I know I’ve talked in the past about Experiential Marketing and how it works hand in hand with Behavioral Economics theories, but now I can say I’ve had the opportunity to put ‘theory’ to a real-world test.
I visited Ireland recently, and while there, was not about to miss a tour of the world famous Guinness Storehouse. And, while I have never considered myself much of a connoisseur of dark beers, let’s just say I think I may have come out on the dark side.
From the very start, the whole experience is designed as a journey. You walk into a converted Guinness factory, built in 1902, to a modern, glass and steel atrium in the shape of a pint of Guinness, and at your feet is a copy of the lease for the original brewery site granted to Arthur Guinness.
The first floor is really devoted to telling the story of the company and it’s ingredients, and it does so in extremely compelling ways. The Storehouse uses interactive, dynamic displays that let you follow both the history of the brewery, but also the processes that go into things like the roasting of the barley or the boiling of the hops.
Ultimately, it’s great to learn about the company, but I was here for the beer! So after my history lesson, I went up to the tasting room.
The first thing about the tasting room, is that it’s not a room. It’s a sensory experience over 3 floors. You’re first walked into a dark corridor, dimly lit with a golden glow that lets your eyes adjust before you enter the next phase, a large, all-white room with ‘vapor pods’ that allow you to experience the aromas of the four ingredients that give Guinness it’s distinct flavor.
An attendant is there to give you more details, both on the components and the actual tour experience. I found this welcome, as it was valuable insight on what is a great example of a marketing DO!
After you’ve been served your complimentary glass, you’re moved to a beautiful tasting room. Coolly lit, with dark wood floors and walls, it’s meant to evoke the look of the beer in the traditional glass. Not only that, but it’s also a replica of Arthur Guinness’ home. A helpful guide was there to explain the proper way to sip Guinness, so if you have any questions, consider me an expert.
I likened the whole experience at the storehouse to being metaphorically poured into a pint. You start at the bottom of the glass, learn the history and the ingredients in every pour as you climb, and you end at the top, sipping Guinness on the 7th floor, where the Gravity Bar gives you a commanding 360 degree panorama over Dublin.
It was an experience to say the least, and, having been given a master class in both the craft and consumption of Guinness, I have to say…I have a new found appreciation for it. To be honest, I’m not really much of a beer drinker to begin with, but as I was saying, having the ability to truly experience the process and care that goes into it has made me a bit of a believer. I also never thought I’d appreciate a dark beer especially, but by this point in the tour I’d already learned how to appreciate the individual ingredients, so of course I’d enjoy the sum of the parts.
If you ever find yourself in Dublin, I recommend taking the trip to the Storehouse. Especially from a marketing perspective, it’s exceptional; an inspiring bit of work that turned me into a believer. I may have joined the dark side of beer, but I was still illuminated by the experience.