Here’s a universal: a shopper walks into an independent natural products retail store and asks for health information, which the nutritionist willingly provides in a 20-minute conversation. As the conversation wraps up, said shopper pops open a price-comparison app on his or her smartphone to check prices elsewhere.

How rude! But what can you do? As we said in last month’s Merchandising Insights column (WholeFoods Magazine, March, 2017, page 67), fight fire with…satire. The cartoon you see pictured here is by the famous political satirist, Jeff Danziger. Jeff and I believe the best hope we have of improving shopper behavior is to hold up a mirror to that very misbehavior.

Imagine this cartoon — and others like it — on a counter in your nutrition department or posted on the walls in your store where sales conversations take place. And what if you wore a message button with the words: “Buy it here, use it now!”Mi3

Rather than directly confronting customers, which will turn them off, you can use a little humor indirectly, along with a little encouragement to change the very bad habit we Americans have developed of obsessing over the nominal price, while ignoring the value of our time and knowledge.

So, if you’ve got a story to tell about what a smartphone shopper had the nerve to say to you as they were comparing prices, tell us about it!

And enter our “Naming Contest,” for the name that best describes our infamous smartphone shopper. What should we call them? The independent natural products retailer that submits the winning name will receive a $100 gift card and a customized signature cartoon, celebrating your winning effort.

Please submit your naming contest entries, by Monday, May 1st, 2017.

Jay Jacobowitz is president and founder of Retail Insights®, a professional consulting service for natural products retailers established in 1998, and creator of Natural Insights for Well Being®, a comprehensive marketing service designed especially for independent natural products retailers. With 40 years of wholesale and retail industry experience, Jay has assisted in developing over 1,000 successful natural products retail stores in the U.S. and abroad. Jay is a popular author, educator, and speaker, and is the merchandising editor of WholeFoods Magazine, for which he writes Merchandising Insights and Tip of the Month. Jay also serves the Natural Products Association in several capacities. He can be reached at (800)328-0855 or via e-mail at

Published in WholeFoods Magazine April 2017