It’s the “treasure hunt” of shopping.
Promising big savings on designer gear, TK Maxx is a hit with everyday people and celebrities, including The OC actress Rachel Bilson.
This weekend, Channel 5 will screen a documentary revealing the clever marketing tricks that help the network rake in annual sales of £3bn.
Becky Pemberton explains what they are
THE STAFF is trained in “hashing” – calculating where items are placed on the rails to drive sales.
In the C5 documentary, former team leader Jodie Evans, an employee from 2010 to 2015, says, “We used to run the products down the rails. If you have three small sizes, we could put one at first. . . one in the middle and one at the end.”
Adds former head merchandiser Daniel Baker: “We wanted to have just one of everything on the shelves because it meant that when (shoppers) saw it, they were convinced they had to buy it right then and there.”
This tactic helps send positive messages to the brain.
Fashion psychologist Shakaila Forbes-Bell says, “You feel like you’ve successfully completed your assignment. You have found a reward and the fact that it is isolated makes it even more positive.”
IF you’ve ever been in a TK Maxx, you know it takes patience to scan rail after rail before you find the items you like.
To make it more bearable and eliminate possible distractions, the rails are polished or “waxed”.
Former employee Jodie says, “Waxing the rails is a well-known secret among the TK Maxx crews and something the customer won’t necessarily know about.
“It allows you to slide products across the rails quite easily without that horrible screeching, screeching sound you often hear at many retailers.”
EVER wondered what the numbers on TK Maxx labels mean? Look for single digit numbers. They are “cheat codes” to indicate if you are really getting a bargain.
Daniel says: “The number that is really exciting for a client is the number two.”
That means an item is “genuine overstock” that was sold for a higher price elsewhere and is a good deal.
Daniel adds: “The three main codes are one, two and seven. One of the media made for TK Maxx.
“Two is ‘liquidation buy’, not being sold from another brand.
And seven is ‘packaged,’ meaning it has been packaged the year before, like Christmas cookies bought in January for the following December.”
Waxing the rails is a well-known secret among the TK Maxx crews and something the customer won’t necessarily know about. It allows you to slide products through the rails quite easily without that horrible screeching sound you often hear from many retailers.
Former employee Jodie Evans
MOST customers will not know that the retailer has brands that include production lines from Calvin Klein, Diesel and Clarks specifically for TK Maxx.
It also produces its own clothing under 500 trademarks. Buyers would never know that TK Maxx produced an item directly.
This takes advantage of the “proximity effect”: it makes private label items appear more attractive by placing them next to big brands.
An expert reveals that customers perceive things placed together to have similar value.
It’s almost impossible to resist queuing for checkouts at TK Maxx, with a random assortment of products piled high, from Lindt chocolate balls to Australian licorice to headphones and pet treats.
Trendy psychologist Shakaila believes the effect of this is that our “neural systems are overloaded.”
She says, “We’re exhausted and this stresses us out so much that we don’t really have the energy to weigh the pros and cons.
“It makes us even more susceptible to making those last-minute impulsive decisions.”
The chain’s banners further influence CUSTOMERS to make quick purchases.
Says psychologist Shakaila: “You’re faced with those big red signs that say, ‘Big Brands, Small Prices,’ signs that say, ‘Get it while it’s here.’
We are exhausted and this stresses us so much that we don’t really have the energy to weigh the pros and cons. It makes us even more susceptible to making those last-minute impulsive decisions.
Fashion psychologist Shakaila Forbes-Bell
Long wavelength colors like red can induce higher levels of arousal.
“When we get that deal, we feel like we’ve avoided a loss. And as a result, we feel very good about ourselves.”
The red color and the dramatic language of the posters excite consumers at the possibility of finding a jewel.
But they also instill the fear of missing out if people don’t make a purchase.
BEST IN THE BACK
WHILE store interiors can look like a market, haphazardly arranged, experts insist store layouts are planned methodically.
Former shopkeeper Daniel says, “A lot of the things people really want are put in the back of the store.”
This forces customers to walk past shelves of other items before finding what they are looking for.
The longer the hunt, the more likely they are to spend.
Adds consumer journalist Harry Wallop: “On the one hand, it’s like a department store.
“But it is presented as a flea market.
“You’re looking for some pans and you end up with pink Himalayan salt.”
Adds Tony Morgan, former head of visual merchandising at Selfridges: “It’s about the journey of finding something, looking for it, getting it, putting it in the bag and taking it home.”
In a statement on the TV show, TK Maxx said: “Some of our products are made for us and some are designed by us.
“A small percentage is from previous seasons or timeless classics.
“New deliveries arrive several times a week, containing thousands of items, and our associates display this rapidly changing inventory, often by size and category, creating the ‘treasure hunt’ experience our shoppers love.”
- TK Maxx: How do they do it? It’s on Channel 5, Sundays at 7pm.