Beehive values curiosity. It is how we learn, find fresh insights and make meaningful connections between what’s happening in the world around us and the work we do every day. To foster our curiosity, we regularly conduct CQ Field Studies – the CQ stands for Curiosity Quotient. A member of the Beehive team receives $150 to go experience something that intrigues or inspires them, and then reports back on what they learned.   I have long been a Prince fan since the days of Purple Rain and took this opportunity to visit Paisley Park. Here is what I experienced.  

What’s your “CQ”? In other words, what were you curious to explore?

Can Prince’s estate create and sustain an authentic fan experience that lives up to the music legend’s iconic status?  

Describe the experience you selected.

Since Prince passed away Minnesotans, as well as fans worldwide, have shown an outpouring of respect and admiration. From impromptu vigils to memorial concerts and weekend-long radio tributes, the Twin Cities has been painted purple. Amid the mourning and celebration, Prince’s estate scrambled to open Paisley Park, Prince’s home and recording studio, for public tours. General admission and VIP tours allow fans an opportunity to experience what it was like for Prince to live, work and create inside the landmark production complex.  

What external dynamics are driving this experience?

  • Cultural: Prince was an international sensation, but also Minnesota’s hometown kid. We felt pride and ownership in the opportunity to celebrate his work and his life. This is an opportunity to put Minneapolis on the map (again).
  • Economic: There were very practical reasons to open the museum almost immediately – capitalizing on the raw emotion of Prince’s death, and funding much-needed repairs to the complex while the estate was in probate.
  • Legal: Opening Paisley Park as a public, money-making venture faced several legal hurdles, including probate court, tax assessments and city zoning. The navigation continued to keep the property in the news and top of mind with fans and advocates.

 

What movements/triggers/human needs are present?

  • Emotion: The Paisley Park experience offered fans a chance at nostalgia while both mourning and celebrating the life and work of an icon.
  • Social Currency: There is a cool factor associated with those who have visited Paisley Park – the sooner, the more frequent and the more exclusive your experience, the more currency you have.
  • Stories/Connection: Both the general admission and VIP tours bring together fans who are connected by their own Prince stories – from personal encounters to what the music meant to them. Sharing is part of the experience.

 

Share 3 surprises or “ahas” from your experience.

  • More memorial than dance party. The first stop on the tour was a moment of silence to observe Prince’s urn, and the tour remained fairly somber for the duration.  I was hoping for more celebration of an extraordinary life and talent, a more energizing and uplifting experience. But timing is everything, so now that a full year has passed since Prince’s death, perhaps the vibe will change.
  • Everyone wants in on the act. We took the VIP tour and our tour guide was clearly a Prince fan, but not someone close to him or his work, or even a music expert. It felt like a missed opportunity to make the VIP tour more personal and engaging.
  • Backstage pass. While the VIP tour showcased many key periods in Prince’s career, as well as impressive artifacts, it didn’t feel like a truly VIP experience. I expected more insight to what may not have been shared publicly before – more unreleased music, interview footage, or admission to more personal spaces. The VIP tour does include an opportunity to record a verse of a Prince song in studio, but only on a very limited schedule.

 

What ideas or connections did this experience spark for you?

  • When creating an experience that reflects a larger-than-life personality (or brand), creating a truly meaningful, authentic experience that meets expectations is both challenging and essential.
  • Engagement matters. There were very few opportunities to immerse yourself in the Prince experience, create sharable moments, or make a new memory. The tour felt passive. There are many opportunities to do more.
  • Passion and knowledge matter. From the security guard and the admissions desk to the tour guide and the merchandise attendant, there was an opportunity to showcase expertise, share stories and make memorable connections. This could be strengthened as the tour becomes more established, creating a stronger sense of welcome and hospitality.

 

How might your experience translate into how we work with clients (this industry or others)?

  • As expectations continue to rise, brands must do more to keep pace, and certainly to lead. Surprise and delight is the name of the game.
  • Create a valuable experience, not just a chance to “buy more.” Price fairly, and deliver – premium pricing is okay if there is a benefit.
  • Look for ways to connect with your customers – before they arrive, while they are there and after they’ve gone.
  • Embrace the community and help them tell your story for you – make sharing easy, fun and worthwhile.

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