Brand experience is almighty. While prospects experience a brand’s advertising, it’s often more impactful for people to actually experience the brand on a more visceral level. To this end, some prominent retailers are now exploring opportunities new in experiential marketing, brand extensions, and brand partnerships.
According to The New York Times, West Elm, a division of Williams-Sonoma that sells modern furniture and accessories online and in nearly 90 stores nationwide, is moving into the hospitality game in big way. Next year, the retailer expects to open five new boutique hotels in Detroit, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Charlotte, and Savannah.
Soon, the bedding will be in use in hundreds of hotel rooms, not just on display.
“After twenty-six consecutive quarters of double-digit comparative growth, including our successful entry into the commercial furnishings market with West Elm Workspace, we’ve created an active bond with our customers that can extend beyond home and work,” said Jim Brett, president of West Elm.
As part of West Elm’s ongoing commitment and relationship with makers around the world, each West Elm hotel will feature local design elements that celebrate community and reflect traditional décor, handicraft, cuisine and culture from the region. Artwork will be commissioned and curated locally for each guest room as well as for the communal, common areas in each hotel.
“There is a growing desire among modern travelers to immerse themselves in the place they are visiting. They want a boutique experience, and expect great, reliable service that caters to their needs,” said David Bowd, co-founder of DDK, West Elm’s management partner. “Our general managers will serve as innkeepers, and West Elm will focus on making real community connections for visitors and residents alike.”
I imagine that hotel guests will also be able to buy many of the items they see in the room. Several hotel brands like Westin, Marriott and Hilton, already sell beds, linens and accessories. Westin also sells its Heavenly Bed at Pottery Barn, a separate Williams-Sonoma division. Linens and bedding are available at Nordstrom. Since 2000, Westin has sold 100,000 mattresses and 175,000 pillows, worth some $150 million.
Marketers have long wanted the TV set to be a shopper’s paradise, but TV only gives one ideas about products. Sleeping on the bed and in the linens, using the reading lamp, and so on are real experiences that impact the buying decision directly. No ad, no direct mail piece, no online offer, can compete with these tangible product trials in a private branded setting.