PROFILE

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.

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  • Posted on: 09/11/2017

    Will lower everyday prices boost Target’s traffic and sales?

    We retail watchers are in the loop about Target's pricing moves but shoppers will only know about it through experience. That means Target will really have to walk the talk to make any kind of impression. Target joins J.C. Penney and other retailers that are eschewing convoluted pricing schemes in favor of simplicity. The timing is interesting (and perhaps late) given Whole Foods' well publicized, and already executed, price reductions and Walmart's ongoing EDLP promise.My guess is that Target is reducing prices because it can. Not only through its recent massive private label overhauls and introductions but also through (hopefully) more sophisticated data mining. Will national brands that are available elsewhere bear the brunt? That's where the comparisons are harshest and price reductions most noticeable.
  • Posted on: 09/08/2017

    ‘Okay Google, I want to order from Home Depot’

    The Home Depot announcement is a real boon for Google as category variety and scale will be key to Google's relevance. The backlash against Amazon is real in the retail world and retailers have viable non-Amazon options when it comes to platform partnerships. I expect that Amazon's announcement that it is shopping for a site, and city, to call home for its latest mega distribution center is egging on the defections and alternative-exercising.
  • Posted on: 08/31/2017

    Are fashion trends moving too fast for retail?

    The need for speed is one aspect but it's an offshoot of the bigger dynamic: retailers are no longer dictating fashion and trends, they are responding to consumers' shifting whims. Foot Locker has the right idea by carving out open-to-buy for more spontaneous opportunities but, at the end of the day, the fashion and footwear industry is still locked into a months-long, buy-ahead model that is out of step with reality. Amazon is a factor here as well (when are they not?) as they have redefined fulfillment and convenience. The next nail has landed in the form of Amazon's proliferating private brand offering, ensuring that all kinds of "looks" will be a click away. Married with Prime Wardrobe ... well, you get the picture.
  • Posted on: 08/25/2017

    What’s delaying BTS selling?

    BTS is turning into more of a prolonged, dispersed season than a concentrated event thanks to the varying school schedules across the country. Buying closer to need is also a big factor with Amazon possibly playing a larger role than even the weather. Shoppers are buying closer to need because they can. Why hit the stores when you can order on Amazon Prime and get it the following day (and send back whatever doesn't work)? Retailers would be smart to monitor day-in and day-out value in relation to the competition rather than getting trigger happy with promotions.
  • 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 Jet.com 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 ShoeBuy.com 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 (Diapers.com 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!

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