Mall Shopping No Longer Cool

April 18, 2016 § 1 Comment

1110_macys-nyc_650x4551The mall is no longer the cultural center of consumerism.  The crown jewels of mall shopping like Macy’s, J Crew and Sears are suffering.  Some predict 15% of malls will fail or be converted into non-retail space within the next ten years. In 2015 major retailers saw sales move away from brick and mortar stores while online giant Amazon increased sales 97%.

There are many reasons contributing to this decline but most importantly, there is a new savvy shopper out there who wants or needs new experiences.

  1. The mall as a hangout or destination is no longer necessary. Young people used to go to the mall to see and be seen. Today, social media, text messages and video chats replace some of that social activity. Movies can be downloaded. And goods are accessible online. So, the number of retail visits continues to fall. Time saving is paramount for many.
  1. The middle class shopper has moved on. Only upscale shopping centers are surviving. The affluent are keeping luxury brands in business, but middle class shoppers have left semi-luxury brands in favor of cheaper alternatives. The middle class shopper is less financially able to shop malls. Upscale malls in “super zip codes” are doing well, but the middle class mall is suffering. Middle class shoppers are seeking out dollar stores and stand alone retailers like Walmart and T. J. Maxx.
  1. Savvy shoppers are in control. Educated shoppers know where to get the best deal. Shopping decisions start online with price comparison. Some 87% of smartphone and tablet owners use a mobile device for shopping activities according to a Nielsen report. While 59% said online shopping was actually their favorite way to shop, many still prefer going to a store after checking prices online. Purchases are moving online, particularly with the prevalence of free shipping at many online retailers. Purchases are going to mega sellers like Amazon, department store online shops, boutiques, designer sites and buying clubs like Gilt and RueLaLa. With this type of price scrutiny, retailers have moved to heavy promotional selling.
  1. Fashion is moving to more year-round clothing. Traditional seasonal shopping has been replaced by just-in-time shopping to more closely follow current weather patterns. Year-round shopping and the prevalence of discount fashion like H&M has changed patterns and total expenditures.
  1. The retailer options have continued to grow. Premium outlet centers has replaced the mall for many bargain seekers and sales continue to grow. But discounting by major retailers and the continued growth of online shopping may make outlet centers less attractive for savvy shoppers in the future.




Instant Fashion and Seasonless Clothes?

April 18, 2016 § Leave a comment

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 17: A model showcases designs on the catwalk by Burberry Prorsum on day 4 of London Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2013, at Kensington Gardens on September 17, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

Fashion house Burberry announced they are replacing a four-show season with two shows that will be more “seasonless, immediate and personal”.  These fashion shows in September and February will have collections for both men and women that will be available for purchase immediately after viewing.  What’s behind this trend?

A desire for immediate of purchase, the ubiquity of social media and seasonless fashion are shaping the new fashion industry.

Luxury designers like Burberry are rethinking the way they reach consumers to adapt to the world of online shopping and social media. In today’s world, the fashion headlines are daily, not seasonal, and are shaped by bloggers and celebrities, rather than magazines like Vogue. Fashion shows are increasingly seen as outdated. The daily catwalk is Instagram. And fashion is shared instantly on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. The time between the introduction of collections and the ability to purchase needs to be shortened from the old system of a six-month lag. The collections lose the momentum created during the runway show.

Diane Von Furstenberg skipped the runway completely this year. She presented her collection at a party in her offices, featuring vignettes with models wearing the clothes in real life situations.

Burberry has made a strong commitment to digital to create immediate gratification for shoppers. Burberry has made sure they are on all the social media platforms including smaller ones like Periscope and Snapchat.

Runway shows for fashion houses are live streamed. The exclusivity is gone. Kanye West’s opening of New York Fashion Week was watched by a staggering 20 million people via live stream, while London Fashion Week shows are apparently broadcast to 60 outdoor locations around the UK. Luxury retailers are not trying to emulate the fast fashion brands like Zara and H&M, but they are recognizing the desire for immediate purchase.

We live in a world where we spend time in artificially cold or warm environments thanks to air-conditioning and central heating and clear demarcations between the seasons are not as apparent. Climate change, a growing global market for high fashion, and travel makes seasonless fashion more important. When it’s winter in Britain, it’s summer in Australia.

Disruption has even hit fashion.

Marketing to Women: Eight Tips to Optimize Your Retail Layout

January 1, 2016 § 1 Comment

mobile-shoppingI have worked with retailers for most of my career and sharp retailers know that every single foot of store space needs to work hard.  Spend some time in your store observing customers and what they are doing.  And then try some tried and true store layout tips gleaned from retail consultants Kizer & Bender that might help get your stores optimized for the best selling environment.

