January 1, 2016 § 1 Comment
I 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
November 9, 2015 § 1 Comment
It’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.
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.
December 16, 2014 § Leave a comment
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
Many 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.
November 15, 2014 § Leave a comment
I 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.”
August 25, 2014 § Leave a comment
I hear target audience horror stories like Nine West all the time. Sometimes it is a media target issue, sometimes it is a relevance issue and sometimes it is a creative issue. Today targeting marketing to women has a whole new meaning. We need to know a lot more about a target than their sex, age, income and favorite brands. The creative, the brand and the media all have to be in sync.
Nine West Looking to Shock?
One of the most talked about campaigns in the women’s sector is the fall advertising campaign from shoe company Nine West. Customers of the brand found it offensive and said the brand did not know them well. The campaign targets women 25-49. Okay and what else? Evidently the campaign has centered on supposedly key occasions in women’s lives – Starter Husband Hunting, the anticipated Walk of Shame, and the First Day of Kindergarten complete with four-inch heels and the Drunch – a drunken lunch. Criticism has come from those saying this campaign is not new, but rather a throwback to the 50s when all women wanted was a wedding and a child.
The marketing team said that the brand had lost its luster and they sought to bring some new life to it. And maybe they did expect to encite and enrage a bit. They were clearly not going after mainstream women, but following those who see themselves like HBO series “Girls” and Amy Schumer, the provocative stand-up comic. Did they target them? Maybe. This advertising smacks of Miley Cyrus trying to be irreverent to get a new fan base. Or American Apparel trying to be provocative to make t-shirts sexy. But the real matter is how many of their base audience did they disenfranchise.
Consumer Backlash to Nine West Campaign
“Stupid campaign 9W. Love your shoes but don’t patronize your customers by an outdated ideal,” said one Facebook user. “Women are hunting success and goals, dreams and visions. Not husbands.” This is pretty true. Millennial women of today think man-hunting is a pretty outdated notion and they value their independence. The top priorities in her life are career success and love. Oh, and love does not necessarily mean marriage.
Jen Drexler, senior vice president at the Insight Strategy Group and co-author of “What She’s Not Telling You,” found the Nine West ads problematic.“ ‘Starter husband hunting’ and ‘walk of shame’ is not the sort of thing you say out loud even to your best friend, because those are things that men say about women, not that women say about women,” Ms. Drexler said. “If you really liked women, you’d be calling that a ‘victory lap,’ not a ‘walk of shame.’ ”
Jimmie John’s had a moment of lapse when they aired a spot in the Super Bowl that shows a man coming home to his wife who is doing the laundry. Whoa! Did they forget that 74% of women work and many of them are their customers? SodaStream took heat for their spot with Scarlett Johansson which broke several rules – mentioning Coke and Pepsi and objectifying a woman as a way to sell the soda maker.
Huggies had their miss when they showed Dads being inattentive to babies with full diapers because, hey, Huggies can handle anything. They certainly where in tune with the importance of shared responsibilities for children today, but they didn’t catch the nuance that Dads were portrayed as inattentive and non-caring. Stay-at-home dads were irate and created a petition “We’re Dads, Huggies, Not Dummies”.
An advertising friend called me this week and was telling me another story about targeting. Campaigns for a luxury car didn’t move the needle until they took into account the aspirational buyer. Their media tracking was able to notice this aspiring buyer. By offering a lease package for these aspirational buyers, sales accelerated nicely.
So what is the lesson here? Certainly brands must hit the right segment of their target audience and clearly they must trigger the emotion that the product or service has for the buyer.
1. Look at your target beyond demographics. What are the psychographics of the buyer? Why are the self-expressive benefits of your brand? How does the product make them feel? What are their values? Two moms can be vastly different. One can value organic food, yoga and do her own composting, while another can be a price/convenience shopper, with their mobile phone dialed to take-out and restaurants that take coupons. Find out their tangential interests – what do they pin to Pinterest, follow on Twitter or share on Facebook?
2. Talk to your consumers. Shocking thought. Today we can do that in a variety of ways. We can conduct online or in-person focus groups. We can turn to social media to see what they are saying and we can use social to have conversations to better understand how to be relevant to them. We often construct customer journeys to see how a brand fits into a consumers day and life. Recently some research we did on furniture purchase turned up an interesting fact about a huge national retailer. The consumers were not in love with the brand; it was just an easy alternative to working with a designer for the less important rooms in their home. Everything worked together and could be purchased and delivered quicker than designer fare.
3. Understand the problem your brand will solve for the consumer. I doubt Nine West had research that said they wanted special shoes for a “Walk of Shame”. Need states and occasions have long been part of marketing but truly understanding the underlying reason for the product is essential to creating relevant advertising. If you are advertising cars, some may be eco-friendly and interested in gas mileage while others are seeking safety for their family, or technology to suit their geekiness.
Oh, by the way, Nine West is sticking to their campaign. So let’s see how it works out for them and see what they do next year!