Look, Lick and Learn

In the midst of a ‘soft’ retail environment, one store is persuading customers to queue for up to 20 minutes and pay a 220%+ premium for an item that (fundamentally) you could pick up in a supermarket. Madness or genius? I guess it depends which side of the retail counter you’re on.

The Magnum Pleasure Store (recently reported on by Inside Retail) is a pop-up concept exclusive to Westfield Sydney, and is in centre for six weeks only*. I’ve stood there riveted on several occasions, observing perfectly sane people happily line up, hand over $7, and endlessly film and photograph the process on their smartphones. It’s executed with the skill and polish of a major FMCG brand, and the intuition of a merchant.

For the uninitiated, this is how the procedure works. Take a ‘naked’ Magnum and choose a chocolate coating – white, milk, or dark. Select up to four toppings, including ‘specials’ such as crumbled meringue and ‘experimentals’ like rose petals. Then wait for it to be drizzled with chocolate by a Magnum ‘bar-ista’ and finished with a chocolate Magnum coin. Finally, shoot the result on the iPad provided, and share with your friends on social media. Yes folks, customers are willing participants in both the theatre and the promotion of the store.

I’ve written before on four megatrends influencing retail, and the Magnum store checks off all of them:

1. Globalisation The Magnum Pleasure Store is popping up for limited engagements in major cities across the world, including Paris, Milan, Amsterdam, Shanghai, Toronto and New York. This is a worldwide phenomenon in a borderless age.

2. Polarisation Retail has polarised into extreme value offers at one end of the spectrum and luxury or specialty at the other. The Magnum Pleasure Store successfully turns an everyday (albeit already premium) item into a super-premium must-have.

3. Digitisation This is a store that has been digitally driven at every possible opportunity. Its arrival was breathlessly anticipated on social media (including YouTube clips of other cities opening their stores), and its fame is spread further on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

4. Personalisation Today retail is all about ‘me-tail’. A big part of the appeal of the offer is that customers can create their very own Magnum concoctions.

As much as it is on-trend, the Magnum Pleasure Store also adheres to a very old rule in retail: the principle of scarcity. The store is in one place for a strictly limited run and that heightens its appeal. It screams “get in before it’s gone”.

It also allows the customer to watch the factory in action (and in fact direct the production line), and that is incredibly engaging.

As Inside Retail noted, this is another example of a brand manufacturer going ‘vertical’. Arguably the best retailers in the world these days are brands, such as Apple, Nespresso and Nike.

If you’re in Sydney, and interested in retail and shopper behaviour, the Magnum Pleasure Store is well worth a visit. Look, lick and learn.

*Open till August 25th