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.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Small is the New Big Thing

Over the past fifteen years, big box stores have done tremendously well pushing small retailers out of business because of their inability to compete on price. Instead of supplier’s shipping goods to the retailer’s warehouse, shipments were made directly to the big box store, thus, using the store ultimately as a warehouse.

The baby boom generation loved the philosophy of a ‘one stop shop’ enabling them to get all of their goods from one location for a great price. The idea of going to numerous stores for their different needs became, in their minds, an old way of doing things. The baby boomers’ attitude was ‘whoever can offer it all at the lowest price gets my business’ even if it means switching brands to not have to make that extra trip. However, the next generation’s needs are very different. The echo boomers are used to instant gratification whether it is from getting the hottest product on the market or hearing the latest news. These consumers are used to having what they want when they want it. As well, brand does matter for these consumers. Therefore, shopping in a monstrous store for half an hour to find a couple of items is not appealing especially when you need to make another stop afterwards.

Although the retail value proposition of a small retailer had been thrown out the door when big box stores came to town, it is coming back in style. Industry experts are finding that small retailing is the way to go now. The next generation values getting in and out of a store as fast as possible as well as good service. These values are really only feasible in smaller retail stores. These consumers are looking for good value for their money, but that does not necessarily mean the cheapest price. With more big box retailers squeezing their suppliers for every penny, quality of products are being questioned more and more. Due to saturation in the market and a decrease in consumer acceptance, some big box stores, such as Rona, have been forced to close down locations. Therefore, many big box stores are now looking at opening smaller formats.

Finally, with the current economic crisis, consumers are looking to ‘do it themselves’ rather than contracting someone else who may end up costing them ten times the prices. Having smaller stores with more informative employees will enable smaller retailers to stay competitive as customers will value the information the employees provide.

As a person of the next generation, I do feel that going to big box stores is not worth my time. Although the cheaper prices are very attractive, the entire experience is one that leaves you frustrated and annoyed. Parking, searching aimlessly for what you need and standing in large lines to pay are reasons in which paying that extra $0.50 makes it all worthwhile.[1]
[1] http://www.thestar.com/Business/article/597390

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