retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to our story last week about how there were more Apple Watches sold last year than by the entire Swiss watch industry, one MNB reader wrote:

My Fitbit device has replaced my regular watch.  I only wore my regular watch on occasion, mostly when I travel.  I wear my Fitbit everyday and use it instead of my phone for telling time.  I can get notifications on it too. 

From another reader:

I’ve been a long-time fan of well-made watches and I have been fortunate to have collected a few.   At the same time, I began wearing an Apple Watch about three years ago on the insistence of our sons, each of whom owns one; I found myself appreciating the technology and the enhancements it provided to my other Apple devices as well as the benefits of recording my exercise activity.  A couple of years ago, I finally purchased the Swiss watch that I had been saving for over a long period of time.  I recall asking the jeweler who sold me the watch about my dilemma regarding my ownership of both styles of watches and he suggested putting my Swiss watch on my left hand and my Apple Watch on my right.   At first I was concerned about what others would think of my wearing of two devices simultaneously……and after a while, I just didn’t care.   No one has ever asked me why I do it, but my Apple Watch saved my life late last year when it detected an irregular heartbeat and convinced me to seek immediate attention from my cardiologist. 

And another:

Your comments about the Swiss watch industry struck a chord. I very much enjoy my mechanical Hamilton watch, a revival of a classic brand, with a Swiss movement inside. My hope is for a future that is more “bespoke,” that we’ll see a backlash against mass brands, and a resurgence of custom, handcrafted products that offer special experiences, not just another link to an “ecosystem.” At some point I expect to see widespread rejection of ubiquitous technology itself: AI, facial recognition, tracking systems, IOT, autonomous vehicles, and the rest. All I can hope is that it happens before the singularity, at which point it will be too late for all of us!

Regarding the use of generational consultants to help companies navigate the terrain when five distinct generations of employees - traditionalists, baby boomers, Generation Xers, millennials and Generation Zers - coexist in the workplace, one MNB reader wrote:

I’m always jazzed by these discussions because I’ve seen many of the changes the generations have experienced along the way; being a still working boomer, parent of a couple of Xers and grandfather to 5 Zers. The thing that bugs me sometimes is the generalities we make about the generations. One of our execs wrote an article about the latest generation of employees in our stores, how they look at work differently and don’t have the same work ethic more mature employees have. Interestingly, this was written back in the 1970’s, basically they were talking about me.

This generational difference is not new. People are growing up in different worlds with different capabilities based on technology, but they’re still people, going through the growth and development cycles we all did, albeit sometimes more quickly. My Mom, whose been gone for 6 years now, still worked up until the week she died, keeping the books for my sister-in-law’s business using QuickBooks for receivables and payables. She was 88. I’m the oldest person in our workgroup, and yet am usually the one approached with tech questions, so the broad brush of how boomers and traditionalists don’t like or get technology isn’t a slam-dunk for me.

A few years ago our church did some research with our millennials to learn what it was they were looking for to support them in their faith. Authenticity, compassion, joy, all the things they said were important were things that all of us could appreciate. It’s helpful to understand how each generation is shaped by the experiences of their environment, but we should never let generational, or other, differences overshadow the common humanity we share. We are people first, all other labels must come after that. Today, probably as much as at any other time, we need to remember that.

Another MNB reader wrote:

I’m a baby boomer and couldn’t agree more how difficult the multi-generational workforce is, to me, part of the problem is this attitude of “managing people”. If everyone focused on managing business and leading people the upcoming workforce might be better off. Seems like it’s an extension of helicopter parenting into the workplace.

And, from MNB reader Bob Wheatley:

This is yet another example of the impact of cultural shift. It was largely a food culture transformation that ushered in the era of people connecting the dots between the quality of the food they consume and their quality of life. This, along with the digitization of everything, caused upheaval as new emerging brands caught fire, offering improved and more healthy ingredients in legacy categories across the store. Shopping the perimeter became the centerpiece for successful grocery store design as fresh ingredients hold sway. All of this points to cultural shift changing the paradigm of what people care about.

I would recommend a key position be added to the organization chart: Chief Culture Officer whose assignment is to monitor, search, define and design strategy around these shifts – not just to prevent being disintermediated, but also to lay track for innovation and evolution of the business.

I mentioned several movies last week in "OffBeat," prompting one MNB reader to write:

Glad to see your review of Marriage Story. I have been avoiding it for the same reason, it looks like it will be depressing. But after good reviews from both you and my brother (who watched it because he practices family law and he thought it would be an interesting perspective) I think I might brace myself for sadness and try it.

And from another:

Loved Shoot the Moon - Diane Keaton and Albert Finney were fantastic. Watch it whenever it's on, which isn't often enough, unfortunately.

FYI … it is available on Amazon, 24/7.