Retailers want to talk to you, and they want you to talk back, writes Disneyrollergirl
A chat with a retail expert recently revealed that customers are super-cautious. They don't trust anyone at the moment, least of all anyone who is trying to sell them something. Banks? Forget it. Politicians? Over. Store cards? Pffft. So what are retailers doing about it? They're talking to us, getting a conversation going and getting us on side.
I've noticed two things happening. The first is the return to the handwritten word. It started with magazines like Pop, Love and Elle and now they're all doing the 'take a memo' handwritten coverline. Look at any of the A/W 09 catwalk supplements and they're full of magic marker scribbles and Post-it style notes to suggest something authentic and trustworthy and communicated directly to the reader. Stores have followed suit with Oasis's latest in-store and window displays of fun fashiony exclamations seemingly scrawled especially for you in magic marker on dozens of helium balloons. It's friendly and conversational, it makes you take notice but it's cute and unthreatening. As is Topman's hand-rendered 'You should see what we're doing back here' sign on its sealed-off areas in the flagship store. Much friendlier than a 'keep out' notice although they're essentially saying the same thing.
Handwritten messages hark back to the innocence of the olden days, before email and spam and information overload. But some customers want it both ways, which brings me to point two. With the advent of branded blogs and Twitter, it's now possible to have direct contact with any number of fashion retailers. Getting a personal reply from Topshop or ASOS on Twitter is unexplainably thrilling while Matches' in-house blogger Ruth leaves personal comments on her readers' blogs - fancy that!
In fact, the most forward-thinking retailers are all at it, having two-way conversations with their customer base to get right inside their heads. The message is clear. Direct dialogue with the target market is an incredibly powerful resource and one that the most consumer-savvy brands are exploiting which also benefits the customer. Other retailers please take note, and fast.