To the casual observer, consumer technology and, in fact, the whole consumer economy can look like a clash of titans... Apple versus Android, Toyota versus GM, Burger King versus McDonalds...But to an experienced observer such as Ramon Winemberg, who has held senior executive positions with some of the best known companies in the US, there are patterns that help define who will win and who will lose.
Over the course of his career, Winemberg has learned a lot about managing a consumer services company and about how to survive and prosper in a hypercompetitive economy. That’s why he has a special appreciation for a lesson he learned at Brookstone. And he has valuable advice for businesses large and small: Surprise Me, Convenience Me, Satisfy Me.
According to Winemberg, underneath all the famous brand names and behind the headlines that dominate coverage of businessis a ubiquitous force, which he has named the “Brookstone Effect”.
As vice president at that well-known retailer, Winemberg discerned the secret to their success and the secret to the success of many other consumer phenomena... Surprise, convenience and satisfaction.
The surprise part at Brookstone was visible in its roots as a retailer of unusual products and gifts... According to Winemberg, “People loved its mail-order catalog because it was full of surprises: things you couldn’t find anywhere else and things, lots of them, you didn’t know you needed but you suddenly found that you wanted.” The products made the customer’s lives better and infused their lifestyles with convenience. “Maybe that’s why consumers loved the brick and mortar locations even more... Brookstone became a destination – a toy store for grownups... People were drawn by the amazing products they found for sale there,” says Winemberg.
Then, there was satisfaction. Brookstone’s unique products worked. “It was high quality stuff. And people were able to convert that pleasurable surprise and visions of more convenience in their lives into solid satisfaction,” says Winemberg.
Winemberg realized that other consumer successes shared a similar dynamic... People find a product that attracts them. But they need that attraction to turn into satisfaction. “Doing business and completing a transaction needs to be a positive experience. And what they get at the end, whether it is a convenient service, a high tech gadget or a delicious meal, needs to be satisfying and it must match or exceed their expectations,” says Winemberg...
One part of the economy could benefit more from this lesson and that is the restaurant industry. Trendsetters like Starbucks, Chipotle and Panera Bread have built success through unique offerings, models emphasizing fast and efficient service, and high quality and satisfying meals. “Life is fast and accelerating even more. That’s why more and more people eat out. It saves time, supports an active and mobile lifestyle and it can be fun. But if you examine consumer behavior through studies and focus groups, you will find dissatisfaction still remains. For example, agreeing on where to eat and what to eat is a problem for groups and families.”
What’s the solution? A personal chef? Frozen food at home? Endless restaurant stops? In fact, with ubiquitous mobile devices, apps, and traditional phone and email methods for connecting, Winemberg says there’s no reason why restaurant establishments can’t tap into consumer needs in real time and learn to be more responsive. “They have also only begun to harness technology to deliver speed, flexibility and higher quality to their customers,” he says.
Winemberg believes the future belongs to those in the restaurant business who have mastered the Brookstone Effect. “Like shoppers looking for unusual products and services, restaurant customers may go looking for one thing but they will appreciate and value wide variety and quality choices. Even the stodgiest fan of comfort food is open to being surprised and amazed. And when satisfaction follows, a restaurant can count on profiting from a new and loyal customer,” says Winemberg. And that’s a win for everyone.
About Ramon Winemberg
Ramon Winemberg is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer for DCE Incorporated, a new business start-up currently in pre-launch development. The DCE business strategy is centered on an innovative concept designed to provide consumers with new levels of convenience and service, and enhance one of the Nation’s major service business segments.
# # #