A great little story grabbed my attention the other day. A supermarket in New York had set up "Man Isle", an aisle dedicated to the shopping needs and behaviours of men.
According to the Business Insider, Westside Market created the section containing chips, beer, razors, condoms and beef jerky based on two things; more men were shopping and there were common goods that the guys were shopping for.
What can we take from this?
1. Reduce pain points for an under serviced market segment
Structuring their supermarket around the buyer's experience was a great way of reducing pain points and encouraging habituation. The signifiant pain point? Overwhelming choice. The Man Isle reduces choices to a minimum and positions complementary items (eg beer and chips) together. The lesson is always to look at your business from your customer's perspective and ensure you make doing business with you as easy as possible.
2. Target a Profitable segment
Westside had researched the trend toward male shopping and determined the segment was worth targeting. This is important - it's only worth customising the experience if you expect to gain a return on your investment through market share, volumes or margin. Part of the consideration should of course be any impacts on the rest of your market. For instance, if Westside had been very aggressive in its targeting of male shoppers it may have inadvertently disenfranchised female shoppers, so striking a balance in how it catered for different shoppers was vital.
3. Give it a try
The team at Westside created the aisle on the basis of insight, observation and throwing a list of ideas together. They knew what they liked shopping for, so that was the basis of how they stocked the aisle and they are willing to test and learn on the basis of market response. We can sometimes forget that our own expectations of customer service are a great source of knowledge for how our customers like to be treated - after all, we are all consumers, and that the main thing holding us back from growth is fear of failure.
Westside have differentiated themselves by rethinking how their business can better serve customers. I hope you can too.
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(Image from http://www.businessinsider.com/inside-the-man-isle-2012-7?op=1)