Running errands on this sun-drenched Arizona morning, I pulled into a nearby plaza to find oversized banners unfurled from parking lot light poles announcing the “Grand Re-Opening!” of a neighborhood Safeway supermarket.
What caught my eye were the words displayed underneath the Safeway logo – the command to “Celebrate!” followed by the phrase, “Experience the Unexpected.”
Wow… sounds more like an ad for an African safari than a trip to the grocery store.
I had nothing on my “to do” list that required stepping foot inside a supermarket,
but when grand, ridiculous statements like this are made, I’m drawn like a moth to the flame. Before venturing in, I made a mental checklist of my “predictable” predictions as to what I would find – new paint, lights, and signage.
I stepped inside, loaded for bear.
New paint? Check. On the front wall – a light coffee color that would be nice if it didn’t contrast so sharply with the glaring white sterility of the checkout area and rest of the store.
Lighting? Check. Again, across the front portion of the store. The overheads are turned off, replaced by low-voltage, high-tech, artsy-fartsy fixtures. It’s now so dark around the deli area I couldn’t tell the capicolla from bologna. I nearly did a header into a rack of California cabernet on my way to frozen foods.
Signage? Check… sort of. They’ve taken the same old warehouse block-letter signs and pasted a coffee color frame around them.
OK, I thought. Maybe the “unexpected” part comes in the form of service. I spotted a person stocking shelves and asked where I could find stainless steel cleanser. This person not only didn’t stand up, he didn’t even look at me. Talking to the can of peas in his hand, he mumbled, “Somewhere at the other end of the store.”
I considered asking him where I could find the “unexpected,” but didn’t waste my breath.
I walked out with a rather smug but sad feeling – grocery stores are virtual gold mines when women are looking to stake claim with some of their vast purchasing power, yet rarely do store chains get beyond price points. Grandiose proclamations and inflated promises of special experiences and relationships are, at the very least, insulting to the intelligence of women.
The belief that women are persuaded or even fooled by marketing like this falls into what I call the Tweedledee School of Marketing. To quote the professor:
“Contrariwise, if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.”
On my way home, I stopped by AJ’s Market, the locally-owned marketplace chain that knows the true meaning of experience and relationship. I stood in the produce section, enveloped in the aroma of fresh vegetables, and waited for the recorded thunderclap to announce the shower of light mist that rains on the produce every 10 minutes. I was greeted by Megan from behind the fish counter. Eric, manager of the deli, asked where I’d been the last few days – they’d missed me. As I cruised the aisles, two roaming clerks asked if I’d found what I needed.
According to my errand list, I hadn’t needed anything. At AJ’s, I ended up spending $47.97. Completely unexpected, wouldn't you say?
Visit Michele’s weblog www.wonderbranding.com
And Michele’s workshop - Wonder Branding: Marketing to Women at www.wizardacademy.com
© 2004 Wizard Academy® Press
Reprints are happily granted IF each page is duplicated in its entirety, including reference to the source.