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If Only Products Could Talk - John Stanley


Consumers are demanding more information to allow them to make buying decisions. At the same time they are becoming less confident in the reliability and accuracy of information they are receiving from sales people in many stores. If only the products could talk to them the problem would solved.

Talking products could provide the information that they need and as a consumer you would trust the information, because it had come from the source.

Okay, you are probably now thinking that I am suffering from jetlag and not thinking clearly, but, retailers with talking products are providing the reassurance the customer is looking for.

Getting the product to talk can be achieved in a number of ways, but be we look at how, we need to look at the why. As consumers we want to get information from the source, the longer the supply chain of information, the less reliable we feel that the information is. This is one reason why many consumers now go straight to the internet as a source of information; they can get peer opinion and often information from the producer or manufacturer.

They look at labels on product more closely than they have ever done as another source of information, but, if the product actually talked to them that would really make a difference.

I recently visited, by chance, a small farmers market in Virginia. I was driving along and it was time for a break. I walked in to this store that did not have much street appeal, but once inside I went WOW, this guy understands retailing better than most of us, his produce talks to the customer. Plus, it is so simple to have your products talk to the customer.


The signs started with “If Only Tomatoes could talk” and it then went onto tell the customer what they would say.

This is so effective and could be used on a range of products. It gets the consumer engaged in the product and helps answer those questions that many customers are afraid to ask.

What I liked about the talking signs was that they were on simple chalk boards No expense had been incurred at all.

QR Codes

For those retailers that are looking for more sophistication, QR Codes and Microsoft Tags can achieve the same; the only difference is that everyone saw the talking signs, whilst you need a smart phone to get the information for a Q.R .Code. The advantage of the Q.R. Code is that you can use video to get the information across to the consumer.

I also recently visited a craft shop in Prague that used video on the manufacturing process that was running on a small screen next to the product.

What is the Lesson?

Consumers are looking for honesty and trust statements. They are also becoming sceptical of information that comes directly from salespeople, they are looking for alternatives. Products that talk to them can say things that salespeople cannot. The product does not talk down to them, but a salesperson in face to face conversation could talk down to them and they do not want to look foolish in front of another person.

This style of signage is not new, it has been used by some retailers over many years, but it is a style that is relevant to the needs of today’s consumer’ Talking products can say things that consumer’s salespeople cannot, they can talk common sense without the customer feeling they are being talked down to.

Perhaps now is the time for you to get your products to start talking to your customers.

Source: John Stanley - If Only Products Could Talk