Pretty, Cheap, and Well-Rounded, "the three misunderstandings" says Seth Godin. A popular, international clothing retailer found in every local shopping mall has a policy. All of the clothing on tables must be folded, and color-coordinated, at all times, except for one pile. Each table must have one pile left unkempt. They’ve discovered the peculiar consumer behavior of not wanting to upset a perfect display. Ironically, if a display is too pretty, the product is less likely to sell.
Pretty is subjective and open to interpretation. I may like black and white while you prefer color. I could stare at a Monet for hours while you may prefer Picasso. "Onement VI" from abstract expressionist painter Barnett Newman sold for a record-setting 43.8 million dollars, but all I see is a blue canvas with a white line.
I buy my family and friends a lot of presents, because spontaneous gift-giving is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Not once have I asked myself whether what I am buying is the cheapest thing possible. I want the best quality, the most current style, the newest thing, or the most accurate fit because I am buying something to be appreciated, for people I love, and cheap never enters into it.
We don’t buy the cheapest house, or seek out the cheapest car, or buy the cheapest food. We live in a place because it is the best we can afford, we drive the car with the most safety features, and we eat the food that will improve our health and longevity.
If the slow, but steady, death of the department store has taught us nothing else, I hope at least we’ve learned the lesson that a well-rounded product offering has little lasting impact on demand. The best products come from a singular focus. Wineries don’t grow hops. They focus on the berry, with a singular mission to produce the best wine possible.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to be pretty, cheap, and well-rounded. Instead be unique, priceless, and specific. If you can apply those three guidelines to your assortment, you will worry less about price and more about quality, story, features, and benefits, and by extension, so will your patients.
In speaking recently with an established OD who was struggling with a large and varied assortment of Progressives, I asked him, what do you wear? Go with that. Because why would our patients deserve anything less?
Susan earned her bachelor’s degree in Fashion Merchandising Management from FIT and studied branding abroad at the University of Westminster. Her most recent positions include Merchandise Manager for Cohen’s Fashion Optical and Northeast Regional Trainer for Solstice Sunglasses. Susan started her own business in 2009 and sold it in 2016 to return to Connecticut and begin working for IDOC, helping other small business owners find success on their own terms. For questions or comments about this article, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.