Rock star, Jerry Garcia, who was also known – with good reason – as Captain Trips, is not your typical corporate consultant. For decades, Garcia toured the world with the psychedelic rock band, The Grateful Dead, and opened concerts with the words: “Welcome to another evening of confusion and high-frequency stimulation.” But even the conservative Wall Street Journal recently recommended that the crisis-stricken retail sector adopt the band’s strategy if it wants to survive.
The Grateful Dead were the first musicians to understand that the record was not their core product, the concert experience was. The band gave away records and encouraged piracy to get their music heard, they sent their fans a newsletter – and thus created what is now called a community, one which is still alive and well more than 20 years after Garcia’s death and the official end of the band.
“Retail stores are no longer exclusive portals for the sale of goods and must find a new raison d’etre,” says the Wall Street Journal. If you were to take a stroll in 2017 – a good 20 years after the launch of Amazon.com – through the city centres of New York, London, Berlin or Tokyo, you would discover that many new shops and department stores actually appear to be following the Grateful Dead’s principle: consumer spaces that feel like a rock concert, an experience, colourful, enthralling, wild and excitingly new – “high-frequency stimulation”.