Sunday, October 25, 2009

What's Missing at Supermarkets?

Supermarkets have become a scientifically formulated masterpiece in the art of getting more people to spend more money.

Aisles are arranged in such a way that you are directed past oodles of products you may never need, just to get a bottle of milk. But perhaps, just perhaps, you see something that you might like, and you decide to buy it, even though that's not what you came to the store for.

Endcaps promote products to seem like they're on sale, even though they may not be; but the sheer appeal of that endcap entices shoppers to at least take a look, and at most buy 10 whatever it is that's being promoted.

Cheaper versions of a particular item are often placed on the bottom shelf where people don't look as frequently, and instead go for the higher priced item in the middle.

And so on and so forth.

But I think that anybody who has ever shopped at a supermarket on a Sunday morning will tell you about how aggravating it is to check out and pay for all this food you've dumped in your cart. There are 10 check out lines that are up and running, but each line has six people in it and each person has a cart full of Doritos, string cheese, and marshmallows that all need to be unloaded, scanned, bagged, and reloaded into the cart. Can't get much more inefficient.

So couldn't there be a way to make this process more efficient and build in a register right in the shopping cart? That way, you grab your box of Count Chocula, scan it, and drop it into your cart. Then, when you're finished, you roll up to the front register, pay your bill, bag your goods, and you're off.

Well, that's my simplistic, unrefined idea. Whether it's doable or not, I don't know. But the fact is that an otherwise satisfactory shopping experience can be totally destroyed by standing in line for 10 minutes just to have the honor of handing over your money to someone else. In other words, it's an aggravating way to end your pleasant morning.

Streamline the check out process, make people happy, make more money. That's my suggestion. Now go enjoy your Twinkies.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

An Idea for Music at the Gym

So here's a wacky idea I had when I was at the gym today.

The gym I belong to pumps in music over the loud speakers, presumably a satellite feed that also gets fed to its other locations around the nation. Meanwhile, 75% of the people working out at any given time have their earphones pumping out music from their mp3 players. The music being played varies from rock, to 80s, to hip-hop, etc. Generally it's stuff everybody has heard.

My idea involves the following steps:

1. Each gym member selects his or her top 5 musical artists, and then the artists' names are punched in to a computer. Perhaps these names can be updated over time, but that's besides the point for now.

2. When the gym member scans his or her card in, the computer takes note of this and recognizes the member's musical preferences. The computer would also be able to be set on whether or not the member is wearing an mp3 player during his/her workout.

3. If s/he is NOT wearing an mp3 player, the computer would aggregate the music that this member chose, along with the music that all the other non-mp3 wearing members chose, and then play selections from the bands selected, particularly if there happens to be a common theme between the bands or genres preferred.

Essentially, it's a quasi-personalized radio station that is designed to play music that is popular amongst non-mp3ers who are working out at any given time. That way, the members who are not listening to their own choice of music get to at least hear stuff they may like rather than random stuff that doesn't necessarily appeal to anybody or only a few people. It's kind of a version of target marketing.

Pretty complicated concept now that I think about it. But these are the things I think about as I pause between reps at the gym. Mental workout, I suppose.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Dove Soap Dives into Soapy Semantics

On a recent trip to a BJ's mega-jumbo-cavernous Warehouse, I wandered to the toiletries section to pick up a package of soap bars for my wife. She specifically requested Dove soap and I happened upon 4-5 options from Unilever's big brand name.

As I was scanning the packaging on each type of soap, I noticed a peculiar play on words that had me wondering, "Are these marketing people serious? Or perhaps it's just a joke?"

Some of the soaps had: "Moisturizing Cream" emblazoned on the cartons.

Other soaps had: "Hydrating Lotion" depicted on them.

Ummm, okay.

Last time I checked, hydrating is synonymous with moisturing.

Ditto for lotion and cream.

Knowing enough about marketing to be dangerous, my hunch is that this is some sort of A/B split test to see which words sell better. Otherwise, perhaps it's just the Unilever marketers trying to liven things up for us bored consumers. Whatever the case, they might want to clean up their semantics...