Jackie Huba

See a pattern here?

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts
Build-A-Bear Workshop
and now, Cold Stone Creamery

Each one of these retail chains features an “assembly line” concept in their stores, and each one is enjoying runaway word of mouth and customer evangelism.

The common threads:

* Krispy Kreme stores are really small manufacturing sites where the doughnuts are raised through a proofer, cook through a river of swift-moving oil, and then parade hot through a waterfall of creamy glaze. All of this happens behind a wall of glass in the store, open for all to watch.

* Customers at Build-A-Bear Workshop create their own stuffed animal by picking a “skin,” adding a wish and a heart, stuffing the skin using a big, roiling machine similar to a movie popcorn popper, giving the new friend an “air bath” and dressing it in the finest outfit.

* Cold Stone Creamery is opening stores across the country based on the concept of mashing ice cream on a slab of freezing marble, and customers request from several dozen “mix-ins” to be added. Customers watch as employees make up *their* special ice cream and serve it up to order.

The pattern here is that a personalized experience gives customers something to tell others about. These companies have established repeatable customized processes; each store experience can be different based on your customization of it. Each experience is another opportunity to describe the store experience, and evangelize to friends and neighbors on why they should try it.

In a recent Chicago Tribune article, a Stone Cold Creamery spokesman says, “We don’t plan television commercials or national radio advertising campaigns. We hope for word-of-mouth recommendation from customers.”

Welcome to the Church of the Customer, Stone Cold!

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