April 18, 2012

Make the product unique, not the packaging



My hubby, a marketing manager and buyer for a specialty foods store, was visited by a vendor with a new product, a product that is similar to other products in its category, except for one thing: the size of the packaging, which is a good 1-2 inches taller than the other packaging in the category.

Hubby: "Your bottle is too tall for the shelf."

Vendor: "Why don't you put it on the top shelf?"

Hubby: "There are already products on that shelf that we've put there for a reason."

Vendor: "Can't you just adjust the shelf so my products fit?"

Hubby: "The shelves are full, and by adjusting the shelves we would throw off the whole set. Can you change the size of the bottle?"

Vendor: "No, that's what makes us unique."

End of conversation.

Later, hubby gets a call from the vendor's superior.

Superior: "We'll just buy you a refrigerated case that you can put our bottles in. We'll pay for it and you can put it on the floor."

Hubby: "We don't have floor space for another separate case."

Superior: "But we'll pay for it!"

End of conversation.

Later, hubby gets another call from the superior.

Superior: "How about a countertop case?" (According to hubby, every vendor wants their own case or cooler, so they don't have to share shelf space with other products. Of course, stores don't have room for individual cases for every vendor.)

As of this posting, the issue is still unresolved. Here's my husband's take on the issue:

"Make the product unique, not the packaging."

Sure, we all want to stand out. But we always have to take into account what our customer/audience needs, wants and cares about.

If your unique qualities are merely on the surface, but you don't have a unique and deeper message to go along with those qualities, you are basically just a pretty bottle. Customers will pass you by for the bottles with the quality product on the inside.

Think about what you're doing to stand out. Are you quirky, wacky, intense, colorful, silly, bombastic, fiery, outrageous, controversial or comedic at the expense of your message?

More posts inspired by retail:

6 customer service tips for speakers

Your audience has simple requests: can you fulfill them?

9 things you can learn from a home shopping show

Some tips from a tip jar

5 public speaking lessons from a Vitamix demo

How is a speaker like a cinnamon roll cake?

Tea-ed off: Knowing when to leaf well enough alone

5 ways to spiff up your act, BBC America-style

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