Psychology of Wow

Psychology of Wow 491 800 Chute Gerdeman



A Chute Gerdeman Consumer Report

People are sensitive to unique, memorable experiences. People don’t forget a wow experience easily. If a product or service offers a ‘wow’ experience, people are more likely to buy it and use it, and buy it and use it again.

– The ‘wow’ experience 


According to a BBC News report, the average attention span is down from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to eight seconds now. That is less than the nine-second attention span of the average goldfish. It’s imperative that every brand understands the individual to whom they target, embrace that audience, find the edge that sets them apart, and destroy the boundaries that cause them to be forgotten.
Consumers demand much more transparency and connection to the brands they purchase from than ever before; thus, instilling a stronger need for a connection to the overall retail experience. They want to express more individuality and evolving values through their purchases, granting brands the opportunity to create campaigns, which can ultimately become long-lasting influencers.
We took notice of this at Chute Gerdeman, and set out to create a (semi) scientific method to empower retailers-and restauranteurs-with a standard formula for creating WOW! moments for every brand’s target audience.



Relevant // Personal // Accommodating // Accessible

Consumers are often grouped together by age and gender, and approached at a macro level from brands in conversation. Times have shifted, and it’s important to look for opportunities with micro moments to reach consumers individually on a personal level. It’s about meeting consumers where they are, and making your brand easily accessible to them on their terms. Don’t make them come find you; instead, be there when they need you, even when they don’t realize they do. Anticipate the need before it is one.


Domino’s is a brand that continues to place wow at the top of its priority list. Its admission of past disappointment on the market draped its entirety in a level of honesty its target had never seen before (personal). In order to pivot the brand expression in a way that felt more alluring, Domino’s introduced a suite of changes to correct its shortcomings, most prominently, designing a new store format to provide a better experience for its customers.

Additionally, Domino’s introduced the Domino’s Anywhere app, which allows the user to order their favorite pizza from any device. Because text messages now out-rank phone calls as the dominant form of communication for Millennials, Domino’s took ordering one step further and added Easy Order (relevant and accessible). This revolutionary way to seamlessly integrate the brand within the user’s lifestyle gives whomever the opportunity to simply text a pizza emoji to initiate the order process (accommodating).

Becoming familiar with the individual consumer isn’t all about mobile ordering; however, the growth of Starbucks’ mobile application has the eyes of every competitor within the industry watching (relevant).

In a recent Forbes article, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz noted that “no single competency is enabling us to elevate the Starbucks brand more than our global leadership in mobile, digital, and loyalty. Starbucks is a clear leader in mobile payments, and we are encouraged by how consumers have embraced mobile apps as a way to pay” (personal).

After a recent partnership announcement with The New York Times to feature top news every day for loyalty members at more than 7,000 company-owned locations, customers now have the ability to order their coffee with a side of information. (accessible)

This is an overal win for customers, Starbucks, and The New York Times as they create positive experiences for both themselves and the people who love their brands (accommodating).



Connected // Authentic // Relevant // Immersive

Brands need to be relevant before they can even begin to establish a following, or embrace their audience. Retailers today can achieve relevance through authenticity, which means being true to the core of their brand and consistently outpouring that message to the consumer. It’s also about being connected, and creating a sense of community; being the conduit for likeminded individuals sharing similar values, purpose, and passion. Create an experience centered around the audience, taking them from a passive witness to an active participant.


Vans is teaching brands how to embrace our audiences at House of Vans, London. Known for its storied skate heritage and street culture (authentic), Vans took over abandoned subway tunnels to create an all-encompassing, multi-sensory experience for its customers (immersive).

This iconic brand embraced the skating community and gave them something they could experience anywhere else. Vans built the city’s only indoor skate park, accompanied by a music venue, café, bars, art galleries, and lab spaces to help nurture and feature talent. A brand instilled with incredible value, Vans partnered with three local charities to integrate itself within the community (connected).

Cycling is not a new exercise–it’s become a staple within the industry since the early 1990s. At SoulCycle, however, the brand is reinventing the format for today’s customer (relevant) and asking customers to pay a lot of money to take part.

This classic environment has embraced its audience, recognizing the need for a new way to mix entertainment with exercise; it encourages the willingness to share the support of others by creating an experience they can’t get in any other gym (authentic).

