Passion for Retailing – Even Now!

January 26, 2009

DISCUSSION TOPIC

Why Young People Should Opt for a Retail Career 1/26/09

TOPIC SUMMARY:

In an effort to look at the bright side of life, anyone managing to launch a retail career nowadays will have the excitement of unsurpassed opportunities to persuade shoppers to shop. If they can find a job in the first place, that is.

The challenges partially explain why “over half of career advisers still see retail as a good sector for young people to work in,” according to new research commissioned by Skillsmart Retail and reported in Specialty Food Magazine. According to the survey, despite the recession, 51 percent of career advisors considered retail to be a better place for young people to work in than five years ago, when the economy was booming.

The report showed that retail comes out on top when compared to the hospitality and finance and banking sectors in the development of useful workplace skills, provision of opportunities for employees of all ages and the prospect of being given responsibility at an early stage.

Skillsmart Retail’s chief executive, Anne Seaman, reminded the magazine, “Career advisers are very influential in helping young people make choices about jobs in different sectors. Because of this, it is good to know that they believe retail is a better place to work now than in 2003 – in spite of the current financial climate.”

Discussion questions:  What do you think of retail as a career? In what ways can the retail industry improve how it recruits talent?

My post: 

I have been a retailer for over 25 years and have loved my career and hope to remain a retailer for years to come.  Why?  Retail is a complex, dynamic business with an incredible diversity of areas to focus on.  Finance, accounting, merchandising, management/leadership, design all have important roles to play in a retail business.  It was this diversity that attracted me to the industry and which has kept me passionate and energized for over 25 years.

I highly encourage high-energy, bright and ambitious young people to consider a career in retail.  Few industries offer a faster track to meaningful responsibility – running a complex business, managing people and financial resources.  For the entrepreneurially minded, an early career with an established well-run retailer provides an amazing foundation for going off on your own in a few years.  For those who thrive in a company environment, the upward opportunities are amazing.

Don’t allow today’s economic difficulties to thwart a desire to get into retailing.  There will always be consumers wanting an amazing shopping experience.  Why not be one of the people who make that a reality in the future?  And don’t limit your thinking to just one country.  I’m an American now working in Hong Kong.  The opportunities are endless for those willing to work hard and keep their options open.

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! TM strategist

www.OsorioGroup.com

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Go to the full discussion at RetailWire.com:
http://www.retailwire.com/Discussions/Sngl_Discussion.cfm/13507

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Gen Y Driving Innovations and Choice for Food Companies

January 25, 2009

DISCUSSION TOPIC

Gen Y Makes Its Own Rules When It Comes to Food 1/21/09

TOPIC SUMMARY:

Gen Y consumers grew up with more choices when it came to places to buy food, types of cuisine and access to technology. Today, those consumers, now between the ages of 13 and 28, are in the process of creating a whole new set of rules about eating and food.

According to How Gen Y Eats Culinary Trend Mapping Report from the Center for Culinary Development (CCD) and Packaged Facts, food marketers need to focus on what drives these consumers to buy… and fast. If not, they’ll be off to some other brand or eating establishment not only taking their purchases with them but also those of elder generations.

“Generation Y has a game-changing approach to food consumption that will definitely affect how other demographics, including Gen Xs and Baby Boomers, shop and eat,” said Kimberly Egan, CEO of CCD, in a press release.

Gen Y consumers, according to the report, are health-conscious largely because of the influence of their Baby Boomer parents. They are also “Thrill Aficionados,” according to the study, “craving heightened eating experiences, like intense, layered and global flavors.”

These consumers have also been dubbed “Mashup Artists,” because of their desire to “customize food” to meet their individual needs.

Discussion questions:  How do you think Gen Y consumers are influencing food and how we eat today? What will the eating behaviors of Gen Y consumers mean for companies in the food business in years to come?

My post: 

As the father of 2 Gen Y sons (20 and 22), one of whom is a trained chef, I am seeing first hand the impact of Gen Y on how our food preferences are evolving.  Their tastes have been far more sophisticated than our generation their whole lives.  Their exposure to eclectic food options from an early age forged an appreciation and an expectation for choice, unique flavors, and unusual combinations.  They are willing to try almost anything and have developed sophisticated palettes for categories like wine and cheese, and types of cuisine such as Indian, Thai and regional Chinese.

However, like all generations, their and their friends’ top choices continue to be pizza and other familiar favorites.  Food companies are doing a reasonably good job in offering a combination of familiar and new/innovative choices.  Due to the speed of food consumption, it is not difficult to discern the trends of food choice.  Simply test and pay attention to consumer purchase patterns and decide to focus on either comfort/familiar or innovative.  Don’t try to do both.

