Archive for consumer market


No Options = Lost Sales

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coffee Waves / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A few days ago I was on my way to what turned out to be a FABULOUS seminar on money and my relationship to it (for more information on that, visit the exquisite Lora Sasiela’s website at – amazing woman, fabulous work – absolutely recommend her and her programs/products. To read more about my experience at the seminar click here). As it was early on a Saturday morning, I stopped to get a special ‘coffee treat’. I don’t drink coffee too often, but occasionally enjoy a decaf, and particularly like to have a mocha, or something like it, everyone once in a blue moon. So, I was walking past a specialty shop – a ‘chocolate’ restaurant just south of Union Square (I don’t want to name names at this point…) and figured I would get one of their amazing hot chocolates. Once inside I asked if they did mochas because I wanted something a little less-sweet. The answer was, ‘Yes,” and I was excited. (Yes, sometimes it’s the little things that get me excited.)

Now, I knew I was going to a 2+ hour seminar, and I wanted something that would last a little while at the beginning, so asked for a medium size. The reply?

“Sorry, we only have one size.”

“Excuse me?” I said, totally flabbergasted.

“Only one size,” the guy said again, holding up a very small cup.

I glanced up at the board, it was $4.95 for that tiny little cup, and just one price listed, because there was only one size available. Now, under normal circumstances, I don’t care about price when I’ve made a decision to have a treat, and would have easily spent up to $6 for what I wanted; A MEDIUM sized decaf mocha.

“That’s it, only a small size?” I asked again, incredulously.

Now, the place was open, but didn’t have many customers. There were 5-6 staff members standing right near by, listening to the exchange.  When the guy, now a little irritated with me, replied, “Yes,” again, to my query, I said, “No thanks, I wanted something bigger,” and walked out. I wondered how many of them heard, and if they would do anything to suggest a change to management. I thought, “Huh. How odd. In this day and age, where everyone gives choices and people expect ‘customizable’ options, to only have one size.”

So, I went to the big cafe next door and got a MEDIUM sized decaf Americano (espresso with hot water added to ‘thin’ it out – like a regular coffee, with a more intense flavor), saved $2 (it was only $2.95) and didn’t have all the sugar. In the end, I was happy, the ‘chocolate specialty’ shop lost a sale, and the store next door benefited from the ‘specialty’ shop’s lack of options.

As a marketer, I thought about it a bit. Tried to come up with the ‘up side’ of that choice on the part of the ‘specialty’ shop. I could come up with only one – they don’t have to carry stock in a different sized cups. Not much of a benefit, and certainly NOT a benefit for the consumer. That company recently had to shut down their first location here in NYC, and, if I had to guess, the second location will also close sometime soon. As consumers, we want options, we want customizable choices and we’re gotten used to it. The market is, right now, most certainly, a ‘consumer market,’ meaning, consumers are in charge.

Imagine, as a business, that shop could have made a different choice and charged $1-2 more for a larger size, it takes no longer for the person to make it and would only use pennies more of the same product they already have on hand. Yes, they’d have to carry the cups, spend more on storage and carrying stock of one or two more sizes, but customers like me wouldn’t walk out dissatisfied. What is that worth? And, what’s wrong with making 20% more profit (or more) on the same sale?

Are you doing anything in your business that is ‘You’ centered instead of ‘Client’ centered? How can you change it? If you asked your clients today, what would they tell you to change? Is there a reason you haven’t asked?

It is not always true that no or limited options will mean fewer sales, but in this type of instance, where the consumer is used to having choices, it definitely will.