About a month or so before the world as we know it changed and the opportunity to go out became a thing of the past (for now), my view and understanding of Samsung completely changed. I don’t use any Samsung products nor have I been a champion of the brand. But all of a sudden they got my attention in a big way and my desire to own a Samsung product – didn’t even matter which product – went from zero to a hundred in under 5 seconds. Why? Because I visited Samsung KX at Coal Drops Yard. It is such an extreme example of experiential marketing, it’s almost baffling at first.
What is Samsung KX?
‘Samsung KX is a place to discover innovation and local culture, push your limits and open your mind.’
It opened in July of last year, as part of one of London’s most significant redevelopment projects at King’s Cross which includes Coal Drops Yard (where Samsung KX is situated). The canal-side setting and rich history of the area combined with new shops, homes, offices, galleries, bars and more has made the once ‘industrial wasteland’ a popular London destination.
Coal Drops Yard in particular feels special and exciting. Its evocative atmosphere creates a sense of what the future can be for those expecting more out of life than the mundane. The exterior is a unique visual feast aptly named the “kissing point”. Walking in to Samsung KX, they literally ‘had me at hello’. It’s not even a store, you can’t buy anything, it is an experience space where you simply soak up innovation at its best in a high tech yet laid back and comfortable environment. Whether you choose to relax at a headphone listening station sitting in a comfy armchair overlooking Coal Drops Yard, enjoy a reasonably priced sandwich in the café or learn about smart home connectivity controls, there is no doubt this place was built to inspire and foster creativity.
So why didn’t they just make it a store? Surely that would help to increase sales and profit? Y H Lee, Global CMO of Samsung Electronics said:
To consumers, especially Samsung adopters, advocates and techies, this is a very exciting proposition indeed. It’s a chance to have hands-on, immersive, multi-sensory experiences with all kinds of products, for free, and with no purchasing expectations. For creatives, it’s a space to explore ideas, see things differently and challenge the status quo. For marketers, it’s an inspiration and an example of experiential marketing at a whole new level.
Why is this important and what can we learn?
One of the purposes of experiential marketing is to immerse customers in what the brand stands for, why it exists and how it is making a difference. This is done by engaging the customer and ensuring they interact with the brand in a practical yet highly customer-centric way. Some great examples of this include brand experiences by Apple, IKEA and Red Bull, to name a few. When an experience resonates, an emotional connection is made. That connection can be what inspires us to buy, to share and to recommend. Samsung KX is not about selling, it’s about being memorable and building experiences that create a lasting connection. I walked into a ‘product showcase’ by a brand that I normally would never need or want to engage with (I’m a staunch Apple customer). I walked out having a totally different impression of what Samsung is and a desire to learn and know more. Rachael was quite pleased, as she is a Samsung customer.
Facilitating that type of transformation, an experience that resonates strongly, should be part of our thinking for our own businesses. During my time at Samsung KX, the conversations I was having because I was in that space led to new ideas and to seeing things differently. It contributed in a positive way towards my personal and professional growth, and broadened my cultural lexicon and schematic knowledge. Wanting to do that through your brand, for your customers, can make you memorable and set you apart from your competitors. Our #ShakeItHUB free design and marketing drop-in initiative, on a scale in line with our business landscape, is an example of this. It means we can demonstrate our expertise, provide a good user experience, be helpful and in some cases, facilitate collaboration and potential new business for our attendees. And we do this in a non-sales environment.
Samsung KX was not only born out of the need to engage with customers, it also represents the importance of collaboration and community engagement. The very fabric of the space and how it evolved within Coal Drops Yard is all part of the end result and contributes to its unique user experience. Co-creation and curation of experiences, events and workshops means new partnerships which can lead to brand awareness and business growth. This is why we should ‘be more Samsung’.
Of course it is temporarily closed right now, but it is high on my list of places to revisit when it’s safe to go out. It’s something to really look forward to. Will you be going? Let us know in the comments and share your experience when you can!
Meg Fenn, Director of Shake It Up Creative.