Powell’s Books launches “MissYou” Retail Marketing Program

JG_Powells_Small Ownership is one of the most powerful psychological concepts in consumer marketing.  Once a consumer “owns” a product, they become a zealous advocate and defender of their purchase decisions (listen to a MAC vs. Windows debate some time).  Retail Designers go to great lengths to trigger this “Endowment Effect” in shoppers even before they buy.

So I thought Powell’s Books offer to create a digital photo of visitors in front of the landmark book retailer, with their own name on the marquee, is a brilliant way to make visitors feel like the own the brand.

For those not from Portland, Powell’s “City of Books” is one of the largest independent book retailers in the world with over 1 million titles, and is arguably Portland, Oregon’s #1 tourist destination.


For this retail campaign.  Powell’s set up a photo-booth inside the store, with a lighting kit, green screen, and friendly photographer.  They collect some information, shoot your photo, and e-mail you the final composition in near real time.JCG_20100714_101250_2985

Taking the iconic photo outside the store would force tourists to stand in the middle of a busy intersection.  So Powell’s gives you good lighting, the custom marquee, and a 20% off coupon, all from the safety of their store.

In the process, they capture your e-mail address and put you on their electronic mailing list.  Everything about the program is well executed.  They developed a series of humorous posters that are used as window displays to advertise the service to passers by.


The form you fill out asks for permission to put your photo on the walls of their store and/or their website, and put you on their mailing list.  You can opt out of any of those, but even the wording of the opt out is well done…

“No, I can’t bear a long distance relationship.  Please do not subscribe me to your newsletter or send me a 20% off coupon.”

When your picture arrives via e-mail it has both screen and high-res versions, with an easy ShareThis link to upload directly to Facebook, Twitter, etc…

With the explosion of social media, giving consumers photos that they can use is an inexpensive, but highly effective marketing tool (social albums, profile pics, mobile phone wallpaper, etc…).  It’s the modern equivalent of the bumper-sticker.  Powell’s has done it very well.  You can see a photo gallery of the campaign here.

What can you do in your store to change “the Store” to “My Store” in the minds of your shoppers?


  1. humerous?? How about humorous instead?

  2. Fixed. Thanks… If I had to make a living as an editor, I’d starve!

  3. Heading to Portland this weekend and taking my wife–who introduced me to the great writers–to Powell’s. Can’t wait to get my picture taken there. (She wouldn’t do that, I’m just geeky that way.)

    This feels like a natural extension of who they and their customers are. Can’t imagine B&N or Boarders getting away with this.

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