I am soaking in a bathtub that’s filled with rose petals. The water is at a perfect temperature and whirlers around me are kneading the exhaustion out of my body. Yet, there is only one question that’s echoing in my head — what if I’m caught on camera? Even before the onset of the experiment, my friend had already planted the first seeds of doubt — what if in two hours there’s an MMS clip of you circulating on the Internet?
The thing is, I am not at home. In fact, I am bathing at a rather public place — the Orientation Centre of the bath and shower company, Jaquar. Here, you can try out different accessories like whirlpools, steam cabins, showers and even their range of spa. So while I can’t afford the Rs 5.5 lakh whirlpool that I’m soaking in, I can definitely preview what they are offering. To top it all, I’m provided with towels, soap, et al.
lap of luxury
* Jaquar Showroom,
D-56, Defence Colony,
* Tempur, A-59,
Lajpat Nagar II,
Near Central Market,
* Canon Image Lounge
It’s window-shopping with a twist. You don’t have to just look at something; you can go ahead and experience it. Consumer goods strategist Arvind Singhal believes that consumers everywhere are looking for an experience before buying anything. “This is why people have moved on from departmental stores to malls, for a value added experience,” says Singhal, also the chairman of Technopak Advisers. “Food samples are common — free coffee sachets, small boxes of cornflakes etc, but for high-end products, this is how a consumer can make an informed choice.” Singhal adds that this is the future of all kinds of shopping.
There’s a ring of truth to what he says. If I could not try out the steam cabin which, at Rs 7.14 lakh, comes with its own chromotherapy (lights changing to calm your mood) and aromatherapy (aromas to help you relax), I wouldn’t know if I’d want to buy it. After all, all of this is aimed at the aspirational shopper.
As I leave the showroom feeling fresh, I head out to my next destination — the newly opened outlet of the mattress brand Tempur, where a Sleep Cabin enables me to test mattresses, pillows, and yes, take a nap. The lady at the outlet leads me to the cabin, explaining that I am going to lie on a mattress that costs around Rs 86,000 and a pillow that costs Rs 6,400. I kick off my shoes, and do as I’m told.
The mattress is very comfortable and takes the shape of my body. The pillow provides excellent support and soon, I have drifted off to sleep.
Eight minutes later, I am woken up and asked if I would like to continue trying out the bed. Of course I’d like to continue trying out the bed. They tell me I can hit snooze upto 100 times. To be honest, I could do this all day.
My next stop is the Canon Image Lounge at Ambience Mall. The first thing I’m told is that I’m under no pressure to ‘purchase’ anything. Instead, I can take a picture from whichever camera I feel and hold on to it for as long as I want — something I could never have done in a showroom. The sleek designs are inviting, and there are a number of things I can shoot. I could pick out the cheapest camera at Rs 8,000 to start with, but am happier trying out one that costs over Rs 2 lakh.
This is an awesome marketing tactic. While I don’t have to buy any of the products I’ve tried so far, I can safely say that I’ve spent enough quality time with them.
So will I ever buy them? Sure — as soon as I have the money. Till then, it might be wiser to make the best of these ‘experiential shopping’ offers. And no, no MMS clips were made during the course of my trials.