Subculture and Brand Experience

Hidden in Boston, you will find Bodega, a boutique, hip hop shoe and apparel store. When I visited the store I was amazed to say the least. From the street, Bodega looks like exactly what you would expect, a bodega or convenience store adorned with laundry detergent, paper towel, cereal and other items displayed in the window. As you walk in the store, you focus on the cash register and counter that dominate the room, but as you look to the back of the store you will see a soda machine and if you stand in front of it, you will be granted access to Bodega. For anyone that has dreamed of having a secret passageway to a secret room in their house growing up, Bodega allows you to live that dream. The soda machine door slides into the wall and then appears a sophisticated and stylish store. A DJ spins as you experience the space, trying on vintage and new Nike and Adidas shoes.

This is a true brand experience. And it’s successful because it reaches the target audience and embraces them. Bodega understands that this consumer wants to be ahead of the curve, they want to know about new shoe releases before anyone else, it’s about knowing what others may not know and if you know where Bodega is, you are among the elite in this group. It’s also a catalyst for this subculture, bringing together people with similar values and ideals. Further, only select products are sold and displayed in a similar manner as luxury fashion brands like Chanel or Louis Vuitton. Thus, conveying the image of luxury and prestige in their voice and tone.

The Bodega website is interesting. It features a scene from Heat featuring Al Pacino. The audio is distorted and delayed. Pacino’s character says: “You wanna know what they’re looking at? I mean – is this guy something, or is he something? This crew is good.” B-boys or B-girls are people that are devoted to hip hop culture, usually associated with break dancing (break boys or b-boys). What’s interesting is, that they call their groups crews. And the creators of Bodega recognize that. Not only are they nodding at the fact that Bodega is hidden and people may not know what it is, but they are acknowledging that they are a crew and are a part of the culture.

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