I have long believed Asians go to Karaoke for team spirit. When a popular song appears on the screen, they show companisonship by standing up and singing all together. When a song is new, they start their own conversations with the next person. Regardless of whether they sing or talk, Karaoke is the place people confirm they are in the same camp.
However, I changed my belief about the function of Karaoke after having met a private Karaoke for two people in ShenZhen, China. This facility named as M-Bar is of the same size with a phone booth. This small place is not designed for comradeship or loyalty. Instead, it is designed for people to become absorbed in their own singing experience, the core feature of Karaoke. Although no one waits outside for their turns, a few passers by silently watch two people singing inside through the transparent windows. This facility shows the power of single households. Alternatively, different from my thoughts based on the Hofstede’s cultural dimension theory, Chinese may not be collectivist but individualist.
Most bar owners promote their places by placing a sign board outside or updating their menus on social network services such as facebook or instagram. Interestingly however, some bar owners “hide” their doors. I had a chance to visit the bar called Nightjar in London. Surprisingly, it has a super tiny metal sign on a wood door. Therefore, I passed over its entrance door several times and spent many minutes until I decided to knock on it just in case. When the hidden door opened, as expected, this bar was fully packed with drinkers.
I had a similar experience when I first visited the bar called Charles H Bar at the Four Seasons Seoul, Korea. Although this hotel is easy to find, it took me long time again to find the entrance door of the bar. Since this bar has literally no sign outside, I could not help but ask someone to guide me to the entrance door. Again, when the hidden door opened, this bar was crowded.
Both Nightjar and Charles H Bar suggest that not exposing but hiding entrance doors may make bars popular. This sounds ironic but it is not so. Apple skipped market research but did excellent marketing and Muji eliminated brands but became the king of the brands.