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Thread: You are not your customer....

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    You are not your customer....

    I'm continually surprised and confounded by what peoples preferences end up being. At this point I've pretty much given up guessing what any one person or even most groups of people will actually like because I'm pretty much wrong most of the time.

    Had another interesting reminder of this last week. When I get free wood from someone for <whatever> (usually turning) I try to give them first choice of the resulting product. Yields pretty good return-on-wood as far as getting more goes. I took the sweet gum bowls I recently finished over to the woods source for the fellow to pick out his bowl (from this set):
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    I was virtually certain he was going to pick one of the cauldron/vase shapes because he's a huge gamer and it would fit in with the decor pretty well. In the end after some discussion between him and his GF it was between the two in the lower left of the photo which is interesting because although I like the smaller one, its the smallest of the set and the one next to it was my least favorite, its whiter and more "plastic" looking (I was playing around with different finishing techniques - straight WTF on sweet gum doesn't do much for me).

    They ended up picking the very smallest one (9" x 3" - 3/8" wall so not tiny but not huge either).
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    Justification on the size was that they "wanted something they could use" and that most of the pieces where "to larger to be generally useful" - makes sense.

    Also interesting BOTH bowls that they picked for choices had "flaws" in them where there was a bit of a bark inclusion. This has been a fairly common trend where folks will pick up a natural edge bowl or a bowl with some sort of knot or worm holes or bark inclusion in it before they'll pick up anything else.

    Anyway - just thought that was interesting.

    What have you run into that confounded your expectations of what customers would want to see?

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Mooney View Post
    What have you run into that confounded your expectations of what customers would want to see?
    Anything my wife asks for.

    But seriously, the most interesting things come from one of my brothers-in-law. He's been in construction, new/old/remodeling for 25-30 years. He's got a great eye, but not so great mouth. I can generally get the ideas he's trying to put across, but I'm only 50/50 on liking them. Until I see them! They always end up looking surprisingly great. His experience really shows in his work. I figure if he was better at getting the ideas across, he's still be in the trades instead of running a restaurant.

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    I remember once I was packing for a show in Brentwood and I hemmed and hawed about whether to even bother taking one little alder bowl to the show with me. I didn't like it. The wood was unspectacular, the form was nothing remarkable, and the only thing that even came close to striking my fancy was that I'd embellished the rim a bit with a woodburner. I wouldn't have even given this bowl to a friend as a gift. I went ahead and took it anyway, and of course it was the first bowl sold. A young college student fell in love with it and decided she wanted to buy it as a gift for her brother. I was so glad to see someone who really liked the bowl that I ended up discounting the price heavily, just to make her day. A true win-win situation.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn McMillan View Post
    the only thing that even came close to striking my fancy was that I'd embellished the rim a bit with a woodburner.
    I wonder if that falls into the same "doesn't look commercially made" attraction that the bowls with funky wood appears to have?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn McMillan View Post
    just to make her day
    As an ex-broke college student I applaud your tactics (thankfully long in the past, I don't think my brain is up for that sort of thing nowadays).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Catalunya
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    I am not a marketing expert, but we always tend to think that everybody thinks or perceives things the way we do. One of the most difficult things is to really find out what a specific market segment of people like or want.
    When we make our pieces we always make them so that we like them, this causes that our potential customers if any will be people that belong to the same market segment as we do. For the same token, we find odd that pieces that we don't like much or that we would not give a penny for them are chosen and loved by some other people.

    I'm always amazed about some objects that are manufactured and sold which I would never dare to even give them a second look or thought, and they are sold by the thousands and someone is making money whith them.
    Best regards,
    Toni

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _________________
    web site:http://www.toniciuraneta.com
    I also dream of a shop with north light where my hands can be busy, my soul rest and my mind wander...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Mountain Home, Arkansas
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    11,825
    They all look like keepers to me. Trying to figure out what the public wants is very difficult. When I had my stores I kept meticulous records on daily sales and conditions that might affect traffic, etc. I never found a pattern of any kind. Items that might sell well in one store can gather dust in another.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tellico Plains, Tennessee
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    Peoples are funny folks... I have a sorta platter that I turned from an odd shaped chunk of wood... the platter came out round and with some interesting grain marks, but I only turned it 'cause I didn't want to throw the wood away... I'm pretty miserly about my woods... I keep lots that should be burned... anyway, the platter gets lots of attention... everyone admires it and oohs and ahs over it, but haven't sold it yet. After it was finished I saw some tool marks in it that should have been turned or sanded away... doesn't seem to distract the attention it gets.. maybe I can sell it this summer...
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    I had this bowl that I turned early on in my learning to turn... it's a piece of dry hard oak, maybe a burl, that I had all kinds of trouble with... I had not learned to sharpen well and was having lots of trouble cutting the wood, plus was worried that it would come apart.... the bottom and sides were really thick. A customer came by, picked it up looked at, complimented me on it, then put it down and walked away... 10 minutes later he was back and grabbed it... said it was calling him and he had to have it.. I think it's ugly as sin.
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    Chuck
    Tellico Plains, TN
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/TellicoTurnings
    My parents taught me to respect my elders, but it's getting harder and harder to find any.
    If you go looking for trouble, it will usually find you.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Brooklin ON -- 45 mins. NE of Toronto, ON
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Mooney View Post
    I'm continually surprised and confounded by what peoples preferences end up being. At this point I've pretty much given up guessing what any one person or even most groups of people will actually like because I'm pretty much wrong most of the time.
    Try designing and turning a pen thinking you've got something that people will flock to and purchase! I have a suitcase full of them just waiting for the right customer to come along!
    Mack C. in Brooklin ON
    It feels great to sell a pen,
    It feels even greater to give one to a friend!

    If your presence doesn't make an impact;
    Your absence won't make a difference!


    I am a proud supporter of
    "Pens for Canadian Peacekeepers"!

  9. #9
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    Aug 2008
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    Reno, Nv
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    Any of those are just the right size for M&M's Ryan...heck of a selection!
    Your Respiratory Therapist wears Combat boots

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Delton, Michigan
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    17,470
    chuck if i were to looking for a wood bowl or turned piece at your spot i would go for the ugly one before the platter as well its different and says handmade all day!!

    on a side note to toni's comment i saw a small end table the other day made out of a small walnut slab it was just a top and two side with box joints and some screws holding it together,, about 20" tall and wide.. they had it priced at 2100 dollars hadnt sold it yet but they were trying.. also they said it was dovetailed tabled didnt take the time to correct them on it
    Last edited by larry merlau; 03-02-2015 at 10:25 PM.
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

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