Posted in Customer Service, People, Research, Retail Operations, Selling & Persuasion

A fine line between art and science

Interesting question arose at a client of ours the other day. They have a hot-shot new manager and she is very dynamic, wanting to change things around. I have to be a bit vague here, but stick with me:

It is a store that sells fashion (& related merchandise) to a brand-conscious market of tweens, teens and Gen Y (12 – 26 would be a fair guestimate.

The manager had observed that the school-time trade (9am – 3pm) was mostly older folks, either buying for their kids or even looking for themselves. They were steering away form the edgier stuff and she want to stock more ‘mainstream’ stock to satisfy that untapped market.

The dilemma of course is:

How will the key demographic react when they see the older geezers walking in the mall carrying ‘their’ store’s bag?

  • Can you risk extending the range and alienating your core customers?
  • Or is this a wasted opportunity?

I don’t know the answer, and the only way to find out is to either crunch the numbers or to take a chance – the science and the art – and to see what happens.

I would do as follows:

1. Buy a smallish range and merchandise it in a less ‘productive’ area. Not enough to change the look of the store and not enough to be noticed by the core customers.  [The 9-3’ers will shop more leisurely and find it if they want it.]

2. Track the sales and increase/ decrease accordingly.

What I would NOT do is spend any money on market research, or trying to be too analytical (calculating target market size, estimating potential demand etc.)

There is a time and a place for that, but right now we have to innovate on the fly… not get stuck in calculator land.

AND PS: I would hang on to that manager either way – 10/10 for initiative and 20/10 for caring enough to raise the idea.


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