Shop the hand-picked, curated and edited collection – why do retailers insist on using three marketing terms when one will do?

‘Hand-picked every month and carefully curated …’ – that’s one of the signs on the ground floor in the John Lewis flagship on Oxford Street. You can also find similar terms all over the web without too much effort.

All good, if a little anodyne, but it does merit a few moments unpicking. If somebody could point out the difference between curated and hand-picked, and further explain why they might be needed in the same sentence, they could account for what seems to be a tautology.

The fact is, they mean more or less the same thing.

“Retailers imagine that yoking ‘curated’ and ‘hand-picked’ together invests them with more meaning, gravitas and, presumably, makes the goods being referred to more desirable”

Yet somehow retailers, in putting across their ‘point of view’ (another fashionable but almost redundant term), imagine that yoking ‘curated’ and ‘hand-picked’ together invests them with more meaning, gravitas and, presumably, makes the goods being referred to more desirable.

But most of us can see through flimflam and this is just one example of something that is common to the great majority of retailers, particularly those whose business it is to shift fashion.

So what else might retailers say that would give the same message (and please don’t forget ‘The Edit’ – the title of John Lewis’ marketing alert – doesn’t this also equate to more or less the same thing as hand-picked and curated?)

JL marketing screenshot

JL marketing screenshot

The truth is that we edit every time we go shopping. Choosing anything from a range involves a process of selecting and discarding until the final ‘edit’ is made.

Viewed this way, all shoppers have a point of view and it is that which will inform the hand-picking to be done when they enter a shop. This kind of editing of the marketing messages that retailers deploy can, of course, be applied to most things and ultimately all it means is that retailers edit and so do shoppers.

Perhaps it might be better if the strapline was ‘We’ve chosen some stuff that we think you might like – please give us a chance and have a look’. A bit cumbersome perhaps, but it would do the trick.

It will be interesting to see what the ‘edit’ on the new BHS website looks like when it sees the light of day later this week.