Meet the Chinese Consumer of 2020

April 21, 2013

 

Most large consumer-facing companies realize that they will need China to power their growth in the next decade. But to keep pace, these companies will also need to understand the economic, societal, and demographic changes shaping the profiles of consumers and the way they spend. This is no easy task not only because of the fast pace of growth and subsequent changes in the Chinese way of life but also because of the vast economic and demographic differences across the country.

The preceding quote is from the latest “DFS Learning e-Blast” article, Meet the Chinese Consumer of 2020, by Yuval Atsmon and Max Magni.

In this March 2012 McKinsey Quarterly article, the authors discuss changing demographics, new spending patterns, and the implications on companies.  This is one of a series of articles we’re sharing on our growing PRC consumer.  It is important for us to understand the context of this critical consumer’s evolving needs, desires, and behaviors as we seek to effectively meet their shopping needs in the markets where we serve them.

More from the article:

Many of the changes taking place in China are common features of rapid industrialization:  rising incomes, urban living, better education, postponed life stages, and greater mobility.  Japan saw similar changes in the 1950s and 1960s, as did South Korea and Taiwan in the 1980s. 

But some unique factors are also at work, such as the government’s one-child policy and the marked economic imbalances among regions. Our analysis reveals important insights into the likely demographic and socio-demographic profiles of Chinese consumers at the end of this decade.

Read the short article to learn more!

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious™ strategist

www.OsorioGroup.com

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Top 10 Consumer Trends of China’s Wealthy

February 10, 2013

With fast rising wealth and money to spend, it’s no surprise the Chinese are in a buying frenzy. China’s consumer spending is growing at an average annual rate of 18 percent compared to 2.2 percent rise for the US, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

While some of their purchases are just plain glitzy, studies and research from organizations like the United Nations, Eurmonitor and McKinsey & Co. show that Chinese consumers are displaying great consciousness for bettering themselves and their planets.”

The preceding quote is from the latest “DFS Learning e-Blast” article, Top 10 Consumer Trends of China’s Wealthy, by Rajeshni Naidu-Ghelani.

In this July 28 2011 article on CNBC, the author discusses where the Chinese wealthy are focusing their purchases.

As a follow up to last week’s article which covered the more detailed McKinsey 2011 Chinese Consumer Spending Survey, today’s article provides headlines of the major consumer trends.

More from the article:

Some consumer trends in China are well known, such as the increasing demand for luxury goods, but others may surprise you. CNBC.com put together a list of 10 major consumer trends, including the companies and sectors they have the potential to profit from them. The list is based on studies and reports from international organizations such as the United Nations, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and research firms including Euromonitor International and McKinsey & Co.”

Read the short article to learn more!

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious™ strategist

www.OsorioGroup.com

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China’s Confident Consumers

January 3, 2013

China’s Confident Consumers

All:

 

The Chinese have taken to consumerism with ease, embracing thousands of new products, services, and brands. But the flipside is that the Chinese market changes at a speed capable of leaving all but the nimblest of companies breathless, as McKinsey’s 2011 survey of Chinese consumers highlights.1 Three findings stood out. Even in the face of rising inflation, Chinese consumers are more confident this year than in 2010 about their financial prospects. Among urban consumers, the number of first-time buyers—a group that has been a major driver of category growth in China—is declining. Finally, although brand awareness is rising, we see little sign that brand loyalty is following suit. In fact, more and more consumers choose among a growing number of favorite brands.”

 

The preceding quote is from the latest “DFS Learning e-Blast” article, China’s Confident Consumers, by Yuval Atsmon and Max Magni.

 

In this November 2011 article from McKinsey Quarterly, the authors discuss the recently published 2011 Annual Chinese Consumer Survey by McKinsey Insights China.

 

At a time when our PRC business is exploding in virtually all our retail locations, it is important for our leaders to understand the underlying factors influencing Chinese consumer behaviors.  By understanding the evolving Chinese consumer mindset we can make better decisions on how we serve this important client today and into the future.

