Making Salt and Socks Exciting
If you're lucky enough to merchandise a brand that offers alluring products — e.g., supple leather accessories (Cole Haan); beautiful teak furniture (Country Casual); amazing wine cellars (Wine Enthusiast); or gorgeous fine stationery (Crane) — count your blessings. Whatever the product category or target market, a merchant’s job is always demanding. But it's especially so when one has to market quite ordinary products, ones as mundane as salt or socks? What's a merchant to do?
Here are five things that should be on any retailer's checklist:
- work harder;
- become even more curious about products outside your industry;
- listen more deeply to your customers;
- borrow from other industries; and
- flex your merchandising muscles in ever-so-clever ways.
I learn a lot from merchants who work with such challenging everyday products (really, the bulk of most people’s purchases!). Let’s spend a moment taking a quick look at those very two items: salt and socks. When it comes to salt, you’ll find SaltWorks offering gourmet sea salts from Maine to the Mediterranean; and nothing but salt providing salts in colors like Hawaiian red and Bolivian rose. SaltAuthority entices customers into trying such flavorful salts as those infused with vanilla, fennel, saffron and truffle. Even the original Morton Salt now offers fine & coarse sea salt, lime salt and grand saline natural salt. These creative, salty merchants have lured cooks who want to add that extra something to make their meals memorable with numerous flavor, color and location options.
Now, let’s pull out the virtual version of a sock drawer and see what we find that might tempt us into purchase in this category. From Sock Dreams, you can get sock garters with suspender clips for $18. At luxury retailer V.K. Nagrani, you’ll find a one-of-a-kind men’s collection called The Dirty Dozen for $175. At BLACKSOCKS you can sign up for a Sockscription. And in a recent 36-page LittleMissMatched mini-catalog, you’ll discover this ultimate sock wardrobe checklist which outlines all your fashion MUST HAVES if you're a young girl:
“(a ) ANKLETS - the go-to-sock
(b) LINERS - for a hidden smile
(c) KNEE HIGHS - to show some personality
(d) NOVELTY KNEE HIGHS - to turn it up a notch
(e) SPORTY SOCKS - for fun on & off the field
(f) FLIP FLOP SOCKS - to wear your flops year-round”
Yes, these imaginative merchants have all worked hard to turn rather ordinary items into extraordinary “must haves.” Just how alluring is your product line? And how will you keep luring your customers into your brand?