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.
  • Posted on: 10/28/2020

    How can shop local be better incentivized?

    All of the things in the article work to bring awareness to shopping small, and all of them work to attract consumers; the key word being “work” because you can’t do something once and call it a day. My company has worked with independent retailers, and the communities that serve them, for over 30 years. That’s also how long we have had our office in St. Charles, Illinois. The St. Charles Business Alliance works tirelessly to bring people to our stores and restaurants all year long. They have had to get creative this year, turning our annual Scarecrow Festival into the Scarecrow Stroll, a smaller, socially-distanced event that brought customers directly to businesses all over town. And the second it was announced that bars and restaurants had to close inside to customers due to new coronavirus restrictions our community went to work on social media to encourage dining via carry-out. Here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter what a retailer or community does if it is only done once. If whatever you try isn’t so great the first time, tweak it and do it again. Build on your successes and give your local events time to grow. A big hurdle some downtown associations have is getting retailers to participate. You would think that every business would jump at the chance for PR and the potential to attract new customers but they don’t, even when they see the successes of their neighbors. The Shop Local, Shop Small movement is strong right now and smart independent retailers, and the communities that support them, recognize this and are doing whatever it takes to ensure they get their slice of the retail sales pie. Shop Small is a daily battle cry, not just something that happens once a year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The key to success for indies right now is visibility. It takes works but it absolutely can be done.
  • Posted on: 10/27/2020

    What does a good shopping experience look like for Christmas 2020?

    I still intend to do some Christmas shopping in stores, but like many other consumers I am not 100 percent sure that everything I order online will arrive as expected. I am not traditionally an early shopper but if anything motivates me to plan ahead it’s 2020. Since stores reopened my company has been speaking with consumers about their in-store experiences. Even those who are comfortable shopping in-person during the pandemic still expect that retailers will keep them safe by enforcing social distancing, the number of people safely allowed in the store, upholding masking mandates, sanitation, etc. They hope that other shoppers will follow masking mandates and wear their masks properly. It’s a lot to think about for the consumer and a heavy responsibility for retailers, some of whom seem to be letting down their guard when it comes to in-store safety. The other thing on consumers' minds is the quality of interaction with store associates. A good in-store experience relies heavily on how associates interact with shoppers, combined with their knowledge of product and ability and willingness to recommend gift ideas. It’s a perfect storm that only the retailer can control.
  • Posted on: 10/26/2020

    What’s the best recipe for holiday ad messaging during a pandemic?

    Thanks, Casey!
  • Posted on: 10/26/2020

    What’s the best recipe for holiday ad messaging during a pandemic?

    I like Gap’s “Dream the Future” campaign but it doesn’t feel very holiday to me. There is also no one in it near or above the age of 50 so I guess that means older people don’t have dreams. Trust me, we do. This year more than ever we need feel good holiday spots, families together, masked in public; families and friends who have to enjoy the holidays via Zoom - commercials that make us feel that although we may be apart we are still together. This year we need hope and the feeling that even though we have been through hell, all is not lost. I love the Saks theme “This is How We Celebrate” because it has so many options. Kohl’s had some fun spots in 2019 without being overly sentimental, like the football themed one with moms rushing the field. Macy’s always nails the holiday story commercial. I am looking forward to what these retailers come up with this year.
  • Posted on: 10/23/2020

    Can Gap prosper without mall stores?

    Go with your strengths. If malls no longer make sense for Gap and Banana Republic then it’s time to try something else. I was a Gap store manager near the beginning of my retail career; it’s sad to say that the merchandise assortment in the stores has not evolved all that much. Banana Republic is known for business and business casual attire that obviously isn’t selling right now. Both may benefit from a new location strategy but it’s more than that; both need to update their merchandise plan, adding things people actually want to wear. When you break it down Old Navy and Gap sell essentially the same styles, the difference is quality and cost. Why would a consumer pay $65+ for basic jeans at Gap when they can get something similar at Old Navy for around $20? Sometimes Gap is its own worst enemy.
  • Posted on: 10/22/2020

    Amazon will pay you to know what you bought somewhere else

    Thanks, Craig! My company works primarily with independent retailers; we also study consumers. I am not a retail analyst so I tend to look at things a little differently.
  • Posted on: 10/22/2020

