brand experience brief: target open house

Target, the mass retailer, has opened a new retail concept called Open House.  It’s a combination connected home lab and retail space — very interactive and very cool — but probably not a big money maker.  Take a look at Target Open House:

DLYohn Brand Experience Brief: Target Open House from Denise Lee Yohn on Vimeo.

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What would CES, the Consumer Electronics Show that attracts over 180,000 participants each year, look like if it were a store?  Well, Open House, a new concept by Target, the mass retailer, gives a little taste.  This Brand Experience Brief takes you inside this new connected home lab and retail space located adjacent to the City Target at the Metreon in San Francisco.

Open House is a 3,500 square-foot space that shows off connected technology, also known as the “Internet of Things” or IoT, which connects everyday items like thermostats and door locks to the Internet so that people can experience more personalization, convenience and efficiency in their homes. The store showcases Mimo baby monitors, Sonos speakers, Jawbone fitness trackers, and Nest thermostats.  If there is a way to integrate technology into a kitchen device, this store has it.

As you will find at CES, everything at Open House is interactive — the products are set up for you to try out and the displays are interactive and informative like this one from August, a smart door lock, and there are lots of live demos.  Products are shown in room set ups made of Lucite, so the products stand out and information about how they work can be projected onto surfaces.

A giant panoramic digital screen is used for animated scenarios that show the process of multiple devices working together so you can see how a lamp, stereo system, and thermostat for example might work together to create an integrated experience when you leave the house.

A couple of other cool features of the store include a digital display showing top selling items and a funky motorcycle display made of Lucite.

I visited Open House on a weekday in the morning and was the only person in the store.  The friendly employee decked out in the Apple-esque uniform of branded t-shirt and jeans told me that foot traffic tended to be pretty light except for on the weekends and during events like demo nights where representatives from the product companies give talks and demos.

I get the sense the sales per square foot are pretty low but that doesn’t seem to be the point. Target says it views the store as part retail, part storytelling, and part learning lab where the company can learn about what people are interested in and what questions and needs they might have about the Internet of Things.

Target just announced a partnership with the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo to include early-stage connected home technologies in the store and they’re also working on a store refresh, so I’m sure the concept may look very different soon.  For now, it looks pretty cool — I just wonder how long it will be before the company feels the pressure to increase sales in order to justify the cost of the prime real estate.


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