 

More from the article:

 

The survey shows the extent to which consumers value brands more than price or channel, largely because they believe that branded products are safer, of higher quality, and more reliable than nonbranded ones. But faith in brands still does not translate into brand loyalty. In fact, both the number of consumers who always choose from among a relatively small set of brands—whom we refer to as “repertoire loyalists”—and the number of brands in their repertoire continue to rise. The average Chinese consumer now chooses among three to five brands in any given category, compared with two to three brands two years ago. In some categories, such as apparel, where luxury brands have grown hugely popular, the contrast is sharper still.”

 

Read the short article to learn more!  The full survey is available here as well.

 

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious™ strategist

www.OsorioGroup.com

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The New Japanese Consumer

January 1, 2013

DISCUSSION TOPIC

 

The New Japanese Consumer

November 18, 2011

 

All:

 

After decades of behaving differently, Japanese consumers suddenly look a lot like their counterparts in Europe and the United States. Celebrated for their willingness to pay for quality and convenience and usually uninterested in cheaper products, Japanese consumers are now flocking to discount and online retailers. Sales of relatively affordable private-label foods have increased dramatically, and many consumers, despite small living spaces, are buying in bulk. Instead of eating out, people are entertaining at home. Workers are even packing their own lunches, sparking the nickname bento-danshi, or “boxlunch man.”

 

The preceding quote is from the latest “DFS Learning e-Blast” article, The New Japanese Consumer, by Brian Salsberg.

 

In this 2nd quarter 2010 article from the McKinsey Quarterly, the author provides an interesting overview of the Japanese consumer’s changing domestic purchasing behaviors.

 

In previous e-Blast articles we’ve explored the changing dynamics of consumers in Korea and China.  Today, learn what factors are changing the way the Japanese consumer thinks about shopping and brands, and how this impacts their shopping behaviors.  By better understanding what drives today’s Japanese shopper, we can better serve our #2 customer nationality as they visit our locations throughout the world.

 

More from the article:

 

This fundamental shift in the attitudes and behavior of Japanese consumers seems likely to persist, irrespective of any economic recovery.  That’s because the change stems not just from the recent downturn but also from deep-seated factors ranging from the digital revolution to the emergence of a less materialistic younger generation.

 

Read the short article to learn more!

 

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious™ strategist

 

www.OsorioGroup.com

 

What do you think?  Please add your comments to join the discussion!

 

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Insights on Korea’s Luxury Market

October 8, 2011

DISCUSSION TOPIC

Korea’s Luxury Market – 10-04-2011

“…the performances of famous brands in Korea have been mixed. For example, LVMH and Ferragamo continued to do well, but others, like Gucci Group and Dior, saw sales drop in real terms in 2010.”

The preceding quote is from the latest “DFS Learning e-Blast” article, Korea’s luxury market: Demanding consumers, but room to grow, by Aimee Kim and Martine Shin.

Read about the changing Korean shopping landscape in this write-up of the results from McKinsey’s 2011 Korea luxury consumer survey, available on the McKinsey & Company Web site. The authors note that McKinsey research shows that South Koreans spend a higher percentage of their household incomes on luxury goods than the Japanese do, and the South Korean market looks to sustain strong growth for several years to come. But the country’s thing for bling is evolving: buyers are beginning to think more about brand differentiation than about ostentatiously displaying famous logos.

While DFS does not currently do business directly in Korea, the insights from the McKinsey story highlight the purchasing behaviors of Koreans who continue to travel in significant numbers to many of our destinations.

More from the article:

Thus, while the headline news is that the luxury market is still growing strongly, uncertainty is also mounting. In this year’s report, McKinsey addresses these concerns, which come in the form of three key questions: Can South Korea keep it up? What’s changing? And what do these trends mean for the players in the luxury industry?”

Read the short article to learn more!

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! ™ strategist

www.OsorioGroup.com

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Service Lessons for Retailers from the Airlines

October 2, 2011

DISCUSSION TOPIC

Three Lessons Retailers Can Learn About Service From the Airlines – 09-16-2011

September 16, 2011

As a frequent flier with over 1.5 million Aadvantage miles (how about that!), it struck me on the way home from Shop.org that the retailing industry should use the airline industry as a cautionary tale. It’s a business that could do SO much better, but doesn’t, and has devolved into a commodity industry whereby the definition of success is safely transporting passengers from one place to another. And, God bless them for that! U.S. airlines, at least, have a stellar track record on safety.

