I have just read an article about consumer generations - Gen X, Gen Y etc - and I think I am more confused than when I started, but there were some gems of information that have relevance for traders at QVM.
The article included the line - "Generation Y consumers are set to leapfrog Gen X-ers and overtake Baby Boomers as the nation's biggest spenders." Understanding the wants and desires of our customers is of course essential to maintaining our relevance as traders and there are some trends that sneak up on us and then become blindingly obvious. Levi's were a strong clothing brand for many years but as this article pointed out no Gen X-ers now want to be wearing the same clothing brand as their parents or grandparents.
There is the delightful story of when Zara opened its flagship Pitt St Mall store in 2011, the General Pants store opposite put up balloons and a sign that declared: "My mum shops at Zara". Picking your customers and then aligning your offer is a task worth constant review and experimentation. The opposite to that is setting up your market stall the same way each day and then sitting back to wait for the response. Not only do we need to keep in touch with trends but we need to adapt to changing local conditions.
Take the example of trader Mino Voloder who recently took on the Tupperware Delegates from Indonesia. Now, we all assumed that the delegates were only in our market for cheap $5 T-shirts, but Mino decided that his more up-market leather goods had a role to play as well. He hired two Indonesian speaking assistants, focused on some select product specials (clearance items), and changed his stall configuration. He had seen the crush created by hordes of delegates descending on souvenir stalls and deliberately set up his stall with an entry and exit that allowed an easy flow of customers. He was very pleased with the resulting trade.
So, what are the lessons we need to take from all this? Firstly, be pro-active in your attention to your business and constantly look for ways to adjust to longer term trends and the opportunities created by short term change (like an influx of conference delegates). Secondly, it is easy to find out what your customers are looking for. You ask them. Engaging closely with your customers and asking what their needs are, can be a very productive process.