‘We keep moving forward, opening new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths’ – Walt Disney
The element of surprise as a part of retail theatre is increasingly become a unique component of the customer engagement mix.
It’s no secret to see, the ‘special buy’ psychology underpinning the rise of the Aldi supermarket global and domestic growth play.
Certainly a play to the value end of the market where bargain hunters flock.
While we often speak of the retail experience in terms of physical store design, brand experience and sensual cues, this unique strategy utilises category management and merchandise mix as an experiential factor.
Our neuroscientific methodology of profiling consumers shows us the strong appeal to the hedonist, open minded and harmoniser personality types, with this merchandise and marketing approach.
Humans are naturally curious beings. Our curiosity has us doing utterly unproductive things like reading news about people we will never meet, learning topics we will never have use for, or exploring places we will never come back to. We just love to know the answers to things, even if there’s no obvious benefit.
While many of us today find ourselves asking for more efficient, time-saving solutions, there is also another part of us that craves the fun and excitement of spontaneity and mystery.
The roots of our peculiar curiosity are linked to a trait of the human species call ‘neoteny’. This is a term from evolutionary theory that means the “retention of juvenile characteristics”. It means that as a species we are more child-like than other mammals. Being relatively hairless is one physical example. A large brain relative to body size is another. Our lifelong curiosity and playfulness is a behavioural characteristic of neoteny.
This is another example of why we see many online players such as Amazon or Google coming offline and into bricks and mortar; to deliver experiences that will cater to our curious nature, rather than solely providing the solution or answer in the form of a product or service online.
We have seen how powerful human curiosity has been for Aldi, so how would this strategy be received if the treasure hunt became daily?
Well we are soon to find out as international discount retailer TK Maxx has confirmed it is set to open its doors in Australia. Owned by US firm TJX Companies Inc, TK Maxx, known as TJ Maxx in North America, is said to be the first major ‘off-price’ retailer to expand into the country.
TK Maxx is set to open at least 35 stores across the country in former locations of Trade Secret stores by April this year, and aims to open a number of extra locations throughout the year.
TK Maxx offers customers new designs and styles each week, at the fraction of the normal retail price, which encourages consumers to buy more on the spot, in fear the item will be gone next week. With several deliveries per week and thousands of new products hitting shop floors, no two stores are the same and there is always something new and fresh for shoppers to discover.
With no walls between departments, the store is designed to easily expand or contract categories to respond to the newest trends or latest deliveries in stores. In addition, TK Maxx does not purchase its goods seasonally, but rather purchases items throughout the year, for its global network of over 18,000 vendors, ensuring it has a unique mix of product in each store that are not necessarily seasonal bound.
Curious about curiosity? TK Maxx’s element of surprise tactics could indeed keep Aussie consumers ‘leading now new paths’.
First published on Inside Retail on March 15th 2017.