Wednesday, 18 October 2017

What is retail, anyway?

Working on advertising for retailers used to be a relatively easy business. It was all about doing ads to tempt people into shops - proper bricks and mortar ones. With special offers, low prices, an irresistible range of goods, the promise of excellent service or some combination of those. Back in the early days of my career, retailers were just beginning to discover the power of good branded advertising that they'd run alongside 'this week's price offers' to build a picture in people's minds that would - perhaps - mean longer term loyalty than the latest price slashes could offer.

There were some super print ads from Sainsbury's.

(Image courtesy of The Advertising Archives)

And who can ever forget Dudley Moore's search for Tesco chickens?

Then the new kids on the block arrived. Except they weren't on the block. They were floating around in the ether. There were long debates about who would 'win' - bricks and mortar, or online. And of course, the answer is - as almost always - that no-one 'won', rather the two formed an uneasy truce, merged a little, copied a little and are currently co-existing.

Although around 90% of the world's retail spend still takes place in bricks and mortar stores, there's a massive shake-up going on in what we used to call 'retail.' High Streets and malls are closing down, many of the old stalwarts have fallen by the wayside, 'phygital' and 'in-store experience' are the new buzzwords. New technology is making leaps and bounds, with voice-activated technology playing a bigger and bigger role.

amazon is No. 5 on Interbrand's Top 100 brands - bigger than Samsung, Toyota or Facebook, and growing at a whopping +29%.

And all of this means that people's expectations for how and when to shop - and where - are changing at a pace. What does 'convenience' or 'instant gratification' or 'service' mean today, compared to even 5 years ago?

One question we should ask is: is the category 'retail' even relevant any more? Anyone selling over Etsy or ebay is a retailer.  The brands we used to know as retailers could just as well be called distribution, logistics or entertainment brands. Platforms or (social) media channels. Technology or lifestyle brands.

Who knows? One thing is clear to me as a communications and branding strategist: this new world requires strong brands more than ever to pull it all together, like a magnet.

And every piece of communication should act as an invitation to your brand.


5 comments:

WILLIE........! =^..^= said...

I'm afraid advertising does nothing for me what~so~ever!
Don't get me wrong, l enjoy watching the adverts..in fact,
some are so good, and funny, that one forgets what there
advertising...at the moment..there's a boxer dog on an
advert with a funny voice, it's really funny, what does
it advertise..God! Knows! Insurance l think..! :(.

Word of mouth is the best, and only way to sell, and
recommend a product...Just this morning, in Costa, l
got into conversation with a friend about places like
McDonald's, Burger King and other 'rip~off' take away's!
There advertising is so..so false...Have their burgers
etc...'EVER' looked like the photos in their outlets,
or their adverts on TV....
No! No! Definitely not...So much smaller in size and
quality...How do they get away with such falsehoods...
and lies..!

But..Yes! There will be silly shoppers out there who,
go to a supermarket, wander about, completely and utterly
lost...I've seen them..! ooooO! Baked beans...£2 for four
cans...reduced...into the basket they go...just along side
are an equally good brand...£1:50 for four cans.."I rest
my case".

I consider myself, and many will tell you...l am a professional
shopper...l recently 'WON' a little battle with Tesco...even had
a Dave Lewis the CEO..involved! A little letter in our local
paper, was a great success...Job done..!

Sue Imgrund said...

I suppose the burgers in the ads look no more like real fast food than the women in beauty ads look like real women - but that's another whole can of worms! I think most people are intelligent enough to know they are being advertised to and go along with it with a wry smile (or not!)

I'd love to know what your Tesco fight was about ... :)

WILLIE........! =^..^= said...

I'm sure you know the tricks of the trade when
it comes to women and beauty.....That's why
it's called 'make~up'...so there's no difference
between that..and a can of beans! :).

And..what's wrong with worms...! :). I have a
garden 'full' of them! :). Bless them! :).

The Tesco fight of the year...on it's way via
e~mail...! :). TV series to follow! :0).

Barbara Fisher said...

Hello Sue, thanks for the link to the Dudley Moore chicken ads it was good to see them again. I felt quite nostalgic while watching them – more for Dudley Moore than the ads of course. Well OK and the ads too! :)

Sue Imgrund said...

Sometimes using a celebrity distracts you completely from which brand it is advertising, but I think Tesco and their ad agency made a fine choice back then with Dudley.