PROFILE

Georganne Bender

Principal, KIZER & BENDER Speaking
Georganne Bender is a consumer anthropologist, retail strategist, keynote speaker, author, consultant and one-half of the KIZER & BENDER Speaking team. Georganne and her partner, Rich Kizer, are contributors to MSNBC’s television program Your Business. They made Meetings & Conventions Magazine's list of Meeting Planners Favorite Keynote Speakers, have been named two of Retailing's Most Influential People, and have been listed among the Top 40 Omnichannel Retail Influencers and the Top 50 Retail Influencers since 2014. Their award-winning Retail Adventures blog was named the Top Retail Blog by PR Newswire Media, and is consistently listed among important retail and small business blogs. KIZER & BENDER are partners and emcees for the popular Independent Retailer Conference. Any speaker can talk about consumers, but KIZER & BENDER actually become them. In addition to yearly focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and intensive on-site studies, their research includes posing as every kind of customer you can imagine; and maybe even a few that you can't. The result of their research is literally straight from the customers’ mouth: solid ground level intelligence you can use to better serve your own customers. KIZER & BENDER are married, just not to each other. 2018 marks their 28th anniversary as a speaking team.
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  • Posted on: 06/05/2020

    The face mask rule is now simply a suggestion at some H-E-B stores

    Maybe the folks at H-E-B should read the RetailWire article on whether retailers should be held liable for workers sickened by COVID-19. No, it’s not time to relax the mandate for wearing masks in stores. As I write this I am watching the numbers of new people who have died due to COVID-19 going across the crawl at the bottom of the TV screen. How can this be a good idea? The H-E-B spokesperson said the retailer strongly encourages the use of masks by all customers in all stores. Good. Now, follow your own advice and continue to protect associates and customers.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2020

    Do mobile shoppers disclose more valuable data about themselves?

    Now that I think about it, everything that I do on my phone seems more personal. Even though 90 percent of my business correspondence happens on my phone I still view it as a personal tool. My laptop and desktop computers are for business things I can’t do on my phone. People do employ an invisible bubble in public when engrossed in whatever is happening on our phones. And why not? It’s where we text with friends, use emojis, watch videos, and hang out on social media. It’s no wonder we are more open when we use them.
  • Posted on: 06/02/2020

    Do retailers need to go beyond ‘reopening playbooks’?

    Thanks, Brandon! Shoppers are resilient.
  • Posted on: 06/02/2020

    Do retailers need to go beyond ‘reopening playbooks’?

    My personal observation is that most shoppers are more interested in being back in stores than they are in all the safety measures. In Illinois masks are required, and although things about shopping right now are different, customers seem to have adapted to the changes and have moved on. I visited a Von Maur department store in Wisconsin where masks are recommended; I saw few shoppers wearing them and social distancing for the most part was not being practiced. Store associates were all masked, and safety protocols were in place, but customers seemed oblivious to everything but shopping. And maybe that’s the thing: We have read so much about what retailers are doing to keep us safe that we just assume we will be fine on the sales floor. For all of the pontificating about how retail will be impacted forever you would think it’s a whole new world on the sales floor. It’s not. Obviously, someone forgot to tell the customer.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2020

    Is it safe to bring back food sampling?

    Las Vegas casinos are already brainstorming ways to bring back buffets. At first pass no one thought that would happen. Sampling has always been a big part of the shopping experience. Individually packaged samples might be the norm for a while, but I have no doubt that grocers will find a safe way to bring back this customer favorite. Crowded aisles and all.
  • Posted on: 05/28/2020

    Retailers focus on making safe spaces for customers and associates

    I’m with you 100 percent. There needs to be one mandate on how this is handled that is followed by every state and community. It’s far too confusing right now.
  • Posted on: 05/28/2020

    Retailers focus on making safe spaces for customers and associates

    There is a lot of confusion out there as state and even community guidelines vary. In most cases, retailers must do their own research to find what is required, and finding the most recent mandates isn’t always easy. The line between perception and science is blurred. In every store I have visited the signs are up, social distancing guidelines are in place, frequent sanitation is happening, and mask rules are clearly defined but it’s still up to shoppers to follow them. It’s tough to be a retailer right now. And it’s stressful. In addition to worrying about reopening the store they have also become responsible for keeping store associates and customers safe. As gatekeepers they need to ensure everyone follows the rules. It’s exhausting to think about. Right now the trick is staying sane while wearing 1,000 hats.
  • Posted on: 05/27/2020

