Gwen Morrison

Partner, Candezent & Retail Cities Consultant

Gwen’s career is focused on the intersection of retail experience, brand activation and innovation.
As CEO for WPP’s Global Retail Practice, she spent over 15 years helping clients and agencies navigate the dynamic retail environment across the world with focus on shopper behavior, technology transformation, format development and corporate responsibility. She has worked with major international brands across CPG, Retail, Banking and Automotive.

Gwen has led industry research in emerging markets and has written for business publications such as HBR and Brandweek. She serves on the editorial board of Journal of Brand Strategy. A frequent speaker at international conferences including National Retail Federation, CES, and Retail Leaders Forum in Sydney Gwen also guest lectures at Northwestern University, U of C Berkley and University of Arizona. Gwen serves on the Advisory Board of Fashion Group.

As a partner with Candezant advisory, Gwen consults retail tech start-up companies. She is a senior advisor to Open Voice Network and co-chairs their Commerce Community.

To learn more, visit:

Sr. Advisor to The Open Voice Network
  • Posted on: 11/01/2022

    Can Marks & Spencer help Target replicate its designer collab magic in grocery?

    Great novelty items to add to holiday gift baskets, stockings, etc. Would be fun if they did a Target accessories line for M&S in the UK to compliment the collaboration.
  • Posted on: 10/25/2022

    Does Krispy Kreme fill a hole in McDonald’s menu?

    McDonald's has always studied menu "day-parts" and understands that there is a high percentage of their meals consumed in cars. This is an obvious play to take share from Dunkin' and serve consumers who can't give up their morning donut.
  • Posted on: 10/20/2022

    Will adult pajamas prove a good fit for The Children’s Place?

    Why not? Hanna Anderson has been doing a great job with this - matching PJs for the whole family!
  • Posted on: 10/20/2022

    What would adding smell to virtual reality tech mean to retail?

    A number of years ago (in 2015), Jim Beam launched Devil's Cut bourbon, with an on-premise VR experience, partially because of the cross-over between their target and early tech adopters. To demonstrate the distilling process that made for a truly premium bourbon, bar patrons were offered VR headsets that took them on a roller coaster ride through the pipes of the still, through a flaming lid and into the barrel. By placing a shot of Devil's Cut under their noses, the immersive experience included scent just as they were taking the head sets off, and then of course, taste. In situations where the actual product could not be available, it will be interesting to introduce virtual scent. But the mix of virtual and physical in the Devil's Cut case seems more powerful.
  • Posted on: 10/20/2022

    Is Circle K about to change the legal weed game in a big way?

    My first reaction is that the convenience format has had to overcome decades of negative "vice store" imagery. But the fact that this is medical marijuana makes for an interesting offer. Dispensaries have strict procedures for qualifying doctor authorizations, etc. In a test like this, they'll need to be consider how core customers perceive the introduction of cannabis to their local c-store. For example, would some be fearful to get their gas at a co-located dispensary?
  • Posted on: 10/19/2022

    HomeGoods is booking showroom weekend getaways for $29.99 a night

    This reminds me of the "never been done before" campaigns that came from Target in the late '90s to early 2000s. For example their Bullseye Inn in the Hamptons which also had a "give back to the community" dimension. These clever, experiential ideas expand the "brand-width" and offer lots of social media buzz.
  • Posted on: 10/18/2022

    Are pop-ups ready to become a permanent fixture in retail?

    Pop-ups should be viewed as a mix of event marketing, awareness campaign and trial. With new technologies being baked into physical pop-up solutions, brands can enjoy "nimble retail" that pumps out social media and also delivers traffic/customer analytics.
  • Posted on: 10/06/2022

    Should Rite Aid put its stores under lock and key?

    We may see a future where AI is used for customer recognition and weapon detection. There are already examples of these tools being used to solve related issues. Perhaps there could be a loyalty card link for individual customers to be identified as they enter, much like an ATM lobby. Despite some of the ethical issues implied here, the alternative is underserved communities.
  • Posted on: 08/30/2022

    Should grocers make a big deal out of freezing prices?

    When retailers demonstrate they are on the side of their shoppers, they both help customers manage their wallet and make a positive impact for the broader community. There are well documented cases of Bim in Turkey and Biedronka in Poland committing to holding prices in the early 2000s when their respective economies went through periods of hyper-inflation. However, recent anti-trust charges waged against Biedronka illustrate the slippery slope when a retailer makes these pledges into a promotion. Billed as an " anti-inflation" campaign, Polish shoppers were reportedly required to locate items at a lower price elsewhere and purchase them to get a reduced price from Biedronka. That's not taking the side of shoppers.
  • Posted on: 08/27/2022

    Are feedback requests worth it, even when they’re annoying?

    The research suggests that by offering a feedback opportunity, consumers have a proclivity to transact or upgrade. Much of the discussion shares our personal experiences of being annoyed by feedback options. It would be interesting to dig deeper and understand if the negative feelings follow end-of-call options, or a follow-up text, which often triggers charges. Perhaps there is a framework for grouping categories that warrant feedback and others that simply annoy shoppers.
  • Posted on: 08/27/2022

    Are feedback requests worth it, even when they’re annoying?

    I think most experts here agree that they personally find feedback requests annoying. The study itself is interesting in that it concludes that simply offering the opportunity to give feedback improves customers' propensity to buy or upgrade. This may warrant more digging into. There is always a concern that the segments who take the time to give feedback mat not be representative of the larger group.
  • Posted on: 08/25/2022

    Salvage stores achieve sales growth by selling ‘unsellable’ goods

    There is an element of fun for shoppers who enter a store that offers "mystery merchandise." Coupled with the rational need to save money on food and household goods, the salvage store may be increasing in relevance. I'd expect these formats may see benefits to amping up the experience by adding more visual cues to attract shoppers to various categories and deliver some playful messages.
  • Posted on: 08/24/2022

    Is Kohl’s putting too many of its eggs in Sephora’s basket?

    The proof in the pudding is whether shoppers purchasing Sephora at Kohl's are transacting in multiple departments. I agree with the comments below that other merchandise categories need to improve. The overall format is dated and aside for some brands like Simply Vera, there is not much inspiration. It would be interesting if they would honor the Amazon return Kohl's Cash on Sephora product, at least for a limited time to get more shoppers into the store.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2022

    Are digital-only coupons discriminatory against the elderly and poor?

    I hesitate to stereotype seniors as less able to access tech including digital coupons. For some it is difficult, for others it is not. Personally, I have struggled to " get the deal" using my phone. Promotional offers need to fit into the cadence of shopping. Once we are asked to stop in the aisle, pull out our phone, get to the app (often with poor connectivity in the store), and add the coupon to our loyalty account, the squeeze is not worth the juice. For those with limited data plans, it really is an imposition and can be unaffordable. Retailers and brands should evaluate what the experience of redeeming an offer is to the full range of shoppers.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2022

    Lowe’s gives full-time store staff the option of a four-day work week

    It sounds like a move that will be popular with current sales associates and future hires. What is not stated, however, is how Lowe's will balance staff shifts to fully cover weekends. Also, a four day week implies fewer hours and there may be a threshold for maintaining full benefits. Many retailers have been criticized for scheduling employees for just under a full compensation level.

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