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First of all, I am living an analog life right now during a holiday week, in that the sales have started in Belgium (only legally possible in Jan and July), so I physically went shopping.   But what I found truly surprised me.

Technology – beyond commoditization

I looked at smart phones, LED internet TVs and computing devices.   What I found was beyond commodity, the only difference is how big (literally and in terms of capacity) you want the device.   There are only two main brands of all items, and very little selection on offer. I walked away as I prefer a bit of selection, and there was basically none.  Samsung or Apple, Sony or Hitachi, and Acer or HP.   Nothing worth writing home about….

Clothing – tricky and misleading pricing

Even though signs promote a discounted percentage, unless the price tag has a sticker, it is not on discount.  So I went to buy a brand that said it was 30 percent off in the signage above the product to get to the cash desk to find it was not since it did not have a marking on the price tag.    Retailers appear desperate in their quest to get us to buy.  Most of the quality marks were not on discount, which tells me that the brand management has control in the distribution relationship which is good news…for the brand.

Foot traffic – only certain stores

The consumer seems quite picky this year as to where they physically go.  So much so that one major retailer has created three separate stores on the same high street to maximize locational opportunities.   Many stores remained fairly empty on the first Saturday morning of the sales.  When I was shopping before the holidays, the malls were full of people looking and eating, but not buying.

In essence, I did not have an urge to buy, as no rationale to buy was provided.  There was no differentiation, no incentives and no sense of urgency.  Very different from other years – – makes me wonder if physical retail given up and put most of its efforts online instead?

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