Initially I was puzzled by Stephanie Clifford’s article about how retailers are finding they can boost sales by packing more crap into the aisles. Maybe I’m a weirdo, I thought, but I greatly prefer to shop in sparser places. It turns out, however, that I’m not a weirdo and people are just huge hypocrites about this stuff:
“They loved the experience,” William S. Simon, the chief executive of Wal-Mart’s United States division, said at a recent conference. “They just bought less. And that generally is not a good long-term strategy.”
So after remodeling a large percentage of its stores, Wal-Mart is now re-remodeling them, adding back inventory, plopping stacks of stuff into aisles and stacking shelves with a dizzying array of merchandise.
As it turns out, the messier and more confusing a store looks, the better the deals it projects.
“Historically, the more a store is packed, the more people think of it as value — just as when you walk into a store and there are fewer things on the floor, you tend to think they’re expensive,” said Paco Underhill, founder and chief executive of Envirosell, who studies shopper behavior.
There’s a related and more serious issue, it seems to me, in the health care market. People naturally say that they want good health outcomes at a reasonable price, but there’s precious little evidence from action that this is really what folks are after. Lawsuits are more determined by bedside manner than by health results, people want to have a sense of agency and control, people want to demonstrate care and concern for loved ones, etc.