Some brands do a great job turning a mundane task into a status-driven event. Take The Art of Shaving, the clubby, 39-store empire devoted to the elimination of whiskers. Ancient cave paintings tell us that man has been removing hair from his face since roughly 100,000 B.C., but only since 1996 has AoS given us guys a way to do it that includes Sandalwood Essential Oil Shaving Cream (5 oz., $22) or a Bocote Wood straight-edge razor with a cabon-steel blade imported from France ($225, in case you were wondering).
But the trouble with turning a simple thing like shaving into an elaborate ritual is that most dudes get confused and freak out when presented with a store full of colognes, oils and emollients. This month, AoS has settled on a way to simplify all that with a new display format that breaks shaving into four easy steps—Prepare, Lather Up, Shave and Moisturize. The store's core products are clustered according to step number on both a marble-topped table just inside the entrance and within a shelf-lined cabinet sunk into the wall.
We should mention that this eminently sensible setup is not new to retail. In fact, it reminds us of the way you should order a cheesesteak in Philly if you want to avoid getting yelled at. (1. How many hoagies you want? 2. Specify kind of cheese. 3. With onions or without? 4. Pay and get the hell off the line.) The bottom line, brand fans, is: Keep things simple. It's easier to make money that way.
—Posted by Robert Klara