Metro Cash n Carry on Day 5 in Karachi: The mayhem continues
It’s 5.45pm. The gates are open. There’s no mob this time around, but a crowd is still there outside the gate, trying to get registered. Those who are coming in their cars are able to bypass this stop, however, their happiness is short-lived.
Inside, there’s a 100 metre long queue of consumers waiting to get in. There’s a man with a megaphone exhorting those in the queue to hold their Metro customer cards in their hands, and those who are not registered to get registered at the registration booth
The registration booth promises to be another harrowing experience. There are about five counters, all loaded with long queues themselves. It all seems surreal. Hundreds of people – men, women, children, old – all alike – standing in unbearably long queues waiting to get into Metro. Looking at the prevailing conditions, it would take roughly about 1.5 hours to get through the two queues, and that just to get in. What are the conditions inside is anybody’s guess. Even if you get in after going through this torturous process, what then? Are you going to win a prize? Are you going to be treated like a royal? Hardly. It’s going to be yet another struggle inside.
And that makes the entire launch campaign amazing beyond belief. A strategy that was able to persuade the Karachiites to sacrifice 4-5 precious hours of their weekend just for the sake of experiencing a brand that may or may not meet their expectations. Chances are, many would be disappointed because after going through so much hassle, when they do get to experience the brand, their expectations would have skyrocketed. And then it’s extremely difficult to meet such expectations, as McDonald found out the hard way.
More then ten years ago when McDonald opened its first outlet in North Nazimabad, Karachi, the first day of business saw a huge rowdy crowd waiting to get in. And when some people did manage to get in and try some of its offerings, they were bitterly disappointed that they had waited for so long for just some run-of-the-mill fast food.
So what could have Metro done to appease the crowd waiting outside. Well, it was already a carnival- like atmosphere outside. It could have appeased the waiting customers by inviting companies to put up stalls in the parking area (which was acting like a huge waiting arena), offering goodies, samples and what not. Such a gesture would have lowered the expectations for what lies ahead as well as provided some respite from the excruciating wait.
Of course, the Metro marketing manager could argue that theirs is a B2B business catering only to professionals (companies, small-time retailers etc), and that they don’t need to entertain the consumer. In that case, why is it hitting the consumer with its advertising? On top of that, why is it even allowing the families to enter its premises in the first place? And most of all, why has it constructed a massive parking area if it does not intend to sell to the end-users? Surely, the professional lot won’t be visiting the place in droves that you would need a gargantuan parking space?
It’s evident from these actions and more that they are in fact very much in the business of selling to all and sundry.