retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

This has nothing to do with retailing. Or even business.

Except, maybe, that it suggests that consumers shouldn't be underestimated, and that change should not be resisted.

It was just about five months ago in New York City that a controversial bike rental program went into effect. Similar to programs that exist in other cities both in the US and abroad, the Citi Bike initiative (sponsored by Citibank) allows people to rent a bike from racks placed all over the city and then return them to any Citi Bike rack elsewhere in the city.

Drivers complained because they were worried about the impact on traffic, and the likelihood that injuries and even deaths would result. They also complained that the bike racks were taking up valuable parking spaces, and would be underutilized by residents and tourists. This was a change that was not necessary, not timely, and not in synch with how New Yorkers live, they said.

Wrong.

According to National Public Radio, "the city's initial goal for Citi Bike's first year was to attain 60,000 annual members. According to Citi Bike data, the system had over 93,000 members as of November 1."

Perhaps even more importantly, those members have ridden almost 10 million miles in the last five months … and there has not been one related fatality. Not one.

The lesson, I think, is that change, even when it seems untimely and inconvenient, should be embraced, not resisted. Because the future is here, and all the naysayers look simply they were clinging to the past.

Which, in business, can be a significant, even fatal, miscalculation.

It's an Eye-Opener.
KC's View: