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: 08/03/2020

    Is the future of malls outside?

    Pop-up open-air malls are fun and unexpected; town centers are more attractive because they mimic organic shopping areas that mix stores and restaurants. Right now, both are more attractive than traditional malls but that doesn’t mean enclosed malls are going anywhere. This will obviously work in some places and not in others. In Chicago, for example, summer is too hot and humid to comfortably shop outside. During winter we deal with snow and extreme cold. Neither situation is ideal. But we are not in ideal times and customers are more willing to trade comfort for safety.
  • Posted on: 07/31/2020

    Nov. 2021: How should retail plan for a return to normal?

    November 2021. Great. I just read that the consensus among meeting planners is that small events won’t return until mid-2021 and larger events by the end of 2021. There are so many things to consider beyond what’s identified in this article. Can storefronts, for example, be converted to those that fully open like many restaurants already have to bring the inside out? The good news buried under the bad is that retailers have the ability to brainstorm and plan how they will approach everything until we return to normal. I would really like to see a virtual meeting (or meetings) between a variety of retailers, large and small, to come up with a list of best practices during the pandemic that could be shared with the entire retail community. Pivoting will still be essential. It would be helpful to so many to learn from the successes, failures and suggestions of individual retail companies.
  • Posted on: 07/30/2020

    Is a drive-through-only store the shape of things to come for Wawa?

    While working in the c-store industry we learned that men outspend women in c-stores, part of this is because the female customer tends to be more hesitant to get out of the car for safety reasons. Wawa’s drive-through takes care of that hesitation. Walgreens and CVS recently opened their drive-throughs to customers who wish to purchase more than prescriptions. This move by Wawa makes sense, but I’m not so sure that the limited assortment offered will be enough. It will be interesting to see how it goes.
  • Posted on: 07/29/2020

    Retailers hunt for spare change

    I was still in college. I showed up at the fancy joint in bell bottoms and whatever graphic t-shirt was popular at the time. The snotty salesperson took one look and assumed I had no money. Two hundred dimes are heavy but watching her count them was so worth it!
  • Posted on: 07/29/2020

    Retailers hunt for spare change

    I once purchased a $200 coat in unrolled dimes because the salesperson at an upscale department store had been remarkably rude to me, but I really wanted the coat. I understand the value of coins. #truestory It is completely understandable that businesses are avoiding cash due to the pandemic but at the same time using my AmEx to pay for a $2 cup of coffee makes no sense to me. Finding ways to get shoppers to pay in cash isn’t that hard if you offer an incentive. Merely putting it out there that cash is preferable and here’s why would work. I bet that in a 15 minute brainstorming session a smart retail team could come up with at least a dozen ways to entice customers to pay with coins.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2020

    Neiman Marcus launches digital hub to bring the in-store experience online

    If customers can’t come to you, or aren’t comfortable doing that yet, it makes sense to go to them. This reminds me of the program Saks rolled out a few years ago. It too involved personalized shopping online as well as dedicated custom curated boutique pages that associates could use to help customers shop. We’re all in survival mode. Retailers are pulling out all the stops, testing and implementing whatever they can to draw customers to their stores both physically and online.
  • Posted on: 07/24/2020

    Has retail permanently downsized?

    This isn’t just about stores that closed because they needed to close, we’re beyond that. But permanently is a long time and no one knows how the retail stores/chains that survived will fare in the long run. We all hope they rebound, no matter how long it takes. Retail employees at all levels have been hit hard. People seek corporate stability when job hunting so future recruiting will be tough, especially for mid to higher level positions. That being said, the entire job market isn’t looking so good right now. The affects of the pandemic will be with us long after it is over.
  • Posted on: 07/23/2020

    How can retail advance more women to leadership supply chain roles?

    How about just freaking do it?
  • Posted on: 07/22/2020

    How can retailers cope with anxiety about the future?

    This is all good advice. As a speaker, I remind myself daily that my company didn’t cause this, and to have patience to see it through. My partner Rich and I stay close to clients and to retailers, offering help and support where we can. We laugh a lot, even over Zoom from our own bubbles. Patience and foresight are important; what can we do that’s new, different and relevant? Fear of the unknown can kill a company. Take time to breathe.
  • Posted on: 07/22/2020

    It is a different year. Walmart is closing on Thanksgiving.

    Good for Walmart! Times are different now. Family is important, holidays are important, and no one needs to shop on Thanksgiving. There’s a benefit here, too: Staying closed on Thanksgiving makes Black Friday more important. I remember when Thanksgiving night was used to create a shopping plan of attack for the next day. We’d look at ads online and in the newspapers, lining up where to go and when. Black Friday may be different this year -- and the jury’s out as to what that means -- but the holidays aren’t going anywhere and we still need to shop for gifts. I predict Black Friday will still be a big deal.
  • Posted on: 07/20/2020

    Why does it take a crisis for retailers to get innovative?

    Do you mean why does it take a crisis for BIG retailers to get innovative? Because independents have been innovative all along. For them, pandemic or not, every day is do or die. It’s their money that’s invested in the store and they don’t have the deep pockets that allow them to sit around. Or sit it out. Changing the dynamics of a big corporation is like steering a cruise ship. Or maybe the Titanic. Companies like Target and Walmart operate like indies. These retailers have been able to bypass the layers of meetings and committees and get the job done.
  • Posted on: 07/20/2020

    How will digital transform trade shows?

    I have presented at, and have been an attendee at several virtual conferences. This week my company will exhibit at Action In Retail. Some virtual events have more bells and whistles than others, but the content is strong. Still, watching videos all day without live interaction with others is tough. Do I think digital will transform trade shows? Nope. It will in the short term because it’s all we have right now. Certainly some of the technology will continue to be used after the pandemic, but for the most part I believe trade shows will go back to pre COVID-19 times. Events will be smarter and safer but in-person trade shows will prevail.
  • Posted on: 07/17/2020

    Should workers accept pay cuts in exchange for working remotely?

    Absolutely not. Get less pay for doing the exact same job? And working harder because working from home sounds great but it’s no picnic? You disrupt your home space and are always on call. No, WFH employees should receive equal pay for equal work. With a stipend to equip their home office with the technology needed to do the job.
  • Posted on: 07/16/2020

    The Queer Eye for the Walmart guy

    Walmart customers aren't just the crazies you see on PeopleofWalmart.com, nor are they only low-income shoppers. Walmart customers come from every category of consumer. Walmart has really stepped up its game - I love the Queer Eye guys and I love this new line. I think other consumers will, too.
  • Posted on: 07/15/2020

    Are subscriptions a winning strategy to get through the pandemic?

    I have tried several subscription services; none of them held my interest for long, but times are different now. Like other consumers I am looking for things that make me smile, a mystery box of goodies can do that. An uptrend during the pandemic makes sense, let’s see how long the subscription companies can make that trend last once it’s over. Judging from COVID-19 updates they have plenty of time to make it stick.

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