Conversation and price elasticity ~ Sounds + Food 'n' Retail

Conversation and price elasticity

barrista.jpgSomeone smart once said:

If "markets are conversations", then yeah, how you talk to people is the DNA of marketing.
Becky Carroll, from the Customers Rock! blog wrote a good piece on what customers want yesterday. I'm afraid that I'm not at the stage yet where I can clearly express what customers want (need to do more research), but something struck me as interesting. In her post she also referred to something Michele Miller wrote (me linking to something she's linking to is very metaweb, I know), namely what actions of retailers make her less price-sensitive.

One is very cool, a free return policy on shoes at NB Web Express (though they also write personalised notes to customers). This is a very interesting business-tactic, and I will certainly discuss this further, probably on Tech IT Easy, in relation to similar strategies on the web.

The two others are examples where the retailer took the time to inform the customer via conversation.

What is interesting here, is that it's very hard to place a value on conversation, yet it is incredibly valuable to people. I sometimes chastise myself for falling for another "special" deal, simply because the person selling it to me seemed so nice and personable. Which brings forth the point that it's very easy to fall into the trap of being perceived as manipulative.

The way to get around it, I think, is to put people on the store-front who are both passionate and well-informed about the product. Passion is an emotion, very hard to fake, or acquire.

For example, in the last year, I've (inadvertedly) convinced about five people to buy Macs because I love my own so much. People actually tell me I should work for Apple, because I make such good case for their products. My passion for Apple comes from spending years building and repairing PCs and digging the Windows OS, so much so that I hate it with a passion. And as soon as I entered the world of OS X, I was in love with it's simple elegance… OK, I'm not going to do a sales-pitch on you, but beware! If you ask me for support on Windows. I'll just advise you to get a Mac.

Imagine the idea of the Apple Genius in the store, or the Starbucks Barista. And then, come down from the cloud and realise that you're actually paying a premium for both of these companies' products.

That is the value of conversation, the value of passion.

The picture is of James Hoffman, during the World Barista Championship.


 

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