So I was introduced to a store In Auckland called Real Groovy and I could have spent hours and hours in there but I couldn't so I didn't, but the time I did made me think this has to be the way retailers need to go to keep their customers coming back for the real thing.
Real Groovy is not housed in some fancy mall. It’s a gritty, grungey warehouse-like space. Its exterior is painted with graffiti which in some countries would get you arrested.
The star of the store is not in its décor – but in the goods it stocks. And at the heart of Real Groovy is music so it stocks everything to do with music – CDs, new and old; DVDs, old and new; books; T-shirts, memorabilia – and the section I found most fascinating – cassettes and vinyl records. I had forgotten what those looked like but everyone (my vintage) can remember their first LP, right? Mine was Billy Joel. It stayed with me till my dog sat on it.
At their listening post are turntables – do you remember how to work those things?
I am told that Real Groovy, billed as “New Zealand’s largest retailer of new and used music, books, games and DVDs”, started as a store more than 20 something years ago. It now has an online presence where you can buy and trade and the website does have some semblance of the look-and-see of the place, but definitely not the feel.
When you’re in the physical store, you feel the love for music. There are some real gems in there, if you look hard enough. Which you wouldn’t find in most mainstream music stores.
Here too, the staff know their stuff. This is not like the store in Singapore when I went to ask for a Ray Charles CD and was asked instead, who is he? This guy would have been booted out of Real Groovy real pronto.
It creates an experience that immerses you in your interests and gathers you with like-minded people in a unique space that inspires you to dream and buy.
As we enter 2011, we move into a world that is increasingly crowded, confused, cluttered, yet strangely targeted and almost personal.
Masses of information being thrown at us – from dawn to dusk, from the moment we switch on our mobile to when we shut down for the night. Information that’s no longer just out there to be accessed but it comes directly at us through our smartphones.
And it’s information that’s created by us in our desire to share instantly everything we do, think and feel. We’ve always had opinions but now we feel everyone wants to hear our opinions, and we get instant gratification from the “likes” we get, the comments we elicit and the retweets we generate.
It’s like an intravenous drip of “love” and we almost feel lonely without it. Hail the new drug of the 21st century.
To every trend a counter-trend though and I feel that in the new year, we will see people yearn for real connections, meaningful content and quality communities. Mass will no longer cut it. Think thin, deep and rich.
We will see increasing specialization in travel. I don’t want to call it longtail – over-used and reminds me of my dog that sat on my first LP – but 2011 will be the year of the niche experiences. They’ve always been hard to find and book online but new and interesting technologies will make it easier for customers to seek them out, engage with them and experience them, online or offline.
Online or offline, it will be about each of us finding our groove next year, in our business and personally. Because the messier and noisier things get, the more the need to pick and choose what works for you.
Real Groovy figured it out and stuck to their groove. They know that online or offline, it’s about creating an experience that immerses you in your interests and gathers you with like-minded people in a unique space that inspires you to dream and buy.
Have a real groovy new year.