The retail industry is tough and getting tougher. Driven by constantly evolving technology, globalization and a saturated marketplace, consumers now have total and instantaneous access to whatever they desire, creating an unprecedented level of consumer power and expectations. The impact of these changes is so profound that all traditional strategic success factors, and the business models necessary to execute them, will become extinct. To help the members of NARMS to Learn, Change and Grow, keynote speaker Robin Lewis of The Robin Report will present The New Rules of Retail: Competing in the World’s Toughest Marketplace at the Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC) presented by NARMS.
The annual at-retail merchandising and marketing service industry get together will take place on April 27-30 at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort in Scottsdale. Lewis will take the main stage at 3:30 on Sunday, April 28.
Using profiles and case examples of industry giants, Lewis will reveal why some retailers are tremendously successful at reaching increasingly elusive and demanding consumers, and explains the new mandate, essentially the new rules for retailers.
Lewis is the founder and CEO of The Robin Report. He is an author, speaker, and consultant for the retail and consumer products industries. He is frequently requested by C-level management for advice, consultation and strategic presentations: among them are Kohl’s, Bloomingdale’s, JC Penney, Macy’s, Liz Claiborne, VF Corp., Charming Shoppes, Estee Lauder, Ralph Lauren, and Sara Lee. Previously, he was Vice President at Goldman Sachs, where he developed and launched a global retail consulting practice.
He is the co-author of The New Rules of Retail, published by Palgrave- McMillan Publishing in 2010, and is often quoted in various trade and consumer publications such as Women’s Wear Daily, Time Magazine, Chicago Sun Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Brand Week, and Advertising Age, as well as on CNBC and MSNBC.
The Lewis keynote address is just one example of the value-packed agenda being put together for RMMC. This is a chance to not only take in some valuable information, but also have your voice heard as the Association prepares to meet the challenges of the future. You can find out more about RMMC and register by visiting the official website. Group rates are available so you can bring your whole team.
Last week I made the four hour trip to Minneapolis and the Minnesota Business Reputations Event at Best Buy Headquarters. This was a great opportunity to hear from Chris Brogan, one of the premier voices and experts on social media today. From NARMS standpoint, the social media movement is important on several levels. First, the application has a far reaching effect on how we can even more effectively operate our trade association. Second, how it augments how our members can interact with their trading partners. And third, as experts in at-retail merchandising and marketing service execution, it is vital that our member companies understand how customers are using this medium and how it can be made operational. In fact, our members can be the instrument to bring social media programs to store level. Not to mention that this was also an opportunity to get in the front door of retailing superpower Best Buy.
Chris Brogan is an eleven year veteran of using social media and both web and mobile technologies to build digital relationships for businesses, organizations, and individuals. Brogan speaks, blogs, writes articles, and makes media of all kinds at chrisbrogan.com, a blog in the top 5 of the Advertising Age Power150, and in the top 100 on Technorati. He is co-author of the New York Times bestselling book Trust Agents.
Brogan’s keynote address was built on the theme of, “Listen, Connect and Publish.” Listening to your publics and determining what they need will help you craft the message. Brogan suggested that you take the next step and really “See” the people you are trying to connect with. To really connect, you have to go where they are and be a participant in the discussion, not just merely try to manage the discussion. Brogan really stressed that the basis of social media is humanity. In other words, just learning to be human and interact with others before trying to figure out how to market via the medium. Without the foundation of humanity, you could fail. However, really listening to and connecting with your publics on a human level opens the doorway to powerful publishing.
Your manufacturer and retailer customers are spending increasingly more time and money on social media. It is always our challenge to listen to their needs and help them find ways to extend the reach of this communication channel all the way to the store shelves. While trading partners are using social media to attract consumers to the product, NARMS members could act as an important link in the chain by making sure expectations are met when customers reach the store. Our members can also close the loop by using social media to bring the customer feedback around.
Speaking as someone who is just scratching the surface of social media, Brogan’s address, and the subsequent panel discussion were very thought provoking and valuable. I would encourage you to visit www.chrisbrogan.com and see for yourself. If you are interested in how to integrate social media with your NARMS.com presence, you can attend the Social Media workshop at NARMS Spring Conference on Sunday, April 18 from 1:00-2:00 P.M.
An item that appeared in the Monday edition of NARMS Newsfeed couldn’t help but catch my attention. Directional shifts from a CPG giant like Procter & Gamble Co. tend to do that. To quote the Advertising Age article, “If it doesn’t work at the store, it’s no longer a good marketing idea.” P&G is busy driving home this concept known as “store back” with all its marketing agencies. And P&G is putting its money where its mouth is. Last year, the company spent $3.5 billion on trade promotion and shopper marketing compared to $3.2 million in media spending.
The article points out that this mind set could give shopper marketing types a seat at the table when it comes to the development of creative. It is clear, from a P&G perspective that any marketing idea has to have the execution aspects in mind upon conception. For the first half of the year, P&G execs have been spreading the message to their agency community.
For the members of NARMS, leaders in at-retail merchandising and marketing services, this mind set comes as welcome news. We often find ourselves having to execute a program at shelf level with minimal time to prepare, and without knowledge of the bigger picture. While we have evolved and adapted to the point where we do this quite well, we have so much more to offer brand marketers.
In most cases, when we have the opportunity to consult with companies a little further up stream, we are able to help them fully formulate the idea from conception to execution. Look at any NARMS member deck of case studies and you will see a pattern of early involvement in the programs that our members like to showcase.
Obviously, at-retail is an important aspect of shopper marketing. As leaders, we must be ready to take on a more consultative role in the process while maintaining a level of excellent execution. It’s what we’ve been seeking for years. That time might be upon us.
While reading a recent Advertising Age article, “Package-Goods Brands Lose Loyalists in Recession”, I was struck by the actual impact of the recession on household names. The article points out that a recent study by Catalina Marketing shows that, “More than a third of formerly faithful consumers abandoned Crest, Hunt’s, PineSol and Tylenol.” We’ve all been reading and hearing that brands are taking a hit, but that one sentence really transmits the weight of the situation. As providers of at-retail merchandising and marketing services, we have to ask ourselves what we can do to help the brand marketing situation.
According to the article and study, well-supported brands fared better. They are mostly referring to advertising and price promotion here, but you have to wonder if the message doesn’t ring true for shelf support as well. The cost of losing a loyal customer is high, the article talks about losses anywhere from 5- 25%. That’s an area where our services easily fit into the picture. For pennies on the dollar, NARMS members can make sure that products are on the shelf, displays are built and samples are available to support the massive advertising and promotion dollars. One thing is for sure; consumers are switching or trading down more quickly than ever. Why give them a chance to even consider such a move?
Eric Anderson, associate professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern, says that brands should use, “Non-price mechanisms,” to secure brand loyalty. His point is that price promotion only hastens the disloyalty. The question is, “Are our services one of these non-price mechanisms?” That probably depends on the individual needs of each brand marketer, but I think we can make a strong case.