Thursday, December 01, 2005

Enticing Scarcity

I am the kind of consumer that is hopelessly confused by an excess of choice. Confused to the point where I feel relieved if a restaurant has a sampling platter so I won't need to select from a never-ending menu. When people of my stripe go out shopping their indecision renders then incapable of making a purchase. We consider our options carefully to be sure that we don't suffer buyer's regret. Less may be more for us and it seems like a winning formula for one successful clothing retailer.

In Zara stores, customers can always find new products—but they're in limited supply. There is a sense of tantalizing exclusivity, since only a few items are on display even though stores are spacious (the average size is around 1,000 square meters). A customer thinks, "This green shirt fits me, and there is one on the rack. If I don't buy it now, I'll lose my chance."

Up until the mall culture came to India, shopping was about being at the right place and the right time and being able to beat the competition. I remember going out shopping for clothes before Diwali, elbowing my way through the milling crowds to reach the store front. I had spotted an outfit the exact shade of magenta I adored as had a bunch of others. Whoever got the shopkeeper's attention first would be able to stake their claim on it.

More often that not that would be the only one outfit of its kind the store had and you would find something like it elsewhere. In the lack of abundance there was incentive for the shopper to make a snap decision to buy. To have five people waiting with baited breath for me to say "No" so they could grab it is a very strong driver to say "Yes". Though shopping was much harder in those days, I atleast ended up buying something. Or rather was forced into making a decision instead of dithering. While I have not been to a Zara store, the idea is very familiar and appealing.


Betty said...

I too am befuddled by too much choice, to the point where I can barely shop nowadays. I start to feel nauseous a few minutes into a shopping trip. Lately I've been doing my shopping, when it does happen, in thrift stores. Lacking the new products of Zara stores, they do feature the exclusivity you speak of, and that appeals to me. I often leave, after a few minutes of browsing, empty-handed, though.

Teri said...

I discovered Zara in Madrid last summer, where it was founded. There was a huge sale and I loved the entire experience. Zara is European, which explains a lot regarding their philosophy and approach. Later, I found out that there was a Zara store 20-minutes from my house here in CA. I have not been to the local Zara, as I fear the damage I could do with the simplicity, and ease in which I could shop. You see I do not like to shop. Never have. If it is made easy, I might grow fond of shopping, and then I would be so disappointed with myself. I like that I don't like to shop for myself! Not to mention the money I save.

If you go to your Zara, please let me know how it is...unless you think it will be too much temptation for me to withstand.

Ciao for now...


P.S. As it is Friday, I have posted my new article...if you get the chance, please stop by and visit.

Heartcrossings said...

Betty - Your shopping style sounds very close to mine :) Have you also felt mind-numbed browsing aisle after aisle of clothes in a mall ? Sometimes when I have too much going on a couple of hours of that can be almost therapeutic for me.

Teri - Agree with you. Shopping in India in the 80's minus the chaos equals Zara it seems. Altogether too easy to overspend and regret :)