Here's a worldwide tale....
When I was living in northern Germany last fall, the often-rainy weather meant that my sneakers just weren't going to cut it anymore.
So finally, I did the inevitable: I bought a pair of winter boots. They're waterproofed leather with a rubber sole and fleece lining, so they're perfect for Minnesota as well. They're not too pretty, but I usually stop caring about that when my toes are freezing.
When I was just about to pay, however, the saleswoman trotted out the dreaded question: "Do you want to buy a protection spray to keep your boots in tip-top shape?"
This question always raises red flags for me because it pulls at my deepest fears. Obviously, I'm worried about destroying my shoes. I just bought a nice pair that I want to use for years to come--and I'm an expert at finding mud puddles, scuffing toes, and walking on sharp things.
Then there's also the horrid moment of thinking "Haven't I heard this question before?"
And then I need to sit there, wracking my brain to see if I bought shoe protection last time, if I still have it, if there's any left, and (of course) if I'll be able to find it.
In the end, I say "Just the shoes, please."
Then I go home and spend the next hour looking through my basement, and calling friends to see if anyone has a bottle. They're sure they do, of course--but no one really knows where it is.
A week after this original excursion, I went shopping with a friend to help him find a nice new pair of leather shoes. We talk about the shoe protection spray and decide to buy a bottle to share.
Except... don't his parents have some? Probably... right?
Again, we walk away without buying the shoe protection. Even though both of us wanted it.
Anyone else do that too?
So, here's a thought? What if shoe stores stopped selling the product, and started selling the protection?
Think about it. You've just bought a brand new pair of shoes and at the register, the salesperson asks "Would you like me to weatherproof your shoes for $3 more? It will help keep the leather in good shape and you'll be able to brush dirt right off. I can do it right now and your shoes will be ready to wear in two minutes."
Doesn't that sound nice? Instead of a whole bottle-buying production (paying $10 btw for a bottle you'll probably lose) and the necessity of doing it yourself, you get instant gratification and shoes that are ready to hit the streets right away.
And this is a great deal for the store too. Shoe protection sprays are a big money-maker, but they're not too expensive for the store to buy. Since a bottle probably can protect at least 6 pairs of shoes, the store would "sell" each bottle for about $18 instead of $10.
Plus, the store could even buy bigger bottles and get an even-better price.
But the most important thing is that customers won't have to face that big moment of doubt and forgetfulness.
I didn't buy the bottle of protecting spray for my shoes.
On the other hand, I would happily have paid for my shoes to be protected from the elements.
It was the focus on buying the product that lost the sale. If they had sold the result, I'd be a customer.