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Roger Saunders

Global Managing Director, Prosper Business Development

Roger Saunders is Managing Director of PROSPER BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT in Columbus, Ohio. PROSPER Group of Companies is a leading internationally recognized Marketing Intelligence concern that is focused on the CONSUMER and Consumer Insights. The firm addresses points of not just “What”, but also the essential “Who”, “When”, “Where”, “Why”, and “How” Consumer Behaviors, Attitudes, and Lifestyle are actionably impacting the Retail Industry.

PROSPER is the parent, holding company of Prosper Insights & Analytics, PROSPER Technologies, PROSPER China, and the Prosper Foundation. The organization is a leader in Business Development strategies, Innovative Technologies and Forecasting Applications, and Consumer Market Research. Quantitative, Syndicated and Custom Surveys are fielded on a consistent monthly and daily basis in the United States and China. The Insights, Prosper Platform of state-of-the-art visualization of diverse databases, and Apps that drive predictive Analytics of future consumer behavior, serve the needs of Marketing, Merchandising, Store Operations, Financial Departments, and Vendors. Clients include the world’s largest Retailers, CPG, Manufacturing, Media, Financial, and Consulting practices.

Saunders has held executive positions with Fortune 500 Media concerns, lead private multi-media entities, and been an owner / partner in entrepreneurial Retail (28 restaurants) and Manufacturing concerns. A diversified 35 year career, having lived in all corners of the U.S. – Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, South, and West – he has honed his senses and attention to Consumer and Customers’ current, and more importantly, future needs.

Other than a weak golf game, and a belief that the Chicago Cubs will one day win a World Series, Saunders is grounded in the reality that the Consumer is the center of any successful Marketer’s strategic and tactical efforts.

  • Posted on: 04/24/2017

    Should Bloomingdale’s sales associates receive commissions for online sales?

    Thoughts to management and the union workers ... be careful what you ask for. Compensation systems should follow several well-established guidelines: 1) They should be consistent with company and associates need to earn what they need; 2) Point all associates in the direction in which the company must go to meet marketplace needs: 3) Keep the "blood in the mouth" of commissioned sales associates -- unionized or non-union; 4) Be easy to administer; 5) Be timely. If both management and the union cannot address each of these topics, neither are positioned to alter matters. Sounds childish for an associate to state that her compensation at Bloomingdale's has been cut 20% because of online competition. Has anything else happened on the bosky East Side of Manhattan over the past 5 years in terms of other competitors, consumer income, prices that consumers are (willing) paying for goods, etc.?
  • Posted on: 04/24/2017

    What customer service lessons can be learned from United Airlines?

    Retailers, like any other business structure, develop a "culture" that becomes ingrained over time. Likely we have all experienced a rudeness or haughtiness a la the Vivian Ward character (Julia Roberts) in Pretty Woman when shopping. Whether it is off-putting or amusing, it can and does cause lost consumer traffic and sales. At the same time, every one of us can point to instances of great customer service in any number of retail experiences -- Publix employees walking us to the shelf where the item is located, Nordstrom associates going the extra mile to make sure we receive the perfectly-matched tie to go with the new suit, the Stage Store associates who calls out the extra 10 percent off to you for purchases on that day, AND the Delta gate agents, pilots, flight attendants and other associates who unfailingly say, "Thank you for traveling with us today." Amazon is winning battles via convenience, return policies, free shipping, efficient pricing (not always the best) and selection. In most purchase situations with Amazon, consumers never have a human interaction. Lessons for brick-and-mortar: 1.) Catch an associate doing something right when good customer service is witnessed -- thank them, give 'em an attaboy or reward them in some small way in immediate fashion, 2.) Let associates know that you value great customer service -- say it in the paycheck, on message boards, as you are walking associates into position, thanking them at shift end, 3.) Sing the praises of the best customer service seen at a store over the past 30 days. By applying these types of lessons, retailers embed that behavior in the company's culture. That carries that belief about customer service into every nook and cranny of the firm, from the loading dock to the board room, to the finance/credit department, sales department, merchandising, operations, logistics and marketing divisions. Customers have choices. Commit to helping all in the organization know why and how you want to make you their first choice.
  • Posted on: 03/02/2017

    Has the retail industry upped its customer service game?

