How Retail is like Dating

I am not so old that I don’t remember the self-absorbed struggles of my dating years.  Enticing suitors, evaluating their worth and allocating time and resources spent may sound clinical – but it is a way of describing the dance of dating for singles who are looking for partners.  Looking back now with the wisdom of the ages (or at least decades) of life, I am struck by the parallels of dating and retail.

Why should someone pick me?  Building a strong foundation with a partner is first an exercise in discovering who you are.  “Love yourself first” sounds trite, but let’s face it: it is pretty hard to love someone who is unformed.  Same is true in retail.  Until a retailer knows who THEY are, what they stand for and what makes them special, it is pretty hard for shoppers to love them.  So, dating and good retail both need good BRANDING.

Is this person worth my time?  How much time to invest in a partner that may never be a good match is a tricky decision.  Nice enough is not the same as Mr. or Ms. Right.  But for singles who don’t know what they are looking for, drifting from one person to the next is a track that can last for years on end.  Same in retail.  Retailers who create a target market that is too large or too small may find they never really mean anything to anyone.  Successful dating and retail then both need a DEFINED TARGET MARKET.

Can I date on a budget?  Dating is expensive.  Sure, you can stay in with Netflix and popcorn every weekend.  But that predictability will get tiresome and no matter what Hollywood says, a home made gesture is never going to stack up against a blue Tiffany box.  For couples to make things work, they have to know when to save, when to splurge and how to savor both choices.  Retailers know all about that.  Keeping customers happy with great prices on a few things and letting them feel OK about paying full price on most things is the great balancing act that separates the black ink from the red.  Dating couples and retailers need to SET SUSTAINABLE PRICING.

Finally, ask any woman who packs herself into a pair of Spanx before a date and she will tell you: its all about merchandising.  Playing up your assets may be a Cosmo or Glamour headline, but for retailers, it is a way of life.  Making those $19 sweaters look like they should cost $79 or shining up produce is second nature for great retailers.  Once the customers go home with their goods, we keep our fingers crossed that they are happy with their purchase and they believe they got a good deal.  Oh so true for dating as well.  Its all about GREAT MERCHANDISING!

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