“Have to buy” versus “want to buy”

10Feb10

Compare these two grocery shopping scenarios:

– You’re totally out of the basic foods that you eat on a regular basis, so you have to visit the store.

– You have plenty of the essentials in the pantry, but you want to try out some new things for the fun of it.

Virtually any store can attract customers in the first case. But it’s the second scenario that leads to the sale of higher-margin items like a more expensive brand of wine or a gourmet chocolate bar. If I had to guess, stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s capture a lot more customers from the second group, which adds immensely to the bottom line.

Indeed, the same is probably true for any business. If you can convince customers to spend more time in your store or on your website when there’s nothing forcing them to be there, you’ll sell more of your high-margin products. After all, these are precisely the products that people want to buy because they’re fun, enjoyable and perhaps a bit out of the ordinary.



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