One of my favorite don't-miss TV shows is Bar Rescue, currently airing on the Spike channel on Sunday nights. That's not because I want to see feisty host and bar turnaround expert Jon Taffer get into shouting matches with the owners of the bars he's trying to rehabilitate (although I admit that makes it more fun), but rather because I'm interested in learning the whys of the business - or what Taffer calls the "science" behind the changes he advises. Although I've never been employed specifically in marketing, I've been involved to varying degrees in just about every job I've ever had - and I love to learn about human behavior, particularly as it relates to advertising and sales.
That's why this book caught my eye, and I thank the publisher, through NetGalley, for the opportunity to read it in exchange for a review. Given all the changes that cut through retail sectors today - mostly as a result of the Internet and social media, the author - a consultant in the areas of retail marketing and shopper insights - maintains that retailers must adopt multi-channel customer-driven strategies if they are to survive. Then, he tells them how to do just that, using plenty of examples backed up by in-depth research.
I will note a couple of things up front: First, the lion's share of the examples are based on companies outside the United States, and second, most involve the grocery sector - the author's special area of expertise. That said (actually, he said it too), the data can be applied to other retail environments and, for the most part, American businesses. No matter where they're based, retailers today need a better understanding of shoppers and must engage both their rational and emotional sides, the author says - but the ultimate goal is shopper happiness, accomplishing that while operating in several channels at the same time. Not an easy feat to be sure.
Mountains of data on shopper behavior is available (or can be), but retailers aren't necessarily utilizing it all that well. And, some of the commonly used data - like socio-demographics - isn't always reliable. I loved the author's example of two men, both born in 1948 in England, both married twice with kids and in high income brackets. It's easy to conclude, then, that their preferences in lifestyle, food and clothing would be similar - that is, until you learn that one is Prince Charles and the other is Ozzy Osbourne. Hmmmm - I'll take a wild guess and say they're not likely to shop for underwear at the same store. More to the point, a one-size-fits-all marketing approach to eliciting their happiness is beyond useless.
Chapters zero in on a variety of topics, such as private-label brands, self-scanning, loyalty cards, in-store scents and, the one that interests me most, music. Music has direct impact on revenue, shopping behavior, staff morale and brand image, the author notes, but emphasizes that choosing the right music is an art (especially given that it involves not only genre, but tempo, pitch and volume). Each chapter concludes with two key questions: What can you do to make your shoppers happy?, and, Which marketing strategies can retailers apply? Those answers are followed by extensive lists of references (a.k.a., source material). This is, IMHO, a scholarly work that certainly could serve as a textbook in a college retail marketing course; but it's very easy to read and packed with information that's bound to be helpful to anyone with an interest in retail marketing.
Retail Marketing Strategy by Constant Berkhout (Kogan Page, November 2015); 288 pp.