Welcome to the the Ivey HBA Retail Marketing Management blog. Retail marketing is an exciting, dynamic, important, and very visible aspect of the overall field of marketing. Throughout the year, students will be posting comments regarding contemporary retailing issues. Although this is intended to be used by Bus 4411 students, industry marketing professionals are also invited to join in if they like.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Recession: A Chance to Catch Up with the Competition?

Kelly Hayles

While the recession has retailers consistently crying themselves to sleep due to poor sales performances as of late, perhaps they should take a more optimistic approach. Many retailers’ competitors are falling like flies, and if you can brave the storm, sunny skies may lie ahead with a clearer competitive landscape. This is the perfect time for retailers to step back, do their research, regroup, and come back with a winning strategy.

Let me put this into terms that most Ivey students can relate to as of now. You prepare yourself for an interview for what you think is THE perfect job to launch your career out of school. You waltz in, ace the interview and leave feeling confident and proud of your accomplishment. The next day, you receive the standard “I’m sorry but the competition this year was the toughest yet....we can’t afford to hire as many talented individuals such as yourself because of the recession...” email, and feel completely defeated. This is exactly how retailers feel when they get it wrong. They wonder where they went wrong, what they could have done to prepare themselves for the consumer. But what they don’t realize is that every mistake they’ve made leads them to learn a bit more about their consumer, just as the interviewee learns from their mistakes in an interview.

What can retailers do? Take the time to figure out what they’ve done wrong and push a strategy that focuses on combating their weaknesses.

In the article “Stealing the Spotlight”, several key observations about retail consumers and their needs are put forward. It’s time for retailers to focus in on what they’re doing and prepare themselves for the future; not just fight the demons of reluctant spending and consumer frugality of today. Consumers may be less likely to purchase certain items during this recession, but there’s always a way to get them to part with their hard earned cash; it’s just a matter of making sure you know what will make them do that.

The retail experience can be tantamount to driving retail sales. For example, it stated that approximately 69% of people said that a product demonstration influenced their purchase decision, and a majority of people said that conversing casually with sales people who were helpful and polite made them more likely to purchase. It may seem like an obvious suggestion to spend the time and money training your staff to make the retail experience pleasant, but it’s astounding how many companies neglect this key detail.
In short, companies should look to what their consumers want, what the competition is missing in meeting these desires, and decide how to focus strategically on meeting these needs. I think you’ll be astonished at how far a little bit of foresight can go, and begin to realize that the recession just might be a blessing in disguise for some clever retailers.


Stealing the Spotlight From Your Competitors, Jeff O’Heir
Dealerscope; Dec 2008; 50, 13; ABI/INFORM Global, pg. 54

Online Retailers are Holding Their Breath, Heather Cobun

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