Where Have All The People Gone?

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The office is a stones throw from Oxford Street. On my way back home over the past week I have been going the long way and doing a non-scientific retail audit. Taking a sector each day and looking at what is going on along the street. After all, this should be the biggest week of the year for most. On Monday my chosen sector was apparel. What struck me was how relatively empty of shoppers most of the apparel stores were. Which made me think where have all the shoppers gone? With the growth of on-line apparel and pure plays like Asos more and more are clicking.

But it was my last stop of the evening at the end of Oxford Street where the answer came.  The one store that was literally heaving with hustling and bustling shoppers and long queues at the check out was  – Primark the value retailer or as they would like to define themselves  – keeping up with the latest looks without breaking the bank.

So that’s were they all were.

Indicative of the winners this holiday season? It’s a bit too early to tell but that’s where I would put my money in the apparel sector.

 

For The Person Who Has Everything

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What do you give the person who has everything?

If UK departments store legend Selfridges and The Royal Collage of Arts have anything to do with it – a unique one off piece of art from their pop up Christmas shop within a shop located on the ground floor of the Selfridges iconic flagship store in Oxford Street, London.

In a move that would have made founder Harry Gordon Selfridge, the masterful showman who created Selfridges, which opened its doors on March 15th 1909, smile with approval. Selfridges have partnered with the Royal Collage of Arts and created something truly unique with a price tag to match. It’ s not for your stocking filler.

Whilst Selfridges is synonymous with retailing, The Royal Collage of Arts (RCA) is not. The Collage was founded in 1853 and is one of the world’s most influential postgraduate universities of art and design. Its impressive list of alumni includes Tracy Emin, Peter Blake, Christopher Bailey, James Dyson, Ridley Scott, David Hockney and Ian Dury, to name but a few.

The concept of this store is simple yet effective.

It is called One & Only and that is what it is.

Inside the space you will discover, see and be able to buy one of a kind pieces from some of the RCA’s most esteemed recent graduates who are already making waves in their respective fields.

Your chance to give your loved one, and by the price tags you will need to love them a lot, something totally unique and if the past RCA’s hall of fame is anything to go by, a gift that will keep on giving by appreciating in value as well.

Another example of how retail spaces are changing: more flexible spaces; the fusion of retail, entertainment and art; collaborations with different, eclectic and unusual partners; adding different dimensions to their brand proposition and values to become more meaningfully differentiated.

Expect to see more of these interesting collaborations and don’t just sit on the side-lines –  go out and actively seek collaborations and ‘guest’ partnerships.

It is more important than ever to continue to give consumers reasons to shop out rather than just shop in.

Christmas Has Come Early

Early Morning POS Change

Early Morning POS Change

It’s always a classic example of game theory.  Hold your nerve, out stare the competition or cut and run. If it were not so serious it would be a fun game as profits, bonuses and even very survival depend on it.

Yes it’s the call about when to cut prices and play the volume/cash game (another Christmas classic) in the run up to the close of business on Christmas eve.

It has been many, many years since discounting could be relied upon only to start on Boxing Day.

From the customer perspective how long can you hold out until you need to do the bulk of your Christmas shopping and when do you think the discounting will start? Who will blink first you, or the retailer your shopping list items are sold at?

Well its started early this year in London, so I guess it’s the retail nerves that broke first in 2013. Last Friday two full shopping weekends prior to Christmas many retailers started the day by putting up the sale signs, especially in the apparel sector, as they cut and ran. And once one goes, the rest follow fast.

Not a good sign. But there will be winners and losers. Hold onto your hats.  There is a lot to play for over the next few weeks including the important sales post Christmas. But this year it’s looking a lot like the real winner will be the consumer.

BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands 2013

The BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands 2013 is launched today. Total brand value has increased by 7%.  This year was a year of recovery, refinement and relevance and there was a new tone. Total brand value was $2.6 trillion. All but two of the 13 categories improved in value.  There is much to comment on which I will do over the next few weeks posts, but for now, as I prepare to host 5 live web seminars today for WPP colleagues, clients and friends, here is a visual story line created by  the very talented Sergio.

