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.
The economy has been showing brief glimpses of improvement for months, but has been awaiting the big breakthrough that will signal more optimistic times for business people. As in the past, the first sign of economic thawing is a loosening of consumer spending. According to a story in Home Channel News, consumers represent 70% of the economy. Customer Growth Partners reports that the important holiday shopping period has yielded a 5% sales increase, the biggest year-over-year growth since 2005. This is all occurring in the face of a 9.8% unemployment rate. But that might be changing too. Now it appears that U.S. companies are starting to fire up their recruiting by advertising thousands of job openings.
According to The Wall Street Journal, internet job postings as tracked by Indeed Inc. rose to 4.7 million on Dec. 1, up from 2.7 million a year earlier. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 3.2 million private-sector job openings at the end of October, up from 2.3 million a year earlier.
Indeed Inc. also tells us that many of these new job postings are in the retail industry. As retailer cash position improves, it stands to reason that they will begin to hire again in order to keep pace with the uptick in consumer activity.
What does this mean to the members of the professional at-retail merchandising and marketing services industry? Only time will tell, but here are a few thoughts. As retailers begin to hire, current merchandisers may be enticed to leverage their in-store experience to take full-time retail opportunities. This will make the role of recruiting quality merchandisers more important than ever. On the hand, an increase in retailer and manufacturer spending on labor does not automatically mean an increase in staff. Outsourcing of important shelf work may become more commonplace to free up existing store staffs to take care of the customer.
NARMS is ready to help you navigate through the recovery with two recruitment resources. Members pay $85 to post jobs in the JobBank. It is a 30-day posting that allows the same position to be listed in multiple locations. The Recruiter is a searchable database available to members with an expanded listing. If you have not advertised a job on JobBank for awhile, you may want to reconnect with this terrific resource. Your listing goes far beyond just those searching www.narms.com because it is also automatically sent out to several popular job search sites and social networks. It is truly a one-stop shop for all your recruiting needs. NARMScertifyU, our on-line training tool, is available for you and your at-retail field reps to improve their skills and abilities. Block pricing is available for companies who want to purchase this training directly for their field force.
No matter the shape of the new economic landscape, the core competency of NARMS members will always be building and managing a highly-trained and professional decentralized workforce ready to be employed at a moments notice. Taking advantage of membership resources to maintain and expand this foothold seems to make even more sense against these new economic measurements.
Campbell Soup is working with stores to make soup aisles more attractive and easier for consumers to navigate. Hershey has begun a major study of how consumers make their way through stores. PepsiCo benefits when stores sell its snacks and drinks together. Wall Street Journal 6/21/10
The NARMS Manufacturer-Retailer Connection Forum is taking shape with the recent announcement that Carol Spieckerman of newmarketbuilders will participate. The Connection Forum will happen on Monday, April 19th as part of the NARMS Spring Conference scheduled for April 17-20th at the Saddle Brook Resort in Wesley Chapel, FL. Spieckerman will start the event at 9:00 AM with - Are you Ready for the “Reset? Three Revelations that Will Rock Your Retail Reality – and then will stay on to facilitate the Connection sessions which will run from 10:00 AM until 12:30 PM.
Spieckerman is president of newmarketbuilders and serves as a strategic out-of-enterprise resource to the retail industry for product, brand and marketing campaign launches, and retail best practices. She possesses a unique understanding of macro retail trends and how marketers can translate them into relevant and actionable strategies that resonate with retailers. Spieckerman is a speaker, author and regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Women’s Wear Daily, DSN Retailing Today, Home Channel News, and other national and international media outlets.
The addition of Spieckerman only strengthens what promises to be an exciting and enlightening day. The blue ribbon group of presenters that will participate in the 30 minute Q&A sessions include Kelly Hampton of 20th Century Fox Entertainment, Joe Wood of Roundy’s Supermarkets and Mary Jo Bastuba of Nintendo. Todd Jones, President of Publix will close out the connection theme for the day with an hour long presentation at 4:00 PM.
If you have not already done so, visit the conference center at www.narms.com for more information and to register. The agenda includes not only the Monday Manufacturer and Retailer Connection session, but a whole slate of business building education and networking activities sure to make this a memorable NARMS Spring Conference. 372NARMS2010
What could be more valuable to anyone in the retailing industry than to truly understand what makes consumers tick? Attendees at the NARMS Spring Conference in Colorado Springs , CO on April 6 will get a unique glimpse into the mind of the consumer from not only a leading expert on consumer behavior, but also one of the pioneers in the discipline. Paco Underhill , founder/CEO of Envirosell, Inc., a global research and consulting firm, will be on hand at the Broadmoor to share his insight at the Monday morning general session. There will also be a retailer panel to follow. As a reminder, March 2nd is the deadline for The Broadmoor reduced rate and the conference fee increases after February 28th by $50.00.
It is one thing to hear about consumer behavior, but quite another to experience it live. Ten lucky conference participants will get the opportunity to “learn with the expert” by accompanying Underhill on special store tour later in the day. Looking at Underhill’s background, you couldn’t possibly have a better guide.
Underhill has spent more than 25 years conducting research on the different aspects of shopping behavior. Underhill helps companies understand what motivates the behaviors of today’s consumer. His research shows how today’s retail world is ruled by factors such as gender, “trial and touch” and human anatomy. He is an insightful and captivating speaker, who frequently presents to trade associations and professional groups about the methodology and findings of his research.
Underhill and Envirosell have been profiled by major publications, such as, The New Yorker, Fortune, Fast Company, Business Week and Smithsonian Magazine, and have been featured on ABC’s 20/20, and CBS’s 48 Hours. He is a regular contributor to NPR and BBC Radio. His columns and editorials have appeared in the New York Times, London Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Christian Science Monitor. His first book, Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping has been published in twenty-six languages, and has sold more copies than any other retail book in history. His second book, entitled Call of the Mall: The Geography of Shopping, was released in February 2004 by Simon & Schuster.
More and more companies are turning to shopper marketing and at-retail programs to help strengthen their brands and take advantage of the in-store medium. Gaining insight into this world will help members of NARMS position their services to meet the evolving needs of the marketplace. Simply stated, this is a “can’t miss” event. Click here to learn more and to register for Spring Conference.
With most of the North in the grip of a record cold snap, it is hard to not long for spring and the promise of better weather conditions. The same can be said for the retail industry as we struggle through a cold streak of a different kind. While we don’t know if the economy will get better by then, the NARMS International Spring Conference & 14th Annual Meeting in April at Colorado Springs will bring the kind of insight and expert analysis that we are longing for. And who better to be the opening session key note speaker than Bryan Gildenberg, Chief Knowledge Officer of Management Ventures, Inc. He will address the membership on Sunday afternoon, April 5.
Gildenberg, who last spoke to us in 2006, is cited frequently in The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and The Boston Globe in the USA, and globally in the China Economic Times, BBC Radio and ETRetailBiz India. He has held his position with MVI since 2004 and is recognized as a global expert in retail insight. He started at MVI in 1997 as an Analyst. A prolific writer, Bryan has authored numerous articles online at MVI-Insights and in prestigious third-party publications. An engaging speaker, he has addressed numerous professional meetings.
At MVI, Gildenberg oversees analysis and insight, driving the direction of content with in-depth knowledge and intuitive skills few can match. Additionally, Bryan provides a clear, ever changing and always topical focus on a variety of channels and retailers worldwide.
Before joining MVI, Bryan was involved in marketing analysis and executive education curriculum development. Bryan received his MBA, Summa Cum Laude, from the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College and his undergraduate degree with honors from Churchill College, Cambridge University, Cambridge UK.
The opening general session is just the tip of the iceberg of what promises to be a value packed agenda of networking, education and motivational opportunities. So instead of huddling under a blanket, warm yourself up by thinking ahead and making plans to attend the 14th annual NARMS Conference, Annual Meeting and Exposition in Colorado Springs , CO April 4-7, 2009. You can get more information and register for the conference by visiting the conference center on www.narms.com
Recent content here, on other blogs and the NARMS Webinar Series has centered on how to survive and even thrive in a rotten economy. A recent Wall Street Journal article signaled a beacon of hope in the retail sales sector that serves as a lesson to all. When reading and hearing economic reports, make sure to read past the first paragraph to find the meat of the story. This particular article reported that retail sales for November declined for the fifth straight month, but this figure included automobile sales which offset gains in consumer electronics, sporting goods, books, music, clothing, furniture and food. In short, those are categories that are in the wheel house of NARMS members, who provide world class at-retail marketing and merchandising services. And although growths in these categories are slower than usual, it is a point of light for NARMS members, their customers and for field personnel looking for retail jobs.
Some of these increases can be attributed to deep discounts and seasonal sales, but the activity of CPGs does seem to be holding fast in some sectors. The challenge now is to convince our customers that we can help them rise up out of flat growth and start achieving sales goals consistent with the recent past. For months, fuel prices were blamed for the decrease of growth as consumers were driving less. Consumer driving habits changed so sharply, that gas stations are still experiencing a 15% drop in sales, even though gas prices has fallen and have stabilized for several weeks now. No doubt that will trend back up with the easing of prices, but all evidence suggests that consumers are making less frivolous trips, but still making the drives to the market for essentials.
While looking for opportunities for your company to continue to be successful, it’s often necessary to dig beneath the surface clutter and get a view of the real picture. Until all the factors of glum economic reports and articles are understood and measured, we should take them with a grain of salt. That is not to downgrade serious market concerns being experienced by some of our members, but simply to point out that certain retail sectors that are the specialty of many of our members continue to experience some measure of success. And one last upbeat note from the Journal, “The University of Michigan’s index of consumer sentiment, released Friday, rose to 59.1 this month from 55.3 in November. Consumers’ expectations for inflation over the next year fell to 1.7% from 2.9% in November; the figure had been as high as 5.2% this year.”
It looks like consumers are keeping the faith, we should too.
One of the most exciting days in the history of NARMS International occurred on a Wednesday morning in early July. You may recall that our Association was featured on the air and in an online story on Good Morning America. The story discussed the availability of Mystery Shopping jobs and Merchandising Jobs as a great career alternative for stay-at-home-moms and how NARMS is a great source for retail jobs. It seems that marketers of all types are thinking out-of-the-box when it comes to providing a compelling reason to get customers to choose their product. To illustrate the point, I bring your attention to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal which discussed using Mystery Shoppers to audit churches and places of worship. Before you roll your eyes, take a look at the article. Churches might not be the venue you had in mind, but the story really gets you thinking about areas where and how your company may be able to ad value in alternative channels.
WSJ author Alexandra Alter (I’m not kidding) reports that, “At least half a dozen consulting companies have introduced secret-church-shopper services in recent years. The A Group, a Brentwood, Tenn. , marketing firm for churches and faith-based groups, now conducts mystery-worshipper surveys at 15 to 20 churches a year, up from a handful five years ago. Church marketing company Real Church Solutions in Corona , Calif. , introduced mystery-worshipper services five years ago.”
And it seems that it is not just faith-based organizations that are getting into the religious marketplace. The story tells of a national company sending undercover worshippers to 20 churches. Another firm which specializes in hotels, spas, restaurants and golf courses, has now launched a pilot program for churches. It has already sent in shoppers to Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist and Unitarian congregations in Colorado and plans an expansion to the D.C. area.
The rise in this unique application of Mystery Shopping in Christian Churches is attributed to an increasingly mobile and consumer-oriented society. One survey reported that, “44% of American adults have switched religious affiliations.” Mystery Worshippers are proving to be an effective way for church leaders to assess how their guests, especially the new ones, are reacting to their offerings and to fight against what can only be called declining brand loyalty.
The point for NARMS members is this; at-retail is now being defined differently and more broadly than ever before. It is up to each one of us to find new avenues and different avenues within existing channels in order to bring maximum value. Heaven only knows how far we can go.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about coupons and how they are again becoming part of the CPG landscape. This observation was made before the current financial crisis and subsequent bailout talks on Capitol Hill. Coupons are not the only remedy in a slumping economy. A Wall Street Journal article this week outlined plans by major manufacturers to change the focus of their go-to-market strategy away from premium, high margin items to feature to lower-priced, value products. Consumers are trying to find any way to stretch their food dollar. A challenge to the NARMS membership will be how to aid and assist manufacturers and retailers in merchandising value items to the front and center.
Food companies are hoping to capitalize on the economic crisis by steering consumers to cheaper, high-margin products. According to the Journal, Kellogg Company, Campbell Soup Company and Kraft Foods Inc. have undertaken aggressive campaigns to focus in on the brands that are most associated with value. It’s another opportunity to sing the praises of staple cereals, condensed soups and sandwiches, and Kool-Aid as the ultimate bargain buys. The approach is a plea to those consumers who are concerned about job stability, financial investments, fuel prices and the upcoming winter heating and holiday season.
For the members of NARMS, the question is always, “How can we help?” Now may be the time for Event Marketing companies to promote themselves as a provider who can coordinate with several manufacturers to bundle products into a meal solution sample or event. Can anyone say, “Soup and Sandwich?” MSO’s have an opportunity to keep these products in-stock and make sure that any dollars spent on POS/POP are maximized by making sure of placement. Also look for potential category resets to place more focus on the value brands. Our PIC members may see and need to refocus on the onslaught of smaller express format stores that have chosen the Phoenix area as the battleground. Several major retailers are experimenting with this concept as a way to bring a more local, targeted approach to retailing and also benefit from a more efficient inventory supply chain. And last, but certainly not least, the independent food brokers could see brand new doors opened for members of their portfolio of products as retailers may be looking for better value propositions for consumers.
In the end, history will be the judge as to how the nation survives this latest economic emergency. But in the meantime, our customers are clearly making adjustments in their marketing strategies and it is incumbent on us as world class providers of at-retail marketing services to keep in step and find ways to provide value to our clients as they seek to provide value to their consumers.