Is It Guilty Pleasure or Is It Smart Business?


Is It Guilty Pleasure or Is It Smart Business?

I have seen a dramatic shift in the way clients interact with brands over the last few years. A transactional style experience is no longer enough from a bricks and mortar store. Clients are looking for more.

Whether conscious of it or not, leaving a store simply with what we went in there for, leaves us feeling unfulfilled. It’s as if something is missing, something that we only become fully aware of when we go to an establishment where they have cracked the secret code.

Equal to the feeling when you are watching the sunrise for the first time, you stand in absolute amazement.

That was phenomenal. Why is no one else doing this? I can’t believe I have gone so long without having it. I have to tell everyone I know.

This feeling is why I created The Xennox Scotch Club.

What I Wanted from the Club

My goal was to design the experience I wanted when I went shopping. I often think of Richard Branson and his ‘why’ on the creation of Virgin Airlines. It has been quoted he was frequently frustrated with flying on airlines that fell short of the experience he needed.

So, motivated by how amazing it could be, he simply created it. The end result was an army of clients who felt the same way and reveled in the newfound experience.

When I was designing my new diamond boutique in Queen St Mall, I decided to incorporate a scotch bar. Was this a guilty pleasure? Yes. A little self-indulgent? Of course. A lot of fun and a whole new dimension in coming to work? Definitely.

Giving someone a scotch would have been nice, but I wanted to go further. More than just a tasting experience, I wanted to give them an educational experience. So whether they were walking in to a bottle shop to purchase a house-warming gift for a friend or had a guest over, they felt they had a new found level of knowledge of scotches and whiskeys.

However, one cannot simply achieve mastery in scotch in one sitting. It is a journey that once you start, can become a lifelong passion. And what better way to start that journey, than in the surrounds of a diamond store.

What I noticed about the Club

Having a scotch bar in my boutique jewellry store, I noticed clients would often ask me if I would join them. I think there is something special when you join someone for a scotch. Drinking scotch is not like drinking water – it’s not designed to quench your thirst. It is something that needs to be appreciated and deconstructed, best done in the company of other scotch drinkers.

Above just the appreciation of scotch, a special bond forms. Now you are no longer just a sales person standing on the other side of the counter. You are someone with whom a meaningful relationship is forming; giving some sage advice from the same side of the cabinet.

The whole paradigm of the conversation has changed. We were now forming more meaningful relationships with our clients. We were now in the forefront when the topic of jewellery came up.

Talking to guys I noticed 3 main issues about the way they were drinking scotch:

  1. They didn’t know what sort of scotch or whisky they liked i.e. single malts vs. blends.
  2. They didn’t try enough types of scotch to work out which brands or regions they liked.
  3. This is the biggest one – most people have no idea how to really drink it.

What I learnt as a result

While I was aware of the movement in scotch appreciation, I was surprised by the large number of ladies interested in learning about scotch varieties. It seems this is an experience not valued exclusively by men.

After starting this journey into helping our prospective clients gain a new level of understanding around scotch, I found they would also like knowledge and education about the different varieties of Gin, Vodkas and Champagnes.

Think about your business. What is your guilty pleasure that you could include in your business and how motivated would it make you feel to turn up each day to work seeing it?

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Showing 3 comments
  • Elizabeth Gillam

    Great article Karl – I could not agree more – Scotch is not to quench your thirst but rather to enjoy whilst in a great conversation

    • Karl Schwantes

      Thank you Elizabeth 🙂 You will have to come in and experience it for your self. 🙂

  • Katherine

    What a great idea – love it!

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