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! TM strategist

www.OsorioGroup.com

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Go to the full discussion at RetailWire.com:
http://www.retailwire.com/Discussions/Sngl_Discussion.cfm/13499

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Thank you for visiting my blog!  Please subscribe using the RSS button and comment on my postings.  Comments are the life-blood of any blog and I appreciate yours!


Bye Bye Circuit City

January 24, 2009

DISCUSSION TOPIC

Circuit City Runs Out of Fuses 1/23/09

TOPIC SUMMARY:

Bankrupt Circuit City Stores Inc., unable to find a buyer, said Friday it will go out of business, closing its 567 U.S. stores and laying off its 34,000 workers. About $1.8 billion in retail inventory will be liquidated in sales lasting six to eight weeks.

“This is the only possible path for our company,” Circuit City’s acting CEO James Marcum said in a statement. “We are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”

The electronics retailer, in bankruptcy proceedings since November, had been in talks with two potential buyers, but couldn’t reach an agreement with its creditors and lenders. Some retailer observers saw Circuit City’s quick exit as a sign that that the credit crisis will finally force the retail industry to right-size itself after decades of unbridled expansion.

“We are incredibly over-stored in many sectors,” Stacey Widlitz, an analyst with Pali Research, told The New York Times. “If you don’t have the balance sheet to really weather the storm for a couple of years, then that’s it.”

Discussion questions:  How much of Circuit City’s liquidation was caused by internal factors versus external factors? What implications does the exit of Circuit City have for consumer electronics retailing in the U.S.?

My post: 

Circuit City is the poster child for mismanaged retail.  Between an overleveraged balance sheet, the insane decision to lay off their best staff, and lack of a unique selling proposition, this retailer could not have been managed more poorly.  It has been painful to watch them decline after an impressive growth record driven by compelling marketing and excellent service.  It just goes to show that poor management and a board focused solely on short term leverage-based profits can kill any enterprise.

I do think that both Best Buy and Wal Mart will benefit from Circuit City’s demise as they split their customer base (low end and high end).  There will always be room for well-run electronics retailers.  This is a category with ever-new product categories and exciting product-driven marketing.

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! TM strategist

www.OsorioGroup.com

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Go to the full discussion at RetailWire.com:
http://www.retailwire.com/Discussions/Sngl_Discussion.cfm/13491

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Thank you for visiting my blog!  Please subscribe using the RSS button and comment on my postings.  Comments are the life-blood of any blog and I appreciate yours!


50 Years to Leave the Retail Scene?

January 24, 2009

DISCUSSION TOPIC – 10/17/08

TOPIC SUMMARY:

At the SAP Retail Forum in Las Vegas last week, author Michael Treacy stated what he saw as the ultimate paradox in retailing: everything done in early years of a company’s life sows the seed of its eventual destruction. In fact, he said, “most retailers last 30 to 50 years, and then die.” Mr. Treacy offered this solace: it could be worse! The “casual dining” business lifecycle is 20 years.

Mr. Treacy attributed retailers’ demise to what he called “the science of backsliding,” or putting it more bluntly, “companies lose their mojo.”

“Top-down planning followed by diligent execution is killing us,” said the author. “Companies typically bland it down by over-analysis, planning and execution strategies.” The result is that they limit their ability to react to the dynamic, unpredictable business environment. Mr. Treacy stated that one-third of all the business plans that he’s been asked to advise on were “dead wrong.”

Discussion question:  Do you similarly see a 30-to-50 year lifespan in general for retailers? If so, what factors inevitably cause a retailer’s eventual decline? If a primary issue is strategic planning, is the main problem relying on a top-down approach? Or is it fractured planning processes?

My post: 

The unfortunate reality of the last few decades in retailing is a combination of age-old management hubris and the advent of public companies and the requirement to hit short term financial hurdles. The combination is deadly. Management hubris creates missed opportunities and decisions away from the customer. Short term financial focus further separates decision making from the customer. In both cases, the customer loses and eventually votes with their wallet to kill the retailer.

The answer isn’t easy but as long as these factors exist, we’ll always see the cycle of brilliant retail ideas launching, capturing the customers’ interest and creating significant success and growth. Eventually the natural desire for personal wealth growth pushes that retailer into public filings or a private equity grab. From there, the inevitable slide to oblivion begins. Let’s see what the current financial collapse does to this cycle. It should be interesting to watch.

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! TM strategist

www.OsorioGroup.com

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Go to the full discussion at RetailWire.com:
http://www.retailwire.com/Discussions/Sngl_Discussion.cfm/13308

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Thank you for visiting my blog!  Please subscribe using the RSS button and comment on my postings.  Comments are the life-blood of any blog and I appreciate yours!