The Changing Roles of Retail CMOs and their 5 New Imperatives

iStock_000053597574_LargeThere’s a lot of buzz these days about new CMO imperatives around customer experience, and it’s often spoken in the same breath with age-old priorities such as branding. I am struck by this last-century disconnect, still all too prevalent in many companies. Since when are branding and customer experience two separate things?

I realize if we ask 20 marketers to define branding we’d likely get 20 different and not altogether incorrect answers. But for me, the definition goes something like this:

Your brand is the sum total of all experiences both positive and negative that your customers have with you, whether initiated by you or not. [Read more…]

Crowdfunding: Millennial Trend? Or the Next Big Thing for Your Business?

Oculus_RiftKickstarter in Your Future?

The first question you might ask yourself when starting a new business is: “Am I selling something that people actually want?” This may be stating the obvious, but nowhere is this concept more true than in retail. For entrepreneurial first-time retailers, this is a huge challenge.

Alternatively, instead of making a bunch of stuff and hoping people want it, young, innovative brands are taking upfront orders and hitting minimum goals, ensuring that everything they enter into production is accounted for. [Read more…]

Kraft, Campbell Soup, Nestle…and More

RR_Kraft, Campbell Soup, NestleAll Facing Enormous Headwinds

The newly formed Kraft Heinz food giant’s announcement to slash 2500 jobs is a harbinger of much worse headwinds facing all packaged food companies.  As much as they would like to spin this as a positive cost-cutting move resulting from the synergy brought about by the merger, they and their competitive peers are heading into the perfect storm. In fact, all of the packaged food companies have been struggling for growth over the past couple years, and it is just going to get worse.  Simply, but apocalyptically, they are in the wrong business, selling the wrong products to the wrong consumers.

Perfect Storm Front #1

[Read more…]

Why L Brands CEO Les Wexner Needs to Spend a Day in London

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show - RunwayVictoria’s Secret, the $7 billion brand known for its sexy lingerie, scantily dressed models and world-famous intimate apparel runway show, is opening more than a hundred new stores this year in Asia, Europe and other international markets.

Shoppers heading there to buy the latest Dream Angel bra and panty will be disappointed, however, because these stores carry little or no lingerie.

Yes, you read that right. Of the approximately 130 new Victoria’s Secret stores slated to open overseas in 2015, 120 will be Victoria’s Secret Beauty and Accessories (VSBA) stores, carrying fragrance and accessories. The stores are financed and operated by franchise partners who pay L Brands (LB) a royalty based on sales volume. Early this year, several of these stores opened in China, a key future market for the company. Most of them are in airports, and bear the Victoria’s Secret nameplate, just like their fully-assorted older sisters. [Read more…]

Old Power Brands Are Asleep

Old Power Brands Are AsleepSephora Leads a Wake Up Call

One thing the overly heralded tech-driven start-ups do not have is brand recognition. They do not have the indelible consumer connection that has taken the “old world” power brands years and millions of dollars to nurture, build and maintain.

Brand recognition aside, the techie entrepreneurs do have three advantages over established brands that afford them the ability to launch and quickly ramp up their businesses:

  1. Creative new way to market a product or service.
  2. Understanding how technology can facilitate the concept.
  3. Limitless funding from “casino playing” investors, allowing them to scale without making any money.

[Read more…]

My View

Gould BWA Series of firsthand views from industry leaders on the retail landscape, careers, personal insights, and the future of retail.

Michael Gould – Leadership, Marketing & Mentoring Consultant; Former CEO, Bloomingdale’s

How did you get into the business?

I got into retailing the summer of ’67 when I was in Columbia Business School and looking for a summer job. I was one of six accepted for a new summer program at A&S in Brooklyn. And so was Mickey Drexler! I was blown away by the experience. I couldn’t believe that people at such an early age had so much responsibility and authority. When I graduated, I joined A&S full time in ’68.

Who has been your greatest influence/mentor? [Read more…]

Lifestyles From the Rich and Famous

RR_Lifestyles From the Rich and Famous_mcAh, Robin Leach, you won’t believe what they’re doing now.

Back in the heyday of your incredibly ridiculous – and every bit as addictive – breakthrough TV series, you gave us a measured and breathless peek into how the superstars of the entertainment world actually lived. OK, so maybe it wasn’t so actual, but that wasn’t the point: aspirational voyeurism was.