But airlines have optimized the logistics end of the business to the point where it’s all about cramming as many passengers as possible onto as many flights as possible, moving them from point to point efficiently, and calling it a day.

Three Retail Lessons

1. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver. Simple enough, right? The old adage of under-promise and over-deliver applies, and yet the airlines do it in reverse 99 percent of the time. Returning from Shop.org, I traveled on a jetBlue flight that was delayed 90 minutes due to weather plus a slight (if there is such a thing) mechanical problem. Here’s the rub: jetBlue announced a 40-minute delay and delivered a 90-minute delay. Traveling for 30 years, as I have, this is almost always the case. Any ultimate delay will actually be worse than originally announced. Retail Lesson: When there is a problem, give your customers a realistic assessment of the issue right away, and then try to do better than that.

2. Don’t try to go from full-serve to self-serve. Since I hadn’t flown on jetBlue in 5+ years, I noticed the difference, so I’ll pick on them. When jetBlue first started flying, they had free snacks and free TV. While they still offer those two things (sort of), they have downgraded to an a la carte menu where you have to pay for movie channels on the “free” TV, pay for a headset, pay for “premium” snacks, pay for a pillow/blanket “kit,” pay for a few extra inches of leg room, etc. In short, they are now a regular airline and the TVs are in need of updating, too. Retail Lesson: When your business is founded on offering “free” extras, don’t start nickel and diming customers. If you are a full service retailer, be careful when you start trying to get your customers to check themselves out, use kiosks to find merchandise, help themselves at the meat case, etc.

3. You didn’t have me at hello! Does anybody but me remember the “good old days” of flying when flight attendants and gate and reservations counter attendants actually greeted you and maybe even spoke a complete sentence or asked how your day was going? It’s been well over a decade since I got more than a “good morning” from an airline employee. (Side note: I have had better luck on the phone and almost all airline employees have been civil if not friendly when asked a question). Retail lesson: Just think of the extra business you could garner if your associates were actually friendly and engaged each potential customer.

For retailers, commoditization could mean the industry degrades to the point where a handful of retailers successfully delivers products to consumers more or less on time, with an optimized supply chain, but with minimal to no service and differentiation. And, we don’t want retail to be like the airline industry, do we?

Discussion questions:  What’s the best way for chain retailers to motivate their employees to offer superior service? What’s your air travel tale of woe, and what can retailers learn from it?

My post:

The number of posts clearly indicates that the airline situation strikes a nerve with almost everyone.  For most routes, the choices are few and the airlines know it.  So in a financial model driven by high fuel and labor costs and meager profits dependent on pure price and supply chain efficiencies, it is no wonder that expecting anything other than arriving safely in your destination is futile.

On the retail side, the sobering reality is that a model built purely on supply chain and pricing efficiencies will deliver an awful experience over time.  And unlike the airlines, there are usually other options and the customer will go elsewhere.

It has always been this simple:  Retail interesting and innovative products in a compelling environment (virtual or physical), staffed by caring, knowledgeable people who love what they do.  Hire for these talents (merchants, store leaders and staff alike), pay well, invest in development, and authentically engage them in the business.  Unfortunately too many retailers over-complicate the formula and chase each other down the uninspiring product and price-driven path to boredom and irrelevance.

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! ™ strategist

www.OsorioGroup.com

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Go to the full discussion at Retailwire.com:  Three Lessons

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The Lure and Growth of Outlet Malls

August 27, 2011

DISCUSSION TOPIC

Outlet Malls Adding Square Footage 08-26-2011

At least in terms of real estate, outlet malls are the stars of retail. The channel appears to be the only one witnessing noticeable square footage growth.

A series of articles recently detailed the appeal of factory outlet malls while pointing to expansion efforts in markets around the country. The first ever outlet opened in Oklahoma City in August. A new outlet shopping center is being built in San Clemente, CA.

The expansion comes as apparel sales at factory outlets rose 17.8 percent for the 12 months that ended in April, NPD Group told The Weekly Herald in Washington.

“Americans are so focused on price,” Lee Peterson, executive vice president of creative services at WD Partners, told the Chicago Tribune.

But a number of factors besides budget-shopping are driving outlet center’s growth:

  • Overcoming stigma: Outlet centers over the years have lessened the perception of a bargain-bin atmosphere. Steve Craig, chief executive of Craig Realty Group, which owns Citadel Outlets in Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times, “Ten years ago, if I said, ‘Come shop at an outlet,’ they’d say, ‘Oh, no, I shop at Neiman Marcus.’ I don’t get any nose cringes anymore.”
  • Luxury appeal: Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Barneys and Saks are also all opening up more outlet locations. Bloomingdale’s and Lord & Taylor are opening outlets for the first time.
  • Vendor expansion: Newer vendor brands such as Not Your Daughter’s Jeans, Vince Camuto shoes and Under Armour are aggressively expanding outlet locations.
  • Marketing ramps up: Bus tours and hotel shuttle packages are often now offered to attract tourists to the mall. Coupons and radio ads are being used to drive nearby traffic.
  • Hybrids: Hybrid malls combining full-price and outlet stores are opening. Macy’s recently announced plans to open its first traditional department store in an outlet center.
  • Location! Location!: With limits, many outlet centers appear to be opening closer and closer to towns and cities.
  • Economics: It’s not only lower rents, but common area assessments (no elevators/escalators, no collective heat/air conditioning) and staffing costs are lower than traditional malls. At the same time, Chicago Premium Outlets in Aurora generates $700 a square foot while Simon Property’s top-performing outlet mall, Orlando Premium Outlets in Florida, generates $1,300 a square foot, according to the Chicago Tribune.

While the heap of recent articles exploring outlet centers growth were overwhelmingly positive on the channel’s prospects, it was stated that location remains a drawback for consumers not fond of driving far distances. Although many appear to be opening closer to traditional mall towns and cities, brands are still said to worry about opening outlets too close to their full-price department store or mall customers.

Another issue is merchandise quality, although it appears to be a minor complaint. While outlets in the early days did sell a large quantity of the prior-season liquidation goods formerly found at full-price locations, an estimated 85 percent of apparel — even at luxury stores — is made specifically for outlets at inferior quality to offer the needed lower prices. Outlet shoppers either don’t know or don’t care. But Boston University professor Ellen Ruppel Shell, author of Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture, warned in The Oklahoman, “It’s really a case of buyer beware to know what you are getting. And the sales clerks don’t always know.”

Discussion questions:  What’s your assessment on how the factory outlet channel has evolved and its future prospects? What limits do you see for factory outlet center growth? What warnings, if any, would you offer brands?

My post:

Retailers must tread carefully here.  On the one hand, centers in places like Oklahoma City are a phenomenal way for retailers such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Saks Off 5th, and others to penetrate a fast growing and underserved demographic at a relatively low cost of capital and ongoing labor/overhead.  In addition, given that the current economic malaise is likely to continue in much of the US for the next several years, Outlet locations allow a retailer a much needed growth opportunity particularly for publicly traded companies whose stock price is largely driven by growth (or lack thereof).

On the other hand, luxury and upmarket brands must carefully consider the risks to brand equity.  The more this channel grows, particularly in close proximity to urban centers, the higher the chance of degradation of brand perception.  Long term, this could hurt brand equity and growth.  However, as most upmarket brands operate on a global platform, there can be two strategies:  One which capitalizes on what appears to be a long term trend toward price driven retail in the US and potentially some markets in Europe, and another which focuses on the high growth Asian and emerging market economies which allow for high margin, regular price selling.

A great example of this is the Timberland brand.  In the US, I can buy a Timberland knit polo shirt for $60, ~$48 on sale at Macy’s.  Pricier than similar product from moderate brands, but I’m willing to pay the price for the quality, fit and the prestige of the brand.  Recently in Singapore, I needed a casual shirt quickly while attending a conference.  With only 15 minutes to shop, I went into the Timberland store in the Shops at Marina Bay Sands and spent the equivalent of $104 for a similar knit polo shirt.  Clearly this brand is taking advantage of this two-pronged strategy as are many others.  Currently the only “outlet product” they sell is online and only footwear, but you see my point.  Sad to be a brand only operating in the US these days…

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! ™ strategist

www.OsorioGroup.com

What do you think?  Please add your comments and add to the discussion!

