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Incubating New Insights

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  • 10/23/12--20:19: The New Age of Discovery
  • One commodity retailers never seem to run out of is problems. We’ve seen no shortage of business challenges in recent years, as brick-and-mortar retailers have wrestled with overcapacity, flat same-store sales, Internet incursions, and a tepid economic recovery. But amidst all the hand-wringing over the future of retail, it’s instructive to look at (and learn [...]

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  • 12/09/12--13:40: Supervalu’s Unsuper Future
  • In its most recent fiscal year it scored $36.1 in sales volume, driven by a widely diverse portfolio of assets. Those assets include a large-scale wholesale business plus many retail stores ranging from small chains of to large-scale retail chains and a hard-discount chain. In all, Supervalu has more than 2,400 stores. Supervalu’s asset diversity [...]

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  • 02/11/13--16:16: Sleight of Hand
  • The Touch, the Feel — but Not the Performance — of Cotton The recent ruling by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to fine four retailers, including Amazon.com and Macy’s, for mislabeling textiles made from bamboo rayon as simply “bamboo,” underscores the seriousness with which the government is enforcing truth and clarity in labeling. Some onus, [...]

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    Quitting the country is the easy part. Now, what about all that infrastructure? Chronicle of a Failure Foretold Years from now, MBA students will be puzzling over how Tesco, the British food retailer, could have stumbled so badly in its venture in the United States. Well, more than stumbled. As I predicted more than a [...]

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    Is this any way to manage a Jet Set brand? Maybe, if you’re looking for a quick exit. Listening to Michael Kors CFO Joe Parsons speak at ICR on January 16, 2013 on the Kors Jet Set aesthetic—spanning wings, wheels and water—I was reminded of the brand Louis Vuitton, also rooted in luxury travel. I [...]

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  • 02/12/13--14:38: The 10 Commandments of Home
  • TO: Ron Johnson, Plano, TX FROM: A Higher Authority RE: The Way to the Promised Land Cecil B. DeMille, where are you now that we need you? The expedition that Ron Johnson is leading the Penney-ites on will not last 40 years – he’ll be lucky if he gets 40 months – but in just [...]

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    Are we all felons bribing our way though international commerce or victims of corruption, forced to pay the price of admission? Let’s face it. Bribery is a cottage industry in many countries—part of their cultural DNA. The sad truth is that buying and selling influence is often the grease that lubricates the wheels of global [...]

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    Trader Joe’s is undoubtedly the nation’s most successful limited-assortment grocery chain; lines actually go around the block in New York City’s two outposts during the holidays. So what’s really going on here? Trader Joe’s uses product and pricing strategies that could easily be emulated by other chains that sell quick-turn consumables. But Trader Joe’s is [...]

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  • 04/18/13--03:00: The Green Marketing Act
  • You got rid of the landline three years ago because two-thirds of your calls were from telemarketers. Then you downgraded your cable service wondering why you were paying so much for so little. Now you watch stuff on your Tablet and laptop more and more. And when the price of a New York Times went [...]

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    All the recent hubbub over a certain Connecticut homemaker’s image and brand is only the tip of a major merchandising movement that is starting to consume the home furnishings field. As national brands continue to recede from the category—they are pretty much null and void in soft home categories, like sheets and towels, and hold [...]

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    “Bubble Capitalism” Crushes the American Dream Forget the cresting, breaking and other visible economic waves we discern on the surface of our economy — all accompanied by “cyclical” blathering of the dire necessity to create jobs and growth, and reduce debt and deficit spending. While we blather, we’re blind. The less visible, stronger undercurrents of [...]

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    Supermarket retailers are facing a sea change when it comes to how the products they sell are marketed. That responsibility is going to migrate from manufacturers to the retailers themselves before too long. Why? Because supermarket shoppers are a fickle bunch. And nowhere is that more evident than in their fast-changing attitudes toward brands and [...]

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    Conventional supermarket retailers can’t catch a break — even sometimes. Conventional operators — Kroger, Safeway and the like — face a vast array of competition developing on all sides. That includes food purveyors such as deep discounters, mass merchants, membership clubs and restaurants, just to cite a few. Competition is always evolving with new strategies […]

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  • 10/01/13--08:30: The Harder They Fall
  • Consumers love celebrities and are more than willing to fork over billions of dollars for things they endorse. But do you want them to land on your product when they fall from grace? That multi-million dollar celebrity endorsement deal for your store’s organic clothing line is going gangbusters, with sales soaring 20% in just four […]

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    In my last article, I addressed the importance of “individualizing” store growth plans based on each store’s metrics and specific DNA. Now, let’s discuss the next step in the process — looking further inside the “black box” to the individual associate’s performance to help each person reach his or her full potential as reliable, strong […]

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  • 03/25/14--07:33: Re-Urbanizing America
  • Suburban Sprawl Gives Way to the Not-So-Mean Streets of the Big City The Great American Dream isn’t dead, but it’s certainly on life support. After decades of unprecedented growth, suburbia has been surpassed by the inner city. It is — if you’ll excuse an old saying from my quasi-hippie days — where the action is! […]

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    I resent the fact that I can’t walk down a street in New York City without breathing in a potentially lethal amount of second-hand smoke. So imagine my satisfaction when, on February 5, CVS announced it was going to cease selling tobacco products at its 7,600 stores by October 1. CVS Loses a Loyal Customer […]

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    On the corner of 7th Avenue and 12th Street in Manhattan is a fruit and vegetable cart. Others just like it are scattered across New York City. They tend to be run by hardworking immigrants willing to stand up all day and put up with whatever weather comes their way. I’ve passed this stand thousands […]

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    The media at large has publicly exposed enough of the “dirty” part of this “jokester” that I don’t need to pile on more. Although it might be a more titillating read to add more dirt to the pile, I’ll just sign off on his disgusting behavior during his tenure as CEO of American Apparel by […]

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    In the land of the brand, the Holy Grail, surely, is building a brand that’s universally known and is in constant mention by consumers. Or is it? There’s such a thing as too much familiarity. There are more than a few instances of brand owners losing legal possession of their own brand because they became […]

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