Brands That Acquired Me In 2018
As readers of this site will know, I find customer acquisition and value propositions to be really interesting.
We each spend a lot of money, but we’re not deliberate and targeted in how we make purchase decisions.
In fact, it’s often hard to pinpoint the moment and reason when you decided to try a new brand.
In the spirit of transparency, I’m going to talk about the various businesses that have acquired me in 2018.
This is different to the Brands I Admire list – I’m not exactly proud of these ones, but I can’t ignore the fact that they now show up on my bank statement.
I first heard of Tulip when my colleague Olivia came in with their unmistakable takeaway cup.
I asked her where she got it.
“Can’t remember the name, a place near Flinders St, in one of those laneways. It was close to my train”
The next time I was in the area, I went hunting – looking for a café that stocked Tulip branded cups.
Turns out Tulip was the café, and I could have googled it in two seconds.
My initial reason for going is I wanted one of those cups.
Once I had gone in, the staff were warm and friendly, and the place had a relaxing atmosphere.
The coffee is great, and it’s a six-minute walk from our office – the perfect distance to clear your head.
There used to be a half decent café in Hawthorn called Bread and Jam for Frances.
A new family took over, and ran it into the ground astonishingly fast – I’d estimate they lost 70% of their trade within eight weeks.
The space was lightly refurbished, and is now run by a team who take their coffee VERY seriously.
My reason for trying the new establishment was terrible – to rule it out.
I figured I should go once to see if it’s any good, and was pleasantly surprised.
Supernova make (in my opinion) the best takeaway coffee in Melbourne.
What’s interesting is that I’m now there four times a week, and have lost interest in my nearby old favourites.
Business is booming, almost as quickly as the old owners drove customers away.
I do not like Culture Kings.
I think it’s because I see the people who go there and think “I am not in this tribe, this is not for me”.
However, I do like Nike – especially their Ultraforce low tops.
These have been discontinued, sending me scrambling to find one last pair.
Several sites had them listed online, but then declared them out of stock when you go to the payment screen.
Except for Culture Kings.
Having understood this, I then re-visited all of the other stores again, before resigning myself to now being a Culture Kings customer.
Their service was very professional, and I now receive emails every few days with headlines like “The Drops to Cop” that make me feel strangely out of place.
I left my gym when I moved house in 2015 – it was too far away and I never went.
Then in a burst of motivation and commitment, I realised that I needed to get back into it, and marched down to the local YMCA.
The staff were obviously expecting more of a “sell”, and were surprised that I wasn’t that interested in terms, prices and packages.
What I wanted was to get in there and feel like I was making progress.
Then they hit me with a fascinating nudge:
“The joining fee is $50, but if you come 10 times in the first month, we’ll refund it”
What an interesting push.
The gym will forego $50, because they believe that someone who comes 10 times will form a habit, and customers who have a habit are more likely to remain members.
Very, very clever.
UNTUCKit won me over through two phases.
The first was the realisation that I don’t actually dislike button-up shirts, but rather I dislike doing up my top button and feeling my tucked shirt pull whenever I lift my arms.
This came through seeing a few ads and magazines, and realising that it was a “permissible” look.
The second was my in-store experience.
Dennis the sales consultant asked a few questions from a distance, then offered me a choice of whiskey for while I shopped (a good trick for breaking the habit of customers saying “no” to everything).
After I’d tried on a shirt that I liked, Dennis immediately hit me with:
“Nice bro, and they’re 20% off when you buy three!”
Without conscious thought, I immediately began choosing which shirt would be the third.
It was like a magic trick.
Despite not having a retail presence in my country, I’ll be ordering more from their website in the future.
Whilst I had flown with Virgin before, I’d used my Air New Zealand Airpoints number to collect points, essentially because I didn’t want to sign up to another program.
That all changed earlier this year, based on two things:
1. My friends and colleagues took me into the fancy lounge, where I had free beer and food after a long day.
2. I was increasingly aware of how many domestic flights were coming up, scattered amongst a range of airlines.
What this made me do is take points a little more seriously.
In particular, I lobby to have my flights on Virgin instead of Jetstar, making tradeoffs around less convenient flight times in order to make them equivalently priced.
I now catch myself looking up my points balance, and get excited by flights that were previously a mundane chore.
This one was forced upon me – I was going to an unconference and the hosts asked me to set up a Carnextdoor account, as us facilitators were driving up together.
Carnextdoor are good examples of a particular service – those that are convenient… eventually.
Setting up my profile took several days, but now that I have an account and the app, I’ve had three recent occasions where I’ve thought “Oh I could just grab a Carnextdoor…”
This is the challenge for these brands; how do you get new users over that awkward hill?
I had the same thing with Uber four years ago, the temptation was their offer of free Messina ice cream for new customers.
There are a few lessons I take from all of this:
1. Sometimes your customers aren’t YOUR customers.
e.g. I’m not really a Culture Kings customer, so much as I am a Nike customer.
2. Once people get used to your brand, the resistance gradually disappears.
e.g. I form subconscious habits and ideas that happen to include these brands.
3. Customers don’t go hunting for new brands to try.
e.g. we care about the end result, not your silly process.
4. Customers pick stupid reasons for making initial purchases.
e.g. the colour of your takeaway cup, being “allowed” to wear an untucked shirt.
5. It’s hard to remember the moment when you “dropped” your old favourites, but it does happen.
e.g. two new “regular” cafes have bumped out 3-4 others, and eventually someone else will knock out my current favourites.
Retention is far from guaranteed.