Friday, October 08, 2004

:: adgruntie :: Connect

+ Wal-Mart told to get sensitive.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. can’t be content with earning the respect of its shoppers. To succeed, some experts said, it has to pluck consumers’ heartstrings.
That’s the advice Kevin Roberts gave the retail giant at a meeting attended Thursday by more than 400 retailers, suppliers and students.
Roberts, worldwide chief executive officer of Saatchi & Saatchi, an international advertising agency, joined a slate of more than a dozen retail experts at the fourth annual Emerging Trends in Retailing Conference, held at in Fayetteville at the University of Arkansas. The Center for Retailing Excellence at the University’s Sam M. Walton College of Business hosted the event.
Roberts said retailers cannot succeed simply by providing a range of products at a competitive price. He said price competition among mass retailers has become too fierce, and successful companies will have to maintain a positive emotional connection with customers. "Wal-Mart has become irreplaceable," he said. "It needs to be irresistible." ...
Brands, Roberts said, had" lost their juice, "because most merchandise has been made into commodities because of their low prices and wide availability. To succeed, he said, retailers and product manufacturers will have to focus on stimulating shoppers ’ emotions. Rather than price, he said, shoppers will be lured to buy products if they convey a sense of mystery, sensuality and intimacy.
"The next creative revolution is going to happen in the store, "he said." When you go into a Wal-Mart, there’s very little mystery left."
And he's right on. There are so many brands pushing price that they all start to blend together. Offering low prices now is not the differentiaing factor it once was. The marketplace is overcrowded now with low-priced stores. How do you stand out among the competition when you've become a parity brand?

Connecting to the consumer is vital to stand out in a highly competitve area like this one. How do you get into the hearts of consumers? Firstly by showing you care about them. What they want, what they need, and prove that you can/do/will provide what they are looking for. From customer service to products on the shelves, it's a complete package that demonstrates that the consumer is valued. And it requires follow through on every level, from the advertising to how your companies employees interact with shoppers. It's a complete package that the consumer sees. It may seem like an obvious thing, but there are a ton of retailers who do not understand this. I have experienced this on numerous occasions, and I'm sure plenty of others have as well. When you have a bad experience, there's no desire to continue giving money to a company that just doesn't get. Places that understand how to treat their customers and how to give them a good experience every time will reap the benefits.

Advertising can only do so much. If an ad convinces someone to step into your store or buy your product, if their experience in the store is not satisfactory or the product doesn't perform, all the advertising in the world cannot save it.

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