Do You Want Dark Fiction With That?
Of all the places to run across a cool book like Music Legends – A Rewind on the Local Minnesota Music Scene By Martin Keller I found it at… SuperAmerica. That’s right. The Gas Station.
I wasn’t looking for a book on Minnesota Music History…well, actually I was, but not at that particular moment in time. It was a bona fide impulse buy. If there was a XXX video starring Salma Hayek, Aishwarya Rai, and Halle Berry, I would have bought that too, but I certainly wasn’t expecting to purchase books or movies at a gas station checkout.
There are real Advertising people, and then there are Pushers. The difference is that advertisers try to place their ads in front of a specific target market. And the more specific, the better. But Pushers believe that if you just get your sales pitch in front of every man, woman and child in the Multiverse, that $$$ is sure to follow. Doesn’t matter what the product is, just get it in front of as many people as possible. You can thank pushers e-mail SPAM, as well as the bane of civilization: roadside billboards.
Had I seen a billboard advertisement for a book on Local Minnesota Music History, I would have thought to myself, “Kewl, I’ll have to pick that up if I see it.” But that’s the problem – many forms of advertising require the potential customer to remember the message until later, (in the advertising, this is known as “message recall”) and then Go Someplace Else to buy the product being advertised. The advertisement plants the “impulse buy” seed in the subconscious, and they hope that the seed takes root and grows into the action of purchase.
But the pushers have figured out a better way.
Impulse Buy, Engage!
Pushers realized that the tiny area of real estate near the cash register sees many, many people each day. And it gets better:
- Those people are already in a store, so they are already in “gathering” mode!
- There is already a cashier in place to make the transaction, and all the necessary equipment!
- The customer already has their method of payment out, and is going to MAKE A PURCHASE!
Every obstacle between the customer purchasing the product is cut down to just the impulse. The customer only needs to reach over, pick up the product, and toss it in the cart with their existing purchase! This is why small price items like recipe magazines, batteries and breath mints all surround the cash register. This is why you’ll find the latest big-name CD at the Starbucks counter, and also why Starbucks itself camps out at the entrance to Target stores.
Remember that pushers don’t care what the product is, just get it in front of the people, right? They don’t really care if they are trying to sell a water pump for a 1996 Saturn, if they could just get their product to sit at the counter of Starbucks, IT WOULD SELL. And it probably would. For pushers, every single cash register in the world has just become a convenience store. Every website checkout is a potential selling ground for someone to ask, “Do you want fries with that?” Caribou Coffee sells greeting cards. Starbucks sells CDs. McDonalds has the Redbox DVD rental, and SuperAmerica is selling books on Minnesota Music History.
Of course, these are retail chain franchises, so the store managers probably don’t have much say in the matter themselves, and probably aren’t getting much of the profit, since that is all being done at the corporate level. But for independent business owners, this could be a new form of revenue. A restaurant that carries band merch? That could happen. Hell’s Kitchen already carries their own line of clothing. It isn’t a stretch to think that they might move some stuff around to make room for some Jagged Spiral hoodies on commission?
An Italian restaurant selling lawn care chemicals? Maybe not.
The Million Dollar Idea
The Million Dollar Idea is for a company to take over the middleman job of selling that space, just the way Clear Channel sells advertising space on billboards and radio. If a company came along that walked into Dremahaven Books and said, “Hey Greg, let me have a couple inches of space here beside the cash register, and I’ll find people to lease it for a monthly fee, you just sit back, and I’ll send you a check every month…”
Well, seems to me there is a business opportunity there for someone more industrious than myself.
I shudder to think of where this road leads. I’m imagining checkout counters that look like I-35W North, or your inbox, crammed with a bunch of crap you don’t want or need, and has nothing to do with the store you are at.
During your next visit to the dentist, when you have to stand on tiptoe to see the receptionist over the ostrich waxers, keyboard warmers, and my new series of Dark Fiction stories…well, maybe then you will learn to dislike pushers as much as I do.