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Jan. 27, 2011

Supermarketing

by Carl Flatow

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I was listening to a bunch of talking heads on a business channel opining on the nature of sales in the supermarket. They were shocked by a report that people go to the supermarket, on average, 3 times per week. One anchor, who I have trouble believing ever enters any kind of food market at all, told how he buys 5 of anything he needs- he wants to stock up and not have to go back for a couple of weeks.

Then a correspondent told a story about merchant marketing. He explained that one retailer had cans of soup “on sale” for $2 per can for over a week, but sales were flat. So the store changed the sign to say “Today, ONLY, Soup $2 per can, LIMIT 8 cans,” and the product jumped off the shelves.

I take home two lessons from all of this.

First, the reason I shop in the market (almost never the supermarket, but that’s another story) at least 3 times a week is that I mostly eat fresh fruits and vegetables, something the aforementioned anchor probably hasn’t bought in decades. Yet they’ll do other stories where they wonder about the reasons that healthcare costs are rising. But the second lesson is also extremely important.

These talking heads had NO idea about a little thing called honesty. Honesty doesn’t enter into their conversation or their thinking. Trick the customer all you want. Sales are everything. There will always be enough customers who will believe anything you tell them. The real lesson, then, is, Why should we EVER trust what’s IN the soup can, either?

Excuse me, I’ve gotta go make some home-made soup from some of those fresh fruits and vegetables I bought yesterday….

About Carl Flatow

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