Thinking

This Week in Business and Brands: Reimagine Retail, Iterate to Innovate, and More

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Disruption Junction: Corner Store Co-Opt

Silicon Valley startup Bodega set off quite a furor on social media this week. The concept promises convenience by installing unmanned pantry boxes in building lobbies and aims to replace family-run, neighborhood-oriented corner stores. Forget any qualms about taking customers away from local small-business owners – if the ex-Googler founders achieve their goals, “centralized shopping locations won’t be necessary, because there will be 100,000 Bodegas spread out, with one always 100 feet away from you.” Convenient…or creepy? Either way, with the first fifty units already launched on the West Coast, the company will soon find out what works and what doesn’t, harnessing machine learning to analyze shoppers’ habits and assess restocking strategies. Will the smart mini-store win over the workplace? Or will the heritage of human contact still reign supreme?

Leadership Landscapes: Trials and Trajectories for the CMO

Chief Digital Officer. Chief Growth Officer. CXO. With so many new seats in the executive suite, CMOs are facing a new game of musical chairs. Especially when responsibilities formerly under their watch are now being reassigned throughout the organization, it’s never too early to start thinking about next steps. According to the Harvard Business Review, there are four possible places for the displaced directors to land. First (and most ideal, of course) is upward, with a promotion to president or even CEO, overseeing end-to-end growth and marketing. Next is to the side, keeping their titles but shifting their focus to the new strategy concerns coming from digital transformation, like e-commerce and experiential marketing. Then there’s the dreaded downward direction, with the position reckoned obsolete in a world of high speed disruption that puts a CGO in their place. But there’s always the final option of heading out, leaving for greener pastures where the innovation-deprived can explore with power. So, CMOs: which path are you on?

Talking Tactics, Tête-à-Tête: Predicting the Present

A good futurist isn’t only prophetic. Just ask Doug Stephens, author of Reimagining Retail, who knows that having a finger on the pulse of the present is as important as an keeping your eye on tomorrow. Here are some key takeaways from his Q&A with CMO.com:

  • On the failure of following: “One of the old approaches was to be a fast follower—let someone else pioneer and follow on their heels. But with the rate of change happening today and the degree to which digital technology can enable a company to become a household name in weeks or months, being a fast follower doesn’t work anymore.”
  • On the new science of spending: “Consumers are shopping at extremes of value, looking for propositions that are either tremendously accessible and affordable or those that are deep, memorable, and worth paying much more for.”
  • On what’s in store for stores: “It’s becoming clear we don’t need stores for product distribution anymore. But we will need stores to learn about brands, try new things, and have fun. The physical store will become a form of experiential media whose purpose is to sell not products but the idea of a brand.”

And here’s a perfect example of that retail reimagination in reality: Nordstrom’s about to open a new store that has everything – except clothes…

Innovation Introspection: Breaking Down the Breakthroughs

Just like the futurists above, innovators are also under pressure to make big things happen for their brands today, not just tomorrow. But with a timeline as short as 90 days, it’s not always easy to identify opportunities for impact. So it might help to choose from the three types of innovation to see what’s right for your firm, right now. First up is constant evolution, iterating on your processes to cut costs and make delivery more efficient – changes that can be put into effect and felt fastest. Then there’s prevention, enhancing “in demand” features you might be missing in your product line to defend against encroachment from outside competition. Finally, there’s the creative innovation, which makes an entirely new offering for radical change – but of course this kind takes the most time and commitment from the whole organization. Then again, that’s the kind that will put your firm on the cover of magazines. So – which kind of innovation will your team invest in next?

Video Victory: Apple’s Good Call

That’s all for this week! We’ll leave you with the dynamic displays of the new iPhone(s), captured with compelling compassion in the voice of the consumer…

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