Problem solver: Just how valuable is value to the consumers of today?
Q: How important is value to consumers in today's environment?
A: Throughout decades of retailing I have found value to always play a part in consumer's priorities. This has sometimes been the top priority, but at other times it has moved down the list slightly.
There is no doubt that consumer focus on value has strengthened considerably over the last six years and many consumers now have changed the way they behave eg conducting their weekly shop over several supermarkets as opposed to one, or the fact that more customers are now sticking to a shopping list in order to control the amount they spend. I am not sure if these trends are reversible and could be with us for good. I also feel that, while value has been important to consumers in more recent times, there is a certain amount of fatigue that has drifted into the marketing campaigns of some retailers.
I believe going forward it will be about rebalancing the communication of value on one hand and innovation on the other. The marketplace needs more innovation and I believe we will see a positive consumer response to those retailers who can demonstrate product and concept innovation. I also believe that consumer confidence rises the value equation i.e. the consumer's relationship between the price they pay and the uniqueness of a product is going to alter from one that was heavily reliant on the cheapest price to one where the consumer pays more attention to other aspects of the product or service that they are buying. Value on its own will lead to nothing more than a race to the bottom and inferior quality… value will allow the retailer and consumer to create a far more interesting retail environment. Taste, friendliness, and recognition will never replace value but can reduce the danger of losing a customer to a price-driven agenda.
Q: What are the traits of a successful business?
A: I have noticed several patterns among businesses that are over performing which suggests that certain actions will improve your chances of success.
Quite typically strong businesses will have a good management structure which is target driven and where the owner uses focused weekly management meetings to drive progress.
Quite typically many of these businesses are driven by a passionate owner or senior manager who is not afraid to defy convention where there is a better way to get results. Communication with consumers in these successful businesses is also usually at a high level and more often than not successful enterprises can move faster than their competitors.
These businesses are often great at marketing and will be masters of both digital media and traditional strategies. If I were to pick one single attribute it would be ability to remain focused and keep the single key objective in their sights when competitors become distracted.
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