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L’imprimerie, a new kind of customer experience

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I was fortunate to meet an atypical entrepreneur, Nicolas Guthart, who started several businesses that are highly complementary and propose an innovative value proposition for brands.

How a new marketing concept was born

To make a 10-year story short(er), Nicolas launched with two partners a magazine dedicated to footware that ended up dealing with cultures and subcultures revolving around trendy shoes like sneakers and the like. I like this concept of culture and sub-cultures because it’s very far from traditional segmenting methods used by firms. Usually big firms think in terms of socio-demographic profiles which can be considered a heresy from a behavioral viewpoint. Using socio-demographic segmenting is like saying that all people earning between 20000€ and 30000€ a year behave the same way and buy the same things. This is very false and yet still used in world-class companies. What “Shoes Up” did was actually sketching a new way to grasp the complexity of consumer behaviors; and because firms were most probably not ready for such an approach, they were starting to ask Nicolas and his team to design their ads towards readers. An ad agency was born.

From footware to cooking … another path to another urban culture

“Shoes Up” being dedicated to a mostly urban culture, Nicolas and his colleagues found a new trendy spot that may be worth digging: urban Epicureans. Yet another magazine was launched (“Fricotte”) which has reached a total circulation of 50000 copies.

Up to that point the picture looks like this. Different urban cultures can be reached via two magazines, and the know-how has been developed in-house to design ads for the readers. What was still missing was a brick-and-mortar place to get hold of people (readers or not) belonging to those urban cultures. This is the role of L’Imprimerie (which Nicolas insists to be called “L’Imprimerie – Paris Le Marais”).

The concept of L’Imprimerie

L’imprimerie offers brands a place in a trendy environment to communicate on new products and innovation. Brands buy the space for 23 days (from the first day of the month until the 23rd) and enjoy the synergies with the magazines and the ad agency as well as the personnel of L’Imprimerie.

When I visited this place a “Dolce Gusto” event was ongoing to promote Nescafé’s latest innovation. Besides machines that were available for visitors to taste the coffee, l’Imprimerie exhibited 16 machines that had been given to rising artists and customized by them. A giant machine was also on exhibition and this Art exhibition was the trigger for people to get in.

Interestingly L’Imprimerie complemented its services with two other spaces in the basement. One of them was dedicated to creative workshops with customers where they learned different techniques with different artists and produced works based on the coffee machine design. Another space, larger than the one dedicated to the workshop, was structured like a bar where people could sit and enjoy a coffee.

 

 

 

Advice #1 for your market research and your business plan (be it in Brussels, Belgium or elsewhere)

If you have a brick-and-mortar project to analyze, how will you get people in your store and how many percents of people passing by does it represent? Use this figure to finetune your financial plan.

 

Advice #2 for your market research and your business plan (be it in Brussels, Belgium or elsewhere)

When you position your business think about your future customers’ needs? What do they want to achieve and how can you help them. In the case of l’Imprimerie brands are looking for new ways to get to customers. Advertising is expensive and is dying. L’Imprimerie proposes new ways for brands to become visible and the location (Le Marais) with his trendsetters is a much sought after location.

Advice #3 for your marketing strategy

How can you increase the value of your product / service by embedding it into a more attractive value proposition? Can you imagine clever ways to reach a certain segment and can it become a competitive advantage?

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Author: Pierre-Nicolas Schwab

Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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