    Amazon will pay you to know what you bought somewhere else

    Here’s Amazon again pursuing its goal for total world domination. The program says participants are asked to upload 10 “eligible receipts” per month. Eligible of course is subjective with regards to what Amazon needs and my guess is that it will be more than 10. It’s a volunteer program and I am certain a lot of people will be happy to sell their privacy for “up to $10 a month” not realizing what it means, or has the potential to mean. Personally, what privacy I have left isn’t worth up to 10 bucks a month.
  • Posted on: 10/21/2020

    Will Lowe’s customers ‘gift’ their homes for the holidays?

    Craft retailers are killing it!
  • Posted on: 10/21/2020

    Will Lowe’s customers ‘gift’ their homes for the holidays?

    “Gifting” the home. I don’t even know what that means. LOL. Decorating? If Lowe’s thinks we should go heavy on decorations this year because we are spending more time there then okay, just say that. I will probably bring more holiday cheer into our home this year because I have the time. And because it’s harder to feel festive when you aren’t sure if you will be able to spend time with friends and family. One of Lowe’s strengths is sharing holiday decor ideas, so expanding categories and adding new lines, along with the right marketing, will inspire consumers to go big this year.
  • Posted on: 10/20/2020

    Will Panera’s climate-friendly labels spur sales?

    It’s a start. We’re becoming more and more aware of other important factors that affect our world and the foods we eat, like sustainability and fair trade. How many of us think about climate change when ordering food? Panera has been on a campaign for a while now to get consumers to think differently about food choices. This is the next step.
  • Posted on: 10/19/2020

    Retailers need to prep for in-store COVID conflicts

    Judging by the posts and comments on community Facebook groups as of late I think this is going to get worse as we get closer to the election and the holidays. It should never be up to a front-line employee to address or diffuse an angry situation but we know that it happens. I am glad that the NRF Foundation is offering guidelines and training, unfortunately in some situations it will take more than that.
  • Posted on: 10/19/2020

    Should local book stores be taking on Amazon?

    Independent book store owners are sharp and strong retailers, they are prepared to fight for their businesses and have always been vocal about it. I like that they have banded together to launch a “going out FOR business” campaign, and I love that it is spearheaded by the American Booksellers Association, which incidentally has other pro-indie campaigns going on as well. Too many associations leave retailers to fend for themselves. Do campaigns that guilt consumers work? Not all the time and they can be perceived as whiny. In this instance, however, the ABA is trying to point out what will be lost - jobs, community, tax dollars - when a local retailer closes up shop. Desperate times call for desperate measures and these retailers are fighting for their lives. When a corporate store closes people lose jobs, but when an indie store closes the owner stands to lose everything. The #BoxedOut campaign is a wake up call to consumers to support the communities that support them. I believe it is worth the risk.
  • Posted on: 10/16/2020

    Will Black Friday be the day customers buy IKEA’s environmental promise?

    So IKEA wants to change the direction of Black Friday? Good luck with that. The Buy Back program is a good idea but the timing is wrong - consumers here still like Black Friday in whatever form it takes. IKEA already knows this because the program isn’t happening in the U.S.
  • Posted on: 10/15/2020

    Is YouTube a shopping powerhouse waiting to happen?

    A lot of this conversation needs to center around usage. YouTube is the place to go for watching videos and learning new things. That’s how it is perceived; it’s not where we go to shop. A tag I can click to buy whatever I am watching might be helpful, but I’m not sure if that would be helpful or annoying. I pay the YouTube monthly fee so my grandson can play games without ads. I wonder if consumers will be able to avoid being sold to as well?
  • Posted on: 10/14/2020

    Is a new store concept the start of something big(ger) for Aldi?

    People who love Aldi, LOVE Aldi. They will be thrilled with the chain’s new larger format. It will attract new shoppers as well. There is a new Aldi being built not too far from my house and I intend to be there when it opens to observe and interview consumers on how they feel about the new store. Aldi has a good read on the consumer; adding substantial space for fresh foods makes perfect sense, especially now. We are cooking/eating at home more than ever before and consumers want choice. Buying all the groceries they need in one place makes it easier.

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