Monday, May 30, 2011

Hitting the Right Target

On a recent shopping trip, my daughter and I discovered that our favorite anchor retailers have done away with certain sections of the women’s clothing department, and chosen to instead merge all previous sections into an entire floor of woman’s clothing chaos. We spent thirty minutes wandering around, searching, and then gave up and went to a smaller store that could be more easily navigated.

I understand what store executives are trying to accomplish. By merging all the departments together, they hope shoppers will look farther and wider, expand their vision, and theoretically purchase more, or spend more money on higher-end clothing items.

On paper it makes sense. But in reality, there are problems with the logic.

People are different. They just are. In size, shape, tastes, needs, desires, color-choices, and a million other important ways. Dividing the store into sections according to size, occasion, and style makes shopping easier on consumers.

For instance, had Dillards not done away with the juniors department, I most likely would have paid more for my daughter’s shorts, because I could use my store card, and also because the bigger stores guarantee a quality that will last. They stand by their products.

Ahem. If you can find them. Since I couldn’t, we chose to shop elsewhere. I still bought shorts for my daughter. But we got them in a store that was easier to navigate.

The same thing can be said for booksellers dividing books by genre, subject, author, purpose. It helps people find what they want faster. (And in today’s world, we want everything fast.) If I’m looking for a cupcake recipe book, I don’t want to search through the fiction section to find it. Or the self-help section. Or the computer section. I want to go straight to the cooking section and browse the stock there.

Dividing by section doesn’t prevent people from shopping widely, it helps them find what they want faster, allowing more time for shopping in other areas of interest.

Maybe this is why agents and publishers are so specific about what they’re looking for. It thins out the manuscripts, narrows down the choices, makes their jobs easier. Querying, like shopping, is all about researching your target audience or consumer, and hitting the right mark.

In a world rife with chaos, do you think it’s comforting to shop in places that have some semblance of order? Or do you prefer to search for your treasure like a needle in a haystack? (I know some people do, so if you’re reading, speak up!)


Jeff King said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff King said...

I agree 100% that agents want specific manuscripts, it helps cut down on submission that they don’t like to sell, or don’t have the right connections to sell… or it could be they just don’t enjoy that type of work—either way they slim the heard be asking for specific genres.
Yes, I like stores with tight, targeted areas, so I can get in and get out quicker. I hate roaming around searching for what I want. That would be like a book stores lumping every book into one area… I wouldn’t even bother shopping there.

Carolyn V said...

I agree too. I think the categories need to be divided. I hate confusion.

(I can't believe they did away with the jrs department!)

L.T. Elliot said...

Oh, I want order. I want to be in, out, and on with my life. That doesn't mean I don't shop, it just means that I hate wasting time. In fact, if it's organized enough, I shop there more frequently. ;)

I think you've got something about the agent thing. It makes sense to me.