February 26th, 2008 | 2 MIN READ

Is Flattery A Viable Selling Strategy?

Written by author_profile_images Linda Bustos

Linda is an ecommerce industry analyst and consultant specializing in conversion optimization and digital transformation.

VitamanI heard a true story years ago about a telephone service in the UK, where lonely women would call to hear a soothing, pre-recorded male voice say things like "you know what, you're really beautiful." Apparently it was hugely popular.

Well, Australian natural male grooming product company Vitaman has put this idea on steroids with its interactive and innovative online store (link removed as the interactive store is no longer up).

Meet Nikki, a leggy Micha Barton lookalike with an Aussie accent. She is your personal shopping valet. When you drag items into your shopping bag, Nikki complements you on your selection with lines like "Mmmmmm, this smells amazing on your skin," and "Oooh, I love a brave sportsman who puts his body on the line."

Nikki the Vitaman Valet

What's genius is, Nikki changes her outfit for each product category, so that motivates guys to at least check out each product category. Unfortunately, most of the products on the shelf have identical packaging, so it might be a bit better for Nikki to give a quick spiel on each category's offering and what makes them so amazing. You've got a captivated audience, girl, sell!

Another unfortunate is that products must be added to the bag to be rewarded with the purring praise for your selection. This means many overloaded carts filled with products not really intended to buy. But Vitaman makes it easy to remove items from your cart when you're ready to check out. The best part of the cart is when you view your cart, Nikki says "Are you sure that's all you want?" Don't you wish you could say that from your cart page?

The site uses Adobe Flash and Flash Remoting with over 50 individual Adobe Flash FLVs (videos) and 25 Flash swfs (Flash files) compiled for Flash player 8 for maximum accessibility, and is available in English, Korean and Japanese.

There's an option to turn Nikki's voice off (for those shopping at work, *wink*) or remove her completely for those who want a faster shopping experience, or women shopping for their men. Word on the street is there are more valets coming, including one for the ladies.

A few more downsides is the Flash can get a bit buggy, slow etc. and any Flash-based ecommerce site is kissing search engine benefits good-bye. It's a good idea you're going to do a Flash microsite that sells product to have an an HTML alternative.

Hey, if dancing elves were such a hit, I'm sure there are a few who'll enjoy the valet. But do you think flattery is a viable sales strategy or will this end up in the "cool but no ROI" dogpile?

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