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Cathy Hotka

Principal
Cathy Hotka & Associates

When it comes to loyalty programs at supermarkets, most of them are nothing more than "discounts" on artificially high prices. Adding more interesting benefits could be a winner. And Millennials are all about authenticity....

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Frictionless commerce.

This makes complete sense for Starbucks, which enjoys an affluent customer base and has a limited number of SKUs, and the requirement of personal interaction to deliver the beverage. It will be interesting to see what happens when this same customer expects an equivalent experience at a department...

My mother says that heading to the meat case in the supermarket is like going to the Smithsonian—you can look all you want, but you can't take it home.

Drought-related price increases and wage stagnation are a bad combination for customers, and for grocery chains. We're also living with the...

This is easily the strangest retail story of the past few days.

I'm sure there are people who'll appreciate this benefit. But for those of us who are older, who experienced real gender discrimination, there's a whiff of "don't get pregnant now if you want to keep your job" to...

The dirty little secret of outlet stores is that they're profitable. In my neighborhood, there's a Cartier, a Tiffany, a Saks—and a T.J. Maxx and a Nordstrom Rack. The economic downturn that battered the industry in 2007 also made discounting acceptable, even chic. I'll predict that customer behavior will...

This is one of those questions that confounds me.

Customers walked away from J.C. Penney AFTER stores were renovated and prices were reduced, when merchandise looked truly special and clutter was banished. Apparently they preferred the old days of tired-looking merchandise, calculating price reductions and holding paper coupons.

So what can...

Americans are being confronted with a series of interesting choices lately. Shop at Nordstrom, which respects Thanksgiving, or chains that don't? Eat at McDonald's, which retains its headquarters in the United States, or at a competitor which has chosen to avoid U.S. taxes?

We hear a lot about how mindful...

I manage 35 business dinner events a year, so I meet a lot of waitstaff. They're uniformly competent, polite and accommodating. I'm going to guess that people who complain about servers have probably acted in an offensive way themselves. To get great service, treat your server like a person.

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Dick has it right. Wage stagnation is real for many Americans, so the predicted increase in holiday spending would come from increased debt. Given the uncertainty around us (Ebola, ISIS, learning that the front door of the White House is unlocked) I'm not sure this is the right climate...

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