Cathy Hotka

Principal, Cathy Hotka & Associates

Cathy Hotka has personal relationships with most of North America’s most influential retail technology leaders. Cathy Hotka & Associates is a different kind of retail IT marketing firm, leveraging close relationships with CIOs to assist technology companies, and working with retail CIOs to create thought leadership materials. The company was founded in 2002 and enjoys working relationships with many Tier 1 retailers and vendors.

Prior to creating the firm, Hotka created the CIO Council for the National Retail Federation, and staffed the American Petroleum Institute’s IT Council. She has worked on Capitol Hill and the White House, and has been recognized by Computerworld, CIO, Executive Technology, and the Wharton School of Business.

  • Posted on: 08/31/2016

    Abercrombie is abandoning teenagers

    Oh boy. Talk about an uphill struggle. Rebranding Abercrombie & Fitch would be a huge undertaking, fueled by abundant advertising and serious social media outreach. Pulling working 20-somethings away from H&M and Zara won't be easy ... I don't envy the people in charge of the campaign.
  • Posted on: 08/30/2016

    Retail executives have no clue about digital

    It's tough to lead on technology when the retail industry spends less on technology than almost any other. It's going to take some outside-the-box thinking -- of the kind that produced the revolutionary Pizza Hut app -- to enable retailers to reinvent themselves in the digital age. They might start by talking to customers to see where the gaps are.
  • Posted on: 08/26/2016

    Can Dollar General afford to price it out with Walmart?

    Dollar General has more than 12,000 stores and dominates this segment for a reason. (And this is a market that Walmart should have tackled long ago.) There will always be ups and downs, but Dollar General will continue to excel because it does one thing, and it does it very, very well.
  • Posted on: 08/22/2016

    Is on-site childcare the key to cutting employee turnover?

    The United States seems to have a fairly simple philosophy on children: don't have them. We're the only industrialized society that has no national maternity leave policy, and few businesses step up to help the mothers and fathers who work for them. It's tough to imagine that an industry like retail will suddenly dart forward in this area.
  • Posted on: 08/18/2016

    Have consumers accepted dynamic pricing?

    Let's change the discussion, and rename "dynamic" pricing as "gotcha" pricing. Consumers may recognize it, but that doesn't mean they'll like it. Would you put up a sign in your store that says you'll charge affluent customers more than middle-class customers? I think not.
  • Posted on: 08/18/2016

    Is Walmart passing its crime buck to local governments?

    Walmart always passes the buck. Taxpayers pick up the slack for the poverty wages they pay associates. Local police departments are forced to act as Walmart's loss prevention staff. This will continue until customers say "no más" and push back by taking their business elsewhere.
  • Posted on: 08/17/2016

    Will other brands follow Birkenstock in cutting off Amazon?

    Amazon sounded like a great idea to brands in the early days ("let's sell online!") but the extent of its brand dilution is being seen now. (See Tom Redd's entry below.) Brands like Birkenstock that want to cultivate an aura of exclusivity need to eliminate the perception that they're ubiquitous too ... it's incompatible.
  • Posted on: 08/17/2016

    Does Millennials’ credit card wariness spell trouble for retail?

    Many Millennials already carry a significant amount of student loan debt (and this is a net negative for our country) and are in no hurry to rack up credit card debt. Savvy retailers will focus on creating a compelling store experience that will lure younger customers into the store.
  • Posted on: 08/16/2016

    Where would J.C. Penney be without Sears?

    Ori has it right. It isn't clear what the successful physical sales model will be going forward. The pending demise of Sears will help J.C. Penney, but that won't be enough to stabilize the sector. I don't think anyone knows how it's going to shake out, but store experience will be a key factor in store success.
  • Posted on: 08/15/2016

    Is brick & mortar ready to leverage in-store shopper data?

    We've been talking about this for many years, and this topic will be part of the store operations meeting I'm managing in Las Vegas in October. That said, progress is (at best) incremental, with no breakout examples of what the technologies might do. I don't expect this to creep up the priority list any time soon.
  • Posted on: 08/10/2016

    Is it OK for brands to have emotions?

    Brand marketing is all about emotion. Coca-Cola didn't brag about its mix of ingredients, but instead sang that it would like to teach the world to sing. Lotions in a jar promise to make you feel younger. Millennials prize authenticity, but they're not straying too far from the brand identities their parents chose as well.
  • Posted on: 08/10/2016

    Will selling in fewer stores help Coach sell more handbags?

    The more pronounced problem here is with Michael Kors, since millions of women are walking around with Michael Kors bags that they purchased at T.J. Maxx. To imbue a brand with the aura of luxury, a company must have exclusivity. Both Coach and Michael Kors are making a good move to reduce the number of outlets selling their products, but results won't be immediate.
  • Posted on: 08/09/2016

    Kroger pushes its tech advantage

    The sooner that retailers learn that they are in the information business, the better. Kroger's ultra-aggressive stance on technology should produce valuable insights and key differentiators that other grocers can't touch.Years ago my friend CIO Paul Singer moved to a grocery chain in Minnesota and pronounced that there, it was 1973. At Kroger, it's definitely 2016.
  • Posted on: 08/05/2016

    Will labor scheduling upgrades make Walmart a better retailer?

    This is a welcome development.On-call scheduling makes it very difficult for parents to participate in the workforce. Walmart's move to predictable scheduling will mean that more mature associates will be available, and that's good for everyone. Let's hope they work out the kinks.
  • Posted on: 08/05/2016

    When should brands go down market?

    The best athletic brands are already available at off-price retailers like T.J. Maxx. As long as Under Armour maintains its own stores and controls its brand perception, there's no downside to moving to Kohl's.

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