Our Chief Creative Officer, Alfredo Muccino, recently spoke at the annual Retail Conference organized by the Center for Retail Excellence at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The title of his presentation was “Retail is a lot like dating,” and its premise is that relationships lead to more sales, higher profits and better loyalty than simply focusing on short term transactions. We’re attaching a PDF which includes facts and figures supporting the benefits of building relevant brand experiences, along with a few select case studies. Feel free to download and share. We are hoping it inspires brands to create meaningful and interesting experiences at retail.

A bachelor’s degree in retail?

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is one of the few universities that offer a specific focus on retail studies. The Kohl’s Center for Retailing Excellence offers students a variety of opportunities to learn about the evolving retailing landscape. The annual Retail Conference brings together retail industry professionals, researchers, analysts and industry experts for a one day immersive exploration of perspectives on trends, innovation and the next generation of retailing. According to Executive Director, Jerry O’Brien, “We are one of the few universities to have a Bachelor of Science in Retailing. Our students will be prepared to enter the industry and immediately bring innovative thinking and new perspectives to retail.”

Our students will be prepared to enter the industry and immediately bring innovative thinking and new perspectives to retail.

Jerry O’ Brien

Executive Director of the Center for Retail Excellence at the University of Wisconsin, Madison

Great Speakers. Amazing Presentations.

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The conference featured a great line up of presenters, including Robin Lewis, of the Robin Report who emphasized that the power in today’s retail environment has shifted to the consumer – requiring  retailers to think differently about shopper engagement. Also, Jeff Fromm an EVP at Barkley shared insights from his recently published book “Marketing to Millennials.” Jeff advocates that going forward it will be crucial to connect the digital and the physical worlds at retail in order to attract and retail the attention of millennials – a group that adds up to over 80 million people in the US alone. Mark Logan was also a speaker. Mark leads Barkley Advertising’s innovation lab, Moonshot, and he shared some fascinating new technologies that are sure to influence the way we buy. His advice, however is not to focus on technology per se – but on how technology can add value at retail by creating better experiences for consumers.

Case studies highlight the benefit of building relationships.

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Although the title to Alfredo’s presentation was a bit tongue-in-cheek, the subject matter was quite serious. Alfredo leveraged real life examples from brands like STORY – an innovative retail concept in NYC that takes the point of view of a magazine, changes like a gallery and sells things like a store; UMPQUA – a bank that has completely re-imagined the retail banking experience by focusing on a sense of community; and ANTHROPOLOGIE – one of the retail brands that delivers a terrific (and very well integrated) experience across physical as well as digital environments. Each of these brands understands the value of creating authentic and sustainable long-term relationships with their consumers – and their bottom lines are healthier because of it.

Moving from sales per square foot to experiences per square foot.

In Alfredo’s presentation he highlighted the fact that today’s consumers have moved away from “needing stuff” to “wanting experiences.” In fact, consumers want to be “courted,” and when brands and retailers give them interesting and relevant experiences they start to create “relationships”. Alfredo pointed out that there are two main truths that need to be considered: 1. Engaging experiences help build relationships; and, 2. Relationships lead to more and better transactions. At the end, it’s all about the bottom line. But the way to get there is more of a journey than a direct path.

Customers want to be courted. So here are a few dating tips.

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Alfredo’s presentation ended with a few “dating tips.” Among them were the following suggestions:

Get to know her. It is crucial that retailers and brands get a deep understanding of the needs, wants, and preferences of the consumers they want to attract. Only then they will be able to create experiences that are relevant to those audiences.

Stay connected. Let the consumer know you are thinking about them by being connected through social and other media – and providing them with valuable and thoughtful content.

Be nice to her friends. Just like in personal relationships the opinion of your target consumer’s community means a lot to them – and can make or break you in the long run.