The Year Some Finally Listened!

by Q

The Customer is always right! When most people think of that old saying, they envision a plaque on the wall of a small town general store. Those small stores of yester-year knew how important it was to listen to their customers. If they didnít listen, shoppers would go to a store that did. Well, the saying may be a bit dated, but the concept is what has made 2002 a good year for some and a bad year for others.

Over the past decade, companies have spent a fortune studying consumer habits. They have adjusted store dťcor, made aisles smaller or larger and retrained sales people dozens of times in hopes of finding the secret formula that will get shoppers to buy more and return often . But the secret was there all the time and this holiday shopping season proves it! Listen to consumers and give them what they want, not what you think they want. This season people wanted bargains, quality products and fast service. Those who got that message are the winners. The rest are Kmart, Target, Sears and McDonalds.

Kmart stock is about to be completely devalued. McDonalds posted a major loss for the first time in itís forty-seven year history. Sears is tittering on the edge of existence and Target, once a retail champ, is soft. Why? McDonalds apparently thought people would enjoy eating burgers that are not cooked to order and taste like dog food as a result. Jack in the Box tried that in the late 70ís with dismal results. Today theyíre smarter. While Mac has made fast food history, they seem unable to learn from it. Kmart, Target and Sears simply tried to be something they are not and thatís high end retail stores.

People going to Kmart arenít going to pay twenty bucks for a salt and pepper set just because Martha Stewartís name is on it (although she could sure use the money now). This holiday season Target decided to insult shoppers and waste their time with security checks of items and receipts on the way out, despite the presence of security scanners. Sears seems to be completely out of touch when it comes to what shoppers want with a serious lack of sales help and extremely slow check outs. People want Kmart, Target and Sears to act like the high volume, good value, friendly retail stores theyíre supposed to be. If they want to be like Saks they had better change their names, hire snooty sales people and get Wynona Ryder to stroll down their aisles and stuff things into her pants!

When it comes to listening to people and giving them what they want, the 2002 Elections also offered us an object lesson or two! Politicians that offered people what they wanted got elected. Those who chose to merely follow a party line or preach outdated concepts didnít. This is something that most political commentators are too dishonest or biased to admit. The 2002 elections were not about Republicans, Democrats or any group in particular. They were about people getting tired of being ignored by those they elect. Politicians that listened got elected. The rest didnít. People like to be heard and, even more importantly, have their opinions respected. Just look at Trent Lott. He recently expressed his opinion and now he has our full attention!

MTV was one of the few cable or broadcast entities that decided to listen to Viewers and give them exactly what they wanted in 2002 (with the exception of Naked News). While major cable stations and networks cried the blues over disappointing ratings, MTV scored huge with The Osbournes. Thatís because they thought it more important to provide people with entertainment they wanted, then to beat some worn out political drum or make people sit through another Disease of the Week TV Movie. If I have to watch Mare Winningham got one more abortion, try to get back the kid she gave up for adoption, suffer from inoperable cancer, be abused or get beaten again, Iím going to shoot myself! Or maybe Iíll watch 7th Heaven and the Rev will either let me move in or send me to a support group. Sure, the Osbournes arenít the PTL Club. But people that watch MTV want that and MTV listened. Just like people that watch Trinity Broadcasting Stations want the PTL Club. They, too, seem to get the message when it comes to what their Viewers want.

Customers speak with their wallets, Viewers with their remotes and Voters with their votes. Those who listen will have a great New Year. Those who donít might as well move to Baghdad.


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