Despite a slowdown during COVID-19, the growth of brand homes continues and is being driven by a macro trend known as the experience economy. Research shows that a big part of this trend is a preference of consumers to spend money on experiences vs things, put another way, people expect to build relationships with the brands they love through experiences. This is being led by the millennial generation, who now command over $13 Trillion in spending power. The result is that brands continue to invest more than ever in staging brand experiences that leave a memorable– and lucrative– impression. Just look at Diageo’s $200 million investment in whiskey tourism in Scotland. Evidence indeed that brand homes are an important medium to connect with consumers.
In addition to the impact on brand advocacy, these multi-sensory experiences can be lucrative. Take the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland. With adult ticket prices ranging from $15-$30 and over 1.7 million visitors per annum, the brand home has become a profit center.
In this post, we’ll look at types of brand homes and provide examples of successful brands embracing this model as part of their brand strategy.
What better way to understand how your favorite products are made than to visit the factory to see the process first hand. In the US alone, hundreds of brands open their doors for factory tours. From airplanes to hot sauce, if you are interested in seeing firsthand ‘How it’s Made’ there are plenty of options. From a brand perspective, many of these experiences offer museum-like experiences in addition to guided tours of the factory floor. At the same time, many tours are simple and lack the interpretive elements of a museum. Two of our favorites are the Tabasco experience and the Honda Heritage museum.
Tabasco – Louisiana, USA
The world famous hot sauce has been produced by the McIlhenny Company in Avery Island, Louisiana since 1868. Their famous museum offers history exhibits and self-guided tours.
Honda Heritage Center – Ohio, USA
The Honda Heritage Center is adjacent to the company’s manufacturing plant in Marysville, Ohio. It highlights the company’s successes in North America over the last half-century with an array of historical, current and future products – each with its own story.
Distilleries & Breweries
For many tourists, sampling the local brew is all part of the experience, and in some cases the brand can become the biggest tourist attraction in a city or country. Take Guinness, whose offering at St James’s Gate in Dublin, Ireland is consistently the busiest attraction in the country, welcoming over 1.7 million visitors in 2019.
Despite a tough year for the industry, investment in alcohol brand homes continues. ‘Whiskey tourism’ destinations such as Kentucky, Ireland, and Scotland will see more openings in 2021. Indeed most recently, Diageo announced plans to open their latest brand homes in Scotland as part of a $200M investment in whiskey tourism.
At AnyRoad, we support dozens of strong brands that use their distilleries or breweries as a means of differentiation. These brands welcome millions of visitors each year. Check out our case studies for more insight.
A growing number of brands have opted not to have a large retail footprint and instead have developed experiential pop-ups and demo centers for their products. For many, this is part of a lean direct-to-consumer strategy–but for others it’s a way to provide unique destinations for consumers.
Dyson Demo Centers, Global
Best known for bringing the bagless vacuum cleaner to the masses, Dyson’s brand identity has a reputation for beautiful design and innovation. The brand has dozens of demo centers in major cities around the world where consumers can get their hands on vacuum cleaners, hairdryers, fans, and more. More recently, Dyson began offering free beauty appointments in its stores in the US.
Target Wonderland – New York, USA
Major retailers have long been creating special holiday storefronts and gift stores that have a sensory edge to them. In 2019, Target brought a contemporary feel with its wonderland pop-up in New York. The retailer offered gaming spaces, toy shops, and more hands-on activities such as a hallway of interactive Star Wars lightsabers, a giant snow globe photo space that generates a GIF that is shareable on social media, and a tasting kitchen sponsored by Campbell’s.
In addition to pop-up brand homes, a common theme amongst retailers is to deliver in-store experiences such as classes, concerts and hands-on demonstrations. While some may argue that this is a stretch of the definition of a brand house, many of these initiatives spring to life at retailers’ flagship stores.
Michaels In-Store Classes – USA
The Michaels Companies, Inc. is North America’s largest retailer of arts and crafts materials, empowering makers of all ages to express their imaginations with skill and originality. The retailer offers online and in-store classes–and to date–over 400k people have participated.
