Strange how the old adage of “customers being fickle creatures” is often forgotten when service is @ the heart of a business’ offering. In the words of Peter Cheales customers “will love you and give you loyal support for as long as you give them what they want, when they want and how they want”. So, I hate to be the bearer of sad news here but if you give customers a bad service, they will stop coming to your store.
Now you know that, that’s a reality, you as a service provider do not want to deal with more so now because of the wider variety of retail choice which is to date greatly fueling this behaviour in customers.
Yet, as obvious as that should be to most of us, I often wonder whether businesses have a check list they use to make sure that each and every facet of their business’ touch points, which a consumer is likely to have access to when consuming their product/service, reflects impeccable service standards.
Picture this – it’s a typical Saturday morning and I walk into my local supermarket outlet to do my grocery shopping. As I fill up that trolley deluxe, I’m humming away for the store, its layout and its cleanliness is just such a mood lifter…hey even that moody house wife’s glare who finds shopping such a bore..doesn’t get to me…until I get to the till.
I watch this interplay between the till packer, the till cashier and the shopper who is paying for her groceries. “Hello Ma’am – would you like some plastic bags…how many?” and boy oh boy…don’t get me started on the sense of urgency and efficiency as the till packer furiously puts purchases into the bought plastic bags and packs away the parcels into the trolley for this shopper.
Did I mention how the till cashier keeps grinning at the shopper stupidly. I read it as smiling of course (proof of the fact that the manual of “don’t forget to smile @ the shopper” is alive and kicking and has been read by this cashier).
Okee dokee it’s my turn now and so I gently push my trolley forward to pay for my groceries.
“Plastic?” I get asked.
Oh no she didn’t plastic me.
So I respond with a wide smile, “Iyenzeni…iphuma nama sweetie or is it buy one get 1 litre full-cream milk bottle for free?” (What about it?). Then wait for it….”Uya i funa na?” (Would you like one?). So I pleasantly respond “Oh yes I would love a plastic bag please.”
The till cashier’s question of course is said with a tired looking face as if to say “Ayi sisi, please understand I really am tired, but I have no choice but to work at this miserable place….”
Now as a sister I have all the understanding in the world. I know how little cashiers earn, but as a shopper and more so as a marketer, I detest bad service.
As your sister, I identify with and perhaps know what it took to get you here this morning, but let’s chat about that when we back ekasi or waiting for taxi’s @ Bree Street, shall we?
Right now as I stand in front of you, I am a shopper and the reason you get paid at the end of the month.
7 out of 10 shoppers who stop buying from an outlet, leave and cite no reason why they left.
If you think a cashier’s unprofessional demeanor in enquiring about my need for plastic bags will not get you to loose me as a customer, then trust me on this one, it will. I know a number of my dear sisters who have stopped frequenting certain retail outlets because they couldn’t stand the cashiers’ or sales personnels’ demeaning attitudes when serving them. And indeed “plastic” demeaning questiniong by cashiers was cited as one of the reasons why my dear sisters stopped visiting these outlets.
Global researchers in fact calls this kind of service “Shopping While Black” where black shoppers are made to feel unwelcome or unappreciated when shopping in retail outlets. A number of retail outlets who had been found to in fact instruct their sales personnel to have such demeaning treatment to certain races have experienced the wrath of expensive lawsuits in America. http://abcnews.go.com/WhatWouldYouDo/story?id=7131333&page=
So, dear retail owners perhaps it is time to invest in “racial diversity in customer service” training for your cashiers. Please revisit that check list again and get rid of habits which are affecting your bottom-line negatively…but please, pretty please….
Don’t plastic me ever again!
57% of these shoppers look out for lowest prices when they go shopping.
This is according to the latest insights provided by TGI 2007c – which enables us for the first time to truly answer the question on price sensitivity levels of shoppers.
With the rate hikes in the last year affecting shoppers’ pockets greatly – the need to
understand the sensitivity of South African shoppers has become even more important
part of our marketing function. In all our minds, the big questions are:
Will they still be loyal to my brand – or will they be swayed to buy another because of price?
Will they consider my brand, now that money is too “tight to mention”?
The current perception making shopping rounds of course is that shoppers are not that brand conscious when it comes to household groceries – in fact – a greater percentage of them will switch to a cheaper brand, even more so know given the status quo of our economy. A great worry for most of us managing brands within such a category.
MYTH OR FACT?
Well, a few facts to consider:
57% of SA main shoppers budget for every cent when doing the household shopping.
However only 38% of SA main shoppers tend to buy the cheapest household cleaning products.
And whilst 62% average shoppers buying well-known household products…
49% average shoppers are willing to try new household products.
So, whilst your average shopper is likely to be looking out for the cheapest household cleaning product – a certain type of a shopper is still looking to buy their favourite brand, hopefully at a discounted price.
What about other categories? How do shoppers who always use money off coupons and vouchers feel about discounting within these categories?
So, what type of shopper are you talking to?
With 68% of shoppers always looking out for Instore promotions when instore – is it not time to revisit your Instore advertising strategy – to make sure that your message ties in with their budgetary need or is it constraints?
