As it turns out, it’s easier to browse unmolested in a Souk. I’ve recently visited Marrakesh, where a few years back, there was an initiative for stall sellers in Souks to see what happened when they stopped trying to force tourists to buy stuff. Well, although the concept of leaving people to browse is kind of against the whole cultural tradition of bartering etc, they gave it a go. And, guess what? People felt so comfortable that they browsed, then bought. There’s still a bit of haggling of course, but you can’t have it all. It just made me think that this ‘unconventional’ shopping concept might be something that the beauty halls would do well to adopt. The number of times I’ve heard other bloggers say they’ll never go back to such and such a counter because of the hard sell or the way they’re not allowed to even pick out a lipgloss without ‘assistance’ I’ve lost count of. The worst offenders by far are Benefit. When Benefit first arrived in the UK, it was ‘sold’ to the press as a really fun, women friendly brand that changed make up from being a serious, slightly dull duty to a liberating, experimental and innovative way to look and feel more pretty. Right from the packaging to the product, the message was glamour and fun. But there is nothing glamorous or fun about their forceful sales techniques that literally makes me cross the road to avoid. The fabulous Lipglossiping got an insider interview with a Benefit manager – anonymously. It makes for uncomfortable reading. Find it here: www.lipglossiping.com (run the search for Confessions of A BeneBabe). Although it’s hard, I don’t really hold the SAs responsible; they’re set ludicrous targets that would have the best salespeople in the world losing sleep over, and when that’s hanging over your head, you’ll do anything for a sale. People have to eat. But, where’s the long view on this? Where’s the thought that if you make your store or counter a pleasant, friendly, relaxing place that people just want to visit over and over, you’ll actually sell more, not less? Jane and Jean would be horrified I suspect to discover the real truth about Bathina.

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