Are the problems we face really that new?

consumer behaviorI 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 –



2 Responses to Are the problems we face really that new?

  1. Marc says:


    Great questions you are raising and as you know very relevant today. We aim to provide some solutions to several of these issues in our offering to the market with great positive feedback and slow adoption…
    Our strategy focuses on the shopper and providing the shopper with guided buying services; giving her/him a product recommendation/selection based on her/his profile gathered through some very specific and targeted profile/needs questions. Consumer is happy with the service and recommendation, but the 2 additional major benefits are that 1. the sales associates have access to the knowledge base and even the weakest link can be an expert (engagement stations don’t need to be self service at all!). And 2. every interaction is captured and provides both brands and retailers with great insight into the consumer’s decision making process and preferences/profiles. You can imagine what this could mean for the total merchandising and marketing strategy. This is info that is relevant before the purchase is made, not after the purchase has been made as is captured through POS data.
    Of course….this type of solution is best applied where there is a level of complexity or choice to the product range and it certain price level.


  2. markogne says:

    Thanks Marc!

    I checked out your website. Love the look and feel. Consider some types of implied personalization to get people started, before they feel engaged enough to invest time to fill out your existing personalization backgrounder. I feel you may be placing an undue hurdle for many shoppers who want to remain anonymous until they “pull the trigger” and make a purchase.



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