Carol Spieckerman

President, Spieckerman Retail

Carol Spieckerman is an internationally-recognized authority on retail and brand positioning. She specializes in future-proofing her clients’ retail strategies and positioning them for high-volume success with key retail decision-makers and influencers.  As president and CEO of Spieckerman Retail, she tracks Retail TrajectoriesSM that cut across categories, tiers, environments and borders and transforms them into actionable strategies for her brand marketing, agency, licensing, and technology clients. Carol is an author and regular contributor to leading retail and business media. Her credits include the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Forbes, Dealerscope, Women’s Wear Daily, Bloomberg Business Week, Private Label Buyer and Retail Wire. Carol speaks at corporate and industry events around the world including the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the International Licensing Expo. Her blog, The Right Brain of Retail, is considered a “must-read” by major retailers, brands and suppliers and her retail insights are prominent on Twitter @retailxpert.

  • Posted on: 07/20/2017

    Is the one-stop grocery shop coming to an end?

    What if the retailers themselves are changing shoppers' habits? The default assumption is that retailers are constantly reacting to changes in shopper behavior and that small formats (or conversely, mega-assortment emporiums) are a response. No doubt this is true to an extent but the proliferation of small formats, digital-to-physical delivery mechanisms (even for small orders) and other convenience options also encourage shoppers to eschew time-eating stock-up trips in favor of quick and specific fill-ins from multiple retailers. Retailers are accelerating the convenience trend; opening up opportunities for multiple players to participate in it and attack it from multiple angles (small, large, digital, clicks-to-bricks ... ).
  • Posted on: 06/07/2017

    Can licensing safeguard against retail downsizing?

    Thanks all for the comments so far. The originally published title (since updated by RetailWire), positioned the article as touting licensing as a solution for retailers. The intention (as reflected in the now-revised title) is to explore and delineate the benefits of strategic licensing for licensors, licensees, agencies and others who already participate in that world, and those who might consider it, particularly as retailers shrink their store fleets. Whether consumers realize it or not, licensing is already pervasive in retail and brand marketing.
  • Posted on: 05/17/2017

    Why is Walmart so concerned about Aldi and Lidl?

    I'm in Walmart's back yard and can attest to the fact that Aldi enjoys industry-defying loyalty here. I know people who plan regular trips to the not-that-convenient local Aldi to pick up their favorite private-branded products, organics, and produce. Still others call out little-known details like Aldi's selection of authentic products from Europe, the oddly compelling "treasure hunt" vibe in general merchandise and, of course, the quick check-out process with cashiers that tend to be just a bit friendlier. (Aldi pays them well.)A lot going on in that little box and none of it is lost on Walmart.
  • Posted on: 05/17/2017

    Why is Walmart so concerned about Aldi and Lidl?

    Walmart is (rightfully) concerned about Aldi and Lidl for several reasons:
    1. The combined, efficient, small-format scale;
    2. The just-different-enough propositions of Aldi and Lidl cover a lot of important ground (private and national brand strength, easy-to-shop and easy-to-operate formats, convenience and more);
    3. Lidl beta testing click-and-collect in Europe (with potential to parlay in the U.S.) -- something U.S. dollar stores haven't prioritized;
    4. Aldi's ongoing format refinements and doubling down on organics. Aldi isn't standing still;
    5. Lidl isn't just putting a toe in the water, they will roll out aggressively.
    I'm sure there is more but that's enough to keep folks awake at night for now.
  • Posted on: 04/28/2017

    Has North Face reached a summit in consumer segmentation?

    This type of lifestyle segmentation is very "VF" -- they've taken this approach for years so it's only natural that the strategy is being applied to North Face. What is different, and I think quite relevant, is the way North Face is breaking out some of the segments and parlaying them to build localized brick-and-mortar propositions. Just as with the "athleisure" movement in women's, the outdoor segment is also splintering into multiple sub-movements that ideally address how and when people really wear certain looks. Head-to-toe, mono-brand outfits are a thing of the past so North Face would be smart to present mix-and-match looks, even if they incorporate other brands.
  • Posted on: 04/18/2017

    Are consumers’ AI fears rational?

    AI is an inexorable force at this point so any consumer fears frankly won't curtail it. The fact that many in government don't understand AI compounds the potential complications down the road as regulations will lag behind actual implementation. I'm by no means anti-AI (not that it would matter if I were!) but the job losses, particularly in the retail sector, and accelerating creep factor will eventually become more noticeable to consumers. By then, AI will already be pervasive.
  • Posted on: 02/21/2017

    Will acquisition of a mom and pop shop pay off big for Kroger?

    Kroger's acquisition of Murray's Cheese exemplifies several new retail realities:
    1. Test and learn - Kroger acquired Murray's after testing the concept first. Retailers don't have to go all-in from the start, but smart ones pull the trigger once the benefits of ownership become clear.
    2. Niche plays - Just as Walmart is following its big gulp of with niche chasers like ShoeBuy and Moosejaw, Kroger is bolstering its early platform plays with category killers that bring instant category depth, relevance and fan/user bases with them.
    3. Talent grabs - Kroger got more than cheese and olives with its acquisition of Murray's, it acquired, and leveraged, the talent, culture and processes that make Murray's so special.
    This is only the beginning...
  • Posted on: 01/31/2017

    Will free two-day shipping give Walmart an edge over Amazon?

