I’ve just come back from several weeks in Asia and one of the first things I noticed, right after remarking on how stinking hot it gets, was how many retail shops there are. In such a competitive environment, aggressive marketing invariably takes hold. Many of the stores have come up with ingenious ways to refresh you and get their brand name to leave the shop with you, even if you don’t buy anything.
In Singapore, my wife dragged me to several Chinese jewelry stores, which specialize in extremely expensive gold baubles. The very first shop we staggered into, sweating and fainting, thoughtfully provided us with little bottles of chilled mineral water. They were, of course, branded with the store’s name, logo and a sexy product shot.
I drank half of my bottle and took the rest with me. So in effect, I took the brand too. Not only was I then a walking advertisement for the shop, but they also encouraged my loyalty to them by providing something valuable.
Twenty or thirty shopping malls later, I had also accumulated a branded rolled cloth that had been refrigerated to cool me off, and a really neat bracelet with the name of the shop on it and a tube-shaped ice cube that melted as you wore it, cooling the wrist. It dripped water everywhere, but it was an amazing little take-away branding device.
These things made the heat, if not the purchases, quite bearable.