Sunday, March 6, 2011

Distinguish Show-Offs from Connoisseurs

“If you want me to buy merchandise from you, show me an item or two I can show off to others.” “Or merchandise that lets me show off grandly when I give an item or two to others.”
     You’ll have shoppers who prioritize impressive appearance over refined quality. Turn those shoppers into regular customers by continually having the right merchandise prominently displayed. A posting about Stauer, the print catalog and ecommerce retailer of luxury items, describes how to do it. Owner Mike Bisceglia is quoted as saying, “We buy large stones with less clarity but at a better price. Guys like being able to afford a big, beautiful 50-carat ruby necklace.”
     Claiming you paid a good price is itself part of the showing off—even if not to the recipient of the gift. Mr. Bisceglia is also quoted as saying, “There are all different levels of pearls, but 99.9 percent of people can’t tell the difference between a string of pearls that goes for a couple hundred dollars and the thousand-dollar pearls.” Researchers at University of Alberta, University of Calgary, and University of British Columbia found that many consumers lie when asked by friends how much they paid for an item, and the lies are much more likely to be in the direction of claiming a bargain than inflating the actual price.
     Advertising and in-store displays for these show-off items should take the risk of being gaudy. Giving the customers stories to tell about the items will help, as well. The first words in the story count for a lot. In the Stauer catalog, the description for an item of jewelry begins, “This story breaks my heart every time….” and the one for a watch kicks off with, “When it comes to symbols that stir the heart, you can't beat the American flag.”
     In your merchandising decisions, do distinguish these show-offs from your shoppers who are connoisseurs. Researchers at University of Pennsylvania and Southern Methodist University note how consumers of very high-end products often prefer subtle, not obvious, signals in their purchases. Consider sunglasses. The researcher’s tally found that about 20% of sunglasses selling for under $50 included a brand name or logo easily visible to others. That increased to about 85% when the retail price was between $100 and $300, but for sunglasses selling above the $500 mark, the percentage dropped dramatically. It was only about 30%.

For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

Click below for more:
Offer Aspirational Shoppers Subtle Signals
Analyze Gifting to Develop Opportunities
Tell Positive Stories About Your Products

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