Do we really need 10 varieties of salt?

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Do we really need 10 varieties of salt?
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Sometimes I think the consumer’s life is a tough one! The consumer is sometimes forgotten by commercial decision-makers, even if they do feel concerned about his needs and interests and makes him the centre of the world. We have been shadowing the consumer for 20 years; literally following him. We specialise in Consumer BehaviourAnalysis, but we forget the consumer is not a machine. He is still a human being. So I’d like to take a shopper’s point of view of today’s “Supermarket World”.
illustration by rahel eisenring

Paradise lost? Let’s go back to the time when, little by little and with a heavy heart I had to give up with Paul, my greengrocer. He was just down the street. He knew how to advise me on what to serve with mystuffed turkey. He used to choose the best courgettes for me and would give me only the same size if I had to stuff them. He would walk me home carrying my

shopping basket if it was too heavy. He would call me by name and didn’t need to read it aloud from a loyalty card. I can still remember the sound of his voice wishing Good Morning Signora Scandroglio. How different from the mechanical andalso mangled Good Morning Signora Scan..dro..lio (or worst, the familiar Guisi)! But time went by, progress dictated the rules, and I started shopping in the supermarket nearby- beautiful, modern, efficient, rich, and multicoloured. One can find anything in there. Nevertheless I was not used to it. I could not find my tin of breakfast biscuits on my own- the red box with the goldyellow edge. Is it theone on the upper shelf? To me it looked smaller or maybe bigger... different anyhow. But I had to find it on my own and had to look around, search, and when finding it, I had to keep it in mind. I had to learn. In the beginning I wandered about the

© ecr

Giusi Scandroglio Milan, Italy

journal

vol. 4, no. 1

summer 2004

Consumers enjoy quality, value and service, so is it too much toask for simplicity, clarity and transparency too? Without it, consumers will take matters into their own hands.

do we really need 10 varieties of salt?

summer 2004

do we really need 10 varieties of salt?

Shoppers are struggling. Life is being made difficult and complex. Can’t we see the consumer is just asking for simplicity, clarity and transparency?

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aisles and often walkedon for miles. I turned up my nose at the pre-packaged sliced ham but at the same time I was willing to buy many products without really inspecting the brand legitimacy. With passing time and thanks to the great power of habit, buyers like me have grown-up and become adult. We have understood, became skilful, quick and independent in our choices. Even elderly people can serve themselves. At thesupermarket they buy fresh fruit and vegetables with ease. They can choose weight and select the right button on the scale, paying attention to properly close the transparent plastic bags. They compare prices on tins; check out the expiration date on the cellophanewrapped mozzarella; find the sugar hidden among a stack of other bags at the back of the shelf (blindly trusting the packet label and theindicated weight). And increasingly, we have grown more competent and critical. We have learned about several market categories we didn’t know. We check product ingredients and composition and ask about raw material origins. We appreciate good value for money. Now there are also regulations that guarantee brand quality and shops can control things and have authority. The “educational” process isunfolding! Evolution goes on; markets spread, surfaces extend, products multiply and

product varieties evolve to infinity. But here we go again. Now, the shopper is struggling, again. He had just become comfortable and competent when once more his life is made difficult and complex. Can’t we see the consumer is just asking for simplicity, clarity and transparency? But now, once again, the shopper...
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