Monday, June 20, 2011

M&Ms show how to really extend a brand

At the weekend, I visited the new M&Ms store in Leicester Square with my family. We'd already visited the M&Ms store in Times Square New York, so we knew what to expect. Even so, we were still overwhelmed (yet again). The place was absolutely packed with shoppers. There was pounding rock music, over-enthusiastic staff and brightly coloured stuff everywhere.

It's a very impressive set-up, with an atmosphere that almost compels people to buy. One of the cleverest features is the use of set-piece photo opportunities at every turn, so that people are not only drawn into the store, but linger while they are waiting to snap or be snapped. It's shopping as entertainment. Not only that, but some of the tableaux are clearly aimed at parents (or even grandparents, as this re-creation of the iconic Abbey Road album cover shows). There really is something for everyone.

Obviously, you can buy M&Ms in every colour and flavour imaginable. But that's not where it ends. There are T-shirts, mugs, trays, shower curtains, sunglasses, models, etc, etc. In fact, everything you can think of that might have M&Ms on it, is available in a choice of colours. Even some things you would never have dreamed of, such as silver business card holders, are available at not inconsiderable cost. Take a look at the picture opposite. See the price on the model of the fifties diner? Over four hundred and fifty pounds. Extraordinary. So a packet of coloured sweets has launched a series of global superstores where people are clamouring to buy an amazing range of products, many of them not even edible. The question that I'm pondering, here in London, is: Smarties, where were you?

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