This is an open letter to the executives at QALO - a silicone ring maker. I am writing it to illuminate the importance of understanding your buyer's behavior.
Dear Executive Team,
You lost a sale. In fact, you lost several of them. These could have been salvaged if you had taken the time to understand your potential buyers. Maybe you don’t care, but you should.
Several weeks ago, my brother and I were shopping at REI in Denver, Colorado. We were in the checkout lane when I noticed your silicone rings on a display. As a consumer psychologist, I couldn’t help but make some observations about your product.
First, your rings are cool. To be honest, you gained immediate credibility and brand equity from your competitor’s visibility on Shark Tank (my brother and I both saw the episode). You actually gained traction from their visibility. A real win for you.
Second, your product fits the REI retail environment. Selling a ring, “ideal for men who live an active lifestyle or work in a profession that won't allow a traditional metal wedding ring due to safety concerns,” in an outdoor adventure store is a good idea. Your brand is congruent with the retail environment. Another win.
Third, the product placement was brilliant. While we were standing in line, we couldn’t help but notice them. Why? Besides the packaging being eye-catching, the product was at eye level in a place where we were able to take the time to read it. What else is there to do when you are stuck in a checkout queue?
Finally, my brother and I both picked up your packaging - a testament to how it clearly “spoke” our language as guys; another testament to your product placement. The rings had a great “feel” to them. Of course, this sparked a conversation about your product’s cool factor, with both of us saying we wanted to buy it.
And we were ready…
Only 15 feet from the cash register...
This sounds like a home run, right?
Despite all this, you failed to close two sales from us and at least a few others (from my in-store observation).
It boils down to a single question that you can ask a guy that 99.9% of them won’t know the answer.
What is your ring size?
You probably know your ring size. At least I would expect you to. You are in the business of selling rings. But an overwhelming majority of guys don’t. In fact, I would bet a vast majority of women don’t know their husbands ring size. It just isn’t something that people know.
Not providing a way of determining this at the time of purchase is a mistake. It is akin to going to a shoe store and being unable to figure out your shoe size. I would classify this as a fatal marketing and merchandising flaw - and it is costing you revenue.
Your company is doing so many things right, it seems a shame to throw it away on the one-yard-line; wouldn’t you agree? But there is a deeper, more fundamental problem here. One that says, “I don’t know my audience or potential customer base.”
But not all is lost. There is a solution.
The jewelry industry has long used a tool to determine ring size at the point of sale. Why you didn’t consider using this as a part of your merchandising display is beyond me. I did the legwork for you and found a low-cost ring sizer on Amazon for $6.49.
All you have to do is get a ring sizer for every retail point of sale. This investment will pay for itself in multiples. In the future, think about your consumer; not just the demographics, i.e. 34-year-old, married, wears a ring, etc., but the mindset(s) they might have both pre and post-purchase. This includes the mindset about the “shopping experience.”
This seems like a small investment when your rings sell for $24.95 (with your margins likely north of 80%). If you would have been able to give my brother and I our rings sizes, you would have sold two more that day - guaranteed.
Understanding your buyers doesn’t need to cost millions of dollars. It is as simple as empathetically looking at things from their perspective. This goes beyond knowing how your product can fit into their lifestyle after purchase. It is also knowing how they can obtain the product through a retail channel, or understanding how they shop.
Your current process expects me to do more work to buy your product. You expect me to:
- Leave the store
- Remember that I liked your product
- Remember YOUR product and not your competitors (if I Google silicone rings, you and your competition come up)
- Go get my ring size, either in a jewelry store (or by looking up alternative ways to figure it out online)
- Come back to the store (or go online)
- Buy your product (and not your competitors)
In my opinion; this just won’t happen, which is a lost opportunity for both of us. It is a shame to have so much going for you, and in the end, let a $6.95 barrier block people from making purchases.
Take some advice from Beyonce, “If you liked it [the sale], then you should have put a ring on it [my finger].”
Change your process and demonstrate that you like making sales in the retail channel. From where I am sitting, you are disconnected from your buyer.
If you want us to say “I do” when purchasing your product; understand who we are.
In understanding your consumers,
Dr. Ari Zelmanow, PRC