We’ve watched these men push trolleys daily selling veggies to the community ekasi (in the townships) ringing bells to make consumers aware of their presence. Some of us use them for top-up shopping i.e “oopsy I forgot to buy lettuce from Pick ‘n Pay so let me get it from this guy”. Some in the community literally stand there and do all of their veggies’ bulk shopping i.e. “all my 7 salads for Sunday lunch I am going to buy from this man”. These men have literally created a sub-category of distribution by creating a mobile veggies market right there!
In the burbs on the other hand, there is an abundance of outlets like Fruit and Veg city – in fact the brand has become synonymous with quality & fresh produce to shoppers frequenting these outlets. So whilst brands like this one may be scarce if not even absent in the township – fact is consumers there are consuming products sold in their outlets too AND there is a shopping environment that caters to shoppers wanting to buy these products!
It is also no lie that every seller would like a piece of growing spending of “so-called black” consumers – the question is are marketers aware of these yawning opportunities taking place in these townships to capitalise on?
How could one capitalise on such? Well, through CSI strategies we (fresh produce brands) find ways of partnering with these young men using a single-minded ROI business concept. Or even better yet enter this market by firstly piggy-baggin on this existing distribution strategy where we up the means of selling tools used by these guys whilst branding them to create an awareness of our fresh produce brand as endorsers of services rendered by these men?
It truly is fascinating to see how as the world “gains more and more turbulence and instability, more and more humans are truly seeking to feel safe” as Seth puts it.
Nothing out of the ordinary in that – as consumers we are looking for “haven spaces” when feeling vulnerable.
This though, does not mean that businesses have to play it safe. Unfortunately though, that has become the norm with more and more businesses continuing to play it safe - cutting budgets, watching, waiting, not wanting to make the first move,, until….so and so makes the first move.
Funny thing though is that it is in that “cocooned safe business-centric strategy” approach we embark on as marketers and business owners, that “we forget” that consumers and alike are seeking consumption of experiences and products that make them forget for a little while about this instability.
The Freedom emotional driver becomes so so fundamental in the positioning of brands to such a vulnerable audience – why? Because these consumers seek escape, breaking out, feeling un-burdurned. Marc Gobe in his book Brand Jam speaks of the fact that “freedom brands will connect with people who are in need to explore…and the consumer motivation is to break out.”
Question is, will you as a business owner continue to play it safe – in your product packaging and marketing thereof?
OR will you be different and meet the unmet need of “freedom gratification” currently a yawning gap felt by a growing segment of consumers out there!
Just think of the successful brands who have in fact flourished in the last 2 – 4 years by taking this positioning to heart in their business models…
Here’s a tip-not-to-be-forgotten: your business has to redefine this “freedom” into its business-model though – after all you cannot sell what you do not live as a value…
To be free OR not to B free….that is the question…
ONLY A FRACTION OF SHOPPERS’ TIME IS SPENT IN THE ACTUAL PURCHASE PROCESS
The million dollar question to ask is how can we as marketers reduce the time wasted by shoppers when they are instore?
Before we answer this question though, what is it that it eating up shoppers’ time instore?
• Up to 60% of the shopping trip is spent in “visual cruising”, when shoppers look frantically up and down, left and right to locate their intended purchase.
• Up to 42% is spent in “visual facing of the shelf”, where the shopper looks from left to right to centre – again, looking for something or other.
It is shoppers’ battle to locate our products when instore that is responsible for all that wasted time.
With up to 80% of wasted time instore resulting from shoppers’ simply trying to locate your product, you can forget about driving incremental sales.
All your shoppers end up with is: increased ANGST whilst trying to locate your product;spending more TIME than they intended resulting in less MONEY being spent to buy that product in the end. Because the faster you sell to a shopper, the more you will sell.
TNS Sorensen shared these invaluable insights at the Instore Marketing Conference held in Las Vegas last November.
They visually deconstructed these three shopping currencies – angst, time, and money – which influence how much shoppers spend instore, to help explain the importance of POP media in: • Helping shoppers locate your products instore – thereby reducing time spent to meet their needs.
• Helping shoppers complete their shopping with less if no angst from aggravation caused by the effort taken to make a decision whilst trying to locate your product.
• Enticing them to buy more whilst instore as a result of having completed the first purchase a lot quicker.
As if that’s not enough of a challenge, we have to deal with brand extensions instore. We all know the old marketing adage: Give shoppers options on shelf to choose from and they will DEFINITELY select something out of what we are offering them instore. Right?
Research conducted using two tables displaying jam varieties for tasting with the intent of selling the jams proved this one fact: the table with half the varieties of jam led to 30% more jam purchases.
This study helps us conclude that a large array of options may actually discourage shoppers because it creates an increase in the effort needed to make a decision.
Fewer purchase options lead to ten times more purchases.
If you can’t do anything about your brand-extension strategy however, you can at least do something to ensure that you do NOT confuse the shopper, or better yet, you can actually help them buy your product using instore media.
So, invariably you should be thinking of instore advertising plans to help shoppers locate your product instore in less the time and less the angst whilst ending up spending more!!!