Finding your customers' comfort zone

July 9, 2013

Back in college I worked at a women’s fashion store in NYC that had a unique concept: front and center when you walked in was a comfy couch and some chairs, a TV, a table full of magazines, pretzels, coffee… and wine. The thought was, when women shop with their boyfriends or husbands, they would be more likely to stay longer and spend more money with the men happily occupied watching CNN or ESPN (if, in fact, those channels existed back in 1982…). It was a win-win: the women shopped longer and the men were happy, catching a few innings of the game AND earning additional brownie points for “shopping” with their girlfriends or wives.

Years later, when my daughter was a toddler, I couldn’t wait until the day that that we could go shopping together: It will be so much fun! A girl’s day out! Bonding! Fast forward to today, when the words “Can we go to the mall?” strike dread in my heart. Granted, she goes to the mall plenty of times without me, but the request for my presence usually includes the appearance of my wallet multiple times throughout the excursion.

It’s not the money outlay that bothers me; it’s the incredibly uncomfortable and physically exhausting experience of shopping with a teenage daughter who is picky and indecisive. I can’t just park myself on an exterior mall bench and come only when it’s time to settle the bill; I am expected to weigh in on choices. Be present. Have an opinion, even if it gets an eye roll. (And for this I am truly thankful)

Recently, as we made our way through our 4th or 5th store of the afternoon, squeezing through aisles jammed with packed racks and tween and teen shoppers, I was searching for a place to sit. Really, I thought, would it kill them to put a few cushioned benches around? Obviously, yes it would. I searched out a display table, gently moved the pile of sweaters aside, and sat down. Only to be chastised by a sales girl (yes, clearly still a girl) who said rather rudely, “There is NO sitting on the tables”.

I know that retailers spend a lot of time considering, planning and analyzing store layouts and the brand shopping ‘experience’. Some get it right - a few comfy seats, a restroom near the children’s department, wide aisles, music that enhances the experience and lighting that suits the vibe (but also makes seeing the merchandise possible – hint hint Hollister..but that’s another blog…)

I also know that I am not the primary target market for these stores. I know I could get her a debit card of her own. I know we could do all of our shopping online in the comfort of our home. But if these mall stores want to make every square foot of their expensive real estate pay off, a little consideration for some of us paying the bill would be nice.

And most likely the one paying the bill is someone just like me. According to Paco Underhill, marketers should, “Recognize that the overwhelming majority of discretionary income in this country is held in the hands of women aged 50 and older. We have an advertising industry that is still very much focused on people who are 30 and under”

I would add to that…”an advertising industry and retail experience industry very much focused on people who are 30 and under”…

At the bottom of my receipt, the store asks for feedback about my shopping experience. I’m going to call them and recommend a few chairs. Now that I think about it, a glass of wine would’ve been nice, too.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Brandlogic and CoreBrand have become Tenet Partners — Where brand meets innovation®. More