Shoppers Find Carts Cheaper Than Aspirin

Discussion
May 31, 2006
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Many parents go shopping with their young children and soon understand why they previously said they would never do it again.


Meijer, however, thinks it may have hit on a solution that will satisfy both parents and their kids.


The chain, reports The Grand Rapids Press, is testing TV Karts (aka kiddie carts) that look like mini golf cart and are mounted with small video screens. The carts also
come with seat belts, doors and a mini steering wheel. They are intended for children one to six and under 80 pounds.


Consumers who make use of the cart pay the store $1 to rent them.


One woman shopping with her kids told The Grand Rapids Press, “That’s only $4 a month,” she said. “That’s a lot cheaper than the aspirin I have to buy when I’m done shopping.”


Another shopper, Anita Lucas, was also impressed. Her two children, ages four and five, were quietly watching a “Bob The Builder” video while she shopped.


“I thought, ‘Wow,’ and couldn’t believe it when I saw these carts,” she said.


Of course there is always some downside for the retailer in these situations. “For a change, my kids aren’t asking for everything in the store,” said Ms. Lucas.


Jack Patty, a Meijer store director in Cascade, Mich., didn’t seem concerned that the carts might eat into “Mommy, can we…?” sales.


“The feedback on the carts has been amazing,” he said. “By the middle of the day, people are lined up to get one.”


Meijer plans to eventually roll out the carts to all of its stores.


Moderator’s Comment: Does Meijer gain a competitive point of differentiation, if only temporary, from the use of kiddie carts? Will consumers who have
shopped elsewhere now shop at Meijer because of the prospect of a quieter shop using the kiddie carts?

George Anderson – Moderator

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14 Comments on "Shoppers Find Carts Cheaper Than Aspirin"


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Bernice Hurst
Guest
14 years 9 months ago

Well we sure are having a bit of fun with this one, hope all those parents pushing the kids around are as well. Good idea to put some useful info on the screens, potentially disastrous idea if they start showing ads and/or the two kids decide to fight over what film to watch (if there is, indeed, a choice). Maybe the kids should push the parents around?

Doug Fleener
Guest
14 years 9 months ago

Great idea. There is no doubt the more you can engage a mother’s or father’s children during shopping the more they can focus on the task at hand. The result is a higher average purchase. Let’s hope they don’t try to overdo it and create an ambassador program where the kids have to pay to ride in the cart but they do get their picture taken with Sam the Butcher. Now if only those stores my wife drags me into would do the same for me!

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
14 years 9 months ago

When we spoke to mega numbers of moms on behalf of a client a couple of months ago, we were told that grocery shopping trips were the number one dreaded occasion across the board. Many mothers go so far as to refuse to grocery shop until dad or another family member is available to take care of the kids at home. The moms who do venture out say that kiddie carts are a “god-send” and a subset told us that if the kiddie carts are all taken, they turn around and go home! Meijer’s tricked out kiddie carts a point of differentiation? You betcha!

Warren Thayer
Guest
14 years 9 months ago

David Zahn’s idea of having a little educational info within the programs is magnificent! The carts will produce a bit of an advantage, I am sure. As for me, actually, I enjoyed the face time with my kids when shopping. But I only took one at a time. Never have been able to figure out why my middle son, now 23, always used to break out into gospel songs whenever we reached the frozen food aisle. (That’s the truth, and usually it was “Angels Watchin’ Over Me, My Lord.”) A total mystery, and now he doesn’t remember. I used to sing along; everyone thought we were nuts.

David Zahn
Guest
14 years 9 months ago

I like the idea (allows Mom to shop for longer time without feeling the pressure to get in and get out before the kids have a meltdown). In so doing, the store can more than make up for the kid generated impulse items.

Maybe there is a way to also include “food facts or nutrition” information embedded into the programs to teach kids about the benefits of healthy eating, etc.?

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 9 months ago

Any retailer that treats customers as people will find greater loyalty. IKEA certainly gains from its supervised play rooms. Perhaps someday we’ll see malls and department stores that conveniently check people’s winter coats.

andrew kreinik
Guest
andrew kreinik
14 years 9 months ago

I am going to be a contrarian here. When my son was younger, I took him shopping with me all the time. I used it as an educational time to teach him about food and other products. I had him count out vegetables, cans etc. It was a time to talk about what to have for dinner. Videos in shopping carts are just more more way to avoid interaction between parent and child. It is a sad statement and one that will not help families or society as a whole. I am sure that there will be plenty of moms and dads that will love the concept, so what the heck, I am not going to suggest that stores don’t use the concept. It is just too bad for us.