    Bookstores could be in store for a post-lockdown boom

    The indie retailers who survive the COVID-19 shutdown will be the ones who aggressively market their stores, sell on social media and online, and offer personal shoppers and curb service. Pre-COVID-19 Town House Books, our local indie, did a wonderful job of keeping customers close through in-store events, book launches, readings, kids events, live music, and support of local authors. Its cafe, serving all homemade food and baked goods, is a local hotspot. COVID-19 slowed them down but the owner came back with e-books, a new service that allows them to compete with Amazon and Barnes & Noble, online ordering and curb service. Bookstores can keep close to customers by engaging them via Facebook Live, online book clubs, asking readers to post book reviews on the store's social media, consistent emails - Barnes & Noble sends one daily - and more. There are indie retailers out there who are selling more online now then they ever did with their brick-and-mortar stores because of the way they chose to engage shoppers. Who says bookstores can’t do that as well?
  • Posted on: 05/26/2020

    Should Apple and other stores require shopper temperature checks?

    I just read an article about how quickly COVID-19 can spread in offices, restaurants and stores, followed by a segment on GMA about reopened states and COVID-19 rebound. Even though we enter new phases, and are loosening what is required, it doesn’t mean the virus is gone. Temperature checks in stores, or at mall entrances, is a good idea, and masks should be required as well. We are talking about saving lives here, being inconvenienced is the least of our worries. Read up on how theme parks like Six Flags and Universal Studios are readying to reopen. Retailers need a similar commitment.
  • Posted on: 05/22/2020

    Who wins/loses if Amazon pushes Prime Day to September?

    Thanks, George! We are all certainly learning how to pivot.
  • Posted on: 05/22/2020

    Who wins/loses if Amazon pushes Prime Day to September?

    The real question is will consumers be ready for a big spend in July? Probably not. Some states may not be fully open and federal pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA) runs out on July 25. Will we be back to work? The near future is uncertain; we will still be cautious about what’s next. Amazon Prime Day in September won’t have a big effect on Back to School if school’s aren’t open. But Amazon Prime Day in September, coupled with all the other retailer promotions that will coincide with it, is close to Black Friday and the holiday selling season. All that “Buy now!” shopping when consumers have been conserving cash could be overwhelming.
  • Posted on: 05/21/2020

    Bob Mariano has plans to create a great ‘next-gen’ grocery store

    Having worked with Bob Mariano I can say that whatever he sets his mind to do will happen. And it will be good. Mariano's in Chicago enjoys the same reputation as Wegmans does on the East Coast. Before the pandemic shoppers enjoyed the wine bar and live entertainment and stayed to shop. Open food prep and tasting classes will be a challenge but I have no doubt Bob will figure it out.
  • Posted on: 05/20/2020

    Will face masks be a lifeline for apparel retail?

    Face masks are the new underwear, we all need them. I don’t think masks will be a lifeline for apparel retailers but they are an important accessory in the "now normal." Donating and repurposing materials to make them is an act of good will that consumers will reward.
  • Posted on: 05/20/2020

    IKEA’s play fort ads illustrate what’s good about times like these

    I could get behind Lucky Brand’s “Paint Your Dog’s Fingernails” but I don’t think my pup would be a willing participant. Seriously though, their #WinFromHome campaign is an immersive winner. While we appreciated them early on, we are all over the sincere and syrupy COVID-19 commercials. This new brand of quarantine campaign is just what we need right now to lighten the mood. I may check out the IKEA couch fort manual. I wonder if our couch will be missing any critical parts...
  • Posted on: 05/19/2020

    Wegmans breaks price increase news to its customers

    I agree with Ian Percy; the general public has no clue as to how a supply chain works. All they hear is the media screaming about price hikes, but not the reason why. The media makes it sound like retailers are raising prices just because they can when that's not the case at all. Wegmans' up front communication with its customers is no surprise to me; the retailer has always been a class act. Telling your customers why things are changing, even temporarily, is a smart move. Loyal customers want to be informed.

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