Saturday, February 12, 2011

Follow Your Customers Home

Anthropologists study people within the cultures the people are accustomed to. When companies in the retail supply chain hire anthropologists, it’s often to follow customers to their homes and businesses to discover how the company’s products are being used in the purchaser’s natural environments. It was on the advice of marketing consultants using anthropological methods that the manufacturer of Weber grills told retailers shoppers seemed to put more importance on the social fun of a barbeque than on the ease of the cooking or taste of the food.
     Then Sealy Corporation sent consultants into consumers’ homes to explore the many different ways people use their mattresses. Sealy sponsored a dozen studies in which people were interviewed individually using anthropological and ethnographic techniques. The fruit of this labor was the “Whatever you do in bed, Sealy supports it” campaign. Aside from that tag line brilliantly projecting, “Hey, our mattresses are exciting, not just commodities,” the ads suggested a broader range of benefits than consumers might have been thinking about. Viewers of “American Idol” even had a chance to see an ad featuring a Sealy mattress being used as the trampoline platform for aerial stunts.
     In the mid-1980’s as Intuit Inc. was first getting started in Palo Alto, California, company staff hung around local computer stores where Quicken was being sold. Whenever somebody would buy that flagship Intuit product, the Intuit staff member would ask the purchaser if staff could come watch what happens when the person installed the software on the home or office computer and began learning to use it. Intuit made full use of what they discovered. Quicken garnered a reputation as a user-friendly way to get boring bookkeeping out of the way.
     Asking customers if you can follow them home probably wouldn’t out well for you in all circumstances these days. The visits would take time. Customers would say no. And as a retailer, you probably won’t be hiring anthropologists to assist in marketing campaigns.
     Still, you may have opportunities to visit your customer’s home or business locations to install, service, or repair products they’ve purchased from you. In these cases, observe all you can about how they’re using the products. What are the uses you didn’t expect and can now leverage as selling points to others? What frustrations are the people experiencing that could be eased through in-store training or client-site fee-based consultation?

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

Click below for more:
Discover What Purchasers Never Use

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