I was in Sainsbury's today looking for a sandwich. Bewildered by choice, I just grabbed the first nearby one (a 'Taste the Difference' BLT - very nice it was too).
Before this post turns into too much of a wanky 'how a conventional situation led me to think about advertising/marketing thought', let me just prefix it with this: There were over 40 varieties of sandwich.
Surely no individual can require this amount of choice? I mean, sure, I don't want a tuna and sweetcorn sandwich 5 days a week, or anything with marmite in it, but this was crazy.
I'll get to the point now: I think if marketeers and advertisers can help their clients eliminate this level of anxiety/fear/confusion/irrational fear of marmite in-store they'll all prosper. Never mind TV or the Internet - take the thought out of shopping and you'll make a lot of money, and be around for a long, long time.
I think a major reason why stores like John Lewis are doing so well is because they eliminate this level of anxiety/create such an atmosphere of trust that even people like myself (who dreads the day he has to help colour co-ordinate curtains and carpet) can shop with the knowledge that they'll do the thinking for you.
Interestingly, I also nipped into JL recently; on every floor I visited, the very first person I saw was a green striped customer service assistance. No wonder they are doing so well in the customer satisfaction stakes.