What Retailers Can Learn From The Past

In a recent Harvard Biz article, Peter Merholz relates the trend at checkout toward Square and the Apple Store-type experiences to farmers’ markets and food trucks.  Consumers want to tear down the barriers between the shopper and the merchant.  They want the farmers market, not the supermarket.  They want the food truck, not the restaurant, and at checkout, they’d rather remove the big clunky cash register in between them and the retailer.

In a recent broad survey of consumers, as reported by Fast Company, PR firm Cohn and Wolfe asked shoppers what they most value in the brands they gravitate towards the most.  Here is a short of list of the things that didn’t rise to the top:

  • Unique products and services
  • Brands that innovate
  • Great customer service

In fact, the number one thing consumers value is a brand’s authenticity and honest communication at all times.  This notion certainly jibes with the new found love for farmers’ markets and food trucks.  Meeting the farmer, the cook makes us feel that our product or meal is more authentic.  Someone famous once said the truth is always the easiest answer, but we allknow that brands struggle in this area because they want to communicate a message about their product that is a little slicker, shinier, and sexier than the actual product.  Turns out that isn’t what consumers like anymore.  Maybe it’s from 30+ years of Mad Men, but consumers are more interested in a guy or gal in a truck than he perfectly packaged dining experience.

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