I’m going to change things up a bit and direct the comments in this article towards retailers and merchants rather than my normal audience of individuals. There seems to be a disconnect at times between retailers and their customers, and I’m hoping some of my advice can close the gap. If you run a business, now’s the time to get a little free market research courtesy of the Amateur Financier.
(Warning: A few of the following suggestions are bit risque. If you are easily offended, or haven’t had your morning cup of coffee, you might want to hold off on reading through this post. If not, well, let’s get to it, then!)
Women’s Clothes Manufacturers: My first (and probably best suggestion) is directed at the manufacturers of women’s clothing: make your biggest sized apparel ‘large’, the next biggest ‘medium’, and so on. Besides fighting the trend I’ve noticed of decreasing the sizes considered a particular size (since when is a woman with 36-24-36 measurements (‘perfect’ measurements) considered extra large), you’ll win dozens of female customers eager to wear extra, extra small clothing.
Condom Manufacturers: Basically, the same advice as above, only in reverse; start at ‘huge’ and increase the sizes from there. Your customers will thank you.
Pornographers, ‘Male Enhancers’, and Everyone else who advertises via Spam Messages: Stop. Just stop any use of spam as a means of selling your products. I know that you’re probably saying, ‘But Roger, we use spam because it works; we get more business that way.’ I’ll make this as clear as I can: whatever increased business you get via using spam is more than offset by the number of email users you turn off to your products (and indeed, to your entire industries) by using spam. Please, just don’t do it.
Producers of ‘Reality’ Television Shows: Besides the fact that the term ‘reality television’ has been twisted and stretched well beyond the original meaning (to include everything from Survivor style elimination contests to Real World style contrived voyeur series), the whole thing is getting out of hand. Please, please, please, for the love of sugar, stop now before we all go mad.
Specialized Television Stations: Stick with your specialty. If I turn on the History Channel, I expect to see something vaguely historic; if I turn on Food Network, I’d like to see some food preparation; and if I watch Cartoon Network, I want to see some cartoons. Increasingly though, these specialty channels are adding unrelated content to their schedules; History Channel and Food Network are doing reality series (which are at least vaguely related to the topic of their network) and Cartoon Network has added a sizable amount of real life programing to their schedule. Please, please, just go back to what you do best.
Food Manufacturers: Stop it with all the endless variations on your products; there’s really nobody in the world who needs fifteen types of potato chips, especially when most of them involve things that you can put on the chips yourself if you really desire. Besides clogging up the aisles at the local store, you’re actually making it harder for customers to decide what product to choose, decreasing the chance that they’ll buy anything. (Don’t take my word for it; Malcolm Gladwell covered just that situation in his book Blink.) Fewer options will help not only us poor schlubs stocking the shelves, but your bottom line.
–Manga Translators: Bring over more manga series, and get them translated faster. I realize it’s easier said than done (otherwise, it’d likely be done by now), but given the number of fan sites that provide free access to scanlated (that is, translated and then scanned) manga issues, you need to be quick to keep up and prevent too many people from abandoning professionally translated works.
Realtors: The barrage of commercials won’t change the fact that the housing market is down at the moment. Everyone who wants to buy a new home already knows that interest rates are at one of the lowest points in the recent past; it’s been a major news story for the past year, as people watched the market tank and the government respond by slashing interest rates to nothing. You’re not going to get the heady days of the early 2000’s back anytime soon, so just cool your jets a bit, you dig?
There you are, some advice from me to the manufacturers and retailers of the world. Enjoy the free market research (sample size: me)!