The Two Second Test

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In Sales Talks they teach potential sales people doing cold calling that they are not to try and sell the whole service, their objective is simply to sell the idea of gaining an appointment - to get their feet in the door.

Do you recognize a stop sign by the word, the colour, the shape, or all three?

Selling a car, a house loan, or insurance all call for the same skill, getting the appointment first and foremost. If the salesperson tries to sell the whole selling story, the chances are that the person being sold will reject the bombardment of information, and the sales call will fail. They won't get in the door!

Service Stations, Supermarkets, pharmacies and most other retail environments, operate on the basis of self service

Supermarkets, hardware stores, pharmacies, pet stores, department stores, petrol stations, toy shops, bookstores, discount stores - almost all stores operate on the basis of self service. Personal one-on-one selling in retailing is becoming a thing of the past. There are no sales people patrolling the aisles!

At the same time, retail stores are implementing 'clean store policies' to eliminate clutter in their stores, recognising that people shopping want to be left alone to shop almost in private, without someone trying to 'sell them' on what they want to buy.

Almost all products and many services are 'packaged' for sale, and in many cases the packaging design and information is the only 'sales tool' available to sell the product.

The TV message may well have been on air last night, but right there in the aisles, the purchase decision is about to be made.

The packaging design is therefore an incredibly important element in gaining the sale. Packs are mostly sealed to prevent people touching, feeling, smelling, or tasting the product - so what they rely on is the sensory messages, written and visual messages conveyed by the design work on the pack.

We said sensory, and we also said visual and written, and it is the combination of all of these which create the 'attitude', 'belief', 'cynicism', 'acceptance' or 'rejection' of what is being presented.

In a separate article we talked about 'Power Branding' and 'Brand Imaging' as being more important than branding.

For many people branding is simply using a logo - often just a word, or a graphic, or a combination of both of these. We would call this 'badge branding' - and often branding is almost like sticking postage stamps on an envelope.

Corporate designers go one step further, adding that the 'badge' must be applied consistently - used in the same colours, in the same position and in a size proportional to the type and graphics around it. They will often also specify a range of type faces which can be used with the logo, and put this direction down into a "brand manual' or "Corporate Image Guide". This is all very formal, but it also works to create a stronger corporate identity though signage and stationery items.

Most people buying products from a company don't in fact see all of this corporate design work. They purely relate to what they see in store, and buy the company's products and services based on its packaging and presentation - where there is a retail presence eg Banking services, service station, fast food etc.

In the case of FMCG goods (Fast moving consumer goods), there are a huge number of products competing for the same retail shelf space and attention.

The retailers realise this and are also themselves paying for the space they occupy, be it in rent or as a return on investment on the building they occupy. If the shop is in a Shopping Centre, they may also be paying 'a percentage rent' meaning the more they sell the more they pay!

The space occupied by a product must therefore return a profit, and the greater the turnover from the space (ie more sold) the better the return on space used.

Retailers also have the figures at their figure tips, and know exactly which products are selling fast and which ones are selling slowly. Slow sellers are constantly being deleted.

At the same time they are on 'thin ice' as new products come on, and demand space. Retailing is very much a process of 'product delivery and supply' and retailers are also looking for systems which deliver greater efficiencies in the chain of delivery from manufacture to purchase. They are also in many cases seeking and receiving 'new line fees' for new products to simply allow them to be added to the list of products for sale.

As if this wasn't enough pressure on products to sell well, Retailers are also adding their own brands - sometimes as much as 30% and even 100% of brands under their control.

In the FMCG market, every manufacturer is under pressure to keep their brands moving in volume sales. Manufacturing Company numbers are shrinking right across the board - with companies merging their operations, sales departments, marketing functions, and all other functions in an effort to add efficiencies and cut costs.

Retailing in most major western countries is also concentrating - with Supermarkets, also becoming just one of a number of store types controlled by the one company.

The range of brands and products in a supermarket make it essential to design a pack to stand out

The Coles-Myer group in Australia is typical of this merging of operations - controlling department stores like Myer and Grace Bros, as well as discount operations like K. Mart and Target, Coles Supermarkets, Bi-Lo supermarkets, and also specialty liquor outlets, stationery suppliers like Officeworks, and clothing stores under various banner brands.

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Article written August 2003
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© Copyright 2003 Sydney, Australia