Anne Howe

Principal, Anne Howe Associates
Anne Howe has recently returned to independent consulting work through Anne Howe Associates, which she formed in 2010. Her focus will be on applying the principles of human influence in the retail and shopper marketplace.

Howe has many years of marketing and management experience ranging across diverse business sectors, including Retail, CPG, Home, Apparel, Appliances and service industries across north America. She has been a bold, industry-involved leader in retail and shopper marketing, serving on groups, panels and commissions to further the discipline with a keen eye on enhancing the shopper experience. She is a member of the Path to Purchase Institute and has been a co-chair of its annual Expo event.

Anne's overall business experience includes two years of consulting for and two subsequent  years as SVP for Acosta Mosaic Group, the marketing services division of Acosta Sales & Marketing, and 18 years as an executive at The MARS Agency. She also served as Regional VP of Sales for Hanes Hosiery, directed a retail-focused public relations firm and spent time in sales/marketing management with Hilton Hotels Corporation.
Among her many career highlights:

Introduction of storied brands such as Wonderbra, Barely There Intimates, Champion Underwear, Levi Signature, Whirlpool Duet and Clorox Green Works into the US retail marketplace.

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  • Posted on: 12/02/2016

    A small retailer makes a bold move against big chains

    I love this willingness be be truthful. Business owners need to stand for something, and community really does matter to many residents in big, sometimes faceless suburbs. Well done.
  • Posted on: 11/30/2016

    Can engagement replace transaction rewards?

    If "visual is our language" (Paco Underhill) for better engagement, the conundrum is this: too much clutter in stores makes shoppers tune out, especially with tens of thousands of packaging competing for the engagement. The human brain only comprehends 1 of every 20,000 things the eye sees. So in order to reward shoppers for engagement, we have to provide the base elements of relationship building first, and that comes from human contact and conversations.If retailers can aggregate and really listen to what shoppers deem relevant, rewards for engagement will work. But the biggest barrier I hear about from shoppers is "I give retailers information that can really help them customize and personalize for me, but they don't do it."So many retailers have done it wrong, that in order to win at scale, they're going to have to invest with tech and marketing partners to re-set the effort and go slow to go fast. It's not cheap but it it sure as heck beats the march to the bottom that continual discounts inevitably lead to.
  • Posted on: 11/29/2016

    How badly will Macy’s be hurt by its Black Friday outages?

    Based on my experiences with messy stores and either nasty or disinterested associates, Macy's has inflicted a lot of in-store pain on shoppers over the last 12 months. They continue to send me offers I cannot use because I cancelled my credit card out of frustration.And now this technology mess for online shoppers? My guess is that the big-A website got the traffic and a chance to convert a lot of shoppers. Pain points for shoppers are not easily forgotten, especially if they are served up over and over, across the omnichannel experience!
  • Posted on: 11/28/2016

    Is Chobani smart to open cafés in grocery stores?

    For Chobani this strategy represents access to the target audience, as described so well by Tom Redd below! But for retailers I think this counts as a viable option to give shoppers an experience that is useful and enjoyable and accrues engagement credit to both brands. It breaks up the mundane trip. It also creates an "engagement space" that can be re-purposed to other brands or used by the retail brand when the Chobani experiment is over, which is inevitable at some point.
  • Posted on: 11/18/2016

    Will hundreds of small stores produce big results for Target?

    One of the key questions about this strategy is how Target will translate the "brand" experience of shopping a tight and very local assortments into a longer-term preference for the big format. Are they thinking that a divergent brand strategy is part of long-term plan to split into two separate operating companies? It's hard for retailers to fire on all cylinders with multiple formats (think Walmart), so what part of the business is the profitable core?Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of the experience-oriented urban concept. But as others have said, Target had had issues that seem to suggest this urban expansion focus could be bifurcating and stressful for many parts of the operation!
  • Posted on: 11/18/2016

    Retailers go beyond (below) price-matching for the holidays

    Wow. How many more retailers will meet their eventual demise with this known-to-fail strategy? Market share gains alone do not equate to a healthy retail business. As a shopper, my time is valued and limited, so I really can't find time to run around chasing after the 14-day programs either.Racing to the bottom ...
  • Posted on: 11/01/2016

    Will integrating plus-size clothing boost Meijer’s apparel sales?

