Will Less Variety Change Your Customer Experience?


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Grocery store’s who tried to attract customer’s by influencing the customer shopping experience via coffee bars, fancy bakeries and the availability of exotic products are going back to the basics. Major players such as Kroger, Stop & Shop, Publix and other big food chains are now refocusing efforts on the middle aisles where as much as 70% of their weekly profits are generated. In fact, many retailers are also expected to slice the assortment of products in their stores by at least 15%. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal (“Retailers Cut Back on Variety, Once the Spice of Marketing”) retailers are trying to cater to budget-conscious shoppers who want to simplify shopping trips and stick to familiar products.

Incremental variations on popular products can be confusing since some 47,113 new products, variations or sizes were launched last year, more than twice as many as in 1998. For example, a typical Target store has 88 kinds of Pantene shampoo, conditioner and styling products. How many hair products do you need? I don’t need any; but then again, I’m nearly bald. If your favorite grocery retailer stops carrying a specific product in the size, flavor or fragrance you prefer are you likely to defect to another store? I’m not; however, if they change my experience by closing more check-out lanes that could make a difference because I hate to wait.

The current economy is forcing changes that may impact the customer experience. What is a show-stopper for you?

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Alan See
Alan See is Principal and Chief Marketing Officer of CMO Temps, LLC. He is the American Marketing Association Marketer of the Year for Content Marketing and recognized as one of the "Top 50 Most Influential CMO's on Social Media" by Forbes. Alan is an active blogger and frequent presenter on topics that help organizations develop marketing strategies and sales initiatives to power profitable growth. Alan holds BBA and MBA degrees from Abilene Christian University.


  1. this is a very interesting started for a discussion.

    two points i can see talking more about:

    1. this talks to the current state of the economy. i don’t know when this malaise will pass (neither does anybody else, obviously), but the changes you make today to survive on today’s market may not be such a good idea in the long run. how do you manage the short-term deficiency without hurting the long-term business prospects?

    2. at a time when, if previous recessions are any indication, expanding is a potentially better idea than shrinking, why go for less? accommodating the demands of customers can still be done without killing the business and / or swimming against the curent — right?


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