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Are Retailers Ready to Start Living their Brand Values?

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By: Mike Giambattista, CLMP |

Posted on January 31, 2018

By Mike Giambattista

I’m paraphrasing something I heard recently - it goes like this:

“Companies that embody their corporate values through their CX will start to move ahead.”

Embedded in that statement is an admonition for companies to take their core values seriously – or at least adjust them to better match their customers’ reality. The number of books written on the topic of brand authenticity precludes any deep examination of it here but the timing of the above statement makes me wonder if maybe we’re nearing the long-awaited inflection point when companies will be forced to take their brand values seriously - because their customers certainly are.

Last week, Jill Standish, Senior Managing Director and head of Accenture’s retail practice wrote what amounts to a treatise on retail loyalty in WWD positing, among other things, that “… In the end, a company’s purpose informs every decision about how and what it sells, how it competes and how it operates.”

That’s a well-belabored point but taken in context of some of the other macrodynamics in retail right now, it’s probably a good time to dust it off, trot it out to the board again, and start the hard work of cultural realignment.

Standish breaks that work down into 3 distinct dimensions:

  • Re-structuring P&Ls to reflect a multi-channel approach will allow companies to better understand and more dynamically deploy resources to leverage them.
  • AI and robotics will automate most back-office functions and will drive profound changes in supply chain and logistics.
  • Consumer-facing employees augmented by AI and other intelligent agents will allow for new levels of always-on services to engage and serve customers.

Think about it this way. If the home really is the fastest-growing retail platform then the rules of engagement are being re-written individually by everyone with credit card and a smartphone. That simultaneously takes an enormous amount of control out of retailers’ hands and places a new set of burdens on them to become valuable to the consumer. Again, Standish,

“That calls for very different offering, selling and operating models. And it calls for a clearly defined purpose. After all, that’s how a brand communicates what it represents and why it’s here. Crucially, a revitalized sense of purpose shows customers that a retailer can be trusted to provide what they desire.”

What if the answer to the biggest gains in customer loyalty was sitting right in front of us? What if it was as simple as figuring out who our customers want us to be and then aligning ourselves with those desires? What if the way to our customers’ hearts didn’t require discounts and giveaways? Interesting proposition.

Clearly, customer loyalty requires a multi-faceted approach to deriving long-term value – after all, creating lift, shift and improving customer retention are complex problems in and of themselves. But if the reigns of designing the new retail environment have been placed in the hands of millions of individual consumers, then the importance of things such as brand credibility, authenticity and relatability probably just jumped up a couple of rungs on the corporate agenda.

I think it’s high time they did.

Mike Giambattista is Managing Editor at The Wise Marketer and is a Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional (CLMP).