BrainTrust Query: The Neighborhood Store – Fact or Fiction?
By Kelly Auerbach, Database Marketing Consultant, M Squared Group
special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current
article from Cultivating Your Customers, the M Squared Group
As a Gen Xer, I’ve been in marketing for well over a decade. Being
steeped in this business, it has recently dawned on me that I have never once
truly experienced one of the foundational assumptions of relationship marketing:
People actually want a relationship with the companies they do business with.
relationship marketing, there is the over-used metaphor of the neighborhood
grocer as the iconic figure. You know, that Mr. Rodgers-like man who knew
you so well that he would special order your favorite items — like Sam did
for Alice on The Brady Bunch.
The question became, how do you leverage the strategic
advantage of being one of the big guys, while also recapturing that personal
touch? Database marketing and, by extension, relationship marketing are supposed
to provide solutions to this personal-touch/high-scale problem.
But I ask myself,
as a Gen Xer, did this relationship-based neighborhood grocer ever really exist?
If so, it disappeared before my lifetime and has settled into collective legend.
Otherwise, it never really existed and is a fabulous myth we in marketing aspire
I’m so accustomed to shopping anonymously with no one recognizing me – not
even at my favorite stores – that
I almost can’t believe the friendly, neighborhood grocer ever existed. (Boomers,
am I wrong?) I’m used to direct mail that still has my maiden name; customer
phone lines where I enter my personal information and then have to repeat the
same information to the call center rep; 100 percent technology-driven online
purchasing; and checkout lines where I am positive I will never see the associate
not sure I want a relationship with a company, but at the very least, I would
like to be recognized and acknowledged by a company for more than my current
Did the corner store ever really exist? Do businesses actually
behave like they remember you and put things aside? I would love to hear about
businesses that know the real value of their customers.
Discussion Question: To what degree is the neighborhood store a myth?
What type of relationships should stores aspire to create with customers?