This new spin on working out has created a community of enthusiasts who love their experience, and who aren’t afraid to show off their pride by purchasing a few items for SoulCycle’s apparel collection (connected).



Immersive // Surprising // Sensory // Exciting

Find the thing that pushes a brand experience above the rest. There’s no time-or room-for “me, too” brands in the market. While it may be popular to follow the path or principles of successful brands that have paved the way, it’s time to step back and look at things differently. Explore out-of-the-box methods to create an immersive experience that activates consumer senses, and lets them experience a brand beyond a transaction. Give them the opportunity to engage with a brand through a multi-faceted perspective, digging into the depths of the brand’s entirety.


Sometimes, the best wows happen in unexpected places. When arriving at Beauty & Essex, a popular clubstaurant in NYC, patrons happen upon a storefront that looks like a typical New York pawn shop. Visitors can shop at the pawn shop, but only the truly elite (exciting) are able to walk through the back door, embarking into an overwhelming-juxtaposed restaurant (immersive).

A powerful impact (surprising), this new take on blending retail and restaurants pushes both concepts to their edge through dramatic concept, unique thumbing, and fun elements like free champagne in the restroom (sensory).

This Chute Gerdeman designed space is the manifestation of a company striving to discover the edge of their industry, before any other business did (surprising).

Our team was challenged with creating an environment that showcased the intangible parts of life; the result: Dreambank, a space for community members and customers alike to gather and share their dreams for the future (exciting). The space has areas to inspire dreams, shares hopes for the future, and display wishes (immersive).

The entire Dreambank envelopes the participants in all aspects of dream (immersive) so well, that components are translated to agent offices and other activation experiences across the country.



Surprising // Spectacular // Inspiring // Revolutionary

It’s not enough to push boundaries; you need to destroy them. Take past conventional thinking and toss it out the window. Be prepared to challenge social norms and surprise consumers. With social media and mobile access, brands are no longer confined to a conversation within four walls. Those brands that leverage and lengthen the dialogue with those mediums, will find a deeper connection that becomes top-of-mind. This isn’t about just playing it safe to appeal to all; it’s about starting a consumer revolution that carries your brand. Yesterday’s word-of-mouth is now a socially connected movement. Engage and inspire to watch the action that follows.


The fact that it’s the world’s most expensive restaurant aside, Sublimotion is one of the most buzzed about experiences today. The passionate two-star Michelin chef (inspiring) oversees the operations. He describes the restaurant guests as the “cheapest life-changing experience anyone can have” (revolutionary).

Described as theatrical dining, the environment changes with each course: spinning plates, vibrant 360 degree projection, and drinks that mix themselves (spectacular and surprising).

The master “brand” that’s destroying boundaries in today’s marketplace is Jay-Z. He’s found a way to take his products to a revolutionary level by aligning himself with a lot of fine artists and cultural leaders-Jenna Lyons, Judd Apatow, Marina Abramovic, and Alan Cumming-in unexpected venues (revolutionary and inspiring).

At an event called “Picasso Baby” Jay-Z created a pop-up style performance (surprising) at a small art gallery. Word quickly spread, and soon he was joined by thousands of fans while he filmed the event for a new music video and HBO documentary (spectacular).


As we’ve seen, brands are embracing the challenge like never before. There are other forces, however, that are also at play, especially in the media world.

Social media tools such as Vine, Snapchat, and Twitter’s live-streaming app Periscope are framing up an entirely new mode of communication. It’s more real, more authentic, and more in the moment.

Content and discovery are going to be the major driving forces for brands, and we’re interested to see how this will translate into the retail world. What will retailers do with these new tools, and what will you do to change the conversation?

Overall, we see the erosion of traditional demographics. Recently, Iconoculture featured a piece that stated, “…boundaries are less defined by geography or gender than by access and attitude.”

Our collective thinking is changing; all of us have the opportunity, moving forward, to interact with what we love the most, and to access a community of people sharing the same beliefs. That’s the new demographics and the new Wow!


Want to chat with us about updating your retail or restaurant space, or possibly schedule a workshop for your company to explore its own Wows?



A collection of insights research and observations across retail, restaurant, c-store and grocery. Helping brands provide a better experience for their customers. Enjoy.

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