Become a “Need-focus Merchandiser”
- The goal of business will shift from “selling products” to “solving problems”

Most markets today may seem to be saturated but actually are not.

Consumers today have too many choices. Many older adults don’t know how to make the best choices when they want to resolve their dissatisfaction. For example, where do you go when you have back problems?

“Relax the Back” is a U.S. specialty store that is a one-stop solution for such people. Here is their core concept: Provide customers with the means to avoid back and neck pain. If you walk into one of their stores, you will find beds, pillows, office chairs and other products that are all designed to support or comfort your back.

Their selection of products is based on the customers’ needs and not on conventional product lines. This is the most remarkable characteristic of this store. You can call it a “theme store” designed for people with back problems. A back pain counselor is always available for consultation in their stores. You can also try their chairs or beds to see how they feel.

The stores are not trying to sell products. They are selling “the real experience of back pain relief” through using their products. And yet, they offer even more. They give out information on clinics or massage therapists with good reputations. If necessary, they will even give you information on products that they are not selling in their store. With their knowledge and advice, they have established their position as the back pain experts for their customers.

Curves has been successful because they resolved all customers’ concerns by introducing "Three NO M’s"

In Japan, The Hankyu Department Store in Umeda, Osaka opened a new relaxation and beauty zone for women called “Refre-Pit Ainee”. This is an area where you can find five different beauty treatments (massage, foot care etc), beauty salons, a make-up studio, a café, etc., which are all the name brands in each field. This place is extremely popular with women as a “one-stop-shop” for those who want to be pretty. All of the shops here provide “services”, not “products.”

One more characteristic is that their services are not selected by the “product-focus” (like women’s clothing or men’s clothing), but by the customer’s “need-focus” (like wanting to be pretty or anti-aging)

These examples show the increasing value of providing services based on the customers’ needs around a single theme. The customers’ needs are the basic focus, not the products.

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