I was at Whole Foods today getting some groceries when I came across this mini food testing area at the end of an aisle. There were two nice sales people (one lady and one dude) who were hawking cereal. The type of cereal was super organic and it came in a pouch. The lady bragged that all of the ingredients were on the front of the bag in large type. The cereal was available for testing in cereal form, baked into a cookie, and blended into a smoothie (which was apparently made with apple cider and yogurt or something).
Sidenote: While I was deciding what to taste test (I eventually went with the smoothie and it was not bad, and followed up with a chunk of cookie), an old Asian lady walked up to me and started talking in Chinese. I tried to tell her that I don’t really speak Chinese, but I forgot how to say “I don’t know Chinese” in Chinese. It’s kind of absurd, anyway, to say you don’t speak a language in that very language you’re saying you don’t speak. Anyway, she mumbled some more stuff and then said “Chinese.” Like, yeah, lady, we’re both Chinese. I guess she walked away after that.
So anyway, here’s the real part of the story. I’m tasting the cookie and am about to leave when another woman walks up to the food tasting area. The sales guy asks if she wants to buy some cereal and she’s like “oh, I already have some at home! I love it! I’m just going to have some samples.” And they get into this conversation about how great the cereal is. I caught some more of their conversation as I walked away. Only later did I realize that the cereal-praising lady was probably a shill! It was literally the oldest sales trick in the book! I mean, no one gets that excited over cereal, right? She was really into it; a little too much into it to be believable.
Perhaps I am just cynical, but I would love to hang around Whole Foods to see if the same lady came over and did that multiple times. The sad part is that I can see the shill bit working on quite a lot of people. It probably didn’t work on the Chinese lady, though. She didn’t speak English.