Rolls Royce share price tumbled 22% this week as the exclusive car maker warned of flat demand while Monk Shoes has just opened a new store in Sydney selling its $2,000 pairs of men's shoes to aspiring young business men. Confusing isn't it?
These two high-end businesses appear to be experiencing quite different consumer responses and it is not just that difference that raises questions but also the general question of how in a time of global austerity we are seeing strong demand for seemingly expensive items. Apple is experiencing strong growth on the back of $1,000 mobile phones and yet Melbourne's Koko Black chocolate stores, selling $95 per kilo chocolate and also considered high-end, has just gone into receivership.
It is OK to be confused, but one lifeline that springs regularly from retail commentators is the importance of communicating, really communicating, with your customers. The business comparisons in this article can obviously have hundreds of reasons for their variation but for a market trader understanding why your customers are doing what they are doing, or more to the point, spending what they are spending, is really quite easy. It comes down to the questions you ask when they walk into your stall. How is their shopping going? Are they finding the things they are looking for? What can you offer them that would meet their needs?
We can probably all agree that there are fewer stereotypes in today's retailing. It is a whole new ball game whether you are selling Rolls Royces or socks. Regularly asking questions to keep in touch with customers and what is driving their buying decisions certainly makes a lot of sense. And in the process you might just win a friend and a customer.