Rodger Buyvoets

CEO/Founder, Crobox

A digital leader with 15+ years of experience in eCommerce. Founder and CEO of Crobox – an Amsterdam-based technology firm that combines consumer psychology with machine learning to help retailers learn what their customers love about their products.

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  • Posted on: 06/21/2021

    Can Victoria’s Secret shift its brand image from sexy to empowering?

    There's no question that a complete shift from objectification to empowerment is 100 percent necessary for female-oriented brands. After all, real women are the ones digesting the content and buying the products, so it's imperative to cater to the real woman. Which is how DTC brands like Glossier and Thinx made it so big (although the latter has its fair share of controversy). As long as this is holistic, transparent, and echoed across the company (from their employees to their marketing and beyond) -- if they can create real change (within their staff structure) that shows female empowerment isn't just a marketing stunt -- then this will carve out their success. For too long we've been watching brands use social messages as a stepping stone -- again, Thinx comes to mind -- but if a brand with this much legacy power can leverage their ambassadors in a way that really resonates with the everyday consumer, I think they stand a chance.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2021

    Can associate dress codes support in-store social distancing?

    I'll have to take a consumer psychologist's approach to answer this one, so bear with me!
    1. Formal dressing for vaccinated associates: Like actors wearing lab coats in toothpaste ads, this one recruits the behavioral principle of authority. It's a bias that suggests we attribute more weight and conformity to symbols that suggest power and credibility. However this also results in many anti-conformist sentiments (as more and more people are aware of the negative effects of authority). For stores to implement this kind of authority hierarchy is tricky, and could cause a lot of resistance - another bias you want to avoid if the goal is to drive behavior.
    2. Color codes: In some ways, this one recruits color psychology. But this is such a subconscious bias (e.g., red = stop, green = go) that for it to really work it needs time to properly ingrain the automatic codes into people. The more mental barriers to learning a social responsibility (in this case, distancing) the less likely people will be to carry it out.
    3. Continued masks for associates: The more people wearing masks, the more likely it is that others will follow suit. Social proof is one of the oldest, most tried and tested psychological principles in anyone's book. If stores are looking for their customers to copy behavior, they need to show the majority of their employees are doing the same.
    Especially since medical mask-wearing is the most proved anti-COVID-19 spreading mechanism, 3 should be something all brands implement in their stores. The data is still coming in on if vaccinated individuals still spread the virus or not. But from a psychological perspective, Social proof has deep roots in our evolutionary code. We all want to conform. On a behavioral level, therefore, this is the one that makes the most sense. If you're interested, here's a great blog post on the psychology of social proof so you know where I'm coming from!
  • Posted on: 04/26/2021

    What will greater access to Amazon’s customers mean for marketplace sellers?

    Removing the barrier many marketplace sellers have compared to DTC will be a shift, not only for the brands themselves, but for the customer experience. Let's be honest, Amazon's "experience" (despite the quick-wins like their one-click patent or personalization) isn't the greatest. Even their webshop feels outdated, crowded, and non-conversational. I know that Amazon's global algorithms are a problem for marketplace sellers, but the opportunity to sell on such a big powerhouse is too great to miss out on. This marks a good step for these sellers. But is it enough?
  • Posted on: 04/08/2021

    Will climate action become less of a priority for retail post-pandemic?

    You would think that the retail sector would continue to address climate change in tandem with how they adapt to the changes made by the pandemic. But the reality is, capitalism is driven by what consumers want. True, many Gen Zers and Millennials demand the brands they shop from to be sustainable these days (which the move to supporting local brands also demonstrates), and herein the demand will match the supply. But if there isn't the demand for it, my view, unfortunately, remains not as idealistic. Sustainability requires creativity, disruption, and cost, and retailers will have a lot on their plates coming out of the pandemic. However let's not end on a down-note. If brands do continue to combat climate change, this will carve out their competitive edge in the long run. It's retailers' obligation to take a stance and be socially responsible. The more brands can demonstrate this, the more legitimacy and authority they will eventually establish coming out of COVID-19 and beyond.
  • Posted on: 03/30/2021

    Nike says goodbye to more longtime wholesale partners

    Nike has such a large and loyal consumer base (with unparalleled brand power) that this seems a good move, especially with the move to digital personalization. There are more people shopping online than ever before, meaning personalized efforts should refocus on what the brand can offer to online shoppers rather than through wholesalers. They will have to, of course, make sure they understand who these customers are on a deeper level, but I don't see that being a problem for a brand like Nike, who are already personalizing the e-commerce space and omnichannel.
  • Posted on: 03/22/2021

    Will tech acquisitions enable Nike to drive personalization at scale?

