Q&A with Liz Crawford, Author of The Shopper Economy
Ken Nisch was included among the retail experts in Liz Crawford's new book: The Shopper Economy, published by McGraw Hill last month. Liz sat down with Retail Focus Online to share her thoughts on shopper behavior and how it relates to today's technology.
Q: Your book, The Shopper Economy describes an emerging economy where behavior is currency. What led you to investigate this topic?
I thought it was fascinating that digital technology, especially mobile technology, was enabling new kinds of transactions between buyers and sellers. In addition to shoppers purchasing brands, brands were purchasing shopper behavior. I believe this is a relatively new phenomenon.
In the book, I try to make clear that I am not referring to a conventional buy-more-get-more promotion. And I don't mean a deferred discount, like a cents-off-next-purchase.
Instead, I am pointing out a new dynamic where a shopper can actually earn value in exchange for one of four behaviors: paying attention, participating, advocating, or committing. None of these behaviors directly involve purchase. The shopper can earn value by simply behaving.
This earned value can come in various forms - Shopkick Kicks, Facebook Credits, miles, points, etc. You will notice that this value is digital scrip (not straight-forward fiat currency in most cases). The digital scrip is currency in that it is: 1. Recorded, 2. Stored and banked, and 3. Redeemable at the discretion of the shopper across channels.
Shoppers can aggregate all manner of scrip in a clearinghouse website like points.com. This website allows shoppers to exchange hundreds of forms of scrip for fiat currency (dollars and cents) which may be deposited into a Paypal account.
Q: Could you comment on the increasing use of smartphones in-store?
In my book (page 159), Ken Nisch succinctly described retailers' opportunity and dilemma, with regard to shoppers using smartphones:
"The digital in-store experience is a fertile area of opportunity for retailers, who want to engage shoppers and close the deal. If you don't provide a compelling digital experience in-store, shoppers will use the device against you. In some cases shoppers are using the retailer as a showroom for a purchase they intend to make online. In other cases, shoppers are looking at an item, and decide to price-surf or research on the spot, which results in a sale for a competitor."
One way retailers may use the smartphone to their advantage is to couple a hard currency exchange with a softer reward, like play value. Of course we are seeing this kind of engagement with platforms like SCVNGR. Imagine a toy store where both parents and children are walking the aisles. Shoppers, working alone or in parent-child teams, could earn points at sites such as Shopkick or Checkpoints for scanning codes or taking pictures of particular items in the retail environment. Imagine that the pictures were of a live, in-store puppet show, or that the scan code was located on a "sunken treasure chest" on floor graphics. These points could accumulate to become redeemable discounts for product, or privileges in-store or at a theme park. These are ways to exchange shopper behavioral currencies for virtual goods, and ultimately for profits.
Creating compelling shopper experiences, which are seamless between digital and bricks-and-mortar environments, are becoming a mandatory skill set for retailers of all stripes. It will be exciting to see this evolve, especially with the latest innovation like "Google Glasses." How can you put these advances to work?
Liz Crawford has more than 20 years of brand management and consulting experience with a concentration in strategic innovation. Her concept and new product launch, Lysol Antibacterial Kitchen Cleaner, won the prestigious Edison Award for New Products. Crawford has focused on developing integrated Shopper Marketing strategies for Fortune 500 clients, most recently as Senior Vice President, Strategy for MARS Advertising. She has an MBA from New York University and a BA in English from Columbia University. Liz can be reached at 203.803.6737 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Her website is shoppereconomy.net. To purchase the book, click here.
Now Open: Parx - Flying High
The newest location for Parx recently opened at Connaught Place, Delhi, India. The unique shopping area, built in 1931 is a hub for lovers of shopping and entertainment. All the sub-markets and shops are planned within the inner and outer circle, housing everything from a small grocery store to a car showroom. Being a destination shopping arcade among India's prime retail capital, its newest tenant is Parx, a collaborative design effort between JGA and FRDC - India (Future Research Design Center). Located across from the Palika Bazaar at Gate 7, this unique two-level environment uses an iconic biplane as a welcoming element to the menswear specialty store. Much like the townhouse that it is inspired by, there are areas within the store that are less formal, others more so, with rooms that are reflective of the diversity of the customer's lifestyle from work, club, play, and just hanging out. FRDC Managing director, Sanjay Agarwal, explained, "The airplane prop and Delhi city cultural graphics lend an authenticity to the store while adding some zing!" For more on Parx, click here.
An Inspirational Design Conference
Ken Nisch returns to Brazil for the REDESIGN conference later in May. He will be joined by Alexandre Tadeu de Costa, President of Cacau Show, Brazil's leading chocolatier and author of Uma trufa e... 1000 loujas depois (1000 Truffle Shops)! Their informative session called "The Art and Science of Retail Experience" is being held on Thursday, May 24th at the WTC Convention Center in Sao Paulo. For more information about the show, visit their website here. This two-day event brings together leading designers, architects and brand strategists from around the globe. Panel discussions, lectures and case studies, like the one that Ken and Alexandre will present on Cacau Show fill the educational program. For a special discounted registration rate, contact JGA at email@example.com and request REDESIGN discount.
Hot Off the Press: Feature Commercial Space
The latest book from the Phoenix Press in China is Feature Commercial Space. The 300+ page coffee table book presents a collection of commercial design work by the world's best designers, and details the designer's unique approaches to the "functional and fascinating" spaces. It includes JGA's award-winning LittleMissMatched at Downtown Disney in Anaheim. The book describes how guests enter the store through exterior flip panels that engage the customers from their first steps into the store. Clothing bays are divided by wall fixtures to create merchandise alcoves. Fun features include a mailbox to submit suggestions and mail postcards, with adjacent fitting rooms defined by unique overscaled graphics. For more on the LittleMissMatched store, click here. To order the book, find more information here.
Chain Store Age: Sleep Number Selected as Hot Concept
Chain Store Age editor Marianne Wilson named Sleep Number as a "Hot Concept" and added the slide show to the roster of great brand environments on the magazine's website. Describing how the new environment for "Sleep Number takes shopping for mattresses and bedding accessories to a new level with its updated store design", this new concept has already been rolled out to 74 locations across the U.S. For more on the design, click here.
IndiaShop: Ultra Diamonds, Ultra Chic
In an interview with IndiaShop magazine, Ken Nisch reviews how the fifth largest specialty retailer of off-priced fine jewelry in the U.S., Ultra Diamonds, is creating a new look for the growing brand. Ken describes why this jeweler is standing apart from the competition, "This is a significant departure from what often exists in jewelry stores where one finds a highly formalized, impersonal and intimidating approach to product, and where the staff and sales person assume a position of authority and control. In such an environment, the customer, particularly women, and the middle class consumer, and those who are purchasing jewelry more for self-gratification than for gifting, typically feel unwelcome. At Ultra Diamonds, through the use of a series of 360-degree walk-around cases, there is a high degree of visual accessibility, a deformalization and a "side-by-side" selling opportunity that breaks down the traditional hierarchy of client and associate." For the whole story, click here.
For more about Ken's take on the jewelry category, see him at the JCK Conference at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on June 1st , when he co-presents with Bryan Crisfield of Crislu and Sandy LaJoye of TOMY Advertising. For more on the conference, click here.
MundoMarketing: Brazilian Blog Creating Iconicity/Inspiração - Marcas Icônicas
Brazilian consumer expert, Beth Furtado, recently attended the INSPIRAÇÃO 2012 conference in Sao Paulo and recapped her experience with a blog about how iconic brands from Sleep Number to Godiva create memorable experiences for their consumers. Read more (in Portuguese) here.
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