Stores as Playgrounds & 5 Ways Dyson is Winning

On Friday, I visited the Dyson Demo store at 51st and 5th in Manhattan. I had read about it and immediately was intrigued by "demo" being in the name. I knew I'd be able to touch and feel products. And, while I'm not in the market for a vacuum cleaner, what's the point of a retail store anymore if it's not a helpful experience with some form of product trial?*

This Dyson store does 5 things well:

  1. Strategic merchandising: Everyone knows Dyson for its vacuum cleaners, but the front of the store leads with the brand's newer hair dryers, before flowing into heating/cooling/purification units and then vacuums
  2. Knowledgeable product evangelists: Not just trying to sell pricey equipment, the staff are eager to tell browsers about it in great detail and encourage experimentation
  3. Room to play: Anyone can stand in front of the heater or fan and change the settings, blow the hair dryer with its different magnetic attachments, toss some cereal on the floor and use the cordless vacuums to suck it up, or flip the lights on and off
  4. Services: There are stations in the back of the store offering shampoos and free blowouts with Dyson's hair dryer, available via walk-in or appointment
  5. Aspirational design: A dark interior and thoughtful lighting elevates product categories that might otherwise be considered basic
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An ROI on this kind of real estate and human effort likely will require some patience. But after seeing the following data point in the store, I'm certainly more likely to buy an air purifier, which I didn't even know Dyson made until I saw it in the store. 

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*The other point of a retail store is convenience. Within ten minutes of needing a screw today, I bought it from my corner hardware store today for less than a quarter and could guarantee it was the right size.