Republic Bike has involved clients in designing the bicycles they order since it opened in 2008. A growing number of customers don’t want just to order bespoke bikes; they want to learn how to build them as well. Republic’s corporate and nonprofit clients are asking for hands-on workshops. Universities have hosted bike-building sessions for students, and an architecture firm recently held a bike design day for its employees.
“Companies see this as a joyful experience for their employees,” says Avery Pack, owner of the Dania Beach Fla. business that has sold custom bikes to Google and TV’s Portlandia “loaded with opportunities for smug self-satisfaction”.
Businesses that used to just sell products are courting customers with classes, entertainment, and social experiences. Think cooking demonstrations at gourmet shops, fashion shows at boutiques, or workshops at the Apple Store. “Consumers are increasingly responding to blended retail and entertainment experiences,” says Fred Thompson, retail practice leader at marketing company LoyaltyOne.