On a recent visit to Takashimaya Shopping Centre for Christmas shopping, my family visited their highly popular basement food mall area looking for gift ideas.
Wielding their knives, rolling pins, trays, and cookie cutters with much flair, these professionals were neatly dressed and groomed with chefs hats, aprons, dresses or fitting tees. As customers looked on in amazement – or rather droolworthy expressions – they paraded their craft.
To me, these demonstration chefs are performers on a stage, just like ‘live’ actors and actresses. Their ability to mesmerize, tease, and tantalize their ‘audiences’ can make all the difference between success and failure, from the “Wow” factor to the wallet.
Here performance is measured in how effective you are in making customers so enamored, so tempted and so seduced that they decide to reach into their pockets and wallets to bring a couple of boxes home.
There are several points to note:
1) People ARE interested in the process behind how their products and services are made. The trick therefore is to ‘prettify’ that method and transform it from drudgery to art.
2) Showmanship makes a lot of difference in almost any consumer and lifestyle facing business. The twirl and flipping of a roti prata, the popping of champagne corks, the clasping of a necklace on a lady’s neck – these are the stuff that helps make the difference.
3) The audience can tell if you’re having a bad day and choose to let it show. It is said that a grumpy chef cooks less tasty food. Similarly, a surly retail assistant or sales person who chooses not to interact with shop browsers is going to cut less deals.
4) Like any art or craft, being a great performer on the consumer goods stage requires hours and hours of practice – maybe even 10,000 hours if you want to be a maestro in the marketplace.
5) Having the right stage, props and tools matter. A shabbily dressed sales staff will find it harder to close deals. Having the right backdrop that is aesthetically pleasing to the senses is also important.
6) Finally, it takes a whole village to raise this child. An entire army of people – open kitchen designers, equipment makers, logistics, food suppliers – are needed. Teamwork is key to making any show a crowd success, and everybody should pull their weight in choreographing the consumer experience.