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Go to the full discussion at Retailwire.com:  Outlet Malls Adding Square Footage

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Consumer Credit Use Rising Again?

July 24, 2011

DISCUSSION TOPIC

Consumers to Retailers – Charge It 07-22-2011

Much has been made of the progress Americans have been making in digging out from underneath piles of debt since the Great Recession began. Frugal consumers are watching their dollars and not letting credit card debt put them in financially untenable positions.

Every month, for example, Target provides an update on its credit card receivables, which has shown steady year-over-year improvement in credit card delinquency rates. In June, only three percent of the company’s cardholders were 60+ days past due. This compared to 4.9 percent in June 2010 and 5.7 percent in 2009. Going through the company’s table, a similar pattern is found for all the other months, as well.

Now, however, it may be that consumers are sliding back. According to research from First Data Corporation, the largest processor of credit cards, credit card volume growth was up 10.7 percent in June, the largest increase in over a year. Volume numbers, according to First Data, are largely driven by inflation.

“Consumers, particularly in the lower-income end, are being forced to use their credit cards for everyday spending like gas and food,” Silvio Tavares, senior vice president at First Data, told Bloomberg News. “That’s because there’s been no other positive catalyst, like an increase in wages, to offset higher prices. It’s a cash-flow problem.”

Discussion questions:  What does the increased use of credit cards mean for retailers? Would it be in retailers’ interests to dissuade customers from credit card use?

My post:

Most of the comments have gone well beyond the simple questions asked.  There is too little data in the articles to divine conclusions on the overall impact of increased credit card usage. The reasons vary from people needing to use credit due to cash running out, using their cards for convenience, the impact of inflation, and more.  What does this mean for retailers?  Credit is merely a means of payment. The answer will vary by retailer and will be more accurately tied to transaction volume and size.  It is certainly not in retailers’ interest, nor their responsibility to dissuade credit card use.  Between consumer education on the downside of overusing credit, to new government efforts to better regulate credit card issuers, consumers are much better equipped to make credit use decisions on their own.

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! ™ strategist

www.OsorioGroup.com

What do you think?  Please add your comments and add to the discussion!

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Go to the full article at Retailwire.com:  Consumers to Retailers – Charge It.

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Obama gets Blasted on Free Trade

July 18, 2009

DISCUSSION TOPIC

Obama Drinks Friedman’s Kool-Aid 7/16/09

TOPIC SUMMARY:

In a July 16th Op Ed piece, Thom Hartman rails against President Obama’s apparent embrace of Friedman-style free trade which Clinton and both Bush’s championed.

Our economy has gone into the toilet over the past 30 years, and President Obama and his advisors think “free trade” is the solution.  Like Bill Clinton and both George Bush’s, he’s so enamored of it he’s even recommending it to poor African nations.

Yet “free trade” is a guaranteed ticket to the poorhouse for any nation, and the evidence is overwhelming.  The concept was introduced, in fact, by Henry VII, as something that England should encourage other countries to do while it maintained protectionism; a process known as the 1485 Tudor Plan that led to the rapid industrialization of England and the deeper impoverishment of its trading “partners.”

With no evident irony or understanding of how South Korea went about becoming a modern economic powerhouse, on Friday, July 10, 2009, President Obama lectured the countries of Africa from Ghana, where he was visiting.

Hartman goes on to walk the reader through South Korea’s economic ascension built on central government controlled industry development and strong protectionist tariffs.  He then talks through examples of successful protectionist strategies employed by Japan for Toyota and our own early history of protectionist polices.  He ends with this warning:

If President Obama and our Congress don’t soon learn the lessons Alexander Hamilton taught us in 1791, which he learned from Henry VII and were borrowed by Japan, South Korea, and China, we’ll continue to see American industry slowly die.  And with it will go the American middle class.

Discussion questions:  So who is right?  Hartman, Friedman, neither, both?  Where do we go from here?

My post: 

The part that Hartman and Friedman both miss is that today’s interconnected world is far more complex than either the example of Korea or Japan or even the early US seem to demonstrate.  This is not a time to debate protectionism or free trade.  A third, new model is needed that recognizes the need to protect fledgling industries early in their development and allows for the reality of a necessarily interconnected financial and resource world economy.

One reason that Clinton’s push to true free trade failed (so far) for the US manufacturing industry was the failure of labor to participate in the dialogue to create a new labor/industry paradigm and the failure of leadership by politicians and key industry leaders to do the same.  Clinton moved forward without fully appreciating the difficulty in moving embedded interest groups to a new thought paradigm.  Holding onto past practices has so far held us back. 

One of these African countries just may be the one that shows us the path to economic prosperity in a world that has moved on from both Friedman’s and Hartman’s prescriptions.

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! ™ strategist

www.OsorioGroup.com

What do you think?  Please add your comments and add to the discussion!

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Go to the full article at OpEdNews.com:  Obama Drinks Friedman’s Kool-Aid

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Keeping consumers happy and loyal

June 28, 2009

DISCUSSION TOPIC

Customer Loyalty in a Post-Recession World 6/16/09

TOPIC SUMMARY:

Retailers will need to focus on keen pricing, rewards for loyalty and paramount customer service to keep consumers happy in the post-recession world.

According to Experian’s latest Insight Report, consumers are less loyal and more doubtful about retailers than before. Additionally, more than 80 percent of shoppers are increasingly aware of the price of goods and services. Both sentiments are likely to stick around after the recession.

“In the post-recession U.K. we are going to see the rise of the promiscuous, bounce-back consumer, one whose loyalty has to be won and re-won every day,” says Future Foundation planning director Joe Staton.

In the grocery sector, U.K. consumers are already scaling back. A Nielsen study found 32 percent of shoppers will continue to cut back on food expenses after the recession.

This focus on value has decreased brand monogamy. Historically brand-loyal consumer groups are demonstrating “volatile and promiscuous” shopping behavior.

“The recession will mean different things to different people, but there are some things that are certain,” says Bob Bayman, a director and partner of brand consultancy i-am Associates. “If you have customers, you must keep them.”

It costs five times as much cash to get a new customer as it costs to keep a current one, yet Mr. Bayman says many retailers are more focused on winning new shoppers than establishing loyalty.

Regardless of the economic climate, he says, losing customers and spending extra money to try and attract new ones is a waste of precious resources.

Experian’s report listed three elements key to winning bounce-back consumers: Price, loyalty and service.

Post-recession consumers will be more price-savvy so brands will need to keep costs transparent, highlight benefits and revisit all-inclusive and package deals.

Sainsbury’s “Feed your Family for a Fiver” campaign and expanded Basics range with many £1 items has helped grow the company’s like-for-like sales 4.5 percent. Already 70 percent of customers buy into Basics, making it the chain’s fastest growing sub-brand this year.

Caring for a consumer during the recession, however, will not guarantee loyalty later on. Reward points schemes, personalized discounts and targeted one-to-one communications will help establish customer allegiance.

Bounce-back consumers will be able and willing to look for the best customer service experience in addition to good value.

“True customer loyalty comes out of an emotional bond,” says Mr. Bayman. “So therefore think of building a brand that has character, human traits and personality. This leads us to giving unconditionally without expecting or talking about a deal.”

Discussion questions:  How might customer loyalty and retention change after the recession ends? What strategies will best win back customers post-recession?

My post: 

One clear truth of the post-recession period will be a continuing lack of the easy credit that allowed consumption to grow seemingly without limit.  Consumers will usually be spending only this month’s available cash vs. overspending on their credit cards.  Retailers will be fighting for a slice of a smaller pie for the foreseeable future. Therefore, the necessity for developing meaningful customer experiences becomes paramount in the fight for loyalty.  There is no single solution or set of solutions. Rather, the successful retailers of the future will first, truly believe in delivering a great customer experience.  Words won’t cut it – management must demonstrate commitment to this through their actions and investments in customer-centric environments, services, technologies, etc.  Second, successful retailers will continuously listen to their customers in every way possible:  focus groups, surveys, blogs, Twitter, and more.  Finally, successful retailers will never forget they are merchants – and continuously deliver products that surprise and delight their customers.  Sounds easy, doesn’t it?  We’ll see…

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! ™ strategist

www.OsorioGroup.com

What do you think?  Please add your comments and add to the discussion!

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Go to the full discussion at RetailWire.com:
http://www.retailwire.com/Discussions/Sngl_Discussion.cfm/13808

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