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Month: August, 2013

A short story

At the Global HQ of the world’s most unknown agency we try to look at things from different perspectives. Instead of a lengthy elaboration on this particular subject I’m going to share a short story which I told my nephew recently. He was unable to follow since he’s only a few months old. Blimey!

This is how the boy lived his life.

He did what he liked regardless of what others thought.

He made decisions often with an unpredictable outcome but at least he took action.

So the boy kept trying and trying and trying.

The progress he made was barely visible.

He was making tiny steps.

It wasn’t easy.

He realised that uncertainty was the only certainty there is.

He got tired of it all.

The boy didn’t care anymore.

Then it happened:

He tripped over the kerbstone because he was lost in thoughts.

Suddenly he was lying on the ground.

He didn’t want to feel embarrassed.

He wanted to fit in.

The boy wanted to be liked by others.

He wanted to play it safe.

He was scared of making mistakes.

He didn’t want to challenge conventional wisdom.

This is how the boy lived his life.

Now read the whole story again. But this time bottom-up.

Checkout v. checked out

In Switzerland there are two large supermarket chains: Migros and Coop. Both chains hold approximately the same size of market share and sell the same kind of products. Both chains have self-service checkouts in addition to the regular checkouts in some branches.


You enter Coop. You take a portable barcode scanner. Alternatively you can use an app on your smartphone. You wander through the aisles, take the items you need, scan them and bag them. You go to a checkout which is operated by a cashier. The cashier will charge the total amount based on the information he obtains from your scanner. You pay and get your receipt. End of procedure. Have a nice day.


You enter Migros. You take a trolley. You wander through the aisles, take the items you need, put them in your trolley. You go the self-service checkout where you scan all the products at the self-service machine. The machine will accept your debit or credit card as payment. You get your receipt. End of procedure. Have a nice day.

Coop’s self-service checkout is hardly being used whereas Migros’ is being used far more often. (This is the result of my non-scientific observation based on single occasions when I do my shopping at Migros and Coop)

Whether shopping per se is an enjoyable thing to do is another question, but I’m sure nobody enjoys queueing up. “Mate, what are you up to this evening?” – “Well, I’m going to the supermarket to queue up. It just gives me the thrills!” – “Oh my God, this sounds so exciting, do you mind if join?” Are you familiar with this kind of conversation? Neither am I.

Migros realised that by giving the customer the choice at the very last step of the whole shopping procedure. You can either queue up at the regular checkout or you can opt for the self-service checkout. This gives you the possibility to speed up things for your own good. That’s targeting behaviour. It solves the problem of queuing up respectively the perception of time being passed with waiting in the queue.

Coop got it wrong from the start. Scanning items while you are shopping takes more time so there’s no advantage for the customer. But it gets worse: once all the scanning is done, you need to go to a specific check-out which is in place for the customers who do the shopping with the scanner. This check-out is operated by a cashier. The extra time that was added by scanning could have been eliminated by a self-service machine at the checkout. At least that would have made some sort of sense. I think Coop assumed the customer wants to be in charge and enjoy some sort of twisted shopping “experience”. But after all it’s not Disneyland, it’s just a supermarket.

Coop checked out by trying to change the attitude of the customers whereas Migros checked in by changing the behaviour of the customers.

Changing people’s attitude is basically impossible. What works is changing behaviour.

On a side note: we are sending postcards to our readers all over the globe. Email your address to samantha@jabjab.me and you will receive a personal thank-you note from our fictitious, intelligent and hot PA Samantha!

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