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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bathroom Brand Manifestations:M&Ms

Day Two of the 2007 Bathroom Blogfest.

Yesterday, it was about
Taking Bathrooms To The Next Level with Kohler, and into flight, in support of conservation and into the future, and then to new flooring levels...

Today, it's about Brand Manifestations in bathrooms -- a very rich topic!

To start the day, Marianne Cone, Marketing Director for
Wear-Dated and Ultron, contributes the following:

When C.B. invited me to participate in this year's Bathroom Blogfest I was skeptical. I was a little like the men Stephanie Weaver referred to in her October 29, 2006 posting, “Bathroom Blogfest Begins" with their “you’re a weirdo” looks.

I also wondered where I might find inspiration as public restrooms are definitely not places I like to visit. I’ve been known to walk blocks, or drive miles out of the way to find a bathroom to my liking! But, I thought, what the heck – I travel nearly every week so surely there would be inspiration out there somewhere.

Sure enough my first stop was the ‘Big Apple’ where I ventured into the M&M store at Times Square. Immediately, upon entering the store, I was bombarded with sensory overload: a riot of color at every turn – plain and peanut M&M’s in every conceivable color stored in six foot clear glass cylinders. Branded merchandise available in every form you can think of, and then some. Music…..loud music. And did I mention the aroma of chocolate wafting throughout the store? Ahhhh, the sweet scent of indulgence.

The M&M brand is everywhere – from book bags to pencils, clothes to coffee cups, and everything in between, including the M&M “brand” of Lady Liberty. There is even a race car with an outstanding example of co-branding: M&M’s and NASCAR! Indeed, had I wanted to purchase something other than M&M’s as a reminder of my trip to the Times Square M&M store, I simply needed to reach out an arm.

In this bastion of branding it suddenly struck me that I would surely find a wonderful example for the Bathroom Blogfest. There was no doubt in my mind this retailer would reach beyond the retail sales floor to take advantage of the few minutes spent in the bathroom to connect the M&M brand with shoppers. So I set about finding the bathroom - three flights of escalators past even more branded merchandise - and I see a small sign in the shape of a brown M&M pointing to the restrooms.
As I approached I was thinking of all the ways the brand might be extended to the restrooms… I couldn’t wait to see how the M&M brand would be manifested… Large primary colored M&M’s on the walls perhaps? M&M buttons on the water fixtures? I knew it would be clever, and I was certain it would call out to the small shoppers who frequent the bathrooms of every establishment they enter.

As I turned the corner, I stopped short. There it was... Nothing. No M&M signage other than a bit of color on the stall doors – everything else was stark white. No branding whatsoever – nothing. The M&M store restroom certainly provided for basic human needs in a clean environment, but what a missed opportunity to extend the brand to all aspects of this fun retail experience!

If you’ve been to Times Square you know the Hershey Store right across the street from the M&M store. I'm not sure which store came first in that particular geography, but -I thought to myself- if M&M’s was first, Hershey most certainly would have done their retail surveillance and taken the chance to out-do the competition.

So away I went across the street in search of a retailer who had seized the opportunity to extend a well known and loved brand to the bathroom. Upon entering the store and after looking around for a few minutes to take in the essence of the store, I asked to be directed to the bathroom.

Imagine my surprise and amazement when told, “There is no public access to our restrooms.” What are they thinking at Hershey? On a hot, sticky afternoon in New York City, this store was a cool retreat from the crowded, steamy sidewalks that characterize a summer afternoon in Time Square. Access to a bathroom would most certainly prolong the stay and “extend the spend” of shoppers…especially those with children. How much revenue is lost from shoppers who hurry up the Hershey experience in order to find a restroom?

Missed opportunity? Yes. Missed revenue? Definitely.

Thanks, Marianne!

My take on this? Stay true to your brand. If you have a playful brand, be sure to extend that playfulness to every aspect of your branded store experience.

And, if you want your customers to linger and come back to visit you again [hint: that's how they will spend more money in your store], be sure to offer them a bathroom. And, then, make sure your bathroom manifests your brand!

The latest postings on 'ladiesrooms' include:
+ Bathroom Blogfest: The Disney Experience
+ For a Better Experience, This Is the One Thing a Restroom Should Have

Participating in the 2007 Bathroom Blogfest are:
Kate Rutter—Adaptive Path
Laurence Helene Borel—Blog Till You Drop
Iris Shreve Garrott—checking out and checking in
Susan Abbott—Customer Experience Crossroads
Maria Palma—Customers Are Always
Becky Carroll—Customers Rock!
Toby Bloomberg—Diva Marketing
Stephanie Weaver—Experienceology
Linda Tischler—Fast Company Now
C.B. Whittemore—Flooring the Consumer
Ed Pell—K+B DeltaVee
Helene Blowers—Library Bytes
Claudia Schiepers—Life and its little pleasures
Katie Clark-Practical Katie
Sandra Renshaw—Purple Wren
Reshma Anand—Qualitative Research
Marianna Hayes—Results Revolution
Carolyn Townes—Spirit Women
Sara Cantor—The Curious Shopper
Anna Farmery—The Engaging Brand
Dee McCrorey—The Ultimate Corporate Entrepreneur
Katia S. Adams—Transcultural

Don't forget to check the Bathroom Blogfest group site.

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