Why does a dress look more attractive when someone else is wearing it than when it is in the store? Why do those set of curtains look so desirable hanging down my neighbor’s windows than while I actually ignored them in the curtain shop? Why do I always want that piece of jewel that my acquaintance is wearing even though I had scoffed at mom’s idea of buying it?
Such pertinent questions have never plagued my life, for I have found them to be natural occurrences.
However, it took me 25 long years and a short trip to Dilli Haat to understand what we fondly refer to as “human psychology”.
Dilli Haat itself is a quaint, colorful place, with much option for shopping, albeit a little pricey. As I know only too well that my shopping expeditions are of no interest to anyone here, I will move on without further ado.
In sync with its overall quaintness, the place had a quaint little shop selling many, many articles made of wood, not excluding lamp shades and well, some more lamp shades. Outside the shop were four cutesy little chairs, two on either side. My friends were adamant on perching atop them for a touristy picture. I obliged (by taking the picture that is).
In that split second between the posing and the clicking, our decision was made. Those chairs were coming home, not just via the picture. After a quick and very ineffective bargaining session, we secured two of them and settled down (not on the chairs) right opposite the shop to wait for a concert scheduled to start any moment then.
Little did we know the entertainment had already begun.
An aunty came up to me and asked, “How much did you get it for?” and promptly walked up to the shop afterwards. She was followed by many more “Auntyjis” and “Unclejis”. Those obscure chairs, which had been ignored till that very moment, had risen in importance and market value rapidly. The shop owner was rationing out the stock from his storehouse to create a pretty supply-demand mismatch picture. The prices were increasing rapidly, at the rate of 10% per minute. All of a sudden, those chairs had become the center of all attraction, just because their position had shifted from that side of the pathway to this, from the seller’s hands to the buyer’s.
That day, we learnt a thing or two, not only about human psychology but also about marketing effectiveness. It is not just enough to have a quaint little shop with some quaint items. Coax someone into it, pay them for it, do whatever it takes – just make sure a few people keep circling the area of your shop with some of your items and an air of just having bought them. If your products are unique enough, I bet you are going to be out of stock by end of day.
P.S. The incident compensated any unrequited yearning I might have had to become a ramp walk model. We were stared at and quizzed by all and sundry, in the station, on the metro and all along the way, till we put away those clever buys out of sight.