    There are multiple reasons that consumers choose to shop various retailers. Service is but one of them. Each of those reasons to shop a particular retailer or merchandise category drive toward building Loyalty. Loyalty wins repeat customers trips and revenues. Generally speaking, the leading reasons to choose a Retailer MOST often are lead by price, selection, quality and location in varying order for each retailer or merchandise category. The objective is to bring the customer back for added experiences. Other leading reasons include brands available, couples and special offers, retailer trustworthiness, knowledgeable salespeople, ease of use of the website, newest styles, fashion ideas, value and yes, service. Service falls somewhere in the middle of 25+ different reasons for a consumer to enter into their shopping experience. Measuring and monitoring each of those reasons and sharing the results with associates keeps the retail organization on top of building the loyalty that benefits all -- retailer, associates and customers. Retailers who are growing and protecting their strengths on the most important reasons for their customer base to return are doing a better job of building loyalty and satisfaction among customers. Those who are not need to adjust and move forward, lest they find a path to extinction used by the Dodo Bird.
  • Posted on: 02/28/2017

    Has J.C. Penney pulled off ‘one of the greatest financial turnarounds in retail history’?

    When a major retailer has stood over the top of the abyss, looked down, and then set a course that is taking them in a direction of recovery, such as J.C. Penney is in the early stages, they are on the road to making a turnaround financial for retail history. Marvin Ellison has the JCP team running fast. They are running with their heads UP, with a great deal of pride. The results thus far demonstrate that they are driving toward greater success. Adding 70 new Sephora stores to the current 570 is great timing. Based on Prosper Consumer Equity Scores, a rolling three month average of store preference on a year over year basis, Females, 18-34 are indexing at +128 in choosing Sephora. JC Penney Shoppers are indexing at +135 in their choice of Sephora YoY. In addition, Sephora outpoints all other department stores for reasons to shop their experience -- their shoppers give Sephora higher grades than Macy's shoppers for shopping at Macy's in areas of selection, quality, brands available, service, unique products, easy to navigate website, store appearance, and trustworthy retailer. Further, the Sephora shopper provides higher ratings for their shopping experience than Amazon shoppers of HBA on each of these items other than price and an easy to navigate website. Sephora closed the gap on the latter point on a YoY basis. The move to expand appliances is a winner, as well. Over the last 90 Days, 24.0% of JCP shoppers have shopped online for appliances, while 1 out of 3 have shopped online for apparel, 16.2% have shopped online for home decor, and 15.8% have shopped online for beauty care. Fully 30.2% of J.C. Penney shoppers regularly purchase online and 62.1% occasionally do so. Only 7.8% of the J.C. Penney shoppers have never purchased online. Note the link to the omnichannel drive that Ellison and team are addressing. Never an enjoyable experience to close 140 stores, or even one store. Tough minded decisions have to be made. The JCP team is taking those decisions on, addressing them, and making the right moves. Don't count them out.
  • Posted on: 02/22/2017

    What tech tools do independent grocers need to compete with e-tailers?

    Retail grocery chains not only need to know what consumers are doing within their stores, they need to capture an understanding of who, what why, when, where and how those consumers are behaving when they are away from their stores. Without those later insights, they are limited to their own current world view. Understanding both sides of the consumers' view point, they are better positioned to determine technology, merchandising and marketing needs that meet the needs of core shoppers who are "very/extremely satisfied" -- 65 percent of national chains and 82 percent of independents. Then they can compare the 35 percent or 18 percent who are "very/extremely dissatisfied" or "neutral" with their relationship. They can also determine the "very/extremely satisfied" consumers using e-tailers. Pass on these steps and you're looking at a great deal of overly-costly trial and error and "gut-feeling" planning sessions.
  • Posted on: 02/21/2017

    Will acquisition of a mom and pop shop pay off big for Kroger?

