Betabrand is no stranger to forward-thinking experiential retail: the company leverages a crowdfunding platform that enables online shoppers to decide what clothes get designed, manufactured and sold on Betabrand.com. In 2019, Betabrand has expanded on its experiential roots with a very nontraditional store feature — a “Podcast Theater” that hosts podcasts in front of a live audience.
The company brings small- to medium-sized podcasts to its San Francisco store every Thursday and invites nearly 100 guests to listen in, well above the average of 20 to 30 people who visit the store on a typical Thursday night. Podcast booking became so popular that Betabrand ended up with three months of shows programmed in just three days, booking through the summer.
“Podcasting is the new blog, and everyone either has one or is considering launching one,” said Chris Lindland, Founder of Betabrand in a statement. “We put out a call for performers on Facebook and had three months of shows booked in under 10 days — with some traveling from as far away as New York to perform.”
Lindland said that the podcasts and related social posts introduce Betabrand to an audience 100X the number of shoppers who’d visit the store on any given evening.
Betabrand has a long history of turning its flagship storefront into a social spectacle to spread brand awareness. Some of the company’s less serious, but more attention-grabbing experiments to drive consumers to the store have included posting billboards across San Francisco seeking help finding a “lost cobra” and offering $35 “platypus eggnog” during the holiday season.
The podcast idea is an alternative to a lot of experiential concepts established within stores today, which can range from services as simple as in-store makeovers at Sephora to grandiose virtual reality experiences such as a “bike through Provence” at L’Occitane En Provence, where shoppers can ride stationary bikes against a scenic French background. As part of Macy’s second experiential STORY iteration, 36 stores host community-focused event programming such as indoor gardening workshops, barbecue cooking classes, terrarium-making classes and even outdoor activities such as kayaking on the Hudson River. In total, STORY at Macy’s will program more than 250 events.