By sorting through the trash, the consumer psychologists and their colleagues discover what from the meals was left uneaten. Then they find out why the items are being tossed. In some cases, it has to do with taste. The beef brisket needed more spice. In other cases, it has to do with dietary commitments. Vegetarians didn’t even try the meat dishes, which may have tasted fine.
Be inspired by the Combat Feeding Directorate Dumpster diving. No, I’m not suggesting you follow up each purchase from your store by digging into the purchaser’s trash cans. The mess and smell aside, visiting all those houses and businesses would simply take too much of your time. But do ask your customers what products or features of products they ended up using rarely or not at all. Better yet, when they’re considering a purchase, pay attention to what they say about past disappointments with items of that type. And analyze the reasons customers give for product returns.
- Was the product or feature too much trouble to figure out? Philips Electronics says that more than half of their products which shoppers return have nothing wrong except that the purchaser couldn’t figure out how to use the features. If this is going on with your returns, there’s a market for product training or an indication that the manufacturers and your suppliers should be providing better usage instructions.
- Are products being discarded because the purchaser can’t afford the money or chooses not to spend the time making repairs? If so, there might be a market for you to offer extended service contracts and repair services.
- Do customers say they’d been misled by being sold features that did not offer the promised benefits? If so, you’ve an opportunity to caution other customers to avoid the unneeded features. This will cut down on returns. It also impresses customers that you’re wanting to save them money. The impression keeps customers coming back to you.