Volume 33, Number 11, November 1998

 

ISSUE AT HAND

Hanging Around the Block

by Debra Levy

A good headline, often called a screamer, is something to be savored, and great screamer-writing is an art. Growing up in the New York City suburbs (now don’t hold that against me), I was weaned on some of the best screamers in the country including the New York Daily News (remember the infamous "Ford to City: Drop Dead") and of course, the New York Post (generally credited with the world’s most memorable headline: "Headless Body Found in Topless Bar.") Hard to top that one, so to speak. This influence is the reason you occasionally see headlines in USGlass such as "Who’ll Stop the Rain" atop an article about leaks in curtainwall. It is only through the good efforts and sense of our very professional editorial staff that you have been spared some of my more creative lines.

So I get a kick out of good headlines everywhere—including those on all the self-help and trade books that make the rounds on the bestseller charts. As you may know, the title (as headlines are called when they are on books) is the top factor in determining the commercial viability of those trade books. This is why we see titles that tell us what to do (How to Swim with Sharks), what to say (What to Say to the Naked Man at Your Door), that promise an easy fix (the Portable MBA) and ask us screaming questions (What Do Women Really Want?—oh sure, like they are going to answer that question in a book of less than 9,000 pages).

So I thought about naming this column along those lines. You can take your pick of the following:

u Customers to Glass Shops: It’s the Warranty Stupid

u What Do Customers Really Want?

The reason for these headlines du jour is the result of a recent survey by Roper Starch Worldwide, a public opinion and marketing research firm based in New York City. Roper asked consumers to name which items they feel are the most important factors involved in the purchase of durable goods, including cars, furniture and other items purchased from retail companies.

While the results are interesting, the change in those results over the past six years is even more revealing. Take a look:

WHAT’S IMPORTANT

FACTOR PERCENT CHANGE SINCE ’93

Warranty/guarantee 64% +16%

Ease of maintenance/repair 61 +15

Quality comparison 61 N/A

Price comparison 58 N/A

High-quality brand 54 +5

Low price 47 +10

Style/look of brand 46 +6

Made in the USA 41 -3

Personal recommendation 32 +6

Well-advertised 30 +8

Latest innovation 24 +9

Brand’s image 24 N/A

Sales staff 10 +5

Mfr’s Environmental Record 16 0

Consumers "know more about how the marketplace works and how to get what they want," says John Berry, editorial director for Roper Starch in a recent issue of American Demographics magazine. "To paraphrase an old line, the consumer is not an idiot, she is your intellectual peer—or better. Consumers are more self-reliant. They still need advice, but they’re more confident about researching products and making decisions."

The research has important implications for window manufacturers, glass makers and retails shops alike. It shows us that price and quality are automatically expected now, but items such as long warranties and ease of maintenance are just as important. Maybe this is something to scream about after all.

-Deb


USG

Copyright 1998 Key Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.