    I have buying at the Murray's Cheese location at Kroger in Worthington, Ohio for 5+ years. As Tom Ryan points out, Murray's Cheese already appears in over 350 Kroger stores. Product, selection, quality, knowledgeable associates, helpful and friendly suggestions, and attention to detail have consistently been core to the team in this area adjacent to the deli. I'll take the counterpoint of Arlene Spiegel. If Foodies are going to have agita over quality cheeses, knowledgeable associates, and a much broader understanding of the history cheeses and how to use them coming to the masses, we'll all just have enjoy a private chuckle about her Foodie-friends' insecurities. Kroger is bringing an asset to a much broader marketplace with the help and guidance of Rob Kaufelt and his team. Both Kroger and his family are greatly enriched, as are Kroger shoppers with this move.
  • Posted on: 02/21/2017

    Are Boomers being ignored by retailers?

    Retailers and CPG firms need to think broadly about segmentation for their goods and services. Segmentation analysis based on regular consumer behavior ("System 1") has to be explored and understood by marketing and sales. Not all Boomers, Generation X or Millennials are alike. If retailers, service providers and CPG firms are to maximize market potential, they need to commit to reach beyond broad demographics, data mining the core behaviors and attitudes of their best customers and most promising prospects.
  • Posted on: 02/16/2017

    What does it take to drive a top-down plan for customer-centricity?

    If a firm doesn't come from a customer-centric origin -- from the DNA, as Peter Sobotta points out -- the CEO has to understand that everyone's in the dark and looking for the switch. Give associates a clear vision of why the change is needed. Help them understand the importance of seeing through to the end-customers. Capture a baseline view of how the customer perceives the chief reasons to patronize your store or service most often. Compare those reasons against your key competitors. Follow that by setting quarterly objectives -- not on the entire list of KBIs. Instead, set up 3 or 4 per quarter, and ask the entire organization to focus on them, having them set the goals for the quarter and providing all involved with benchmark measurements and the resultant benefits as shown by customer responses. Steven Burd, former CEO of Safeway, effectively employed the fewer objective steps to improvement while leading the chain. When the organization is comfortable with the thrill of being Customer-centric, encourage them to "Reach for the stars." As Leo Burnett use to opine, "You may need reach them, but you won't come up with a handful of mud either."
  • Posted on: 02/14/2017

    Will women buy lingerie from Amazon?

    Over the past 30 days, 62.0% of females have shopped in a physical store for apparel and accessories, while 37.9% have shopped online (desktop/laptop) and 12.2% have shopped on a mobile device. Those methods of shopping are even higher for Millennial females -- 69.9%, 43.4%, and 22.1% respectively. Those online shoppers are seeking quality, selection, value, and a trustworthy retailer. Trust and a positive experience is high among female shoppers for Amazon, particularly among Millennial females. Amazon will secure solid trial experience for the lingerie rollout. If female consumers have a positive experience with quality, selection, and value on this line, they'll be back for added purchases.
  • Posted on: 02/13/2017

    How price competitive does Whole Foods need to be?

    Perhaps Whole Foods has to determine what they want to be when they grow up. If their objective is to bring on another 100 to 500 Stores over the next 5 years, they may be a bit ahead of themselves in looking at the operation as a complete grocery experience for Consumers. We looked at the 25 reasons why consumers shop a particular grocer MOST often within the Monthly Prosper Consumer Survey. In making a comparison to a Wegmans, for example, 17.4% of Whole Foods shoppers maintain they visit them MOST for price, while 67.5% of Wegmans' shoppers point to price. Price is called out by 74.1% by all other adults for their grocer of choice. Whole Foods narrowly tops Wegmans in mentions of quality (87.4% vs. 78.7%), Fresh produce (61.7% vs. 56.4%), and sharply on organics (66.2% vs. 33.7%). In all other areas of reasons to shop MOST, Wegmans leads the way as a complete grocer -- selection, service, trustworthy retailer, in-store experience, meat department, store appearance, store layout, bakery, one-stop shopping, prepared meals, wide aisles, etc. Whole Foods, which is a fascinating concept and does have excellent quality is not ready for broad prime time. Fix more than price if the plan is to grow into one of the largest chains in the country.
  • Posted on: 02/09/2017

    Did President Trump go too far with his Nordstrom tweet?

