What is it that makes Harrods different from other stores?
On a recent trip to Harrods my wife spotted these dog goggles. Yes, dog goggles. Goggles for dogs. I couldn’t decide whether they were the silliest product I’d ever seen or the most brilliant. Sure, you can buy them online from specialist stockists (I checked), but I’ve never seen them in my local Tesco or Sainsbury’s. This got me thinking, not least about why a store like Harrods would stock an item like this, but also about why my wife was even in Harrods in the first place.
My wife was in Harrods with her sister and the children during the school holidays because Harrods is a destination in itself. It’s a ‘must see’ for visitors on the tourist trail, just like the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and Big Ben. Yet it is ‘just’ a shop, isn’t it?
What is it about Harrods that gives it such status and mass appeal? Is it the design of the shop? Is it the price of the goods? Is it the fine history, tradition and heritage associated with the store? Is it the prime, upmarket Knightsbridge location? Is it the breadth and depth of the product range (amazing dog goggles a case in point)? Several stores boast these positives though, but none have quite the kudos of Harrods.
In my view the point is that Harrods is more than a shop, it is an experience.
All of the aforementioned factors, coupled with the richness of the sights, smells, colours and sounds within the store make it a place that oozes mystique, sensuality and intimacy. The store actually feels alive when you are within it. It seems to reach out and touch you in a way that other stores do not. The experience of going to Harrods over the years has, for many of us, helped form a strong emotional connection with the brand, and given the store the kudos and therefore the ability to sell dog goggles and other products even stranger than this. I’ve visited the store to buy birthday and Christmas presents which may have been cheaper elsewhere, simply to be able to tell the eventual recipient that the item came from Harrods and to present it to them in the famous green bag with gold writing.
So what can other high street stores learn from Harrods? Whilst it may not be possible for all stores to appeal to vast numbers of shoppers the way that Harrods can, I do think that important lessons about creating a rich experience can be taken. Whether it be product display, lighting or simply encouraging people to browse, touch, feel and play with the items on offer.
As for the dog goggles, no my wife didn’t buy them, mainly because we don’t have a dog. But her nine-year-old niece bought a teddy bear. Not because she doesn’t have several teddy bears already, but because this one has on its furry little foot, embroidered in gold coloured thread, a word that none of her other teddy bears have. Harrods.