Monday, July 19, 2010

Costco Marketing: Make 'em Beg

I'm back from one of my periodic forays to Costco. I'm basically a believer--lots of good stuff at high quality. But I never go there for anything more than a simple prescription refill but what I find myself wandering the aisles slump-shouldered and sad-eyed, looking, looking, looking for--whatever I am looking for. It's never in the same place twice. You won't find a clerk to ask and if you do, the chances are s/he'll tell you--oh, it used to be right here but we've stopped stocking that. Indeed, "we've stopped stocking that" is one of the most hopeful phrases in the Costco liturgy prasebook because it is pretty good index that they have not stopped stocking that, and that you will find it right around the corner.

Wiser heads than mine will say: suck it up, big guy! This the price you pay for low prices. Oh, I suppose so, but I think there may be a more sinister undertone. That is: I'm guessing tht somebody down at the University's market research operation told them that a secret to their success is to keep customers humble--meek, a little off stride, with a feeling that they don't really deserve to find what they're looking for. As a market strategy, it works great for prostitutes; why not at out most beloved big-box retailer?

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