Museum of Ice Cream San Francisco

What Retailers Can Learn From the Experiential Experts at Museum of Ice Cream

In Reports, What's New by Lauren Parker, Accessories Magazine


Not all retailers can, or should, be like the sensory explosive Museum of Ice Cream, but all retailers can learn a lot about experiential retail from this blockbuster museum. With moving locations that have included New York, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco, Museum of Ice Cream is more about an incredible, immersive experience than it is about ice cream. Indeed, its almost 400K+ Instagram followers are equally interested in selfies in the signature sprinkle pool or exclusive ice cream cone earrings that they can photograph and post after upping the saturation on all that pink. And while the name might imply an experience for kids, it’s become immediately clear that the museum brings out the kid in all of us.

Museum of Ice Cream is also branching out beyond its own walls, having recently announced its partnership with Target, where it will create ice-cream colored kids’ apparel and accessories. And starting this summer in New York City’s Meatpacking District, Museum of Ice Cream’s new Pint Shop will host curated experiences, workshops and ice cream tastings.

“When we launched Museum of Ice Cream in 2016, we set forth to unite the world through imagination and
creativity,” said Museum of Ice Cream Founder and Creative Director, Maryellis Bunn. “I set out to create
The Pint Shop as a place where you can curate your own experience to share in real life, and among your
peers. The launch of The Pint Shop is a new experience under the umbrella of MOIC, which celebrates the
accessibility and democracy that ice cream brings.”

Accessories Magazine caught up with Trina Chan, Museum of Ice Cream’s Head of Product, to discuss how they come up with all these wondrous experiences, what others retailers can take away, and how the museum’s retail store ties back to the installations.

Museum of Ice Cream

Museum of Ice Cream’s sprinkle pool is always a favorite

How on-brand does a retail experience need to be? Can it just be something fun and colorful, or must it extend the brand DNA?

Every single aspect of our brand – from the installations to the product and even the ice cream is cohesive. Our co-founder Maryellis Bunn has a clear vision and brand guidelines that she equips each team member with, which helps us easily determine which themes that are on-brand or off-brand. When a visitor takes part of our experience home with them, they’ll be able to see the direct synergy between our product line and brand identity.

Do you need to “tell” people how to interact with an installation, or is it all about the discovery?

Every visitor interacts with our installations in their own way, and that’s the beauty of the experience. I love watching everyone’s first time in the Sprinkle Pool. Most visitors can’t wait to jump in. But for those who are more reserved, seeing the smile when they finally garner the courage to dip their feet in the pool is priceless. On a deeper level, it’s a real reminder that Anything is Possible – a phrase that’s become somewhat of a mantra for the core team. If we mentioned the idea of a ‘Sprinkle Pool’ to any member of the public four years ago, they would have looked at us like we were crazy! Now, it’s on the “must visit” list in every city we’re in, which is both invigorating and exciting.

Museum of Ice Cream San Francisco

Museum of Ice Cream San Francisco

How is your staff part of the “experience?”  Do you train them for unique interactions with customers?

The people who have a true desire to be a part of TEAM MOIC are naturally charismatic and outgoing. We attribute the success of our business to every single staff member who works the floor – they are the ones creating a safe place for every visitor that comes into our home, they wear and speak about our products with pride, and they do their best to make sure every single visitor walks out with a smile on their face. They are embodiments of what the world needs more of.

Museum of Ice Cream San Francisco

Museum of Ice Cream San Francisco

Is it really only about getting the Instagrammable moment? Or something more?

Our experience goes far beyond social media. Throughout all of our locations, we encourage each visitor to interact with one another. Our guides assist in facilitating meaningful conversations as they walk through the experience. There is power in human interaction; our visitors walk away having made friends, which in turn continually builds up our MOIC community. The world is so heavily immersed in technology that sometimes it’s refreshing to take a step back and have real conversations with the people around you!

Museum of Ice Cream San Francisco

Museum of Ice Cream San Francisco

What’s your process to go from idea to actualization? 

All of our best sellers originated from conversations with our staff and visitors.  There’s a running list of products that have yet to be created and we never stop brainstorming. We also have the most stylish visitors! They help ensure we’re always staying on top of the latest trends. As for platforms, Pinterest plays a huge role in our creative process. We love it so much that we created our very own Pinterest page!

THE RETAIL TAKEAWAY

What does the retail store look like?

Our stores are a natural extension of our installations – when our visitors walk in, they’re still fully immersed in the MOIC experience from interactions with our ‘Shopsicles’ (our retail staff) to our whimsical and dynamic product line. In the same way that Museum of Ice Cream’s installations differ from city to city, our shops also follow suit.

What are the items sold in the gift shop? 

Unicorn pom pom key chains, color-changing tea, sprinkle crowns, kinetic sand, and cone print yoga mats among many other products! Our e-commerce store is launching domestically this year and we could not be more excited to get our products into everyone’s hands wherever they are across the US.

Museum of Ice Cream Miami

Museum of Ice Cream Miami

How do the items in the store relate to the museum? Are they literal “take aways” tied to each room?

The items we develop always tie back to the magic of walking through Museum of Ice Cream. When visitors step into our shop at the end of the experience, they’ve determined which installation is their favorite. It’s our responsibility to ensure they have something from our store to take home with them to remember and capture the experience by.

Millennial Pink is certainly a trendy color. What color or color combo do you see happening next? We’re hearing a lot about GenZ Yellow!

Pink and Yellow is what we’re all about, and Gen Z yellow is a color we’ve incorporated since day one! The inspiration behind that color in our assortment stems from our famous Banana installation. You’ll see this color in our hats, tumblers and canvas bags – all consistent top sellers.

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