Dick’s In-Store Experiences – USA
Dick’s Sporting Goods launched more than 70 years ago with one small storefront in Binghamton, N.Y. Today, the company has grown into an empire with more than 700 stores in 48 states and is well regarded for its in-store experiences. For example, Dick’s held an outdoor fashion show in New York City, with models that included former baseball player Alex Rodriguez and women’s soccer star Carli Lloyd.
Getting behind-the-scenes access to sports venues and stadiums is a big deal for fans. These experiences foster loyalty and can help ensure year-round utilization of the venues and contribute to managing overheads. Many of these venues serve a dual purpose which can be used for special events and corporate hospitality.
Raiders Stadium Experience – Nevada, USA
Allegiant Stadium located in Paradise, Nevada, serves as the home stadium for the Las Vegas Raiders. Tours and experiences are available at the stadium and include interpretive exhibits as well as behind-the-scenes looks at locker rooms and other facilities.
Horse Country Farm Tours – Kentucky, USA
Horse Country, a 501(c)(3) organization that connects consumers with Kentucky horse culture. Working with a partner network of 32 locations and stakeholders across the state, Horse Country facilitates educational and experiential visits to working farms, rehabilitation and adoption centers, race tracks, feeding centers, stud farms, nurseries, and more.
For car enthusiasts, track days are bucket list items. Taking your dream car to a private track with expert instruction and no speed limit is an adrenaline inducing thrill ride. Many of the world’s most popular sports car manufacturers have dedicated experience centers and even theme parks.
Porsche Experience Centers, Various Locations
The Porsche Experience Centers offer enthusiasts and novices to take Porsche’s lineup of performance cars out on the track. With expert instruction, participants are able to push the cars and their personal driving skills to the limit.
When you think of theme parks, it’s unlikely you think of ‘branded experiences’ however, many of the most popular attractions are brand homes. Disney’s parks are the physical manifestation of a massive global media brand. Smaller brands like Tayto Crisps in Ireland have a popular theme park. When run at this scale, these types of brand homes are very much profit centers.
Hersheypark – Pennsylvania, USA
First opened in 1906 as a leisure park for the employees of the Hershey Chocolate Company, Hersheypark is a sub-brand and family theme park in Hershey, PA, USA. The park has 76 rides in operation, including roller coasters and branded entertainment.
Nintendo World – Osaka, Japan
In 2016, Nintendo announced plans to build a theme park called Super Nintendo World in Japan. Though the project has been delayed by the pandemic, it is scheduled to open in 2021.
A number of brands have capitalized on a combination of community and exclusivity to help them grow. Private memberships are most common with luxury goods or with associated ‘brand communities’ such as owners’ clubs.
Dunhill Bourdon House – London, England
Alfred Dunhill is a luxury goods brand based in London. In keeping with their luxury value proposition and messaging, they opened an exclusive brand home in 2008 offering luxury retail and members services including a barbershop and spa.
Rapha Clubhouse, Various Locations
Rapha is a high-end cycling brand with a cult following. Since 2004 they have offered the Rapha Clubhouses retail space as meeting places for road cyclists and fans of the sport. Visitors are greeted with the latest Rapha products, cafés, as well as live racing, rides, and events.
Despite the restrictions to in-person activity brought about by COVID-19, we are bullish on the future of brand homes. Many of the venues we’ve referenced have adapted their offerings to be omnichannel (virtual events, live streams etc.) and have also designed innovative experiences to ensure continuity of service throughout the pandemic. It’s exciting to see plans continue for new venues such as Diageo’s investment in Scotland and Nintendo’s investment in Japan.
Want to learn more?
If you’re interested in learning more about brand homes, check out this recorded webinar with Christian Lachel, VP and Executive Creative Director at BRC Imagination Arts (creators of The Heineken Experience, The Henry Ford Museum, The Las Vegas Raiders Tour Experience, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The Ford Rouge Factory Tour, and more!). During the webinar, Daniel Yaffe, COO and Co-founder at AnyRoad, and Christian breakdown what a brand home is, why you need one, how to measure its impact, and how to make a business case for it.