Last month my wife & I spent a long weekend in New York City for our anniversary. It was a nice break from life, but I could not help get caught up in the branding & advertising surrounding Times Square. I’ve seen it on TV and in movies hundreds of times, but you do not get the magnitude of it until you’re standing in the middle of it with millions of people walking by you.
One thing was obvious to me – some companies get branding and others do not. Case in point, the M&M Store is a 3-story behemoth of a store that sells clothing, jewelry, magnets, kitchen wear, custom M&M colors, more clothes, purses made of wrappers, coin banks, etc. (You get the point hopefully.) The entire store was colorful, entertaining, branded, and even smelled a bit like chocolate. One thing that particularly impressed me was how the store carried out the brand consistently throughout the store. Even the freight elevator was marked with a cute M&M character with a witty saying [look right] instead of just a sign. Very clever and it keeps you in the brand experience. The yellow M&M even holds the box upside personifying his dimwitted nature.
Across the street is the Hershey store with an elaborately designed exterior that is even more inviting than the M&Ms store. Walking into the store, my wife & I both had visions of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory in our minds. We were sadly disappointed. The store is unique for a typical mall store, but for Times Square, the inside fell flat. We walked along the crowded aisles and found our favorite candy and bought a shirt for my brother-in-law (he loves Reeses) and stood in line to check out.
After leaving the Hershey store, something stood out to me. You can not buy a bag of M&Ms at the M&M store. They had M&Ms, but they were all in tins, mugs, creative packaging, and the like. Most of the items in the Hershey store, I could buy at any drugstore or grocery store. Also, I noticed the noise, lines, and chaos at the Hershey store even know the M&M store was much louder, had more people, and had more going on. This is because the Hershey store was an store that sold candy not a place to experience a brand.
This was an eye opening experience for me that showed my money does not make the brand experience. Although, the brand experience makes money. We spent 3 times as much at the M&Ms store and went back numerous times throughout our short vacation.
If you’re in NYC, check out these two stores and the new Pop Tart World. Pop Tart Word just opened the week before we visited Times Square and they’re doing a lot of great things. It is not quite M&Ms yet, but you can make your own Pop Tart t-shirt, create a custom box of the pastries, and enjoy their Pop Tart cuisine. I think was a little too old for Pop Tart World’s impact, but I’m glad we found it (new means not on maps.)