Retail Crisis or Evolution: Understanding Your Market

Understanding retail market

Modern Retail are proud to share the ‘Retail Crisis or Retail Evolution’ series, by Naeem Arif, Vice-Chair of the Midlands Retail Forum. Naeem shares the ways in which successful high street retailers are adapting to overcome new challenges and thrive in the market, proving the importance of evolution in retail.

To read from the start of the series, click here.

The overriding observation that underpins all the things we have mentioned remains the basic rule of business. Most businesses that are struggling share a common issue in that they have become disconnected from their target market. Marketing is far more than just advertising. Marketing is about understanding who your customers are, what their issues are and how you can then satisfy those issues.

“Jaeger has struggled for years to truly understand its core clientele.” 

Glen Tooke – Customer Insight Director, Kantar

Organisations become disconnected from their customers in different ways, leading to the following common problems; 

  • They are not providing a product that satisfies a need or solves a problem
  • They are not speaking in a language that makes sense to their customers
  • They are not visible or memorable enough

Knowing what will keep their attention is critical in terms of remaining connected with your customers. 

Do not take your customers for granted and remember that they have the option to choose who they want to buy from. It is definitely a crowded market out there and so consider how you can stand out more. 

“It is not about finding more customers for your product, it’s about finding the right products for your customers”

Naeem Arif

Remember that time is a scarce resource for your customers. Value their time, don’t waste it and you are more likely to be successful if you can entertain them at the same time. 

In 2015, the travel agent, Thomas Cook, launched Thomas Cook Media Partnerships with a view to increasing its engagement with existing and potential customers. They realised that it was very important to think like a media organisation in order to retain attention. They focused on images and promotions that would generate the kind of emotion and feeling that would help them stand out from their competition. 

Whilst they have done a lot of good things in terms of their digital strategy, other business challenges around their expansion program are putting the business into difficulty. This is another example of where going digital is not the answer to all of your problems as a business.

Thomas Cook content to create emotion

Many of the big names that have gone out of business this year have all suffered because they have failed to keep in touch with their customers’ demands. They have taken for granted the fact that they had a captive audience at some point, but that audience has been taken away by competitors who have become more relevant. 

Gary Vaynerchuk constantly talks about attention; these businesses have lost the attention of their customers and so have lost their customers. It is as simple as that. 

“Storytelling is the game. It’s why Walt Disney built Disney World and its why Vince McMahon makes a billion dollars.” 

Gary Vaynerchuk

The Lego brand, despite being more than 50 years old, faced massive debt in 2003. The concept of Lego had lost its excitement as cheaper versions of a ‘brick toy’ came onto the market. Lego was no longer unique and it could be imitated by cheaper copies.

They partnered with kids’ movies such as Star Wars and Harry Potter which already had large followings and had captured customers’ attention. What is really clever here is that Lego target both the children and parents who are rekindling their childhood through their children. For example, if kids do not know about Star Wars, many parents are happy to introduce them to the franchise, something which worked for both Lego and the movies.