    Walmart is smart to cast a wider net and depart from delusions of mass loyalty to its shipping program. However, as Manmit pointed out, price optimization will be critical to Walmart's success with this strategy. The end game is to put Walmart in the decision set, right up there with Amazon, for purchases over $35. If Amazon beats Walmart on price, no sale. It really is that simple.
  • Posted on: 01/19/2017

    Will Walmart’s Scan & Go catch on this time around?

    It's great to see Walmart getting back on the horse with Scan & Go. The solution has absolutely increased the frequency with which I shop at Sam's -- it's a game-changer -- and parlaying the convenience to Walmart makes total sense. The scam factor is the biggest potential problem given that Walmart baskets are often filled beyond the brim with items tiny and massive, particularly near pay days. I'm sure that Walmart has factored this in. Never give up!
  • Posted on: 01/09/2017

    Will PetSmart’s luxurious Pet Spa concept catch on?

    Am I the only one who thinks PetSmart (and "co") are schizophrenic? On one hand, selling small animals, birds, reptiles, fish, etc., to whoever has the cash (regardless of their ability to care for them). Promoting spa services, grooming and even adoption events for cats and dogs on the other. Perhaps a name change to DogandcatSmart might make sense. Doesn't roll off the tongue but in the meantime, I'll continue to buy from Amazon.
  • Posted on: 01/09/2017

    Will its acquisition of boost Walmart’s online performance?

    Acquisition is a great way to play a quick game of category catch-up but not everyone is taking the same approach. Amazon's acquisitions of category killers such as Quidsi ( and other fill-in-your-niche dot-coms) have been largely defensive. Amazon's philosophy seems to be, "if you can't beat them, eat them." By contrast, Walmart is leveraging acquisitions to grab tech talent and ensure category relevance. Footwear is a logical foray as Zappos acclimated millions of shoppers to buying (and easily returning) shoes online. Walmart can ride in Zappos' wake and bolt on a bevy of national brands, accompanying content and user relationships/data. Nice deal!
  • Posted on: 12/07/2016

    Zara succeeds with speed

    Speed-to-market is critically and uniquely important to clothing retailers (and wholesalers) for one big reason -- fashion trends are now dictated by consumers and social media influencers (not retailers). This one fact changes everything: Choosing "key items" and planning inventory six or more months in advance no longer makes sense. Retailer-dictated trends are taking a back seat. The need for speed, rapt attention and quick reaction to social media-driven trends is everything. Zara's business model is built for this. Others are finally realizing that they can't shape consumer behavior to fit their antiquated models.
  • Posted on: 11/18/2016

    Are Neiman Marcus and Rent the Runway meant for each other?

    I'm sure this was a tough sell within the Neiman's organization initially, but it makes nothing but sense. Rent the Runway will build a bridge between Millennials and Neiman Marcus while introducing fashionistas-in-the-making to designers who are part of the Neiman's stable. For the long term, this partnership should translate into purchases from new customers. In the meantime, the rental business will boom. Visions of hours-long mother-daughter trips to Neiman's!
  • Posted on: 11/11/2016

    Will Donald Trump’s presidency be good for retailers?

    Looking at Mr. Trump's presidency from a literal "policy" perspective would seem to be dicey given his bouts of rebellion and ongoing contradictions, not to mention the sway that others will certainly hold once his administration is in place. The jury's out on this (perhaps literally but that's another discussion).The most interesting dynamic is the shift in the Trump brand both literally (actual Trump-branded stuff) and figuratively (association and affinity). As I commented in a recent media article, there may be no such thing as bad publicity but there is such a thing as being out of alignment with your fan base. Trump's new, and perhaps unintended, fan base is the "non-college-educated white males" we keep hearing about. His historic targeted fan base is higher-end consumers and partners who are willing to pay a premium to license the Trump brand and produce products and erect buildings emblazoned with it (licensees, the ones that have largely been left out of the Trump brand conversation yet have a lot at stake).Ivanka of course has a big stake in the outcome of this shift as well. For now, many of those high-end partners and customers are fleeing and showing the hand to the Trump brand, complete with hostile hashtags, and the new base is cheering loudly. For the short-term, I would expect this dynamic to impact retailers that cater to these customers accordingly. The big question is whether Mr. Trump's presidency will save or sink the Trump brand, with which customers, and at what volume potential. We've never had a branded president before.
  • Posted on: 09/22/2016

    What’s behind Zara’s crazy sales gains?

    This ties in neatly with yesterday's discussion on Gap in which opinions about whether apparel is "trendless" got heated. Of course trends EXIST at any given time and retailers act upon them. The question is whether consumers feel as compelled as they once did to act upon trends -- to identify and purchase "must-have" items on a meaningful scale and on a regular/seasonal basis. The answer is, sometimes they do if the stars line up. A trend hits social media (coverage of a runway show, perhaps), lots of sharing and commenting, Zara clicks its fast-fashion supply chain into gear and the items hit Zara stores pronto at a crazy great price. Boom! Very different from when retailers dictated fashion, bought way ahead, stocked the shelves, advertised the latest and consumers bought in droves (or not, yikes). Zara is geared for the, let's say "trend-challenged" times!

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