Thursday, July 23, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Mum buys a new vacuum cleaner
As a consumer of goods and services, there are advantages in having a daughter with an obvious disability in the voracious retail marketplace.
I was looking for a new vacuum cleaner on the weekend. Daughter in tow, I visited several different stores: Harvey Norman; Briscoes; Noel Leeming. They all had vacuum cleaners. They all seemed to have different brands of vacuum cleaner. The prices ranged from $150 to $1,000. They had many different features.
As a consumer, I was bamboozled. And time was short, with an 8 year old girl in attendance who would prefer to spend all our time (and my money) in toy shops, thank you very much. What to do.
Then I popped into LV Martin. The very nice elderly store gentleman sauntered over, took a look at me, took a look at my daughter, and asked if he could help. I told him I wanted a vacuum cleaner, and I didn’t know what to buy. He had vacuum cleaners. He could have sold me one of his quite easily. I could not have told the real difference from the innumerable other vacuum cleaners I’d seen in other stores.
Instead, he pointed across the carpark to Godfreys, which basically only sells vacuum cleaners, and told me to get one there. He said I would do better to buy one from them than to buy one of the ones he had on offer. He told me who to ask for over there for the best advice and assistance.
I followed his advice, and bought my new vacuum cleaner from the store that specialises in vacuum cleaners. I told them why I had come to them, the name of the person who had sent me to them, and the store he was from.
You may wonder what this has to do with having a daughter with one leg. I have observed that retailers sometimes behave differently around me as a consumer when she is with me. Some take pity; some try and empathise. They say and do things they would not otherwise do with me as a customer. They somehow see that life has thrown me a bit of a curve ball as a mum, and they want to help me. Actually, mostly they want to do something to help her. At least, that seems to be their motivation to me.
I imagine that to some bosses, the man at L V Martin would be seen as material for a severe telling off, sending a customer away to someone else when he could have “gone for the kill”, made the sale and taken my money for his company.
From my perspective as a consumer, he may not have sold me a vacuum cleaner that day, but I am far more likely to go back to his store to get something else from him that other stores also sell, such as a washing machine, a dryer or a toaster. His disinterested action has created goodwill in me as a consumer, and a sense of trust that he (and by definition) his company, is not out to exploit me, and puts my needs as a consumer before his need to sell a product.
Who knows how the other retailer responds to the information that they got a referral from a “competitor”. Hopefully to reciprocate by referring customers back to him. If so, then it’s a very effective marketing strategy by the man from L V Martin.
And good for consumers, as they navigate the shark infested waters of competitive retail marketing.