Monthly Archives: June 2011

filling shopping bags by filling needs

For the retail industry, the Great Recession has become the Great Malaise.

Last week, Karen Talley reported in the Wall Street Journal that most retailers missed expectations for May. While there were some bright spots, the 25 retailers tracked by Thomson Reuters posted 4.9% growth in May same-store sales, instead of the expected 5.4% gain.

Retailers have a lot reasons for their current lackluster performance. Gas prices and food costs are on the rise, while consumer confidence is down.  Then there’s the weather – Mother Nature has not been kind to retailers.

As Janet Hoffman, managing director of the retail practice at Accenture, says, ‘The cards are stacked against the consumer right now and retailers will have to work hard to bring them into stores.’ I’m guessing that for most retailers, ‘work hard’ will translate into aggressive promotion.

But sales and price promotions are a short-term, reactionary approach that usually denigrates the brand, crushes profitability, and trains customers to only buy on sale. The path out of the malaise and into sustainable brand health and business growth requires a far more customer-centered approach.

To thrive in the long-term, retailers must remember they’re in the business of doing more than moving product out the door. Retail experiences must fill customers’ rational, tangible, and emotional needs.

Intimacy, a women’s intimate apparel chain with 15 stores, and Hot Mama, a 17-unit chain selling designer clothing for moms, provide excellent examples of retailers who are doing more than selling product – they’re filling customers’ needs and their shopping bags.

rational needs

Nearly 20 years ago Susan Nethero created Intimacy to meet a very rational, very common problem – most bras don’t fit right. Ask most any woman and she’ll tell you, her bra either doesn’t look good, causes back pain, and/or renders her clothes ill-fitting or unattractive.

Hot Mama was founded to solve a different, but just as common rational need – it’s hard for moms to shop for themselves. CEO Megan Tamte knew all too well from personal experience the challenges of shopping with fussy kids in tow, strollers and diaper bags that make a sport out of navigating store aisles, and a hard-to-fit post-baby body.

The needs that gave birth to these chains make them relevant and compelling retail ideas to customers.

tangible needs

But these retailers do more than resonate intellectually with customers. Both have designed their store experiences to address customers’ needs tangibly.

For Intimacy, that means fitting all customers for their bras. Fitters go through a week-long ‘bra boot camp’ which trains them how to make women look like they’ve lost 10 pounds or regained the lift they had 10 years ago.

Hot Mama takes a similar approach to employee training. Their ‘stylists’ go through three certification programs – denim, body type, and maternity. As a result, ‘Our stylists can outfit any woman, aged 25 to 65, based on her body the minute she walks through the door,’ says Hot Mama President Kimberly Ritzer in a Fast Company article featuring the chain.

Eighty percent of Intimacy’s inventory is European designer brands that are hard to find in the U.S., so their exclusive product mix is another tangible way Intimacy meets their customers’ needs. Also each of their stores carries approximately 15,000 bra styles in over 90 bra sizes so they have the right style and fit for every woman. And, as Intimacy’s website explains, their dressing rooms are ‘state-of-the-art’ and ‘lit from floor to ceiling in an effort to give each woman a beautiful and unique glow.’

Each Hot Mama location has video games, movies, toys, and coloring books to entertain children and puts them in the center of the store so Mom can keep an eye on her kids. Every aisle is wide enough to accommodate a two-seat stroller, and sales employees often take on babysitting roles as their customers try on clothes.

Clearly the in-store experience at both retailers fills their customers’ tangible needs.

emotional needs

Most importantly Intimacy and Hot Mama fill their customers’ emotional needs.

A BusinessWeek write-up talks about how ‘bra psychology’ has fueled Intimacy’s growth. A half-hour of pampering at one of their stores shows customers how properly fitted lingerie ‘transforms their figures, style, and, more important, self-image.

The chain’s website features an emotional declaration: ‘A woman’s confidence will soar with a bra fitting…She is amazed by the new level of confidence she never believed possible. {intimacy} creates intensely powerful relationships among women by encouraging each woman to love herself first.

For Hot Mama, giving a mom 15 minutes of shopping peace fills her emotional bank. So does finding cool clothes that flatter her new body type.

Tamte’s website message concludes with an uplifting statement: ‘Each mom is a Hot Mama, but it’s easy to lose sight of that in the midst of motherhood. My greatest hope is that moms walk into our stores feeling like we are a store just for them and out our doors CONFIDENT that the Hot Mama within them has come alive again!

the results

The rational, tangible, and emotional resonance created by these two retailers has produced remarkable business results. In 2010, Intimacy generated $35.5MM in sales, which was a 27.5% increase from the prior year. Hot Mama hit $15.1MM in 2010, a 62% YOY increase. (The industry average was less than 3%.) Both chains are continuing to open new locations this year.

These retailers demonstrate that filling customers’ needs extends beyond having a good product. It means truly understanding their pain points, lifestyles, psychology, and values. This kind of customer intimacy is the only way retailers are going to get themselves out of this current funk.

(Via denise lee yohn: brand as business bites™.)

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Soy yo o me parece que se parecen?

Una es la campaña de Mauricio Macri para su reelección en la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, la otra es una campaña solidaria de Portugal “Portugal Solidario 2010”.