Chip Staal
Guest
Chip Staal
14 years 9 months ago
I had the enjoyment of using one of these carts over the weekend with my 2 year old. The Meijer store had roughly 6-8 different carts, each one played a different video (Bob the Builder, Wiggles, Barney…), we grabbed the last cart which happened to be Barney. While I don’t think my daughter needs to be exposed to anymore television, I had no problem getting the shopping done quicker! I told her this was only a special occasion, she normally helps pick out groceries with us (we’ve even brought her own little grocery cart to the store to help before). There are a couple things to note about the carts (1) you can’t leave the store with the cart (the wheels lock up) so you have to transfer your groceries to another cart, (2) when you get to the cashier to pay, the video shuts off and I was informed you have 5 minutes to bring the cart back before the wheels lock. The cashier was nice enough to get a new cart for us.(3)… Read more »
Mark Barnhouse
Guest
Mark Barnhouse
14 years 9 months ago
I’m not a parent, so I’m not qualified to say this, but here I go anyway: this is WRONG. Children today are bombarded with too much video (TV, DVDs, video games, in-car DVD players) as it is, and adding another 45 minutes to their daily total only makes them more likely to turn out ignorant, thereby decreasing America’s future competitiveness. Were I a parent, I would go out of my way to avoid any store with these carts, to send the message (faintly, like a voice in the wilderness) that enough is enough! A TV-equipped cart is no substitute for good parenting skills–something far too many parents lack. Making it more “wholesome” by offering educational fare–that’s just a red herring. It’s still bad for the kids, because it decreases interaction with parents–far more important to their development as viable adults than anything they can watch on a little screen. So go ahead and tell me I’m wrong because I don’t have kids. I still care about them collectively, and despair at what I see happening… Read more »
Bernice Hurst
Guest
14 years 9 months ago

Well said, Scanner, historymystery and gutessen7 and apologies for my sarcastic comment earlier. You are absolutely right and I agree wholeheartedly although, as a mother of three, I do sympathise with those taking more than one child at a time shopping. It can be just the tiniest bit distracting to have multiple conversations simultaneously when you are trying to plan menus and buy the right ingredients to feed a family. But I do think that my children, and my friends’ children, grew up spending more time with their parents and knowing more about shopping and how to choose and spend wisely than many kids who get parked in front of a screen. Of course in those days, we only let them watch television for shorter periods (and NEVER in the summer), there were few videos and computer games and they were actually encouraged to play outdoors. Now you really do know pretty much how old I am.

Odonna Mathews
Guest
Odonna Mathews
14 years 9 months ago
I have to say, I find these new carts intriguing for parents. When kiddy carts with trucks and cars on the front were first introduced many years ago, they became instantly popular. The same was true for the two-seater shopping cart for kids. At Giant Food, we used to get requests for more of these carts in stores with lots of young families. Parents just appreciated the novelty and fun it provided their children. It added to the shopping experience. Now carts with videos could also add to the shopping experience in my opinion. Retailers have opportunities to select which videos are used and to block any ads, which would be inappropriate. Sesame Street and others are now promoting healthy foods and a forward thinking retailer would do well to seek those video selections that tie into food. In addition, they could provide kid friendly nutrition information, snack ideas or even meals that could be prepared with a parent or caretaker. Providing a display near the carts for a weekly or monthly flier with this… Read more »
Race Cowgill
Guest
Race Cowgill
14 years 9 months ago
Having been a 4-hours a day TV watcher 12 years ago, and then having given up ALL television for the last six years, I can only say, I had no idea what it did to me and I wish I’d done it sooner. Those who cheer the TV carts please note the recent studies of how television watching affects children’s attention patterns. I challenge any of you to give up all TV for a month — can you do it? And if you can, just see how your life changes. More to the point: I agree with Steve Burd (CEO, Safeway) in his example of the problem of differentiation in the supermarket industry: he says, blindfold a shopper and put them in “just about any” supermarket in America, take the blindfold off and ask them which supermarket they are in — they couldn’t tell you. Right. Amazing sameness, and not at a terribly high level, either. So yes, you are different if you do the TV-carts. But is it a good thing? And most of… Read more »
Stephan Kouzomis
Guest
Stephan Kouzomis
14 years 9 months ago

Bravo, Meijer, to a very marketing and consumer oriented operator that does the problem/solution exercise very well!

The supplier’s phone will be ringing. Hmmmmmmm

Mark Burr
Guest
14 years 9 months ago
Sorry, but I think I have to go with historymystery and gutessen7 on this one. Shopping with my child has been one of the best time-spent experiences I have had as a parent. While, yes, it is a chore of life, it can be a great experience, also. I have always thought of these (even from a very young age) times as an outing. It was a time to teach, converse, and enjoy each others company. I have always marveled at parents complaining of their child’s behavior, taking despair in their child’s wants and otherwise begrudging the experience. For me, I look forward to these times as they are rare now due to my child’s age and other activities. I enjoy them because it’s a time to converse in a neutral zone. It’s a time to plan, teach about choices and enjoy each others company. Maybe it’s a matter of perspective. Being in the industry myself, I suppose that has something to do with the teaching part. However, I think parents too easily give up… Read more »
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