Rewarding the Marketplace Hunter

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When was the last time you experienced the thrill of the consumer hunt?

Michael J. Silverstein's recently released book, Treasure Hunt: Inside the Mind of the New Consumer, explores this concept in great depth. "Consuming," he writes, "has become a treasure hunt - a constant search through the world's [ever-changing] store of goods and services, with the goal of finding the perfect value. There are so many goods available, in so many configurations and at so many price points, the consumer looks at the market as a huge bazaar filled with amazing finds and secret delights."

But the thrill factor has been depleted across many of the large retailers these days. Stores, sites and catalogs have become so predictable. Shoppers are a bit bored.

Companies that "get" this idea of constant sensory stimulation - Costco, Sam's Club, Target, Wild Oats - do a great job at tugging at customers' emotional heart and purse strings. Costco and Sam's Club seem in a race to entice, with diamond jewelry among the paper towels.

Target and Wild Oats also make shopping more of a pleasurable hunt. Target adds adventure with its Global Bazaar, offering "the best from bustling markets of 23 countries." Wild Oats tempts its customers with sensory experiences, such as tastings of unusual foods.

How well does your brand play this game? Do your products surprise and delight your customers? If not, serious attention must be paid to these areas of your merchandising concept. Your customers will thank you. n

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