Disney Selling Happiness With The Tap Of A Wrist
A Disney theme park is an interesting place from the perspective of a marketer. Park attendee’s receive an experience geared towards maximizing profits from the moment they walk through the gates. As one goes through the Disney Land, Disney World, or whatever other Disney there is, they are unwittingly going through the exact experience Disney wants them to have. Inside the park, attendees are spending more time with the Disney brand than any other brand in the world. The food is Disney, the drinks are Disney, the rides are Disney, the souvenirs are Disney; everything is Disney. Hell, even the walls, trees, and shrubs surrounding the perimeter of the parks are designed to keep as little sights or sounds of other brands other than Disney outside.
As a marketer I realize how brilliant this is. Even if you skip all the souvenir shops to only ride the rides, you still can’t escape the souvenir shops like you thought you would be able to. After you go on a ride, the only way to exit the ride is by going through a souvenir shop. I don’t have any kids so it is easy for me to look past all the knick knacks in the shops after the rides, but I shudder to think of how much money I would spend going through those shops with kids. The beauty of it, Disney knows that, and they designed it that way.
There is a problem though; it seems Disney has painted themselves into a corner. How do they convince people to spend more money than they already do with an experience like that? They can add more rides which attract more people and more money, but they already do that. So it seems they are on a track to plateau as far as earnings go. Wrong. How do you get people to spend more money when they already spend the largest amount of time with your brand on any given day, and have every opportunity to spend money? Two ways, one make it easier for them to part with their money, and two, somehow give the consumer more time, so they can spend more time with your brand.
A recent article from The New York Times explains how Disney is planning on doing this. Disney will be combining Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips with your credit card, and putting all that information into a wearable wrist band. The new wrist bands also integrate with a new website and app, all of this is the new program Disney will be implementing in their parks called MyMagic+. This system, if implemented right sounds brilliant, and would take care of the above barriers.
First it makes it easier for consumers to part with their money. If you think about the progress of our purchasing mechanisms and the emotions associated with them this makes sense. There is an emotional pain associated with handing over cash to someone when making a purchase. Paying with a credit card eases that pain and makes spending a little more mindless, and a lot less emotional. Based on that it stands to reason that if you allow someone to pay for something simply with a tap of the wrist, then any lingering emotional pain associated with using a credit card disappears, and spending increases. Also when people are using cash to buy things, they generally are only thinking about how much something costs. When they use a credit card they generally only think about the benefits of buying that item. The rational thinking of cost would disappear that much more when someone is simply only tapping their wrist to pay for something.
MyMagic+ will also help free up more time for the consumer to spend with the Disney brand. Even though it seems like tapping ones wrist on something to pay for an item is not any faster than pulling out a credit card and swiping, seconds add up. Then factor in being alerted on the users smartphone when it is their turn to go on a ride. That is less time waiting in line, and more time that they could be shopping at a souvenir shop, or eating at a stand or restaurant.
These two things don’t even begin to show how brilliant Disney is. When one factors in how integrated the payment bracelets will become the possibilities are staggering. One will be able to use the bracelets to gain access to the parks, get into their hotel rooms, pay for anything, keep bar tabs, etc. On top of all that, because the wrist bands carry personal information they make for a much more interactive experience in the park. All of this combined will bring the needed element of surprise and delight that will cause more people to want to use the MagicBands. Imagine the joy on a kids face when they hug Mickey Mouse and he knows their name without even asking, or when a robotic bird talks directly to them by name. They could also use it for photo tagging on Facebook, or parents could use it to track their children’s whereabouts via their check-ins. Taking the RFID experience from offline to online can also help Disney with brand uplift via users Facebook walls, or Twitter feeds, or whatever other social network the users choose to connect with.
How does a brand stay relevant in this consumer driven world? It innovates and looks to the future. With more and more smartphones and mobile devices, and fewer people carrying around cash, it makes sense to make things as easy as possible. It makes sense to take away the negative emotions surrounding spending money, and help people focus on the benefits of what they are buying. Disney is good at that, they sell happiness.
The Green Guerilla