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Do you know what employees are saying about products you stock?

How do you sell a customer on a new product and make a positive lasting impression of the store? An interaction at store checkout reveals the good, the bad and the ugly truth about the importance of being accurate.

The good

As the employee scanned my groceries, she took note of the six pack of coconut juice—that trendy, natural hydrator—approaching her on the conveyor belt.

“I prefer coconut water,” she said.

Hmmm... I thought. “Aren’t those marketing terms for the same thing?”

Apparently not.* She went on to explain the three types of coconut liquids, from milder water from the youngest of coconuts to sweeter juice from slightly older coconuts to decadent milk from the fruit’s white lining. I had no idea whether she told the truth, but what she revealed was plausible. And, heck, since she said that she grew up in Hawaii—land of coconuts—I figured she must be a credible source.

“What’s your favorite brand?”

Naked. You can grab one of the cartons on me.”

I took two, for comparison’s sake.

The bad

That’s when the conversation took a turn.

“One thing I didn’t see: organic coconut water. Does it exist?”

“Well, we wouldn’t carry it because the coconuts are grown in another country, and we have no way of knowing if they meet USDA organic standards.”

Hmmm... I thought. “What about USDA Organic quinoa?” Not to mention the many other imported products that are USDA certified organic?

And, as if saved by the bell, she rang up my last item and called the score: “That’ll be $61.02.”

The ugly truth

The employee’s spiel on coconut water may have been accurate—at the very least, she was right that some brands are sweeter than others and that coconut milk is a very different product from coconut water. But the second half of our conversation put her credibility in question because I knew better about USDA organic standards. The result? I left with mixed feelings about the store.

*Apparently not to her at least. In fact, food marketers seem to use the terms interchangeably.

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