Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

29 January 2019

The Goodwill brand, a retailer with an actual position

I am a bit of a freak when it comes to the Goodwill brand. And that’s probably taking my obsession with the consignment chain lightly. Thing is, I can spend all weekend driving from shop to shop eagerly awaiting the thrill of the hunt. I’ve uncovered some gems along the way — a $10 Dyson vacuum, for instance, as well as a 100-gallon fish tank, plus all the elephant ties I could ever fancy.

Goodwill brandRetailers, as most of us know, are experiencing a free fall. Of their own doing. So imagine a store where its shelves are cluttered, it smells and there isn’t room to push a shopping cart.

Amazingly, these are positive attributes for the Goodwill brand. And something other retailers should notice.

The Goodwill brand means something emotional, even irrational

Let me explain. Just before you step into a Goodwill, you know exactly what it is going to smell like. Granted, I don’t like the smell of mothballs either. But it sets up an expectation that a unique shopping experience is about to begin. Don’t forget, the smell of a brand can be impactful, too. Just ask Play-Doh. Like it or not, the scent of the Goodwill brand sets an expectation.

The Goodwill brand isn’t for everybody, but that’s the definition of a meaningful brand. Knowing who you are for, and who you are not for.”

Add to this, half of the electronics don’t work (and that’s a generous average) and they are oddly arranged by color. But darn it, if that isn’t the first place I head for the hopes of seeking my jackpot. Just last week I found a pristine copy of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ One Hundred Years in Solitude sandwiched between some RL Stein throwaways. Big win for me.

Here’s the thing. The Goodwill brand isn’t for everybody, but that’s the definition of a meaningful brand. Knowing who you are for, and who you are not for. Shopping at Goodwill means something different than at most retailers (if you want to call Goodwill that). It actually has a position of finding a lost treasure on an expedition. That feeling may not be rational, but that doesn’t matter. It only has to be believed. That’s an emotional pull very few retailers own because there’s nothing emotional about them at all.

And so, next time I stand at the end of an aisle with my shopping cart, and another cart-clad shopper is veering upon me, we both get that look in our eyes that says, “This is my aisle, sucker!” I should also remind myself that this is the gift the Goodwill brand gifts me.

See more posts in the following related categories: Brand meaning


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