The Experience Economy: Pure Magic for the Price of Admission

A friend attended a Cosplay event recently, and happened upon a Disney retail store. Upon arrival, she noticed a woman performing, in full costume, as Ariel from The Little Mermaid. She was sitting near a clothing rack, and taking photos with children as their parents shopped. Then, suddenly, the woman just got up and left the store entirely.

She wasn't an employee. She was simply a member of the Cosplay community who'd wandered into The Disney Store within the mall. And while Disney may take issue with a "freelance Ariel" interacting with customers in their stores, it does make one wonder,

Why doesn't Disney make their retail stores more experience oriented?

After all, the Disney name is synonymous with imagination; yet, their retail stores existing outside of their amusement parks are lacking exactly that. If anything, they have more in common with a traditional retail establishment than they do with the Disney brand of creativity.

But what if they charged admission to their stores?
What if Ariel was put on the payroll?
What if the Disney Store became an experience?

Would you pay $5 to enter their store, just to get a taste of Disney magic? To be reminded of a past trip with a loved one, to entertain your children by wandering into another world within the fluorescent walls of the shopping mall, or simply to inspire your imagination?

These mini-events would attach stories and memories to products. They could inspire families to invest in a vacation at Disney World next summer. And they could offer a reason to go to a store front, rather than simply purchase online. Because by making it a memorable experience to visit the Disney store, it becomes more than just a shopping trip - it becomes an event.

Now, how might this idea be applied to your brand?

What if you charged admission?
What could you do to create an experience around your offer?
How might you create a world of discovery within the realm of your brand?

You don't have to be Walt Disney to bring imagination to life, or to create something exciting for your guests. Everything from your content to your packaging provides an opportunity to delight. So, knowing this, what magical world will you create?