Technology is supposed to be fun and make life better, and Samsung has just turned on the play factor full blast with the opening of 837, an immersive brand experience in New York’s trendy Meatpacking district.
It’s a technology playground, cultural destination, creation center — think Apple store meets Barnes & Noble – amplified. The name comes from the address of the three-story destination at 837 Washington St.
Even though you can’t buy there, 837 is all about using experience to create demand and showcases Samsung’s brands that range from mobile devices to wearables to home appliances. The opening coincides with the launch of a new phone and camera suite that turn anyone into a virtual-reality producer.
The new venue will host screenings, demo products and live-stream cultural events. ABC Good Morning America broadcast live from 837 for the opening.
A series of Oscar-winning movie screenings played all weekend, including a sold-out private Oscar screening party on 837’s three-story screen that is surrounded by stadium seating. The Web-based directory for upcoming events links to the full Samsung product line — available for purchase.
On the community-gathering side, there’s currently a “Social Galaxy” installation created by Black Egg, the experiential design arm of Kenzo Digital. You walk through a mirrored and personalized tunnel of your Instagram history, but not before punching your Instagram account into a Samsung Galaxy phone.
This not only creates a product interaction, it gives Samsung access to social profiles. According to Black Egg, all the Instagram handles pulled in and visualized are wiped with an algorithm that cleans the computer every night at 11 p.m. So every morning the installation is “brand new,” as if it were being used for the first time.
The Samsung+ app, available exclusively to Samsung owners, unlocks additional perks and access to premium events.
As a leader in developing so-called “Internet of Things” products, Samsung is also collecting massive amounts of intimate data on its customers. Where it all goes and how it gets used remain to be seen.
It was also Social Media Week in New York and the emphasis on experience enabling — virtual reality and augmented reality — were ever-present.
“VR is life-changing,” said Michelle Klein, head of North American business marketing for Facebook. “This will be the last screen because it is the most sensory and immersive.”
To keep 837 from becoming a novelty, a steady stream of workshops and events are planned. For those who want to geek it up, workshops will dismantle products. If you just want some old-fashioned customer service from a human, product support and repair are there.
The destination will make it easy to comparison-shop, as Apple’s flagship 14th Street store is just a short walk away. The neighborhood is a hotbed of marketing experimentation, as Pepsi is also opening Kola House, an experiential lounge, in the vicinity
“My hat is off to Samsung for trying something bold to elevate the experiential side of its brand via art, tech and sports,” said Augie Ray, research director covering customer experience at Gartner. “Apple always finds a way to be talkable in the mobile world, and Samsung is working hard to make sure Apple does not keep stealing the spotlight. This is clearly a trend for brands, with more using real-world experiences to try to build strong digital word of mouth.”
“I’ll be interested to see what Samsung does to drive traffic to 837 and for how long they will stay committed without a clear path between the substantial investment and increased sales.,” he added. “As a Samsung fan, myself, I’m looking forward to visiting.”