Even though I am a 41 year-old male whose taste in music is far removed from the pop charts, I can’t seem to shake the Brit boy band juggernaut known as One Direction (1D). In my defense, I’m a father of two young girls so like Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange, my eyes and ears are force-fed a steady diet of 1D’s sugary sweet anthems, magazine covers, posters and tee shirts. It was only a matter of time before I started chanting stuff like this in my sleep:
Baby you light up my world like nobody else,
The way that you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed,
But when you smile at the ground it ain’t hard to tell,
You don’t know, Oh oh,
You don’t know you’re beautiful
(Note: If you’d like the aforementioned to be on a continuous loop inside your head, watch this. You’re welcome.)
Anyway, my relationship with 1D was taken to dizzying, new heights on a recent family trip to New York City when we paid a visit to One Direction World, a 9,000 square foot retail outlet conveniently located next to Madison Square Garden (where they are playing a sold out show tonight). It was early in the day but a long line stretched outside the entrance and around the building. Images of the band members and their logo loomed large. In front of us, a gaggle of chirping tweenagers could barely contain themselves as one exclaimed:
“I’m gonna be ten rows away from them tomorrow, I’m gonna die. OMG, I think I’m already dead!”
How can a retail store possibly meet the expectations of these crazed fans?
Once inside, my doubts disappeared. Plenty of places to take pictures and scribble love letters on walls. A green-screen booth allows fans to record their very own 1D video. Custom posters means fans can insert their own picture against different 1D backdrops. Then there’s the merchandise, what seemed like hundreds of different items (my favorite was the 1D pajamas for a mere $100). The staff was knowledgeable and helpful and there was absolutely no rushing or pressure of any kind.
1D’s music might drive some of us crazy for the wrong reasons. But after surviving, er, paying a visit to One Direction World and seeing the fans interact with the 1D brand – I think these guys could actually teach us techies and business types a thing or two about customer centricity.
Scream, shout and follow me on twitter @TClark01.