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Download the entire report jammed packed full of insight

In Retail Conversation With…

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For those of you not able to get a place on my retail conversation with Bryan Roberts from Kantar Retail a couple of week ago… as promised we have managed to find a way of creating a recording of it. Please excuse the sound at the beginning which is a bit low, it gets better a few moments in. We covered a lot of ground including a deep dive on Tesco’s. Bryan knows his stuff and was a pleasure to do this broadcast with. I hope you find it insightful.

GP without the S

There are many useful gadgets that started life  with a military mind set. Perhaps none so ubiquitous as the GPS.

DARPA, inventors of much James Bond style tech played a major part in the invention and development of The Global Positioning System.

Like all things tech, GPS was once  housed in massive boxes that needed a truck to carry it, GPS enablement is now imbedded not just in military equipment but miniaturised in phones, watches and cameras.

Well that very ubiquity from a military perspective is now being seen in certain quarters as a major threat. As the reliance on GPS is significant, from a military perspective, it becomes a strategic vulnerability. GPS being scrambled by an enemy.

So it’s no surprise to learn that much work has been going on to develop a new generation of positioning technology that will work without satellites with the added advantage of working in areas without satellite coverage.

The Director of the Pentagons research agency has spoken about the Boffins at DARPA and the University of Michigan creating a new technology that works out position, time and direction – all contained in an eight-cubic – millimeter chip…which is remarkable when you consider that it contains an atomic clock, three accelerometers, and three gyroscopes. Without the need for a single satellite.

I wonder how long it will be until that will be a feature on the smart watch.

 

 

Countdown to Top 50 Most Valuable Chinese Brands 2013

I have had a lot of requests to see again the video created which countdowns the BrandZ Top 50 Most Valuable Chinese Brands 2013 that I played at the China-Britain Business Council Conference. So here it is. Photographs by the very talented Cecilie Ostergren. There is much to learn from each of the BrandZ Top 50 Most Valuable Chinese Brands which I will explore in future posts. So for the moment,  enjoy the countdown.

Not So Fresh and Easy

It looks like the end is near for Fresh and Easy. Tesco’s format for the US, which in 2007, saw its first store open. A while back Tecso’s signalled that it was looking for an exit strategy for the loss making 200+ store. Talks have reportedly been taking pace with ALDI and Trader Joe’s but nothing has yet come of it. After the Ester peak trading for Tesco’s in the UK, CEO Philip Clarke is reportedly going off the US to quicken the exit pace. If a fast sell to one of the US retail groups does not look possible, selling the chain off store by store might be an option on the table for Clark. The multitude of different store shapes and sizes that form the 200+ chain is one of the issues that potential buyers have been struggling with to make an acquisition work.

China-Britain Business Council Conference 2013

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China is hardly out of the headlines these days… so it was no real surprise that todays China- Britain Business Council Conference 2013 at the QEII Conference Centre London was packed.

With the agenda starting with an address by David Cameron, The UK Prime Minister and an opening plenary session that included Ken Clark MP, Government Minister;  H.E. Liu Xiaoming, Chinese Ambassador to the UK and Sir David Brewer Chairman, China-Britain Business Council it was clear from the start that this gathering was going to cover some interesting ground.

I was honoured to be speaking as well as being Chairman the section of the conference that addressed The Chinese Consumer.  Fellow panelists included Dame Lucy Neville-Rolfe CMG, Former Executive Director, Tesco & CBBC Vice Chairman; Professor Sun Baohong, Professor of Marketing, Associate Dean of Global Programs, CKGSB; Mark Henderson, Director, Walpole, and Chairman of the London Luxury Quarter.

More observations to follow but my main take away point from today is that we are well past the tipping point of interest in China. The many companies that attended have realised that love it or hate it, you can’t ignore the rise in China and the impact is having and will have in the global economy. Threat or opportunity smart companies, represented by those who chose to attend, are creating and executing their China strategies Outbound and Inbound. They know that their business might just well depend on it.

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