Our old dishwasher died recently. It was bought 12 years ago from a local retail store, with relatively little pre-research. I may have picked up an old Which magazine from my Dad to check out the “best buy” models, but essentially we bought on the combination of brand and price, highly influenced by the shop salesman. I probably kidded myself that I had haggled the price down a little. It served us faithfully for 12 years, but I was told the time had come to replace it, yes OK, I’d been repeatedly told.
The modern day purchase process is (for me and perhaps many males) a much more painless affair and was completed within a couple of hours without leaving the house (Oh joy). Someone more adept at receiving partner fed instructions and less distracted by “deal finding” would I’m sure complete the whole thing faster. In short some online review sites were browsed, and many links clicked. I was naturally told off by my partner when I’d arrived on Ebay and started browsing second hand machines. (“you always have bad experiences buying on ebay”, “rubbish darling, I always get the money back because I use Paypal”)
So naturally back on track, and having successfully identified and agreed on the right brand and model, the mission was simply to find the best price via a price comparison engine. Order was placed, and the article delivered a few days later. Simple. I’ve completed similar exercises for TVs, DVD recorders, vacuum cleaners etc. Certain retailers like Dixons have finally capitalised on the trend and are using their latest customer controversial campaign to mock competitors and pick up the now ubiquitous savvy audience that uses the high street to search for items then buy online. Clearly in the case of my new dishwasher purchase I did not extend to the “offline” visit to a retail store. But basically dearest is not happy because I’m now personally and solely responsible for death of high street, the closing down of small vendors, and she has no where to go and moan when said item goes wrong. Well, she’s partly right.
Me, I thought I was going to avoid going to the shops ever again. Not so. She’s caught the online time-saving habit, so she now does the main weekly shop on a Sunday night online from some fairly expensive organic farm shop. I’m not allowed to look, especially at the bill. I love their Pastrami though. This means we don’t get the customary “bogof” deals, which means I now periodically troop to Waitrose, Tesco or Lidl to ensure we get some of the basic household items she misses. And of course, when I say the above I really mean going to the latter, as she never would. I have none of her embarrassment factor or needing to see her mates in Waitrose, or buy desserts. I make the ice cream anyway (with the gadget I bought online for her birthday that she refuses to use). Anyway I enjoy browsing through toolboxes next to the vegetables and finding seasonal gear like flippers for the kids, fishing rods etc planted next to their excellent olive oil. In my humble view readers, it’s retailing brilliance, it’s anti-marketing, probably impossible to replicate online, thoughtless and glorious emporium differentiation making the big stores look silly with all that obvious aisle planning… And I love the fact that whenever I checkout the bill it never seems to go beyond £30 whatever I put in the trolley, and you can pick up any of the cardboard boxes to use as a receptacle. Dearest isn’t really happy with the Polish sausages though. Strange the effects of the internet….
So back to the day job. What do we conclude from my deranged and convoluted bouts of shopping? Yes, the marketing buying model has clearly changed for so many products and services, but there is also social, cultural shift in who buys products and services, how, when and where they access, and a different set of social interactions or even digital interactions. Thank God – the whole thing was getting far too boring and predictable. For any brand now collecting and integrating the changed behaviours of its customers, and getting the channel preference and combination right, means integrating data from more sources is required and complex mapping of customer interactions needed before producing the comms plan to tap into the new fragmented reality…. (yeah man). Which is what we do, sort of, sat in the corner next to the cheap lemonade, piled where most marketers are afraid to look….