    Smart move for Meijer to pay attention to what shoppers want in terms of merchandising. I do agree it's easier to shop by types of clothing versus type of body. But did Meijer survey its shoppers or just import the findings from ModCloth?In theory, Meijer is making a smart move to keep pricing consistent, but styling is so important in plus-sizing to achieve an attractive fit that I wonder if it's even possible to compare two tops that are size 4 and size 3x. In order to do fashion right, those two sizes have got to have more styling differences that actually do change the cost of goods and the manufacturing processes.I'm not a plus-size shopper but I have to assume Meijer has discerning shoppers who really do care how clothing fits and might be willing to pay up a bit for well-constructed garments that make them feel and look good!
  • Posted on: 10/28/2016

    Is Black Friday doomed to extinction?

    For whom the bell tolls. When will retailers stop this nonsense? The shopper control is pervasive and even Prime Day will have its troubles soon enough. I'd like to see retailers surprise shoppers with some well-trained real humans to help me find new and unique items that might actually surprise and delight my family.
  • Posted on: 10/27/2016

    Does talking to a human still matter?

    I support the IBM definition of AI — "augmented intelligence" because it will be a long time before truly artificial "bots" replace human understanding and empathy. People really do like service, and if some versions of AI can satisfy many simple inquiries and interactions, I'm all for that. But there should always be a human option so the complex queries can be addressed in ways that build engagement and empathy, thus reinforcing what many brands still stand for.
  • Posted on: 10/26/2016

    How can retailers achieve consistent branding across touchpoints?

    I love the Publix example of extending helping shoppers (what they stand for) via an employee blog. Many big retailers would be so afraid of that simple and effective strategy. For most mainstream retailers, the lack of a pervasive "what we stand for" idea translated into action strategies prevents them from building real relationships, engagement and passion with shoppers.It's not hard to have an idea, but to actually have it be differentiated as well as accompanied by actionable strategies that bring it to life across a plethora of omnichannel touchpoints is the key to success.Walmart consolidation with Publicis can be a way to make this easier, but that is not the only way to get there. The CEO and CMO have to spearhead the branding work, believe in it and lead the organization and agencies accordingly. For the most part, American retail senior leadership does not have or exhibit this skillset.
  • Posted on: 10/24/2016

    Saks, Ralph Lauren lure customers with upscale services

    While these services mentioned are seemingly nice, they have a sense of advertising and publicity for the retailers at their core, so they seem a wee bit inauthentic to me. The retailers could and should reach out a bit deeper to understand what might be delightful for the shopper on the way into the store or while in the store. So that maybe the shopper might bring along another shopper and double the upside opportunity. Just a thought.
  • Posted on: 10/20/2016

    Starbucks leverages barista creativity to drive sales

    The "mash-up" trend continues to have value to consumers seeking unique experiences. I give all due credit to Starbucks for letting baristas have some leeway in surprising and delighting shoppers — it's the secret sauce to success!
  • Posted on: 10/13/2016

    HSN and QVC shop for retail store space

    It's only logical for HSN and QVC to feel the need for physical retail, given that so many shoppers still crave the touch and feel sensory experiences that "in real life" shopping provides. And what better place than Herald Square to reach a wide and diverse audience?I hope they both go all out to provide an invigorating and helpful shopper experience, hopefully designed around shopper insights and human behavior and decision principles.I expect this will be a slow roll as they test the waters, but I'd like to see some pop-up shops here and there to surprise and delight shoppers in other major market locations!
  • Posted on: 10/11/2016

    Will the “Made by Google” pop-up shops be followed by a retail chain?

    Google should certainly continue to experiment with pop-up shops and hone the experience that helps conversion. I can also see Google doing store-within-a-store tests with other retailers. They'd be smart to test with "home"-oriented retailers like Lowe's and even Restoration Hardware or IKEA.
  • Posted on: 10/10/2016

    Will retailers lose retiring boomers to experiences?

    Retailers like REI and Dick's Sporting Goods have been helpful partners in getting many Boomers I know (including me) ready for travel adventures. From steadier hiking shoes to more effective bug spray to shirts that help us avoid too much sun, we've been experiencing retail the way it should be -- (read: HELPFUL).I like Liz Crawford's examples on trade-ins. Most of my fancy clothes have hit the resale shops and I spend that money on golf gear and greens fees and gardening.The one area where retailers of all types can win is in creating events around themes that make sense to us and INVITE us Boomers into your stores. We've got time to be there.

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