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Katherine Black

  • Posted on: 01/02/2018

    Is Walmart aiming for a new customer with personalized text shopping?

    Walmart has tried before to win an upscale customer with little success (remember "win, play, show"?). The current strategy has greater potential because the focus on attracting new customers can be quite segregated from its core proposition. However, it is essential that they do not ignore the core customer. If they continue to invest in their core customer and assort their stores for that customer and treat this as an additional growth area, I think that it can be successful. If not, as in times past, the pick-up they get from higher-end consumers will never offset the run-off from the core.
  • Posted on: 12/12/2017

    Will meal kits be a hit on Walmart’s virtual shelves?

    This move shows Walmart's commitment to broadening its customer base. They have publicly stated that they want to attract a more upscale customer to drive future growth and their online platform is a focused way of doing so. If they offer innovative brands and partnerships, primarily through their online platform, I think that they can avoid the perils of the prior "win, play, show" strategy that they undertook many years ago which attracted a marginally larger upscale customer base but led to many more of their loyal, value-oriented shoppers leaving. I think that the key problem is building buzz with this new customer for Walmart's online platform. This type of partnership gives them some helpful PR, but they will need a much larger campaign for the whole strategy to scale successfully. Adding these kits to stores would be tempting, but in most trade areas a bad idea.
  • Posted on: 12/12/2017

    Retailers target ways to boost post-Cyber Week sales

    Holiday is a unique time in terms of shopping patterns. At this point in the cycle, it is important to capture that repeat shop and also to convert those who have been watching items throughout the season. If a consumer is checking an item regularly, figure out what is keeping them from purchasing either through alerts programs or good old-fashioned survey work and then tailor a profitable campaign for them. Also, at this point in the cycle delivery options become increasingly important. It is time to highlight pick up in-store options and immediate availability for brands that have great capabilities in that space.
  • Posted on: 12/11/2017

    Penney gets fashionable with its Jacques Penné pop-up

    For J.C. Penney to be successful, they need to decide who they want to be. I think that this is a great idea if they are launching a new take on the brand which is much more about affordable, fun, fashion. However, when you go to the website it is the classic deal hunters' dream of coupons and sales. I am not sure that these two models can combine in their current form to be a coherent brand for the customer, not to mention the fact that those are two pretty different customer groups. I would recommend repositioning their store and online experience toward Jacques Penné and take the coupons and sales stealth and personalized to make these work together.
  • Posted on: 12/11/2017

    The new NYC Nike store will have a members-only floor

    I think that this is a great way to elevate the exclusivity of the brand and reward loyal customers. There is a lot that can be done with this idea -- athlete appearances, special access to shoes, a shoe library, etc. -- for true "super fans." I would encourage them to measure this over the long-term to gauge success and figure out how to scale loyalty rewards to their next tier that may need something a little less exclusive and easier to access.
  • Posted on: 12/06/2017

    Dollar General is betting on the continuing decline of the middle class

    Part of Dollar General's success is that they are not seeing their business migrate online in the way that other retailers are. For the consumer that shops them for value, they are much less likely to shift spend to online. Other consumers shop parts of their store for a "treasure hunt" particularly for seasonal merchandise. This, too, is much less likely to migrate online. Essentially, their value proposition is a lot less "leaky" than others.
  • Posted on: 12/06/2017

    Will mobile move the needle for J. Crew – this holiday and beyond?

    Ultimately, to win a brand has to have a great value proposition for the customer. The digital improvements noted, however, are really hygiene factors that are highly unlikely to drive additional sales. If J.Crew can define the value that they will own and deliver for the customer and use digital to enable that, it could be part of a winning strategy. As others have stated, the missing piece is the value proposition -- at the moment it is deal hunting which is not very sustainable.
  • Posted on: 12/04/2017

    Should marketers personalize products using consumers’ DNA?

    I do not see recommendations being driven by biological data taking hold any time soon. While I agree with others' points around data security and retailer's lack of capabilities, the primary reason that I don't see this scaling is that often what is best for you does not sell. At the end of the day, retailers will follow the money and there is a fairly limited universe of consumers who are willing to jump through hoops for a tailored recommendation (Remember Prescriptives cosmetics?).
  • Posted on: 11/28/2017

    Encouraging signs for department stores as holiday season kicks off

    I think that most department stores will perform better but as most point out, it is a bit artificial. I think that department stores are mostly benefiting from the shift in weather patterns (it was a warm fall and is finally getting a bit colder) as well as low comps last year. It is also worth pointing out how much Black Friday ads changed this year. As an example, Macy's Black Friday ad features a number of doorbusters that are free after rebate. I suspect that this was a great traffic driver, so as long as they got good attachment, that could be an OK strategy. My concern would be that the clunkiness of a rebate will annoy customers in the end and may discourage a second or third holiday shop (which a lot of customers will typically do). Even if this strategy does work to boost short-term sales, you can hardly argue that the core proposition has turned a corner and customers are flocking to something other than a free product.
  • Posted on: 11/20/2017

    Who will be left standing after the next retail shakeout?

    Wow! I think that to believe that these are the only three value propositions that will thrive is assuming that customers' needs can be boiled down into three core needs and motivations (and I am not even sure what need state is being satisfied with "Third Wave" -- local?). I believe that value and convenience are two value propositions that are winning more and more often, but I think that others can succeed as well, such as curating the right goods to make shopping easier, rotating assortment and providing content to inspire customers, making it easy for customers to shop on a budget (very different than a deal hunter mentality), making a customer feel special through service or rewards, and so on and so forth. There are many options for winning in the new retail environment, but only focusing on a few need states will be the wrong option for a lot of brands.
  • Posted on: 11/20/2017

    How open are consumers to AI-driven shopping?

    Let's face it, most consumers are benefiting from AI today, but they may not call it that or understand that is what is powering an aspect of their shopping. As long as AI offers value and builds trust with consumers, most will appreciate better selection, easier shopping and helpful advice.
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