I’m a big fan of Target, trying to get me into a Wal-Mart is like pulling teeth, but I like Target, I feel they rank at the top when it comes to discount retailers… apparently they think so too.

Recently I made a stop at a Super Target to get an aloe vera lotion because I’d gotten a little sunburned (don’t start). My sister had recommended a specific one that had been helpful to her in the past, but I was having difficulty finding it because the layout of the store is a bit strange.

I found myself wandering around in the cosmetics department, because I found facial cleansers and moisturizers there, and I could only assume that body products would follow. Target has put a small foot in the door of prestige cosmetics (and when I say small, I really mean small) and they have a well organized cosmetics section that includes testers and a Prestige Manager.

At this point I want to pause to make clear just exactly what the “Oh no you dih ent!” moment in the situation I’m about to describe is all about. I’d like to preface with saying that this has less ( but not nothing) to do with the fact that I’m a sales person in the high end cosmetics industry and more to do with my perspective as a client. Naturally my expectations as a shopper might be a little more defined considering my line of work, but I want to use that deeper understanding of both sides now to help other people understand something very important about my job.

The Target cosmetic representative approached and greeted me, asking me what she might help me find, which I was really surprised by since I’d never had that happen before in a Target. I told the women that I was looking for a specific aloe vera lotion, it was rather obvious why I wanted it. The woman urged me to come with her and then took me to something she thought would be better for me, whipped out a tester and started rubbing it on me and my friend (using the same applicator to dip, rub it on, re-dip, rub it on my friend) and explained why this product would better fit my needs and then started to add additional products to the sale. I have to say I was kind of amused considering I knew exactly what she was doing and how never in a million years would I have been prepared to face this at Target. I mentioned several times that I was looking for or wanted to see the product my sister had recommended, but nothing could dissuade her from her determination to get me to take the jar of cream she seemed confident would be the better (more expensive) choice.  After she rambled off a list of reasons why the ingredients in the product she was showing would be better for me than the one I had come in for, I broke down, took the jar and left the department. My friend and I then went and found what I was looking for, compared ingredients (which were -exactly- the same with the exception that the product I wanted had a higher percentage of aloe in it), decided to go with what I had come looking for, and left the store, giving the cosmetic department and their Prestige Manager a wide birth as not to have to make an explanation.

Here’s the thing… the high end cosmetic industry is NOT just about pricey products, it’s also about a certain quality of service. Yes, it’s our job to sell you a product, that’s how we make our living, but the difference is that I am trained to consider your needs and your desires when I am selling something to you.

If she had been doing this right, the way I am trained to do it, she would have first taken me to the product I was looking for, she would have asked me questions, in spite of my obvious sunburn, about what had drawn me to that particular product and then if I was interested in seeing something that might be a little better for my specific needs. At that point I would have had the opportunity to explain that I work in cosmetic retail and the next day I would get something from my own store, but just for over night I wanted something inexpensive to make due.  Instead of wanting to avoid her, in the end I would have appreciated her help.