Welcome To The Involvement Economy.
Today, in respect of my recent post, I was told that the original concept behind the Nokia stores had been to create a "retail cathedral". While that is ironic both because of what Eric Raymond wrote and because I'd question the desirability of customer worship alone, it is undeniable that they have succeeded. They have a cathedral while the Apple store is a bazaar filled with people doing things.
The question, of course, is how could Nokia get people doing something (other than perfunctorily fiddling with inert handsets) and thereby staying longer and becoming more engaged. There are many possibilities. Perhaps customers could be helped and encouraged to customise their phones in some way. Or there could be other free services, either directly related to the phones (in the form of game or ringtone downloads) or something along the branded utility lines of perhaps a free fast recharging service or something much more left-field as with the Diesel Playhouse that Faris highlighted the other day.
I'm sure readers smarter than I could come up with many more ideas for Nokia, but, in fact, they did already try to do that. The photo above was taken on the top floor and reminded me of the fabulous Nokia-sponsoredRegent Street Christmas lights which display passer-bys were meant to be able to adjust. I deliberately say "meant to" because, even though I knew about the idea (and most foot traffic didn't have that advantage), I couldn't work out how to do it in December when I passed the site of what was to become the store. Maybe it was just my stupidity, but I couldn't become involved and I never saw anybody else do so.
And it is customer involvement that should be the aim. It's not enough to aim for experiential because that can all too easily be a passive interaction. It's arguably not even enough to aim for engagement because that has implications about on whose terms the engagement is occurring. No, what you should be aiming for are situations in which you facilitate the active involvement of your users (and potential users) in something they wish to do and through which facilitation you can enhance their opinion of you and, in an ideal world, their opinion of your product/service too.
As Peak Attention approaches, I think it's time to start thinking about the Involvement Economy.