    Many retailers are drowning in data. A robust customer analytics platform is one thing, but being able to share and digest data across departmental silos is another. And by that, I mean making data actionable, another recognizable bottleneck. So yes, data optimization (Always Be Optimizing) is so important to first scale data and make it actionable for omnichannel initiatives. Datalogue is going to be great for Nike by providing real-time solutions for product creation and insights. As long as retailers can stay within data protection laws, then I see data optimization as the only way forward, especially as we have more people shopping online than ever before.
  • Posted on: 02/26/2021

    Are retailers snoozing on the sleep-tech opportunity?

    Retailers should take a closer look at post-pandemic behavior to identify where the marketing opportunities lie. For example, the sleep economy points to a growing trend in optimizing at-home health and wellness. Plant sales have soared. Subscription food boxes. Local-buying. Yes there's a move to sleep-tech, but this should be put into the context of general buying behavior and how this has drastically shifted...
  • Posted on: 02/09/2021

    No sweat. Target’s activewear brand’s sales move past $1B

    It definitely helps that Target has a loyal customer base. But they also leverage reviews - meaning they actually listen to what their customers are saying and create actionable ways to cater to their needs. This should be the golden nugget for any customer-centric retailer: start from the customer and work your way up, ensuring you stay on-trend, practice social listening, and gauge the competitive landscape.
  • Posted on: 02/03/2021

    How can racial bias be removed from retail stores?

    I agree with Neil, it's about an inside-out approach. Promoting diversity within the retail organization is just as important to follow through with minimizing racial bias on the front-end. Inclusion should be part of the business model. Retailers should facilitate trainings, encourage flat hierarchies, and establish diversity targets for recruitment. The first (and necessary step) is to acknowledge bias. Sephora's study shows a commitment to their own diversity clauses. More brands should take a similar approach; to really integrate learning, knowledge-sharing, and understanding on a company level.
  • Posted on: 02/03/2021

    A new era for Amazon as Jeff Bezos hands over CEO role

    Amazon's customer obsession is also something that has set them apart. Unfortunately, you can't be customer-obsessed without actually being human. If Jassy wants to commit to doing "crazy things" he needs to start practicing what they preach - being data-conscious, ensuring fair labor and digital transparency. But on the whole, if they can ensure the same enhanced customer experiences, they will continue to win with whomever they put in charge.
  • Posted on: 01/22/2021

    NRF 2021: Saks doubles down on its ‘luxury disrupted’ strategy

    Brands have no choice but to ramp up their omnichannel initiatives, that much is clear. But bringing that in-store personalized experience online is especially important for luxury retailers, whose shoppers buy from brands to engage in the luxury experience. Armani's on-site tailoring, for example, is a good way to simulate in-store customization. Or Chanel's "catwalk" category in their product taxonomy. Your typical connections of in-store and online will be different for luxury brands, whose audiences are varied and subject to change (especially post-pandemic).
  • Posted on: 01/05/2021

    Are local retailers ready to flex their omnichannel muscles?

    The advantage for local retailers is just that: they can personalize on a local basis (a huge advantage being proximity to their target base), while their small scale usually means being flexible and open to change. Adopting an omnichannel strategy would be beneficial - there's no doubt about that. But whether they can collect and leverage online data in the same way omnichannel champions are doing it (e.g., Amazon), I'm not so sure. To really prove they can battle it out, it's imperative they find omnichannel solutions that take advantage of their proximity, flexibility, and hyper-personalization.
  • Posted on: 12/29/2020

    Are retailers set up to scale the value of AI investments?

    Execs may note the importance of AI but not understand how best to use it. And yet it's true that leveraging AI should be a mandate from the C-level down. Without a culture of experimentation at the core of a brand's strategy, it'll be more difficult to reap the benefits of AI. In order for this to stick (and work), retailers need to be data-driven, flexible, and IT-first - often a hard sell in an industry dominated by legacy issues and interdepartmental silos.
  • Posted on: 12/17/2020

    Is the pandemic pushing livestream shopping into the mainstream?

    Livestreaming could be interesting, especially for luxury retailers. It could be a good opportunity for showcasing exclusive events, including a runway show where people can buy pieces as they are being shown - a new way of experiential retailing. The preliminary strategies to tap into this would start by retracing each step made to release new lines (for luxury brands) and then analyzing how these can be digitized. Using the right platform here is critical, plus ensuring there's enough opportunity to get close-ups of the fabric so shoppers can get the look and get the feel of the quality of the material.
  • Posted on: 12/15/2020

    What if Barnes & Noble had produced ‘The Queen’s Gambit’?

    Amazon is essentially doing this but the other way around: Amazon Prime allows loyal customers special access to Hollywood content. Amazon initially started off as an online retailer. But that's of course their advantage: they completely dominate the digital buying space. For non-digital natives to penetrate mass-marketing like Hollywood -- I'm not too sure this is within the scope of their marketing budgets. It's more likely that brands would sponsor shows or create transmedia opportunities. But then you get the messy business of product placement. Dave is definitely right when he says that content is changing and brands need to start finding new and innovative ways to appeal to their shoppers. So with an increasing commitment to omnichannel, why not find new channels where you know customers will be entertained?

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