Is the consumer (really) always right?

‘The consumer is always right’, is an old adage of business. Personally, I am a strong believer of the saying and find myself always going back to the consumer every time I am stuck with any decisions at work. This involves both, putting myself in the consumer’s shoes as well as actually going and talking to them.

At the initial stages of my entrepreneurship journey, I found myself working at two retail stores where in exchange of shelf-space for Baggit bags I would be the quintessential sales girl, influencing and understanding consumer behavior all at once. This experience had a profound impact on my learning.

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Thus, it is now a policy within Baggit that on weekends, all the HO employees must visit the Baggit store and attend to the consumers in full uniform. This helps them understand how the brand-consumer loop is successfully closed. Even I am no exception to this rule; and honestly I prefer attending to the consumers in uniform more than sitting in meetings trying to decipher that very consumer while being confined in an air-conditioned room. An example of this execution would be the ‘Speaking Tags’ that we have introduced. When I visited the stores, I noticed that many consumers prefer shopping independently i.e. without a sales staff hovering around them. But the issue with this was that many consumers would miss out on the features (especially those that are layered) of the bag. So, along with the legal requirements of the information to be added to a tag, we started to include simple image based features for ease of understanding. This communication resonated with our brand value of functionality, guided by a layered consumer insight.

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This love for consumers transcends when I’m travelling. I always find myself getting attracted to stores like Topshop, Boohoo, Harrods, Selfridges and Victoria’s Secret. I look at these stores from the lens of a consumer first and then through one of an entrepreneur. This helps me learn gauge and improve the effectiveness of different product designs, marketing communication and visual merchandising strategies. Among these stores, Topshop has always been one of my favorite brands. Their quirkiness is something that just attracts me in ways you can’t imagine! My friends often joke that if I am ever lost in a city abroad, I’ll be at the Topshop store that is closest to my hotel.

 

Thus, while the question, ‘Is the consumer is always right?’ is destined to be eternally debated, they do always point you to the ‘right’ direction. Sometimes even the consumers don’t know what exactly it is that they want or might not be as self-aware about their desires as you’d like them to be, especially as a fashion brand. Personally though, I have definitely found that consumers always gives me perspective and by extension, direction. At Baggit, we regularly engage in consumer studies and panels to keep us updated on the evolving trends. Thus, the consumer is always behind all the decisions we take when it comes to what direction to move. And I believe this consumer centric decision-making process is a big reason behind our success.

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