  1.  Allow for a “decompression zone”.  When consumers enter a store, 90% will typically turn to the right.  Shoppers typically don’t notice merchandising displays within 15 feet of the entrance.  The first thing that customers are noticing is your general decor, your brand statement about your store – walls, flooring, accent colors, fixtures, pleasing smells and comfortable aisle widths. Your checkout should never be in the right front of your store.
  2. Check your Vista.  According to Kizer and Bender, stand inside your front door just beyond the Decompression Zone (about 5’ inside the store) and spread your arms out at shoulder height with your index fingers extended. The space you see is called the Vista – the area that builds a shopper’s first impression of your store. The space inside the Vista needs to be clean, uncluttered and full of not-to-be-missed product. This is where you should place your Speed Bump displays.  Speed Bumps are just past the decompression zone and are the place for those attractive items.  Speed bumps can be special fixturing or small tables for display.
  3. Color is important.  Neutral colors are used in 80% of all stores, with strong accent colors used sparingly.  The wrong colors can change the whole shopping experience.
  4. Choose a story layout that fits your business.  There are three types of store layouts– the Grid Layout typically used in supermarkets and big box stores, the Loop (Racetrack) layout that creates a clearly defined path through the store, and the Free Flow Layout, typically used by specialty retailers, where they find new merchandise displays at every turn. Make sure you are always leading a customer somewhere.  Most stores use a circular path to get the customer to walk through the store and back to the front.  But keep “merchandising outposts” in their path so they can discover items as they walk through the store.
  5. The Power Wall.  Walk inside the front door, stop just past your decompression zone and turn right.  That’s your Power Wall, the place to display important departments, new and seasonal items, high demand and high-profit items.
  6. Where’s the Bananas?  Every store has a high volume necessity item like bananas or motor oil that customers always look for.  Put them in a back place along the shopping loop that encourages your shopper to shop the entire store.
  7. Store Fixturing is a tool.  Keep in mind the purpose of the fixture.  You aren’t supposed to see the fixture.  You should see the merchandise.
  8. Check out should be placed at a natural stopping point in the shopping experience or path you have created.  Have a counter big enough for shoppers to place their bags and/or personal belongings.  Last chance for encouraging impulse or “last minute” items.

And don’t forget technology in today’s world.  The technology can include digital screens, iPads to aid shopping and online helps.  Does your store have WiFi?  It should because shoppers are using their smartphones in-store.


Plus Size Fashion Continues to Grow

November 9, 2015 § 1 Comment

SHEVA-Ashley-TiptonIt’s no secret that the average American woman is a size 14. And it seems that American fashion is beginning to take note.

Several things have happened recently to amp up the plus size movement.  Project Runway celebrated its first plus size fashion designer win last week.  Ashley Tipton is only the second designer on the show who has specialized in plus sizes.  Her unique collection celebrated her Mexican heritage, a nod to Frida Kahlo and a fashion forward plus look.  Recently Melissa McCarthy launched her own clothing line which is carried at retailers like Nordstrom’s and shopping network HSN.

According to market research firm NPD group, sales of plus-size clothes grew five percent in 2014, making it a $17.5 billion industry.  What’s more the study defined ‘plus-size’ as U.S. size 18 and up, whereas in the fashion industry it starts at size 14, meaning the growth may well have been significantly larger.

Over the past two years, plus-size sales within the e-commerce category have grown 31%.  Online shopping seems to take a larger share of plus size shopping. Even traditional retailers have more plus size options online.

The Opportunity


Most plus-size women feel that their body size is not sufficiently represented in fashion and retail.  A recent study from ModCloth found that 46% of plus-size women ‘never or rarely’ find clothing that flatters their body.
The online retailer surveyed more than 1,500 women to determine how they feel about the current state of the plus-size market.  They found that most women are dissatisfied. Some 81%  said they would spend more on clothing if there were more options available in their size.


Starting Today, You Will Be Able to Buy on Pinterest

July 1, 2015 § 2 Comments

pinterest-buynow-01-2015Today you start seeing buyable Pins on Pinterest.  According to their blog, when you spot a Pin with a blue price that means you can buy it.  Pinterest is rolling it out to U.S. Pinners on iPhone and iPad, so make sure you have the latest app version.

Buyable pins are simply the way you buy your favorite products on Pinterest.  The pins will be viewable in your Home feed, boards you visit and in search results.  After putting in credit card information, users will get what they purchase delivered to them once they click the buy button.

What makes this so great is that Pinterest users generally have a strong purchase intent.  They are in a planning mode and that might make them closer to a purchase consideration.  They are searching for ideas for a new nursery, a wardrobe or their next party.  So rather than going to a specific merchant, you are going to a bazaar of ideas that leads to a purchase.

