Published on: June 26, 2009
Responding to yesterday’s MNB
Radio piece about smart phones, MNB
user Frederic Arnal wrote:To reinforce your point… I just received an e-mail from American Airlines announcing that we can now check-in on-line, have our boarding pass sent to our smart phone and then scan the phone at the gate. No more paper!
Just the next logical step.MNB
took note yesterday of a new study by Miller Zell suggesting that concerns about the impact of the recession on in-store consumer decisions may be overstated. In my commentary, I didn’t dispute the findings…though I noted that it all depends on how you define “in-store decisions.” And I pointed out that Miller Zell is in the in-store signage business…which just puts the study in context.
Miller Zell CEO Sandy Miller thought I did his company a disservice:Your final line…missed the mark on what we do for many of the top retailers and their suppliers.
Our business is developing retail strategies and turnkey execution programs from total store design to promotional programs focusing on what the shopper sees and reacts to while in stores. Our sole goal is developing programs for our clients, which measurably increase their sales, margins and ROI on a sustained and growing basis.
Respectfully this is far more than “…in the in-store signage business.”
That said, we read, consider and discuss the excellent ideas MNB presents daily: Well done.
Well, I didn’t say in-store signage was all
But point taken.
We also reported yesterday about a new and upscale Walmart Neighborhood Market that was opened in Rogers, Arkansas. In my commentary, I noted that when I was in Bentonville a few weeks ago, I saw an exceptional Walmart Supercenter and Sam’s Club…and wrote:It hardly is unusual for companies (not just Walmart) to have their nicest stores somewhere near headquarters. After all, that’s where the corporate chieftains are and often where they (or their spouses or household help) shop. So people want the stores to look great.
In a lot of ways, though, it ought to be up to those same executives to identify stores that are the farthest from headquarters, and make sure that they are as good as the ones nearby. Maybe it is through frequent visits, or swapping personnel, or some other technique.
user who happens to be from Walmart wrote:Well I just can’t let this one go without a comment … or three:
1. One of the reasons the nearby stores get the ‘new’ remodel packages early on is that they are close enough for all of us who helped design them to see what the end product is up close and personal & correct errors soon enough in the roll-out process to be helpful. Nothing ever gets built the way it’s drawn. There is of course the fact that they are close to the Home Office and the execs like to show visitors the best we have going.
2. The Rogers Supercenter was remodeled just last fall to the cleaner-brighter-more colorful concept, and that look has been rolling out into the current remodels across the country. Remodels & updates are based on the age of the store and the market; there are tiers of intensity, i.e. how much of the whole package the store gets, based on several factors. All stores usually get remodeled every seven years. The store across from the HO is currently being updated, and we are experimenting with some new ideas there as well.
3. The Pinnacle Neighborhood Market was designed to be unique, but is also a test store for new concepts, from food offerings to the look & feel of the store. Many of these things will be incorporated in NHMs in the future, although not all and not everywhere …
Always enjoy your column, especially when I can answer back!
Thanks. I hope you don't think I was insulting your stores…far from it. I was impressed. And continue to be.
And, on the subject of the growth of private label, MNB
user Craig Espelien wrote: The real key to what will happen to private brands as the economy improves is based on a variety of things – I have been through three or four economic downturns during my private label experience and they are all about the same. The largest factor is quality (as you correctly pointed out) – whether retailers continue to offer quality products or if they choose to squeeze a few more cents out of the cost and sacrifice quality for a few more pennies of profit. In the past, economic downturns have helped private brands achieve a new plateau of sales. When the economy improves, there is a period of flattening where the plateau is maintained (with minor movements up or down) for a period of time to see if both the economy and the quality are sustainable.
The retailers that are able to leverage the shift in consumer awareness are those that think a bit more outside of the box – by eliminating unproductive brands (and pushing those sales into both private brands and more value added brands that exist in the category or sector) and by working in tandem with strategic private brand suppliers to develop innovative items that fit a future consumer need or deliver superior performance against the competition.
Too often this opportunity is passed up in a “me too” approach to brand building – the thought process that everyone wants change as long as it is exactly the same as something that already exists (I can not even count the times when superior products were presented to retailers and their response was inevitably – “what is the national brand equivalent item?”). Where in other parts of the world key retailers and private brands lead the development process, very few retailers in the US are willing to do that (Wegmans, Trader Joe’s and a few others are the exceptions that sort of prove the rule).
Hopefully, this downturn will trigger additional foresight amongst retailers to eliminate unproductive brands that add no incremental value for the consumer and move to more product development of things the consumer is not yet aware they want or need (sort of like Swiffer).
Keep up the good work – love the columns and discourse.