Welcome to the participatory web. The end of consumer culture. The age of making, rather than buying, and giving instead of always getting. As we all turn from consumers to producers, there's nearly endless satisfaction to be had in simply making something.
But lets face it... It's a whole lot cooler if there's also someone who's enjoying that thing you're making. Whether it's a writing an evocative blog post, recording an awesome podcast, or even clipping a popular clip, seeing people appreciate your work is like seeing someone's eyes light up as they open the perfect birthday gift.
In some ways, it's even better than getting that perfect gift yourself.
Does that make all this participation selfish? Perhaps, but to me, it's a good kind of selfish. I can deal with the "I did something good today" type of validation being something that we're all gluttons for. Hell, the idea that maybe we can take this amazing "selfishness" offline a bit and make the world a little bit nicer to live in keeps me up at night, and gives me hope for the future.
But wasn't this post about Godiva? Well, the secret that we're all learning is that it's not simply enough to make something great. You've also got to let people know that it's worth their time to check it out.
There's there's a subtle science to conveying greatness before people ever get in the door, and the retail world has been perfecting the art of "making you want the stuff you want" (to steal a phrase from the marketing geniuses at podtini) for centuries.
So let's look at this Godiva package for a moment.
In a sea of Bright! Colored! Bigger! New! candy available this Halloween, Godiva's is small. It's tastefully designed. You know it's better before you ever open it, and that preconceived notion has the power to actually make it taste like the best chocolate you've ever eaten.
If you were to ask someone what made certain chocolate great, you'd probably have a long discussion about milk vs oil ratios, cocoa quality, and other quantifiable differences, yet the Godiva package is notably lacking in any claims about it's contents. It relies entirely on almost intangible aesthetics to make it's pitch.
It's tempting to say that Godiva is marketed completely on it's reputation, but to be honest, no one has ever recommended Godiva chocolate to me. My perception is based entirely on the idea that if they can afford to put this much effort into the experience around their product, then they must put even more into what they do best. It's something that apple hits a home-run on nearly every time, so much so that there's a growing culture around simply unboxing their products.
Today's overall Lesson from retail? You've only got a few seconds to win people over. Even if you're giving something awesome away for free, don't be afraid to get the "packaging" right. Sometimes it's just as important as what's inside.
For an excellent example of how getting the packaging right can work online, take a peek at Photojojo - "one damn fine photo newsletter."