    It is understandable that a father and mother would defend their offspring. Donald Trump's position as U.S. President places him in a role where he would do well to defend his children in a different manner than a tweet. His adult children would do well to help the President understand that he is not helping their cause and credibility in the retail marketplace. For those on opposing sides choosing to pull a "boycott" against a retailer to send a message to the father ... get a life. No need for the NRF to enter this fray. Peter Nordstrom clearly and productively pointed out the reason to discontinue the Ivanka Trump line. He stated, "All merchandise lines are evaluated on an ongoing basis. The bottom 10 percent of merchandise that impacts revenue/profitability, is discontinued each year." That permits a new assortment to replenish it. Retailers, like Nordstrom, are attempting to satisfy consumer needs, support their associates' interest in building loyalty with quality merchandise to help those consumers, provide consumers with quality, selection, service, convenience and a positive experience, all while making an acceptable profit for shareholders.
  • Posted on: 02/08/2017

    Are vendors and stores headed for a fight over Amazon?

    Gerald Evans is guiding Hanesbrands in the right direction, one that other vendors would do well to mimic -- listen to and follow the consumer. We're living in a consumer-centric era, more than any other time over the past century. Gone are the days of brand->marketer->agency->medium->-CRM->retail->consumer model. Evans has the courage to state that fact and shift his own internal organization first. Put the customer in the center of the wheel. From there, marketers are positioned to better determine the marketing service providers and channel. That model puts every participant in the traditional marketing chain one step away from the customer. Brick & mortar partners should be appreciative of Hanesbrands improved model. Product, retailer, media, CRM, direct to consumer commerce are all winners if they accept this path. Weaker Retailers and those that are overly invested in the box of a previous generation's model will be managing from fear and looking in the rear view mirror, instead of keeping their eye on what's ahead. Smart move on Hanesbrands' part.
  • Posted on: 02/07/2017

    What will lower Valentine’s Day sales mean for retail?

    Look to segmentation of the market for a tighter consumer spending outlook. Boomers are either slightly less romantic this year or they are watching budgets more closely, as they will drop the most. Millennials are going to spend more on an evening out, candy and flowers. Clothing will be softer among all age groups. And Generation X is coming at the holiday in the spirit of the season. They will spend more overall and jewelry sales to this segment will jump 15 percent on average to about $215. Know your customer. It positions you to know where and if the discounts need to occur.
  • Posted on: 02/06/2017

    What would a reinstated travel ban mean for retail?

    It's always important to plan for contingencies within any business. Whether the populace agrees or disagrees with whether the new administration got out over their skis or not, the decree did throw a wrench into immigration/refugee planning for all parts of the business community -- retailers, industry, financial institutions, technology, etc. A reprieve is in place, as the administration is not planning on enforcing the executive order. A Federal judge in the 9th has placed a stay. Any future action on the issue will be decided by a full Supreme Court -- that won't be completed for at least three months. Calm employees who travel internationally and let associates know what the company's policy and practices are. Assign the appropriate individuals to monitor compliance (Legal, HR, etc.) Permit folks to get around the "water cooler" to discuss practices, if necessary. Then remind everyone, "It's time to get back to work. We have a business to run."
  • Posted on: 02/02/2017

    Target shelves robot store and secret e-commerce start-up

    Time for Target to get back to the basics of running the store. Reviewing a critically important question from the Prosper Insights & Analytics Monthly Consumer Survey, we looked at the past 4 months (October - January) at categories of children's clothing, HBA, children's toys, and pharmacy. As in most categories and for most retailers, price, location, selection, and quality are going to be the most often mentioned reasons to choose to shop MOST often at Target. We put those aside, and looked at some longitudinal figures around in-store experience, store appearance, store layout, newest styles, newest fabrics, service, knowledgeable sales associates, and trustworthy retailer. Looked at in this manner, Target has dropped 60 to up to 740 basis points among their shoppers' evaluation of their performance comparing 2014 - 2016. Trustworthy retailer has fallen like a thud by 330 to 490 basis points during that time frame. Execution needs serious attention if Targhey is to win back the consumer.
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