Published on: April 5, 2012
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Hi, Kevin Coupe here, and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
I have a couple of things on my mind this morning...
One has to do with the independent sector. In this case, I want to talk about an independent bank that seems to be positioning itself to do battle with the big banks, which it perceives with some justification as having been tainted by recent events.
The bank is called Hudson City Bank, and I’ve been going to a local branch because of some illness in my wife’s family. Her mom has moved to an assisted living facility, and we’ve been doing some of her banking for her at what is her bank of choice. Now, I have to tell you that every visit to this place is about as frustrating as one can imagine - the tellers seem to all have just started yesterday, they don;t seem to be able to take a simple deposit without calling over a branch manager, and visits that at my local Citibank would take about 45 seconds end up taking 10 or 15 minutes.
Here’s what’s amazing to me. On their website, they talk about being “the most efficient bank in America,” which is a claim so absurd as to be laughable. Forbes apparently said it was one of the best managed banks in America, which is also a joke, because they have no idea how to make a branch visit relevant to a 21st century customer.
The whole marketing pitch seems to be hinging on the fact that it is better because it is small, which is ridiculous. Small is not better because it is small. Small is only better when it is better. And anybody who ties the size of an enterprise to quality is, I think, making a big mistake.
Which brings me to a story that really annoyed me this week - from Bloomberg, bearing the title “The Era of Big Box Retail Dominance Is Coming to an End.”
Let me quote from the story:
“The new mantra is small box. While Best Buy, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. are still opening large stores, all are putting increasing emphasis on smaller ones. Best Buy plans to double the number of its smaller Best Buy Mobile stores by 2016. Wal-Mart is building as many as 100 small-format stores this year, while Target is opening five CityTarget locations.”
I hate stories like this one.
On the one hand, sure, it is accurate.
But on the other hand ... Best Buy’s small stores and Walmart’s small stores and Target’s small stores are only going to be successful if they are located in the right neighborhoods, carry the right products, and offer the right services relevant to local shoppers.
Headlines like “The Era of Big Box Retail Dominance Is Coming to an End” often are generated, I think, by consultants who need a new pitch to peddle, new services to market and new research to sell.
Give me a break.
I’ll give you my headline.
People ought to stop talking about box sizes. They actually ought to thinking about the “right box” instead of the “big box or the “small box.”
And by the way...this isn’t a “seismic shift,” which some people like to call it.
Things run in cycles. Always have, always will. And I think that traditional format boundaries actually are falling, because they aren’t relevant to shoppers. They don’t think to themselves, “I think I’ll go to the big box store.” They think about what stores carry the products and offer the services they need.
Memo to Best Buy. Apple Stores aren’t better than you because they are smaller. They’re just cooler, better staffed, and carrying products that people see as relevant and desirable.
I don;t care if you are a bank or an electronics store or a discount retailer. Don’t think about whether you are big or small, local or national, independent or chain.
Make the store experience relevant, compelling, illuminating, unique and immersive.
Do those things, and maybe the customer will see you as intrinsic to their lives.
That’s what is on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to know what is on your mind.
- KC's View: