Would You Like Fries With That?

Published on 25th October, 2007

What business are you in? It’s a simple question, but one that a lot of people simply don’t know the answer to.

This isn’t about Nike being in the business of selling aspiration, or performance, or some other similarly nebulous concept. It’s about where you make your money.

Credit card companies make their money selling payment protection insurance. The profit on this seemingly marginal product is huge.

The best thing is that they dont have to sell the payment protection insurance. It simply hitches a ride on the main product, making it very low risk.

It’s worth noting that I’m not talking about impulse products here, like the galleries of chocolate flanking the checkouts of petrol stations across the country. I’m talking about a complementary product, offered at the point of purchase, that adds some sort of benefit to the main item being purchased.

Credit card payment protection insurance, for example, adds peace of mind.

The super-duper nourishing polish that shoe shops peddle when you purchase new footwear adds longevity (and therefore value-for-money) to your purchase.

Here are a couple of other ideas, that I’ve yet to encounter:

  • Furniture suppliers could do the same as the shoe shops, providing leather-care products for their furniture.
  • Ticket vendors could sell official band merchandise to the excited fan who just got tickets for the new tour; maybe a limited-edition T-shirt to wear to the gig.

There aren’t many businesses that can’t benefit from this idea, it’s just a case of looking hard enough.