Your Attention Please. [Case Study: Jewel Food]

[Note: This is a post that was written two years ago and was updated following the news announced yesterday about Jewel’s new coupon app.]

“Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”
― Mary Oliver

I have always noticed the small things in life. Ok – at least I would like to think so. Like poet Mary Oliver, I love nature. I notice the small things. I notice the rose-breasted grosbeak in the Springtime. Further, I notice a child who seems sad and needs prodding to find out what unfortunate episode occurred in 7th grade that day; I notice the funereal beauty of a life well-lived; I notice the internal but silent satisfaction a child feels after a job well done on or off the field.

I also notice the ability to make someone smile at the checkout line at Jewel Food stores when buying groceries. Yesterday Jewel announced (via the Chicago Tribune) a new “personalized discount program” called My-Mixx (digital coupon) to build “one-on-one relationships with customers.” As of 2013 Jewel-Osco is owned by a consortium of investors led by Cerberus Capital Management. I am a loyal Jewel shopper because the Jewel store is in my “traffic pattern” of life. It’s easy. I know where everything is. That being said, I have paid attention to Jewel these last few years and have sadly watched the decline in their ability to pay attention. Mere location, location, location is no longer enough. As a mom of five, I could have told Jewel to watch out: moms can shop at Target; moms can grab high-quality prepared foods; moms like Whole Foods; moms want organic choices for their kids and will pay for it. More choices? How about Amazon, Peapod or Soap.com or Instacart?

Jewel

Which brings me to the importance of paying attention in this crazy 24/7 attention-seeking and attention-getting world. Attention. It seems everyone is fighting for my attention: my family, my friends, brands, services, businesses, teachers, and so many more! There is SO MUCH NOISE!

So just how do we pay attention to the small things so that we can continue to enjoy that beautiful sense of wonder? How do we notice the glistening ice that clings to the dark tree branches the morning after an ice storm? How do we pay attention to our existing customers? How do we anticipate the sea change that is occurring before our very eyes? Will a coupon app solve the in-store attention problem? If you have ever heard Gary Vaynerchuk (author of The Thank You Economy) speak, he brings up a wonderful analogy: consumers today could learn a lesson from Grandma. She used to walk into the butcher shop and the butcher would say, “Hello Mrs X, how are you? Ready for your 1 lb of thinly sliced roast beef?” So there we are. Notice the small things. Could Jewel train their employees to try to ask – and remember – their customers’ names? It would cost nothing. John remembers my name; I remember his. I like seeing John at the checkout line. Customer loyalty. Will a coupon app even help?

Pay attention.

Oh. And don’t forget to say, “thank you.”

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