Monday, August 20, 2007

Retailers remember: if we look good, you look good

Sara Cantor, the Curious Shopper herself, has once again reminded me that I'll never really understand the way girls think. Specifically, it was this article that did it. Don't get me wrong -- with all of her usual flare for storytelling, Sara delivers some great shopping-related insights that have real, practical implications. But darn it, as much as I try, try, try to understand what people do in store, there are tidbits like this that I would just never think of:
If you want girls to buy your prom dresses, don't make them try them on in their white gym socks. Give them heels, for god's sake. They will look ten times better, and will be more likely to buy the dress. Who knows - they might even buy the shoes too.
What a nice cross-sell opportunity, and it apparently solves a problem that I never even knew existed. Granted the body of Sara's argument, namely that people will spend more when they look/feel better, is a much more well recognized and understood concept nowadays. In fact, retail anthropologist Paco Underhill has written entire chapters on how bad most dressing rooms are, and how many more sales would be completed if retailers would just spend a little money to make them look better (and by extension, make their customers look better, too).

But still, I'm apparently not spending enough time in stores really watching how other people shop. Case in point? Sara's own anecdote about buying glasses. This should be something I can relate to, I just bought a pair myself recently. And in fact, I went to three different places (long story, not too interesting though), and observed no fewer than a dozen other people shopping for specs too. Yes, everyone was looking in mirrors, and most tried on a number of pairs before settling on the right ones. But I didn't observe the ritual Sara describes. Apparently either that was too time-consuming for my audience, or maybe we just didn't have the same dedication to the task.

Or, after reading through my notes once again, maybe there's another reason: the dozen folks I saw shopping for glasses? As it turns out, they were all guys.

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Anonymous said...

I read C.B.'s post and I had trouble with the title "Shattering Expectations". I don't see how a water problem and the inability to serve meals was "shattering". It seemed to me she blew the whole thing out of proportion.

I'm sure if they had brought in food from somewhere else the customers would have still been upset. We retailers try very hard to not disappoint customers, but to be honest we're going to from time to time. A retailer focused on the experience will do their best not to do so, but it happens. But personally my stores will focus more on people who aren't "shattered" about lunch.

Bill Gerba said...

Hi Anonymous,

You're referring to the post "How far would you go to prevent disappointment?", right?

If you don't mind, I'm going to repost your comment there to see if we can inspire some additional conversation!