Michael Decker

Vice President, Marketing Strategy
Michael has thrived in the world of national and international brand communications, having worked with agencies, retail marketing companies and brand clients over the course of his 25-year career. He is responsible for leveraging brand, shopper marketing and in-store visual merchandising expertise to help retail and brand clients build custom, dynamic selling environments. Michael graduated from Bucknell University with B.A. degrees in Economics and Psychology. He is the recipient of the Gold Effie Award and his broad marketing experience extends to health and wellness, CPG, beauty, financial services, hospitality and specialty retail brands, including Medifast Weight Loss, Sweet’N Low, Sugar / Stevia In The Raw, Matrix Biolage Hair Care, Valley National Bank, Hilton Hotels, The Waldorf=Astoria, Barnes & Noble and Foot Locker.
  • Posted on: 08/13/2020

    Should retailers push Congress for a more robust stimulus plan?

    The stimulus package presented by the left side of the aisle is being held up by the right because the stock market is doing well. The right views the Dow as a leading indicator for the overall health of the economy. The left views the Dow as a leading indicator for the overall health of the Dow. In my view, the stimulus was successful and needed to be extended until across the board confidence in the economy is restored via a long term solution to the COVID-19 crisis (health first, wealth second). This will be best evidenced by a restored unemployment rate. Politics has no place in a pandemic crisis.
  • Posted on: 08/05/2020

    Moving beyond product features and benefits in brand messaging

    I like this point of view a lot. Against all expectations, COVID-19 has increased consumer appreciation for branding. Most pundits would say a faltering economy puts the consumer into a survival mode where commodity price becomes the only variable in making purchase decisions. What they miss though is the emotional side of human nature. While pricing remains critical, the consumer marketplace is also putting a premium on what brands stand for. There is a certain anger in the market -- particularly by young people -- who are now dedicated to finding better ways to live their lives and do business in ways that stand apart from traditional corporatism and profit-first mentalities. Branding is a long term strategy that lost much of its luster in our instant gratification culture as of late. The tragic loss of life that coronavirus has exposed most of us to over these past six months has put a new perspective on what's really important -- making our world a better, more livable and sustaining place. Aligning with a brand's promise to do better is much more important now than it's ever been.
  • Posted on: 07/09/2020

    How blemished are beauty retailers by COVID-19?

    Sephora and Ulta are already well positioned digitally to embrace and optimize new consumer behaviors in the beauty business. E-commerce is actually well suited for the make-up business because its consumers generally know exactly what they want -- daily routines breed deep loyalty and category knowledge. There is a deep emotional connection to make-up with older female consumers but our younger generations may see "no or minimal make-up" as a new paradigm in social expectations. Google "2020 stars with no makeup" and you'll be amazed by the trend -- many find it liberating. That said, in-store trials will need to be "single serve" and may become more expensive to implement. It'll be the cost of doing business for the brick-and-mortar beauty stores -- because seeing is believing...
  • Posted on: 07/02/2020

    Amazon’s traffic is way up, but others are doing even better during the pandemic

    This is a classic case of consumers educating themselves as they delve into new shopping behaviors. Amazon is actually getting a (slight) reputation for being "overpriced" by the new marketplace as customers who are less dazzled by the convenience of online shopping begin to price-shop. Established Amazon customers are shopping more as the data shows but new customers are exploring their options and looking directly at manufacturers' e-commerce sites (DTC) to grab better pricing for the same goods. Customers locked down at home have oodles of time to shop online so they will naturally use it to their best advantage. Especially in the midst of hard economic times. The New Normal is presenting all kinds of opportunities and perils. One new challenge I see is the staggering increase in packing material that DTCs and online marketplaces like Amazon need to utilize in fulfilling this unprecedented increase in demand. This will soon be the next major challenge for a green economy -- making sure consumers and recyclers are able to process what must be a phenomenal rise in corrugated and packing waste. That will be another topic, for sure!
  • Posted on: 05/11/2020

    What should retailers do about social distancing renegades?

    New challenges require new solutions. Every retail store needs to post the applicable state laws in plain sight at the entrance of every store. Additional security should be as obvious (cameras and an armed security guard) and manifest with trained personnel who know how to immediately DE-escalate infractions. If within the context of the law, it's "no mask, no service." Period. These measures (at minimum) should be a part of every state's laws. "No Security detail, no opening for business." This will be a significant additional expense for retailers to do business but, in my opinion, is necessary and will save lives. Perhaps the salaries of security individuals can be a specifically designated and encouraged part of the Federal PPP program. This would help retailers and create new jobs across the board.
  • Posted on: 04/24/2020

    Is it okay to profit from a pandemic?

