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\"\"As I write this, the “Dog Days” of summer are indeed upon us. Originally coined by the early Romans, the term refers to the period from early July to mid-August when the constellation Canis Major, or big dog, is bright and visible in the night sky. “Dog Days” were popularly believed to be an evil time “when the seas boiled, wine turned sour, Quinto raged in anger, dogs grew mad, and all creatures became languid, causing to man burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies.” (Clavis Calendarium)

When you ponder the world economic situation, including right here in the good old US of A, does this definition work for you? Operative words like evil time, anger, and hysterics could pretty well be attached to the human condition around the global economic mess. Certainly, as you watch on TV the blathering, posturing and largely impotent politicians around the world, any or all of those words would apply, and come up with more if you’d like to. And these economic “Dog Days” are likely to carry into the fall, and potentially right through the holiday season.

My blog on, “Batten Down The Hatches,” pretty well sums up my assessment of our economic condition due to political sclerosis and the inability to address a “double-dip” that may very well be bearing down on us (also see last issue’s article: “From Inflation To Stagflation To Deflation.”)

But, enough of this. Our Report cannot solve these problems. All we can do is attempt to provide insights on how you can successfully and profitably work through them and beyond.

Accordingly, since the consumer is Job #1 for you, read “The New American Dream: Where Have all The Hippies Gone?” which defines how today’s consumers are transforming our culture and lifestyles and, specifically, how they are totally reassessing value as well as their own values in life. For further emphasis, clarity and tactical application: “From Me to We, From More to Less: Five Value Shifts That are Changing our World,” describes this metamorphosis, which started long before the economic downturn, and will prevail regardless of what Congress, The Fed, or Europe, does. Both articles define how you must change to satisfy these new demands, and are therefore a must read for everyone from Proctor & Gamble (PG) to Neiman-Marcus to Walmart (WMT). Take notes.

Borders Today, Barnes & Noble Tomorrow,” discusses the issue that even though the “Pac-Man”- like Internet has disrupted distribution models in every industry, it is totally destroying music, movies, and now, books. And, if you’re in the brick and mortar “store” business, selling “stuff,” you will be next on Pac-Man’s list. Unless you can create an overwhelmingly compelling reason for a consumer to salivate just thinking about coming into your space, you are a dead retailer walking.

Because you are not in the retail business, you are in the consumer satisfaction business. Apple (AAPL) created an overwhelmingly fun, compelling and satisfying education experience, and by the way, all of those devices being taught about happened to be for sale. The rest is history.

All of the articles in this issue, from Warren Shoulberg’s “Furniture Fun Facts,” to Dana Wood’s piece on the customized beauty sector, to Kurt Salmon’s “Tech Tools to Reshape the Customer Experience” either directly or indirectly correlate with the consumer shifts taking place, and provide nuggets of knowledge to help you navigate those shifts. And lastly, Paco Underhill’s insightful observation on the “haves” and the “have-nots” addresses the bifurcation and widening income gap, and how the world of retailing is responding.

In closing, keep a stiff upper lip, as they say across the pond. We will get through this economic nightmare even though there will likely be more monsters lurking around the bend. However, I am certain that if you evolve and transform your businesses on a path similar to that of the “millenials,” we can all wake up on a new “yellow brick road” to live that new dream.

Go forth and have a great read!




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