Thursday, September 16, 2010

In a New York Minute - Pop Tarting America

Checking out the Pop Tarts Restroom
Alright, so I am standing again in NYC Times Square and looking for the Pop Tarts Store. I am sure you have all heard about this. The new Kellogg's Pop Tarts Pop up store that opened in August of this year. I'm trying to find this place, but having some trouble. Turns out it is not just right in Times Square but off a side street a couple of blocks away. When I finally find it, it is closer to Bryant Park, and a few days later help a group of young dudes find the place by given directions. I feel like a New Yorker.
So I go and find this great new sugar filled testament to the American Dream. It's on a side street, a giant POP TART splashed across the front of the building. I find the nondescript door and enter. I feel like I am going into an exclusive club that only a few know about. Andy Warhol will be there with his Polaroids, so will Liza. I'm part of the pop tart elite.
So you enter and discover that you are in fact in a pretty special place. Lasers and light shows swirl around, a huge two story mechanical delivery cylinder raises in the middle of the store, shooting all flavors of pop tarts down to be placed in a box for the happy tourist to purchase.  The line up for the Pop Tart sushi bar is massive. Every tourist in New York has found this place, and I stand next to kids and adults ordering and purchasing things like peanut butter Pop Tarts with raisins and bananas. It's a weird world, and if I actually liked Pop Tarts, then I would be more enthused.
But, I suddenly found my inner Pop Tart, when I recalled that my late Mother, whenever bored by cooking, or grocery shopping while hungry, would purchase the frosting confection and bring it home to us kids. We would devour them in a day, and sort of patiently wait until Mom had another sugar fix in aisle four.
But enough about the past. I actually need the toilet. Which in NYC is a terrific problem, what with the dearth of toilets, and you find yourself visiting retailers, that you would never go to (like the American Girl Place), simply because they have facilities. Thankfully, Pop Tart World has toilets. And, what great toilets they are! It's one small loo, but the walls are adorned with tiles that look like Pop Tarts. Can you ask for anything more? It is perfect retail design, carrying the concept into all areas that the customer might experience, leaving nothing to chance. I just had to take a picture.
Pop Tart merchandise is pretty sparse in this place. They seem to have forgotten this, and the poorly merchandised t-shirts and tchochys seem almost an after thought again the industrial Pop Tart delivery system and sushi bar concept. My enthusiasm was enhanced however. Staring at the limp unkempt merchandise, the place suddenly darkens, lasers flicker, and the staff at the sushi bar drop their tools and begin a whole store customer experience.
Music blares, a dance floor suddenly seems to appear and what with the laser light show, the staff begin something like a meet up performance art shouting and signing their love of Pop Tarts. It is in fact, quite amazing. Staff sing and dance about being frosted and flavored and packaged as the customers clap and sing along. A little Broadway play by Kellogg.
Of course they have lots of competition. The three story M and M store is just down the street. A testament to the fact that if you have a popular confection, you can build your sales by branding everything in site with cheerful M and M's. Hershey's chocolate is right across the street, and takes a more reverent historical approach, choosing to tell the Hershey story all through their small concept store, while serving up every chocolate flavor imaginable.
The Pop Tart Store though is different. Short on merchandise and actual product, it focuses on the experience. The customer smile as they watch the dancers and performers act out their  act every fifteen minutes. Does it create sales? Yes, I am sure, but probably not enough to make the store viable. Yet, from a marketing perspective, it drives home the fun and excitement of Pop Tarts.  The customer leaves, not with an M and M's broach, or a Hershey's historical tin, but with a smile on their face.

You know that when they get home, they will remember their experience when cruising their cart down the local grocery store aisle. It's the experience that stays with the customer, and creating memorable and engaging experiences in your own stores, sushi bar or not, makes for happy lifelong consumers.

Now get out there and create your very own campus store dance!

No comments: