16 Merchandising and Marketing Ideas
3. Dealing with a new law? Ask for customers’ sympathy
C-store retailers have enough pressure from local competition. Restrictive regulations only compound that pressure.
Just ask Andrea Myers, president of Seymour, Ind.-based Kocolene Marketing, who went into fi re-drill mode in June to lock up her tobacco stock in 10 Fast Max c-stores. On July 1, a law took effect restricting self-serve tobacco/nicotine sales in “non-adult-only” Indiana stores.
Up until May, Myers and other retailers had lobbied to mitigate the law so that cigarettes and cigars might be spared, but that effort was quashed. So Myers rushed to make the store modifications in a month’s time.
To mollify customers during the conversion, Kocolene turned to education. “We put up signs explaining the law and emphasizing that it’s out of our control, and that they should contact their state legislator to ask about why it was imposed,” says Myers.
Meanwhile, the chain installed aesthetically pleasing fixtures and other user-friendly components. “Customers can now get as close to tobacco as possible without breaking the law,” says Myers.
So what did they learn when the long arm of the law encroached on their business? “Pay attention in advance … and be proactive,” she says.