I went car shopping yesterday afternoon, checking out lease deals at the model year-end clearance sales. I won’t mention names, but I went to a very large dealership, big brand name manufacturer – certainly a business and a brand that should know something about creating a positive shopping experience.

What was the first thing that struck me when I walked into the showroom? It felt cold, impersonal, disconnected, and institutional. The showroom space was a clean, enormous, lot of windows, plenty of light, and full of shiny new cars. Nevertheless, it felt unwelcoming and unfriendly, even though someone promptly greeted me and asked if I needed help. I just didn’t feel comfortable.

Then it hit me. There were no plants! You have probably seen the Chevrolet commercials, with the voice-over about the featured car or truck, displayed in a bright white showroom surrounded by enthusiastic and happy buyers. Also positioned in the showroom setting are beautiful greenhouse ficus trees. Plants have nothing to do with cars, so why are they so conspicuous in this car ad? They appear there for one reason – they help create a virtual positive shopping experience. Chevrolet gets it.

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