Corporate Eye

It’s Google’s Turn to Launch Retail Stores

mallIt’s hard to resist the success of Apple retail stores when you’re a competitor like Google. First, Microsoft copied the look and feel of Apple brick-and-mortar stores, and now The Wall Street Journal reports that Google retail stores are coming with Google Inc. reportedly, “studying Apple Inc.’s playbook for building a consumer-electronics brand. [Google] stores would likely sell Google-branded hardware.”

It’s unknown if Google will actually follow through and launch retail stores, but there is certainly no ignoring how well the Apple retail stores have helped to not only sell Apple products but also to create brand experiences that drive loyalty. For both tech-savvy consumers and tech novices, Apple stores can be hard to resist when a consumer walks by the sleek window displays and crowds of people testing out everything from Angry Birds on an iPad to Facebook on an iPhone.

The Wall Street Journal speculates that products like Google’s Chromebook laptops, phones manufactured by Google’s Motorola Mobility, and the highly buzzed about Google Glass product, which is expected to go on sale next year, could all find places on the retail shelves of a Google brick-and-mortar store. It’s easy to imagine that Google could use its retail stores to allow consumers to demo its tools and applications, including its Google TV software.

I can see Google retail stores doing everything that’s being speculated. In addition, retail stores would be a perfect place for Google to demo its suite of business applications. Imagine how easily Google could integrate its products and applications into various aspects of each customer’s purchased technology. The possibilities are endless as Google continues to find new ways to integrate its search, social, and other products.

The question is whether or not retail stores represent the right strategy for Google. The brand is so closely aligned with “virtual” that creating brick-and-mortar stores seems to run counter to its image. That’s not to say retail stores won’t work. They could be very popular and would give Google a way to create tangible brand experiences that demonstrate how important Google is to its customers’ lives. That’s a form of brand building that can deliver significant results. In-person brand experiences can give a brand new meaning that leads to powerful consumer relationships.

What do you think? Are you hoping to see a Google retail store in your local area in the future or do you think this is the wrong strategy for Google? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Image: Caroline Hoos

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as MSNBC.com, BusinessWeek.com, TodayShow.com, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.
 
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