In my last blog, I commented on a small but highly compensated blue collar occupational group, materials handlers, that is often misjudged and overlooked by marketers of a variety of affluent products and services. The following case study is intended to provide an example of this phenomenon.
About ten days before Christmas, I walked into a crowded specialty store near Rockefeller Center which sold fine chocolates. I contemplated making a purchase. The store was crowded with shoppers plus there was a line of 5 or 6 people and only one sales clerk present to handle everyone. As I stood back observing the situation, the clerk appeared to be distracted. She would repeatedly ring up one item and then look towards the back of the store with a concerned expression. Finally she excused herself and walked quickly to the back and confronted two construction workers in full Filson gear. One of the workers had his arms crossed holding the candies while the other worker was selecting from the displays. It was my feeling that the clerk thought that these two men were in the process of possibly stealing candy from the store. In an indignant tone, she asked the men, “Do you need help?” One of the men said, “Yes, we need a couple of bags!”
While this episode was taking place, I was startled by the actions of another “shopper.” She was standing out of the sight of the clerk. This perfectly coiffured, middle-aged woman, dressed in a full length mink coat, wearing exquisite diamond jewelry, was nonchalantly removing stocking stuffer sized chocolates from a display and placing them in her deep coat pockets. Without paying she walked out of the store with at least one dozen chocolates.
Interestingly, the construction workers bought two bags filled with chocolates and left the store while the clerk still had her mouth open indicating her surprise. I suspected that she would have been even more shocked had she known that the well-dressed woman, in spite of her glitzy facade, was a thief! Could it be that neither work clothes nor furs are great predictors of purchase behavior or integrity?