Sunday, October 23, 2016


To what extent does the presentation of the seller determine how much a consumer will purchase?

This morning as my brother and I were bemoaning the fact that we had to sell popcorn for the Boy Scouts today, I wondered if it really made a difference what we wore. I know it is policy to wear the scout uniform during council sales (such as popcorn or campcards). I had always assumed it was proof that we were selling popcorn that was designated by the Scout brand. I now know it is much more important than that.

When I got home today I went to the computer and did a little research in the Principles of Marketing book by Neeru Kapoor. I found that there are basically two types of motivations for buying products: rational, and emotional. Rational is reserved for any products that are deemed necessary, such as food, housing or clothing. Yes, there are emotional aspects to every purchase, such as what you want to buy to eat, or which house you like most, or which style of clothing to wear. However, an emotional motivation is clearly more complicated and more of an impulse type of transaction.

Certainly, I can appreciate that someone had rather deal with someone clean, instead of an unkempt slob. That was never the issue for us selling our popcorn, though. We have been taught to smile and greet each potential buyer with a warm, sincere smile and pleasant attitude. We’ve got that. Undoubtedly, there must be more. The flimsy idea that everyone likes to snack, or it's an indulgence didn’t satisfy my question of what attracts a consumer for a spur-of-the-moment grab. What entices a man or woman to spend his/her hard earned cash?

Presentation of a product could be as simple as giving a sample, or as lengthy as showing a demonstration. It may be a thought off the top of someone’s head, or an intense well-thought out plan. Different approaches are necessary, depending on the demographics of the sales area. The bottom line is that items such as coffee might be a hot seller in some areas, while iced coffee my be the biggest hit in others.

The strategy doesn’t have to be dramatic. To market the merchandise, there could be a gimmick that catches the eye of a consumer walking by the window of a shop. Having a seductive model to feign interest in a product can never hurt. The truth is, though, there are umpteen reasons for an emotional purchase. Influence could be caused by mood, activity, appetite or visual patterns. Sometimes, just being in the right place at the right time is the key. Imagine having a snack shop adjacent to the marijuana stores in Colorado.

1 comment:

  1. This post is an interesting meditation on sales practices, and you are nosing at something interesting about emotional appeal, and interpersonal relations. Right now, though, this is more like advice for selling, rather than examination of knowledge claims. You start of grounded in an RLS, but then you move into more general stuff.

    Think in terms of TOK Concepts: Do you think people buy more popcorn from you when you have your Boy Scout Uniform on? If so, why? Does this have to do with Authority? Or with some sense of "good will" toward the community? Is it linked with "Tradition"? If popcorn is an impulse buy, are there ethical considerations? Are you, in some sense, "fooling" people into buying overpriced popcorn with your neckerchiefs and your puppy-dog eyes and your "it's for a good cause" ideology? Dig in a bit.