    This one is tricky -- because lives are being lost. But I think the market has to be the ultimate judge of what crosses the line between fair profiting and carpetbagging. Large companies that easily can provide life-saving services and products should do so gratis as good corporate citizenship. Smaller companies that are seeking to serve a need at a fair profit should be allowed to do that because we are a capitalist economy and need the stimulus. The good new is our retail marketplace (thanks to social media) has never been more transparent and robber barons will quickly wilt and die in the sunlight. We have to depend on that.
  • Posted on: 04/20/2020

    DTC brand sales soar in a time of social distancing

    COVID 19 is without a doubt an "accelerator" for new business models as we all grapple with sheltering in place. DTC started out as a "launch pad" for new products looking to efficiently compete with CPG (and other) business behemoths. Now DTC has accelerated to true "disruptor status" on a grand scale. Consumers won't forget the positive experiences they had in home delivery of goods they had never consider before the pandemic. They won't forget the negative experiences either. Suddenly we Zoom, we order ice cream online, we cook, we research, we talk to our kids, we do puzzles, we get healthy and we look for new ways to solve challenges. DTC is without a doubt a new solution and a new business opportunity for a much wider audience than it ever had before.
  • Posted on: 03/25/2020

    Are retailers and landlords destined to head to court over rents?

    As Rich Kizer noted on this discussion, the ideal situation for BOTH a retailer and a landlord is a partnership arrangement where the "rent" the former pays is simply a percentage of sales. The Federal Government should impart a fair percentage across the board so that both parties become partners rather than adversaries. Our courts will never be able to handle the onslaught of an economic disaster of this magnitude. The long-term effect of the mandatory agreement would be positive long after this pandemic is over.
  • Posted on: 02/24/2020

    What are the biggest barriers to AI adoption for retailers?

    AI needs to be implemented with great care by retailers so as not to undermine the only true advantage a brick-and-mortar store has over e-commerce: human touch. Routine services such as automated checkout should be used to ENHANCE personal service by freeing up employees to improve the one-to-one connection that great sales help can deliver to a customer that needs help, opinions, and advice in their shopping adventure. Once the novelty wears off, nobody wants to talk to robots.
  • Posted on: 01/21/2020

    Nike offers advice on successful marketplace partnerships

    This is interesting because it's indicative of the next evolution of online retail -- Amazon's development of the behemoth marketplace has necessarily focused on its biggest differentiators (convenience and to a lesser extent price) often at the expense of other retailer niceties such as branding and engagement. Now that the online marketplace is well developed, new entries have to differentiate with better ideas for their brands and ultimately for their brands' customers. Amazon (as is typical of all leaders in any business space) would prefer the status quo and to just do what it does best. So "Amazon the Disruptor" is quickly becoming the "Amazon the Established." The brand storytelling that Nike wants to do to help it differentiate is not happening in the flea market environment at Amazon. Nike is better represented and can fully connect to its customers via Zolando. So Amazon will now need to raise its game.
  • Posted on: 01/02/2020

    California’s new privacy laws may trigger a wave

    The CCPA will rapidly spread to federal law in 2020. Why? Because it's a tipping point resulting from real consumer fears over the consequences of corporate digital profiteering, database hacks, social media manipulation and identity theft. We as marketers made a serious mistake in trying to pull the wool over our digital customers' eyes regarding the permissions to private information that they've "fully agreed to relinquish" buried in the mountain of fine print that no one ever reads or understands. "Just click and accept and your new widget will be on its way!" E-commerce is a convenient, fast and an unprecedented enhancement to the retail experience until it becomes manipulative and creepy. Our customers eventually figure out true business motivations and this bill is a natural market correction that will ensure necessary transparency -- giving the power back to the consumer and ensuring a healthy return to retail loyalties.
  • Posted on: 09/11/2019

    Will Walmart have more success creating consumer direct brands than acquiring them?

    Walmart will succeed by building brands or buying brands that appeal to their customer base. Period. Did the core Bonobos customer ever shop at Walmart? Um, no. Jet? Nope. ModCloth? Unh uh. Stay in your lane and stay true to your brand promise, Walmart, and you will undoubtedly succeed.
  • Posted on: 08/29/2019

    Lord & Taylor to be sold to Le Tote

    The low price and easy terms Le Tote got for L&T made it a no-brainer for the former. Le Tote will do well with renting the high ticket dresses and will make inroads into that market (against Rent The Runway). Lord & Taylor may well reinvent itself as a 20,000 square foot retailer dedicated to digital personalization. Look for lots of testing with BOPIS and L&T-branded subscriptions offered to the new customer base that hasn't considered that model before. Interesting, low-risk acquisition for Le Tote.
  • Posted on: 08/27/2019

    Will Nordstrom’s sustainable fashion site win over eco-conscious consumers?

    Perfect for Nordstrom. How H&M signs a deal like that is beyond me. But the times are changing and retailers must adapt or die. Millennials and Zs will rightly buy (or rent) sustainable products and keep clothing for a long time. Classic styles will redevelop. Fewer trends mean more planet...
  • Posted on: 08/27/2019

    How to make a big deal out of a chicken sandwich

    A combination of the right tone, right time and right place, plus a good product and lots of help from Popeyes' competitors! Social media marketing is unpredictable. It's a volume game where you keep working it with clever stuff knowing that eventually you'll hit the mainstream chord. Fun to watch.
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