They were always there when I needed them to be. Every milestone I sought to celebrate and each defeat I was desperate to forget, when I showed up at their door they never once turned me away. In my youth I would go with my parents. As a teenager, I would join my friends there. Later, when I could finally drive, I would proudly take my girlfriend. I am referring, of course, to Blockbuster Video 🙂
Damn silly, but honestly not that far off when you think about how people interacted with companies and their products back then. In the world as it was before iPhones and Amazon Prime, being a patron often meant immersing oneself in a live experience at a fixed location.. Even though I can’t imagine a day without Netflix, Disney+ or Youtube TV now, the Blockbuster experience offered something the streaming services haven’t replicated. You’re not going to bump into an old friend while looking for something to watch on HBO Max. Blockbuster was also about so much more than just the thing I wanted to watch, it was the promise of an adventure.
Deciding to go get even one movie meant getting ready, heading out, and getting 15 minutes away from home before trying to remember if you grabbed your membership card. It meant eventually finding the card in a pocket you’ve never put anything in before in your entire life and losing yourself in the rows and racks of videos once you made your way inside. Even when you left, you weren’t done. There was still picking the fast food of choice and then heading home, all before actually sitting down to enjoy it all. The stores themselves had cool features and tech, movie props and the New Release section was a must visit aisle!
Progress and innovation have made completely obsolete the experience of walking from aisle to aisle reading the backs of paper boxes. Much like the video retail industry, the cigar industry is in the midst of a major and much needed period of disruption. The days of the transactional purchase are gone and are already being replaced with stronger, more positive, and much more convenient experiences and relationships. We thrive off a global network that allows for instant communication, collaboration and knowledge sharing with our colleagues and friends. We now have infinite amounts of data at our fingertips and the information to drive deeper personalized experiences to everyone in our community.
Today’s generation of customers are always connected.
Today’s brand communities expect personal interactions.
Today’s enthusiasts will not wait for anything they can get somewhere else..
Today’s consumers hold the power.
As the market moves to meet this new era of engaged enthusiasts, businesses that simply seek to sell a product to a customer and walk away without a conversation will have a harder time finding loyal customers. This industry must become a service industry, focused on the success of their customers. The next generation cigar companies will be service providers, consultants, thought leaders, and subject matter experts. They will provide positive outcomes, create experiences, and build relationships. Gone are the days of transactional dealings, “The Sale” which are temporary, self-serving, and exhausting to the consumers mind, body, and spirit. Today we must root our customer experiences on reciprocal, naturally rewarding, experiential relationship-based connections.
We are in the midst of an incredibly exciting movement for our community, in our businesses and for our customers. Let’s embrace the journey and enjoy the ride!