Retailers will be in charge of applying the buy buttons so it may take a while for Buyable Pins to be prolific on the site.  Two-thirds of content on Pinterest is pinned by businesses.  Pinterest says within a few weeks there will be 30 million Buyable Pins all over Pinterest, from name brands like Macy’s, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus.

Retailers don’t pay for the pins, and Pinterest won’t be currently taking a percentage of purchases. Advertisers will pay to promote the pins as native ads however.  Pinterest did their homework and found users wanted buy buttons.  Almost 90% of pinners have made a purchase because of Pinterest, according to a recent study by market research firm Millward Brown found. With 70 million monthly active users, these Buyable Pins could make Pinterest a major e-commerce player.

Buyable Pins will not be available for Android users or desktop users for a while, but it’s coming.

Marketing to Women: Why Shopping Local is Important

December 16, 2014 § Leave a comment

Linda Berry, Bella Linea Owner

Linda Berry, Bella Linea Owner

Shopping local is more than a trend. It is growing for several reasons. Shopping local is good for business, good for the environment and good for our desire to find one-of-a-kind, meaningful products.

Good for Business

Local shopping is not insignificant. In a world of online shopping and big box retailers, the 23 million independent stores in America account for 54 percent of sales. These independent stores provide 55 percent of jobs, and 66 percent of all net new jobs since the 1970s.

One study says that local business generates 70% more local economic activity per square foot than big box retail. Keeping dollars in the local economy has been the rally cry for small business. My friend Linda Berry, owner of fine linen store Bella Linea in Nashville, Tennessee, recently shared some of the facts with her customers to reinforce the importance of keeping dollars in her community. She shared statistics showing that for every $100 spent at a locally owned store, $45 remains in the local economy, compared with about $13 per $100 spent at a big box and almost zero for online shopping.

A movement around Shopping Local has begun. American Express founded Small Business Saturday in 2010 to encourage consumers to visit small businesses in their community as part of the after Thanksgiving shopping. This year shopping local has grown double digits. A report from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and American Express – the Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey – revealed that 88 million consumers “shopped small” this year, up 14.9 percent from just a year ago.

Good for Our Need for One-of-A-Kind Finds and One-of-A-Kind Experiences

Shop-Local-This-Christmas-300x278Many retailers like Linda Berry also talk about the importance of meeting needs for today’s shoppers. Linda spends time traveling to find and create one-of-kind products that her customers can’t find anywhere else. Services like free designer consultation and free gift wrapping make small businesses like Bella Linea stand out among the mass marketers.

Trends like eating local and the Maker Movement also continue to provide unique goods and experiences that meet the desires of today’s consumer. The Maker Movement really captures the group of people creating individually made pieces for the home, small-batch food products, hand-knit, handmade and hand crafted items that can’t be mass produced.

Food has gone local with independent restaurants, local food purveyors, handmade food products and farmers markets proliferating.   Beyond the food, food experiences have become custom as well. There are food tours, hands-on cooking lessons and small batch wine classes.

Good for the Environment

And, surprisingly, shopping local is also good for the environment.   Shopping locally helps cut down on processing, packaging and transportation waste, leading to less pollution and less fuel consumption.

So, with just a few days of the shopping season left, visit a local store and make a difference in your community.

Marketing to Women: More than a Number

November 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

1983I don’t often talk about a single television spot but the Special K “More than a number” campaign has generated a spot that really defines women as more than sizes or numbers.  Special K and their agency Leo Burnett actually created a pop-up store for women buying jeans.  The proposition is real.  Women fear only one thing more than shopping for jeans and that is shopping for a swimsuit.  They talk about depressing feelings related to the shopping experience.  Every woman I know talks about fat jeans, comfortable jeans and skinny jeans, but Special K has tried to change the language.

Hidden cameras capture women as they are shopping in the pop-up store.  A surprising thing happens when they find out there are no sizes on the jeans.  Their whole attitude changes when they find out that the jeans are not sized in numbers but in words like “fabulous”, “confident”, and “radiant”.  The women were free from numbers and were affirmed that they were beautiful.

As women, our self-esteem and confidence is enhanced when we are not tied to old tapes we play in our head.  And advertising can play a role in establishing new self affirming roles for women.

Research shows that if we feel more attractive, we are more confident.  Jane Risen, an associate professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, says  “The most relevant study that comes to mind for me is a classic study looking at self-fulfilling prophecies,” she said. Men and women had a 10-minute conversation, via headphones and microphones so they couldn’t see each other. Before the chat, the men were given fake pictures, so half of them believed they were talking to an attractive woman, and the other half an unattractive woman.

“The most remarkable finding was that an independent set of coders who listened only to the women (and didn’t see a picture) also thought that the women who were supposedly more attractive were more friendly and sociable,” Riser said. “In other words, being perceived by the men as attractive lead the women to act differently such that other people came to believe the same thing that the men believed.”

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