I once met an old man who was the first grocery store owner to use shopping carts, in what is now a rather large metropolitan market. This conversation has stuck in my mind for many years because this person was a true revolutionary.
Today, we take his dilemma for granted, but in that time shoppers were accustomed to handing a list to a shopkeeper and for that person to collect the items. From the moment in time where he brought shopping carts in to the store and opened up the aisles for others to browse in, he both opened up a whole new chapter in consumer oriented marketing and he had to figure out how to entice his shoppers to do what might have been considered work for others to do. It was a huge hurdle to overcome.
In many regards, he faced more difficult problems than what we faced in the genesis of online retail adoption and development of marketing principles. He didn’t have to figure out how to get consumers to use a virtual shopping cart rather than a physical one, he had to figure out how to get consumers to actually learn to shop.
It’s precisely these types of stories we need to remember when we feel we don’t have guiding innovators, or that we have insurmountable problems. In fact, many of the principles we use today in online marketing are directly parallel to what these same retail grocers and consumer packaged goods manufacturers faced well over 60 years ago: how do we differentiate a product, who is the target audience, and how do we affect or aid in the transition of consumer behavior?
I’d love to hear your thoughts –