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Enhancing the wireless shop (now with video!)

March 25, 2005

There appears to be a massive disconnect between the sizzle and glamour that often surrounds the launch of a new wireless handset and the comparatively mundane experience of shopping for a phone at the mall. The wireless carriers seem to have successfully drained any emotion out of the shopping experience (you might as well be shopping for groceries, instead of a C21st communication device) that they miss the opportunity to differentiate their brands at retail. They could do worse than looking at KDDI in Japan.

KDDI is a wireless carrier with over 21 million mobile subscribers and it recently opened a showcase retail store in the trendy Harajuku district in Tokyo.

The five story store is big enough to host live performances, let consumers interact with handsets through games and photo contests, showcase future handset concepts and surf the web at the wireless internet cafe on the top floor.

The strategy behind the store is to help the brand appeal to the Japanese youth market. By locating the store in the epicenter of Japanese youth culture and making it experiential, KDDI uses the store as a “net” to get their core target to “touch” the KDDI brand.

video of the store

Perhaps handset manufacturers and carriers on the US market need to follow KDDI’s lead and create showcase environments to educate consumers on the idea of convergence; that phones are for more than just voice.

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