War characters, Disney has been effectively linking Disney & Star Wars far before Lucas sold the rights to the Walt Disney Company.

Such products serve to not only strengthen the specific themes of each attraction or area of Disneyland, it also reinforces and EXPANDS the brand at large - seriously increasing market share. This is an area for which some physical therapists seem to struggle; there seems to be a sense of disdain to be associated with another setting of practice - as if "those" PT's shouldn't be related to "you". There's this climate of fear; fear of being blended into generalities. However, the broad generality is what comprises the strength of Disney: Star Wars, Avengers, Pirates, Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, the train station, Toy Story... they are ALL Disney. Unity will always be more powerful.

Disney + Star Wars Blend

Star Wars Potato Head 

Classic Mickey Mouse Hat blended with R2D2 (even the ears are formed in the geometrics of the Death Star!!!)

Even Star Wars Angry Birds! Talk about brand expansion and explosively penetrating ranges of market shares.

Disney retail is themed by the attraction
Alluded to in the point above, each store at the end of each attraction is specifically themed to reinforce the attractions importance. At the end of Pirates of the Caribbean, there is a large store where you can buy pirate toys. Across the exit of the Indiana Jones Adventure is a large store full of paraphernalia for which you'd expect an adventurer to wield. After exiting the Haunted Mansion or Tower of Terror, similar content is seen in the stores of which you exit into. This brings us to the next point.

Collectible Wall of Fame

Death Star Architecture!

Disney retail is typically part of the attraction exit
When you are emotionally pumped up on the experience you just had, the store is there, offering you the opportunity to spend money on souvenirs, collectibles, clothing, and the like to memorialize how much you liked that particular experience. Not only are you on a high from the ride, you are now exiting into another sort of high where you can take a piece of the experience home with you. While I cannot clearly recall what Paco Underhill, author of "Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping", says on this type of architecture, I can confidently surmise that research would demonstrate higher percentage of purchase conversions to stores attached to the exit of an attraction vs. stores which are merely adjacent or across the street. Applications to business practice??? MANY!

As you exit the ride via these bay doors...

You arrive at this ramp to exit into the Star Trader store...

You see amazing photos of Star Wars content on the way...

You walk down this ramp, and...

See the exit... And! Oh, what's that? TOYS?!

Disney retail experience is part of the attraction's experience
All Disney stores, restaurants, etc. have cast members who help accentuate the thematic experience of each attraction, world, or area. Additionally, the presence of such cast members indeed perpetuate the experience if the ride, attraction, and/or show. The Star Trader cast members are dressed like they are right out of a sci-fi film. The cast members at the Golden Horseshoe look like they are out of the 'ol West. This goes for every possible nook and cranny of Disneyland. And, it is significant because this adds something very valuable for which most retail operations forget - THE EXPERIENCE. If people have a positive experience at a retail location, they are more likely to stay in a store longer and buy more things.

Be honest now... you're thinking about how you can climb into that X-Wing cockpit, aren't you?

Disney Retail is Done with a Service Experience
Instead of the hard driving bargains or intrusive interest in your retail behaviors, Disney retail is done in a welcoming environment where shoppers aren't crowded out and intimidated by the cast members. This is executed via body posturing, the mellowed intensity of eye contact, the vocal projections which invoke a sense of calm... all elements which make you feel very at home and unpressured to buy.

When a choice is made, Disney cast members always ask if you found everything you were looking for, or, if there was anything else they could do for you. Pride is taken in their work; gift wraps, boxes, and bags are put together with care and precision. Upon payment and exit from the store, the cast members continue to give this service experience by continuing the "on stage." For example, when leaving the Star Trader, it's common to hear cast members say (as much in the previous point above) "Thank you! And, may the force be with you!"

Beauty and the Biz: A Quick Tangential Anecdote
The retail experience is flashy, emotional, in the moment, and based primarily on perception. If you'll indulge me in a slightly tangential anecdote: a few months ago, Japanese visitors toured the facility where I serve as the Rehab Director to learn about the senior living and skilled nursing/rehab business. This business pattern is quickly rising in demand in Japan - and - it is a business that has yet to be full established in that country.

During their tour of my department, they spent a significant and disproportionately long amount of time asking questions regarding physical modalities in rehab services. I tried to give spiels about manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, neuromuscular re-education, and the educational level of my therapists - just to see if they'd bite - nada. In fact, the interpreter kept telling me there were more and more questions/curiosities on the "healing technologies" of physical modalities.

Lesson: Things that are attractive are valuable. Additionally, technology means relevance. Regardless of what anyone thinks of the clinical significance thereof, anything that has lights, gismos, gadgets, screens, sound, switches, touch pads, etc. - all these elements are perceived as cutting edge, valuable, and worthy. If it is beautiful, then it has business potential - it's up to you to make it a worthy business to pursue. Think about it... ;)

Retail Truth: To Sell, Is To Solve
In retail, if you've sold a product, then you've solved a problem. A customer may need a gift for a friend, a tool for home improvement, a cleaning product, food, a toy, a movie, a book, or perhaps a hair product - by making the trade, the retail establishment has satisfied the need of their patron through the physical transference of the product.

Most healthcare professionals are not comfortable with sales and retailing. As we all know too well, sales goes against many deep running, cultural fibers in our professional identity. Sell up, ourselves? How dare we? Our skills, knowledge, and outcomes should speak for our value. Right? WRONG! Couldn't be more wrong, in fact. In my opinion, when the purchase moment arrives, very few buyers care about the details behind their choices. Recommendations, first impressions, reviews, and presence of the sales experience comprise much of the winning ticket.

For myself: when people arrive at The Remington Club and meet me as the Rehab Director, I tell them about how much "therapy" their family members will receive. I tell them how experienced my rehab therapists are, and, that I am quite involved in the overall care as the director. I say all this in a warm tone with a quiet understanding so that the touring family can fully absorb what they are about to commit their family members to. I express that I, personally, add as much value to patient care as I can; offer the expertise of my doctoral education to the highest benefit of all of our residents. I share that the nursing/residence ratio is much above the par of competitors. The food here is gourmet quality; my first meal at this facility was beef tips with red wine sauce! I expound that the Remington Club is the highest-end senior care facility in the region; it is very expensive and extremely exclusive - fortunately, your family member has a medical need which will be covered by insurance... their care will be a 5-star experience.

You will all be in great, very caring hands.

Sold and sold!

Closing Thoughts
So! What changes will you make to integrate Disney retail smarts? Will you involve new training to your staff to include a service experience to your retail operations? How will you solve the needs of your patrons? 


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