Tuesday, June 04, 2013

The stubborn management of groceries

In today's business world with all the competition, new products and demanding customers, a company has to do more than just sell its goods to survive on the market.

However, there are some industries that just sit on their asses and tell the customer to take what they offer or leave. Usually, this would apply to a company that has a monopoly status. But it also goes for grocery businesses.

I will show you one example of this. In the below picture, you will see products of the "Knorr" brand. Knorr offers different sauces, spice mixtures and the like.

As you can see, all the bottles are red. That is quite strange, because I am looking for a garlic sauce, which is white. My first impression when I see these red bottles is that they must be sold out, which leaves me in a feeling of disappointment and dissatisfaction, knowing that the grocery should make sure there is enough available.

Of course, I am not stupid, so I check again, and what do I see behind the red bottles?

Yes, many white bottles are behind and below the red bottles. The reason why they are hard to see in the picture is that you, as a reader of my blog, understand how well the bottles are hidden.

This allows us some conclusions about the grocery store's management:

-the grocery either does not know or does not care that some products are not visible to the potential customer
-the grocery expects the customer to buy what is visible or accepts the possiblity of making less money than possible

I have seen this with other products. One example is yogurt. There are big cans of yogurt in groceries, and some of them come with vanilla, strawberry, straciatella or maracuja taste.
One thing I noticed is that customers always go for the vanilla first, then maracuja, and if nothing else is left than some of them will still buy straciatella. But nobody will EVER buy strawberry! NEVER!

What do the groceries do then? You want to know? They do nothing! They won't restock their goods for weeks. And when they eventually refill the empty spaces in the fridge, it will all be full of strawberry yogurt. Once in a while, they will properly restock everything, but then it's again all equal, which means: strawberry will still be there in vast quantities.

So the grocery is saying to you:

"Come on, you gotta try the other one for a change!"

"Please buy something else, our purchasing assistant accidentally ordered 100 000 instead of 100 units".

"You want to eat? Well, today is humility week. We only sell a limited number of products to remind you of the starvation in Africa".

"If you're hungry enough to come to our grocery, and lazy enough not to go to a different grocery after this, you're going to be okay with the little we offer to you".

Also, please remember that I've really tried hard to understand the logic behind this. I thought: There has to be SOME kind of reason for this policy. Some kind of supply and demand law that I'm missing out on here. But I just couldn't come up with anything. I mean, the bottles will still be bottles and the cans will still be cans, and what's inside them is up to the people who produce them. 

And then I thought: Who in the production chain is being stubborn. Is it the producer who says "we are only supplying ALL of our taste variations to you - strawberry, vanilla etc." or is it the grocery that says "we are only ordering the same shit every week and it's the customer's problem if he has to pick a different sort"?

In the end, it does not seem to matter. I won't buy anything though. I only buy what I want. But I guess, at least in Germany, groceries will still be satisfied if their customers buy something out of frustration than out of their own desire.

I would really like to know what it's like in other countries. Comments are welcome.