So earlier in the academic year I wrote a blog entitled “How very sneaky” where the thing that had got my goat that very week was the so called “foot in the door” technique used by those pesky sales people in order to get you to try their products. I mentioned at the time a company called Graze, who send you in the post a box filled with 4 little pots of snacks. I was enticed by a voucher I received in WHSmiths and signed up for a free box, vowing at the time to cancel my subscription as soon as the first box had come… and I did. Then a few weeks later I received and email, the subject line read “a small favour”. They then went on to tell me that if I could spare a moment to fill in a feedback form online I would get 3 boxes half price.
They’d got me again… and as I sit now nibbling on some chilli and lime pistachios (which are actually very nice) as I write this I’m not sure I can bring myself to cancel and leave them again! Last time as I logged into my graze account online, and clicked on the final “Are you sure you want to cancel” a little sad fruit face popped up, saying they were sad I was leaving. I don’t think I’ve ever been guilt tripped by a pile of raisins before! I’ve now been conditioned to excitedly anticipate the soft thud on a Wednesday morning as the postman deposits my latest Graze box through the front door. It’s like getting a present in the post every week, with each Graze box containing some exciting new treats, this weekly variety definitely keeps me interested. Kahn (1998) indicates that one way to meet customer’s needs is to introduce a wide variety of products, increasing the chance that you will meet each individual customers needs also encouraging variety-seeking behaviour encouraging customers to try out different products therefore keeping them buying your products for longer. And this definitely applies to these little boxes, as you don’t get to decide what comes each week so it’s a nice little surprise.
So as my three free boxes began to arrive week by week I began slowly fall in love with Graze again, until one day they put the final nail in their brand loyalty coffin as far as I’m concerned. They sent me not only a Christmas themed box all covered in a lovely fair-isle print (no I didn’t know that was the proper name until now either). They also sent me not one but two presents… firstly two little envelopes with a post-it ….
These include a voucher to give to a friend so they get two free graze boxes, and secondly and most excitingly this ….
Which made THIS!!! Look at it, isn’t it exciting!?
In this process Graze have successfully used all of the techniques I mentioned in that first blog about them. The foot in the door technique where they got me to sign up for just one box at first (Freedman & Fraser, 1996). The raisin induced guilt trip, making me feel bad for cancelling (Regan, 1971). The idea that the more favourably I view them the more I am willing to do (Seiter, 2007), so of course I was happy to fill in a feedback form. And finally that by me perceiving that we have a good relationship (see I’m even using “we”) and by giving me lovely free cardboard cut-out polar bears with interchanging accessories that brand loyalty is more likely to occur (De Wulf, Oderkerken-Schröder & Iacobucci, 2001)
Now I know I’ve mentioned Graze before but when you learn about all these clever little sales techniques you think that especially as a consumer psych student you will see them coming a mile off and that they would never work on you, and here I am having fallen for them all! The worrying thing is that even now that I know exactly what they are doing, I cant even find it in myself to be vaguely angry with them. I just think they’ve got this spot on, really successfully using these techniques to draw you in. The use of interesting “handmade” looking packaging makes it feel like each box has been filled and packaged just for me by some wonderful little Graze elf folk. Not that it’s been put together in some big warehouse by some disgruntled employees.
Most of the techniques used by Graze play on the “reciprocity principle” De Wulf et al (2001) discuss the importance of this in more detail in their paper, in terms of relationship marketing, in which marketing uses heavily the concept of there being a valued relationship between the consumer and company. Personally I think this is one of the main sales techniques used by Graze, obviously the products they are ultimately selling are nice and people enjoy eating them, but it’s this relationship they so carefully build with the consumer that really works for them and has definitely ensured I’ll be buying a good few more boxes! I know, I know, I’ve well and truly “been had” by all their sales ploys, but I don’t care! I love them!!