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Thursday, June 29, 2006

"What Consumers Really Think"

Meet Sonna and Lis Calandrino from Fabulous Floors Magazine,the first consumer magazine devoted solely to flooring styles as a key element in home d├ęcor. Sonna is the Publisher of Fabulous Floors and Lis, the Director of Consumer Research. Both are extremely well tuned into listening to consumers, particularly flooring consumers.

I strongly encourage you to hear them in a 4 part series on FloorRadio aired 6/25/06 titled "What Consumers Really Think". Sonna and Lis discuss the findings from a recent Fabulous Floors/Floor Radio joint venture consumer focus group. It is fascinating and right on the mark!

Part 1 - the importance of listening to your consumers and using tools like focus groups for a complete pulse check; how floor covering consumers prepare themselves to shop for floor coverings; how they view the shopping experience; how they assess the comfort level of a retail store; how they feel about a salesperson who tries to change their minds.

  • Consumers do a lot of research ahead of time.
  • Consumers want salespeople to be respectful, to listen, to not rush them, to collaborate
Part 2 - the strong feelings consumers have for their homes; how these feelings are reflected in their approach to shopping, their stance on working with designers, the kind of help they want and expect from a retail salesperson.

  • Too much focus on price
  • Too many products to choose from --> help me make sense of the choices
  • Salesperson doesn't spend enough time listening and 'interviewing' consumers
  • "My house is a work in progress" --> strong emotions! "My home has got to be me, so don't try to change my mind. I know what I want."
  • [Consider reading Trading Up by Micheal Silverstein; the home is at the top of the trading up list. "Americans distort their discretionary spending toward the home more than any other category.”]
Part 3 - the attitude women consumers have toward price and their knowledge level with regard to available credit promotions; environmentally friendly product and what they want and expect from samples, vignettes and layout in a retail floor covering store.

  • Salesperson is a reflection of the store
  • Make consumer feel welcome
  • Growing interest in environmental options
  • Consumers are more experimental than retailers; they are curious about how different products might look. Vignettes are invaluable!
Part 4 - consumers show a strong commitment toward finding the perfect flooring product; likes and dislikes about salespeople and the prime points retailers might want to consider to ensure more of their customers have a positive shopping experience in their store.

  • NOTE: Marti Barletta's book Marketing to Women: How to Understand, Reach and Increase Your Share of the Largest Market Segment describes how important it is for women to find the perfect answer when shopping; they approach the shopping process in a less linear [i.e., the spiral path] manner than do men. So be aware of this, understand that women will take more time; listen to her, develop a relationship with her. The benefits are enormous [word of mouth referrals, shorter repeat purchase cycle].
  • Look at what other stores and businesses are doing [kids' area, better parking lot, other ways to visualize product] for inspiration.

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