Saturday, November 03, 2007

Marketing Musings: Scowls on Rodeo Drive

This week The Wall St Journal ran a story about customer service on Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles. In Week 42 I wrote that you really must ensure that all aspects of your business are firing. It’s not enough to have a nice shop fitout, or helpful front desk staff. All areas of your business must be lifted to the same level. What’s interesting about the WSJ article is that despite the multi-million dollar shop fit outs, the global branding budgets and the huge expense of staff, you can still “Fall at the Last Hurdle”. Here is an excerpt:

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…I decided to gauge just how inviting Rodeo Drive's stores are with the help of Mr. Hill, who is president of Sensory Logic, a company based in Minneapolis that helps businesses from Target to Toyota connect emotionally with patrons. Mr. Hill employs "facial coding," a technique of reading and using facial expressions to elicit the most profitable emotional response in a customer. The premise is that feelings occur more quickly than thoughts and play a more effective role in purchasing decisions, so businesses need to appeal to our emotions. This is territory plumbed eons ago by Madison Avenue's ad men, but it's been harder to put into practice in many retail stores.

If it's the emotional rather than the rational part of our brains that makes many of our buying decisions, that's particularly true when it comes to luxury. (Certainly, it was my emotional brain that bought a St. John Knits suit recently, which my rational brain is now trying to justify.)

Yet just training sales clerks to say, "May I help you?" may not be terribly effective, given Mr. Hill's argument that only 7% of communication relies on verbal exchange. The rest is store d├ęcor, the facial expressions of sales associates, and things our eyes and ears pick up subliminally. Thus, on Rodeo Drive, Chicago's Michigan Avenue or London's Bond Street, one of the key factors deciding whether you walk out with a new Prada handbag may be the muscles at the corner of a sales clerk's mouth.

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It’s great stuff and worth while reviewing your business from the ground up.

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