Are You Surrounding Your Market?
Once a year, as the holidays approach, I engage in a ritual well known to men of a certain demographic ilk. Armed by my wife with a shopping list detailed enough to thwart paternal cluelessness, I enter American Girl Place off Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. And there, amid the madding throngs of little girls and their mothers, I rush to score the season’s must-have accessories for Felicity and Samantha. Those would be my daughters’ beloved dolls.
It is not my favorite shopping experience. But then, American Girl wasn’t created for fathers. And if you are a little girl or her mother (or grandmother, or aunt), American Girl is, at most times, a quite breathtakingly attractive amalgam of education and entertainment, all of it rooted in storytelling.
After a $22 lunch, a $32 revue, a $15 hair styling, and a $24.95 photo session, plus a few new outfits and a book or two, of course, you’re talking about a doll-stravaganza tab running to several hundred dollars. Not for the faint of heart. Nor, as I’ve noted, for dads. And that’s before the package deal with any number of hotels, which (again, brilliantly) offer turndown service for dolls in their own beds; Wyndham Hotels throws in a logoed doll bathrobe.
—Keith H. Hammonds, Fast Company, September 2006
The Chicago store gets approximately 1.5 million shoppers annually.
Surrounding Companies That Surround a Market
In a 1998 interview, Priceline.com founder Jay Walker described to me the concept of creating a business that lays on top of another business that you have no relationship with. Examples: Priceline, Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, Hotels.com and Hotwire. These businesses are built on top of the travel industry, which has many billions of dollars invested in jet planes, hotels and fleets of rental cars. Yet the only investments of these online services are computers and exotic software. As I wrote in “PRICELINE.COM: A Layman’s Guide to Manipulating the Media”: