PROFILE

David Katz

EVP & CMO, Randa Accessories
David J. Katz is a "LinkedIn Top Voice in Retail," a best-selling author, a frequent public speaker, an alchemist, and the chief marketing officer at Randa Accesories, a leading multi-national consumer products company, and the world's largest men's accessories business. His specialty is applying insights, data, story-telling, technology and analytics to influence consumer behavior. He helps retailers, brands and suppliers create successful outcomes in evolving markets. David has "hands on" experience with P&L, M&A, Leadership Development and Digital Transformation. He has ongoing collaborations with global brands including Levi's, Polo Ralph Lauren, Dickies, Tommy Hilfiger, and Columbia Sportswear. And he works closely with leading retailers including Macy's, Kohl's, JCPenney, Amazon, Nordstrom, Walmart, Target, Costco, Hudson's Bay, Liverpool, Debenhams, David Jones, Printemps, & El Cortes Ingles. Named a fashion industry "Change Agent" by Women's Wear Daily and a "Menswear Mover" by MR Magazine, he has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, and other publications. A frequent public speaker, he is co-author of the best-selling book "Design for Response: Creative Direct Marketing That Works," and has written many articles on marketing and consumer behavior. David is a graduate of Tufts University and the Harvard Business School in neuroscience and marketing. To learn more, visit: www.randa.net
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  • Posted on: 10/28/2019

    What makes voice assistants creepy?

    There's a fine line between awe and eww. Part of the "creepiness" of voice assistants lies in the "uncanny valley." Masahiro Mori's thesis is that as a robot or voice assistant becomes increasingly "human" observers' emotional response to the voice becomes increasingly positive and empathetic, until it reaches a point of "too human" when the response quickly becomes strong distaste and "creepy."
  • Posted on: 08/29/2019

    Amazon seeks more third-party price control

    It's a matter of trust, mistrust and anti-trust. Price optimization is a powerful tool for third-party sellers, a double-sided tool providing increases in data, consumer loyalty, and market control for Amazon. Amazon can, and will, use this tool to leverage vendors and create competitive brands and products. Amazon is also offering independent merchants additional marketing support, product reviews and prominent display. With a catch. In exchange for providing these tools, Amazon gains the right to purchase a merchant’s brand at any time for a fixed price. The program -- "Accelerator" -- which allows brand rights to be bought for a fixed price on 60 days' notice, it is part of a push by Amazon to obtain a stable of exclusive brands for the platform. It is the first selling program that allows Amazon to obtain direct control over independent brands that sell on its website. One contract, reviewed by the Wall Street Journal, marked confidential, grants Amazon the irrevocable right “to acquire all of the right, title, and interest in and to each of the Exclusive Brands, including all goodwill associated with such Exclusive Brands.” The contract sets the price at $10,000, but says designs, patents and trade secrets will remain with the seller after the sale. Sellers in the program may sell the same product elsewhere under a different brand name and keep rights to brands they haven’t entered in the Accelerator program.
  • Posted on: 08/29/2019

    Lord & Taylor to be sold to Le Tote

    This is an acquisition that would have been unthinkable even a few years ago: a clothing rental service buying a two-century-old department store. Le Tote even claims to have a plan to fix the legacy department store model, open more doors, and create "hubs" for subscribers. "'The idea is to take advantage of the store locations to give our customers a way to shop online and offline,' Le Tote CEO Rakesh Tondon said to Business of Fashion. 'The goal is to learn from these stores in the next six to 12 months and roll out more stores in the country — taking this regional chain to be a national chain.'" The irony goes further. HBC sold the Lord & Taylor iconic and flagship store on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue to WeWork. WeWork is rumored to be in negotiations for Amazon.com to lease the entire building.
  • Posted on: 08/28/2019

    Innovation: Are retailers trying to do too much?

    Beware of S.O.S: "Shiny Object Syndrome." Testing new ideas which, if successful, would add value and reduce friction for customers is a great idea. Rearranging deck chairs, not so much. Too often industry leaders chase new "shiny" ideas without considering the long-term value to their customers. Are you fixing something that is broken (long checkout lines, missing inventory), or providing added convenience (faster delivery, curb-side pick up, digital payments)? Most importantly, do you have the fundamentals of product assortment, inventory, and ease of shopping optimized? Which products and services are of most value to YOUR distinct customers?
  • Posted on: 08/23/2019

    Will the next recession devastate mall-based retailers?

    Never waste a good recession. For industry leaders and disrupters, a recession provides an opportunity for growth in market share... for those less fit to survive, recessions are extinction events. The meteor is coming; no one is sure where or when it will hit.
  • Posted on: 08/23/2019

    Direct-to-consumer brands aren’t so direct anymore

    Speaking from our own investment portfolio's perspective, we agree. "digital native" does not mean "digital only." Our portfolio includes Stantt (custom shirts), Baboon (travelware), Knot Standard (Bespoke Tailored Clothing), Harlem Capital Partners, and, until recently Greats (Sneakers) - we sold Greats to Steve Madden last week. Many of our DNVB (Digitally Native Vertical Brands) effectively use their own retail stores, pop-ups and collaborations, and even wholesale retail partnerships (with Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's, Mitchells) for brand awareness and customer acquisition.
  • Posted on: 08/09/2019

    Is it a stretch for Target to carry Levi’s pricier red tab jeans?

    Consumers no longer show loyalty to a single retailer or brand. The Levi's consumer shops Macy's, and Amazon, and Marshall's... and Target. Placing the product where, when and how the customer wants it is essential. Whether other retailers will push back today on brands that cross channels is yet to be seen. Historically, department stores punish brands that sell to mid- or mass-market channels. Only the strongest brands can exist cross-channel, and certainly Levi's is one of the strongest brands available. Times have changed, so must brands and retailers.
  • Posted on: 08/07/2019

    Walmart trains quarterly for active shooter events

    Here's a link to the Department of Homeland Security's "active shooter" booklet.
  • Posted on: 08/07/2019

    Would a fashion collaboration work for Starbucks?

    I think the challenge of relevant brand extension vs. "swag" is critical here, with an emphasis on relevant. Certainly the Starbucks brand is powerful and wide-reaching, whether is this translates to relevance and authenticity for home goods and apparel is a slippery slope. I would advise caution....
  • Posted on: 01/28/2019

    What do shoppers really want? Do retailers have a clue?

    In-store experience must be RELEVANT to the consumer, and must offer one or more of these attributes: choice, convenience, or cost (the best assortment, the best curation, the best prices, and/or the best service). Poorly-conceived experiences, however, will continue to proliferate at retailers who just can't see the goal line.
  • Posted on: 01/23/2019

    Will a different kind of ‘innovation hub’ open the future to food growth opportunities?

    Innovation culture at successful legacy companies is linear. One thing leads to another. Efficiency and optimization are highly valued. And innovation strategy is deliberate. Everyone knows where the company has been, where it is, where it is headed, and the plans to get there. Start-up culture is nonlinear. It values novelty. Start-up innovation is often inefficient at its onset, and strategies are emergent -- they bubble up from all directions. Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, once said; "start-up innovation requires that you to throw yourself off a cliff ... and build the plane on the way down."  For incumbents, the larger you are the faster you fall. It’s a common misconception that legacy cultures fail to identify non-linear innovations, that they’re stuck in the “old” way of doing things. In our experience, this is plain wrong. The real problem is that most non-linear innovation does not serve current customers, it disrupts the legacy process — which drives the bulk of the sales and cash flow — and it is often a big distraction for little immediate gain. Conversely, start-up cultures are inspired by disruption. And these teams are usually free from the encumbrance of comp sales and increased profits that the other cultures face. Legacy and start-up cultures fiercely compete for limited resources — A-level talent, capital, and technology. They don’t play nicely in the sandbox together. The solution: create an environment where both cultures will thrive, and separate the opposing forces.
  • Posted on: 01/22/2019

    Will Amazon succeed with brand sampling rooted in machine learning?

    Amazon posted a job opening for a senior software engineer, defining the targeted sampling program as: “Free samples of new products are sent to customers selected using Machine Learning, thus ensuring a higher likelihood of conversion than display ads. The program has a challenging mix of problems involving targeting, fulfillment, customer and vendor experience, and cross-campaign learning.” Amazon is America’s third largest advertising platform. With compelling data regarding not only “likes” or “searches” or “preferences” but actual purchases, the addition of physical product sampling is a powerful tool and a major competitive advantage.
  • Posted on: 01/21/2019

    For relevancy’s sake: a tale of two mall upgrades

    In-mall, as with in-store, experiences must be more than theater, they must be relevant and useful to their consumers. Examples include:
    • The Canada Goose see-through freezer dressing rooms, where customers can try on outerwear and step into a 12-degrees-below-zero locker. This is a selfie-magnet that elevates consumer experience, brand awareness and sell-through
    • The Casper Dreamery cost $25 for a 45-minute nap in a cool, quiet compartment with fresh sheets, pajamas, eye masks and a break from the daily grind. No hard sell, just relaxation reinforcing the value of quality sleep. Note: you can’t purchase a mattress at the Dreamery.
    • The Nike “House of Innovation“ is fueled by digital commerce tools. Customers can text to have clothing delivered to dressing rooms in the size and color of their choice, schedule appointments with an in-house stylist or fitness expert, scan mannequins for product information, use the “scan and go” mobile checkout, or pick up reserved items at digital lockers, unlocked with their phone.
    • Showfields was imagined and built around customer experience. Housed in a historic New York City four story building, the store is a cavalcade of ever-changing workshops, brands and classifications filled with online and offline engagement. Similar to B8ta and Macy's Market, brands can lease turn-key space within the store.
    Poorly conceived experiences, however, will continue to proliferate at retailers who just can't see the goal line. Compare the winning models above with feeble attempts at relevance via barber shops, espresso bars, pool tables, and photo ops. And then there's Amazon 4-star... the odd mix of brands, products and cashier-less shopping is designed around data collection rather than customer experience. I anticipate that Amazon's human and artificial intelligence will make these stores more consumer-centric over time.
  • Posted on: 01/21/2019

    Did regional constraints doom Shopko?

    First, online sales get the buzz. Brick-and-mortar gets the dollars. E-commerce will remain a minority of total retail sales, somewhere between 10 and 15 percent of total. The vast majority of sales, over 85 percent, will continue to take place in brick-and-mortar stores. Second, regional players need to leverage their distinct knowledge of their consumer’s needs and provide unique products, services and experiences tailored to that audience. It’s about localized choice, cost and convenience. Finally, as with all other retailers, regional players must have the foresight, fortitude and fearlessness to disrupt their own identity and legacy models.
  • Posted on: 09/07/2018

    J.Crew makes the jump to Amazon’s marketplace

    Previously Mickey Drexler, J.Crew’s former CEO, had said the company would not sell on Amazon because, “Amazon takes every bestseller and puts it into their private label collection.” Whether this new strategy will acquire new customers for J.Crew, or cannibalize their existing base, is yet to be determined. Notably, Nike recently made some of their products available on Amazon, Kohl's has Amazon shops inside some of their stores and Sears, Roebuck and Co. will install tires purchased from Amazon. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Brett shared plans to make the brand more accessible. He said the company will sell clothes at retailers such as U.K. department store John Lewis & Partners and Canadian Hudson's Bay Company.

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