Lo-res_A8BM41-SConsumers can test cosmetics, try on pants, and lie on mattresses for a few moments before purchasing them, and such trial runs are critical for many purchase decisions. But when it comes to home remodeling, home improvement stores and design showrooms alike generally force shoppers just to imagine how a product on a shelf might look in a room that they have spent thousands of dollars to redesign or build. One high-end chain seeks to overcome that challenge by making sure everything it sells, from shower heads to stoves, is completely functional in stores and encouraging customers to give those items a try before they leave.

The Pirch chain of eight stores thus is notably different. Although it sells dishwashers and ranges, it presents them like art instead of appliances. Begun in California, it recently opened a New York store, with 32,000 square feet. In addition to the artistic sensibility and soft lighting, the store is unique in its inclusion of massive gas lines and water pipes—needed to make sure everything works as it would in the customers’ homes.

Those homes might not be quite as large as the showroom, but they also are unlikely to be one-bedroom apartments. Pirch’s prices clearly establish it as a high-end retailer, targeting wealthy clients who might spend $157,000 on a gas range. It also regards and describes its mission somewhat differently than traditional retailers might. For example, Pirch’s preferred terminology suggests that it “curates” the products in its stores, rather than selling or carrying them. Moreover, its organizing principles are verbs that suggest what customers should do in its stores: “dream, play, choose,” as well as “live joyfully.”

Living joyfully might be exactly what it is like to take a shower in the middle of a showroom to select from among the 30 different showerhead fixtures. Or maybe it is simply the best way for customers to get exactly the bathing experience they want.

Discussion Question: 

  1. What type of need to people have when they go to Pirch?
  2. How does Pirch reduce information search?

Source: Jason Barron, The New York Times, May 20, 2016