A Tale of Two Brands
Pizza with Corn, Anyone?
(Our First Tale)
The other night I went to pick up a pizza from my favorite pizza place. It is thin crust and delicious, and my only complaint is it never makes it past the dining room table. My little family just loves it and gobbles it up. As I was picking up my pizza, the customer in front of me was explaining that corn, ham, and mushrooms are one of the most popular topping combos where she is from. The woman behind the counter took out a pen and began to write.
Being the owner as well as the cashier makes it is easy to make decisions on the spot. The owner asked, “Where are you from?” The customer explained that she was from the border of Hungary and Slovenia and this type of pizza is one of the most loved there.
The owner of the pizza parlor was not only writing everything down, but also figuring out how she could get the ingredients, inform her customer, and make her happy.
Why do I love this type of customer/business interaction? Very simply, it is the best way to do business. It was one person making the request, not a hundred, and it was a simple, understandable, and easily satisfied request. Last, and most important, the business was ready to meet the customer’s need.
Who knows? Maybe it will take off. Ever have thin crust pizza with corn, ham, and mushrooms? In the near future, perhaps you will. My family may put it on the list to try next.
Want to Buy a Mattress?
(Our Second Tale)
I walked into a national mattress chain store to buy a bed frame after having purchased a mattress and box spring. The manager and I had already talked several times, so in this conversation he asked me what I do. I explain that my company helps brands figure out what their customers want to buy next. I give him a couple of examples, one of which we discuss: when cultures collide and influence local buying habits. The influx of a large group of people from a single area can influence the tastes and purchasing habits of a local community.
The manager points to the mattress directly behind me and says, “See that mattress?”
“That mattress is the most firm mattress that we make, and unless I asked for it special, I would have never received it.” He goes on to to explain. “There is a large Asian community in the area that recently arrived and they are used to buying very firm mattresses. We could never have sold what we had been stocking because they are all just too soft.” After convincing corporate he was right, they agreed to send him over a new, extremely firm, mattress. They sell for $3000.00 for a queen size mattress. He then explains that they sold five in the first week alone.
Why do I love this? Very simply, the manager had the experience, the knowledge of the market, and the insight to explain to corporate how they were missing out on sales. As a business and especially as a national brand, if you make the wrong product for the customer or fail to meet the tastes of a particular segment you will miss out on a significant return on your investment in new products.
Know your customer! Not every business has a salesperson/manager out on the street that can influence decisions to make new products—and not only get corporate to listen but have them do something about it.
Why Are These Tales Important?
(The Moral of the Stories)
Stories like these are important and need to be told: Some brands (however small or large) are meeting the needs of their customers. How they meet those needs is the interesting part. In both of these cases, they are actively listening to the customer and making decisions to meet the customer’s requests or needs.
It is harder to do this in a digital world. We gauge relationships in clicks and time on the page and hardly ever have a conversation with the customer. We see cart abandonment and connection loss and make every effort to speed up the process, making it easier for the customer to make a decision and make a purchase. Yet often the purchase is made only after they have been to the store to touch the product or hear from a friend that has it.
Not every sale is the same. Making sure there are enough ways to communicate with the customers is essential, regardless of the channel. In the digital world, you don’t have someone attentively listening behind the counter or observing the trends and habits of the local community, intuiting what will be the beginning of a trend and what is a one-off remark.
You know what your customers have purchased in the past, but do you know what they really want to buy next? Why not ask them?
For further thoughts on pizza toppings… http://www.mashed.com/83985/best-and-worst-pizza-toppings-ever/
And some fun facts about sleep… https://www.mattressinsider.com/blog/sleep-habits/