Well, now we don’t need Robin (Leach, not Lewis) to enlighten us. The rich and famous are doing it themselves…and trying to make a few bucks in the process.

Over the past year or three, a whole slew of TV, movie and ersatz celebrities have launched businesses selling us the products they themselves actually use…once again with the proviso that this is much more about perception than reality. [Read more…]

MasterCard Advisors

mca_logoAs the professional services arm of MasterCard Worldwide, MasterCard Advisors is uniquely qualified to provide clients with insights and solutions that drive tangible impact and financial gain. MasterCard Advisors provides payments consulting, information, analytics, and customized services that deliver value to its customers. In doing so, the company uses information to create products and services in which privacy and security are fundamental to their design. A technology company that is an electronic payments leader, MasterCard is committed to the responsible use of information and pledges strong privacy protection for the transaction data the company processes. Its information management practices support the company’s mission to make payments safe, simple and smart. For more information, go to

While P&G and Coty Shuffle the Deck, Unilever Does Some Stealth Scooping of Its Own

RR_While-P&G-and-Coty-Shuffle-the-Deck_2“Portfolio reshaping.”

Apparently that’s now beauty-biz code for: “Let us take whatever wasn’t working for you – including some stuff that really and truly wasn’t working for you – and see what we can do with it.”

Presumably that wasn’t the way the talks around Coty’s jaw-dropping, $12.5 billion purchase of 43 P&G brands went down in early July. But to the average armchair industry-watcher, it’s easy to think it might have.

Why? Because along with semi-gems like Wella and CoverGirl (and let’s be frank – if they were genuine growth-potential gems P&G would have hung onto them, as it did with Pantene, Olay and SK-II), Coty, come mid-2016, will be tasked with absorbing not only dozens of tiny underperformers, but also the thousands of employees attached to those brands. [Read more…]

Retail’s Walking Dead: These Brands Have Been Revived, But Will They Survive?

zombiesThere’s a hit TV show, “The Walking Dead,”  in which a nasty plague wipes out almost the entire human race, then allows some of the decaying departed to get up, roam around, and attempt to eat the few still-living folks, who from then on spend their days and nights in a constant, terrifying quest for survival.

It’s hard not to see the parallels in retail.

Over the past year or so, several defunct retail brands, like Radio Shack, Fortunoff, and others, have been reincarnated. But unlike in the AMC show,  where we don’t know what’s allowing the zombies to keep stumbling forward, we do know what’s allowing these retailers to start moving again: all the cash sloshing around in the coffers of investors who seem to believe these brands still have a future. [Read more…]

Retail Reality Check

retail_realityOn June 4, 2015, The Robin Report and FGI co-hosted a retail symposium focusing on new approaches and technologies that are changing the way retailing is done. The panel moderated by long time industry icon, Paul Charron, with a cross section of seasoned industry veterans representing brand, ecommerce and luxury retail, had a lively discussion. Despite varied points of view and the irrefutable and growing impact of technology on everything we touch, two lasting truisms of retail were underscored: product and service. What has changed is the way retailers and brands address these requisites to meet new consumer expectations and demands; plus developing the new systems that support communications and commerce. [Read more…]

Birth, Life and Death: A Retail Cycle

murraysRob Kaufelt walked into Murray’s Cheese on Bleecker Street in New York’s Greenwich Village in the early ’90s and noticed a sign saying the store was closing after a 50-year run. The owners were tired, the neighborhood was changing, and the lease was up. Rob came from a family of grocers. He was a deli man who was used to getting up early and, at that moment, was out of work. His latest store had failed. On a whim, Rob made an offer on the business and was shocked when it was accepted. He moved it across the street for cheaper rent and started cutting cheese.

One thing led to another: Cheese classes, catering, wholesaling to restaurants, an e-commerce business, an outpost in Grand Central Terminal, a Murray’s Cheese Bar restaurant, and a deal with Kroger. By the end of 2015, there will be some 250 Murray’s Cheese outposts in Kroger stores across the country. Rob and Murray’s are evangelically getting Americans past Vermont cheddar and Wisconsin flavored Jacks. Whoever Murray was, he probably couldn’t imagine cheese becoming so chic, and his family is likely regretting not keeping at least a piece of the action. Rob, needless to say, is doing very well and has more grown-up toys than any man I know. [Read more…]