Es verdad que los viajes por el mundo son insporadores, pero no se si tanto. Macri estuvo en Portugal?

Inspiración sos bienvenida.


Want To Sell Product? Sleep With Your Customers

By Martin Lindstrom

Knowing the bathroom, eating, and cleanliness habits of consumers can make or break a campaign. Question is: How far are you willing to go?

How well would you say you know your consumer–not just the broad-stroke stuff, either, like their income or marital status.

How many of them brush their teeth in the shower? (Answer 4% of the general consumer populace.)

How many of the teenagers routinely grab a box of cereal on their first day at college, empty it into a bowl and then begin munching away? (Answer: 37% of first-year students, and it makes them feel closer to home.)

Why do so many women bypass the first toilet in the bathroom mall and urgently head directly into the second stall? (Answer: It seems the majority of women believe that the second seat is the cleaner one. Ironically, this leaves the first toilet relatively untouched, and many a toilet in the first cubicle still bears the “sanitized for your protection” notice.)

Stupid questions, silly insights, right? But they’re relevant questions and interesting answers if you’re in the business of selling toothpaste, dental floss, breakfast foods, or sanitizing liquids–all items which are part of the $100 billion personal care business. It’s a hugely competitive market sector, and products jostle to find the smallest feature that will give them a marginal edge over their competitors and ideally create a platform for another $1 billion product launch.

Here’s the truth: I have come to spend a large part of my time living in consumers’ homes. It began a few years ago when I was asked to the Philippines to help an ailing coffee brand. For years the major coffee manufacturer in the region had attempted to run an advertising campaign during the rainy season. It’s traditionally a time of celebration, and if a coffee brand could “own” this, it would be a license to print money. The coffee company had run an expensive television campaign featuring smiling people drinking the brew in the shelter of their homes while rain pitter-pattered down on the roof. To everyone’s surprise, it seemed the association with the rainy season was a major turn-off. Sales decreased, and in turn left everyone baffled. Just before the annual rains were due, I headed off to Manila to work out why.

To everyone’s surprise, the first thing I requested was to move in with a local family. Over the next 10 days I spent time in five different family homes, singing, talking, eating and, of course, drinking a lot of coffee. My agenda was to understand the psychology of the rainy season.

One night, as the rain hammered against the tin roof, it occurred to me that the sound of the rain in the commercials had been misrepresented. In the ads that went to air, the rain was created from stock sounds, great in Hollywood movie, but far removed from the realities of the average Filipino family. The sound wasn’t right, and so the emotional stirrings the brand had hoped to evoke, simply did not occur.

I immediately set out to record the very sound I was hearing beating against the tin roof. I emailed it to the production company and played the revised commercial for the next family. It brought them to tears. Sound was the missing piece in the emotional puzzle, and the following rainy season, coffee sales increased by 19%.

I regularly ask CEOs when they’ve last spent a day in the homes of their core consumers. The best I can usually hope for is that they’ve intended to but have never found the time. In reality, most executives operate from large offices where they function with all the information that technology can provide. This was the experience of a CEO running one of the largest hi-fi manufacturers in the world. He was having doubts about a new product that had been in development for years. He showed me a prototype of this product–a stealth remote control he planned to unleash on the Chinese market.

I was curious about the reasons for targeting China. He had done his research, and it showed that Chinese families embrace new technology, have the resources to purchase it, and generally like to impress friends and family. I inquired if he or any member of his team had spent any time in a Chinese home. As I predicted, not a single member of the development and marketing teams had even spent 10 minutes in the field. If they had, they would have learned that Chinese families tend to wrap their remote controls in transparent plastic to keep out dust. So, under layers of protective plastic, one remote looks just like another.

The planned release of the product in China was cancelled. The money was moved to Northern Europe, where the new remote proved to be hugely successful. But success aside, the organization now demands that everyone involved in the development and marketing of a product must spend at least two days in a consumer’s home.

This is a lesson that Procter & Gamble learned quite some time ago. Before they came up with one of the world’s most popular stain removers they spent months observing women tackling their laundry. They discovered that it wasn’t the big stains that disturbed, because they could be tackled head on. It was the tiny small obsequious stains that were most feared, the insignificant ones that can fly under the radar and then be noticed by the world at large. This became the foundation for Procter & Gamble’s next big stain-removal innovation: “Tide to Go” Instant Stain Remover.

But hey, let’s stop here for a minute. What about you? When did you last spend a day with your consumers? At worst, you’d find out why those 4% brush their teeth in the shower. At best you might stumble across that tiny nugget of insight that could transform your product.

Martin Lindstrom is a 2009 recipient of TIME Magazine’s “World’s 100 Most Influential People” and author of Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy (Doubleday, New York), a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best–seller. His latest book, Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy, will be released in September. A frequent advisor to heads of numerous Fortune 100 companies, Lindstrom has also authored 5 best sellers translated into 30 languages. More at martinlindstrom.com.

[Image: Flickr user rockygirl05]

Esto no es plagio. This is not plagiarism

No es lo que parece. Debo ser yo. It is not what it seems. Maybe it´s me.

Gracias/ Thanks http://lasblogenpunto.blogspot.com