(Sorry earlier post …posted by accident as it was unfinished!)
Sorry to disappoint and with the chance of losing some readers , Mrs S & M is not a user of whips and chains. Her initials refer to stupid and moronic. ‘How so ? ‘ is the cry.
M&S have appointed a new chief exec , Tony Rowe. He has avowed to restore the company’s lost market share in clothing. One of his ideas is to find the new Mrs M & S. In my view that is part of their problem. It is as likely as finding Mrs S & M. The consumer has changed and many, unless it is high end and exclusive, do not want to be immediately associated with any brand all their friends, colleagues,neighbours , and the person next to them in the queue can instantly be recognised as a High st chain.The young don’t and now the famed ‘baby boomers’ cash rich (apparently)and trendy, most certainly don’t . The latter group would, historically, have been the store’s target customer. Just as important is that the consumer is not stupid, if you don’t have what they want they go elsewhere or don’t spend.
Losing sight of who your customer is, is a common problem with many traditional retailers. And we, in the party industry, are not immune to these changes. After the fashion industry , we are probably as affected than most other retailers. Only last week I was talking with a retail customer who was explaining the extraordinary change in his local customer base over the last five years. It has gone from a low income family based grouping to a very high income, family, single, various age groups from early twenties to mid sixties. With such a change he is delighted to do so, but he has to make changes or the business would have suffered as opposed to flourishing.
Many are not aware of the huge consumer changes that are occurring . I am not talking about online but in consumer attitudes, wants and wishes. Many retail analysts believe that there is no shortage of consumer expenditure but believe that retailers are not offering the consumer what they are looking for, and as a consequence retail spending remains relatively flat.
Over the last 20 years there is a litany of major retailers that have vanished from the High St. There are often many reasons for failure but one common factor is not being aware their customer has changed and metaphorically ‘walked on by’. A very simple example of a retailer that has adapted, yet you would think was hamstrung by its brand, is the Carphone Warehouse. Carphones don’t exist anymore, but the company does and is thriving.
Now what will be an interesting watch is the newly appointed CEO of Debenhams. Sergio Bucher, ex head of fashion at Amazon Europe. I suggest Tony Rowe, M & S man and boy, will have his work cut out if he has a resurgent Debenhams to cope with.
Our industry will only flourish if both supplier and retailer are aware and adapt to these changes. The supplier must supply product to meet the changing demand and in turn retailers need to have confidence in their supply chain in order to introduce these changes in their store offer. The retailer, in turn, should be the first to know of these changes. They above all others , including online operators, are the ones who are closest to their consumer . The retailer is the only one who can ask ‘…what are you looking for ?’. Then make sure they hear the answer.