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: 05/23/2018

    Lessons in goodwill and the power of feelings

    This is a key topic at Store Operations Council meetings. Participants talk about how important it is for store associates to greet customers, smile at them, and ask how they can help. Look at Walmart's removing Scan and Go -- customers will choose interaction with a person over a machine.
  • Posted on: 05/22/2018

    Amazon bans chronic returners

    I'm with Amazon on this one. Retailers have to have common-sense policies that allow returns, but stop fraudsters and abusers from gaming the system. If you've used a frying pan for 30 years, you shouldn't get to return it for a new one, no questions asked.
  • Posted on: 05/21/2018

    Sexism is still alive and well

    Every woman has stories like this. Every woman has been in a meeting where she has suggested an action to take, is shot down, and then when that same action is suggested by a man, it's approved. I'm encouraged by the new willingness of women to call out this kind of behavior, though!
  • Posted on: 05/18/2018

    Will American consumers go for ‘When Harry Married Meghan’ promos?

    Remember the cheesy commemorative plates from the Charles and Diana wedding? We Yankees love royal kitsch; expect more!
  • Posted on: 05/14/2018

    7-Eleven Launches first augmented reality in-store experience

    The bigger opportunity here is for 7-Eleven to create a series of these promotions that encourage customers to come back again and again, and there's nothing wrong with events that lure younger customers. Imagine cross-promotions for the Indianapolis 500, or the Super Bowl.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2018

    Has Victoria’s Secret become a casualty of the #MeToo movement?

    Everything is evolving in retail now, and the foundation space is no exception. It's reassuring that Victoria's Secret understands that changing silhouettes and attitudes must prompt some adaptation. Their focus on their various customers should give them a good platform for the future. That said, can we talk about the fashion show?
  • Posted on: 05/03/2018

    Do retailers need to update customer persona development?

    I've been privy to some of the work that a major marketing firm is doing with several well-known brands. They've urged them to consider a number of different personas, reflecting the various motivations that drive customers to purchase their products. In the age of multiple channels, one size does not fit all.
  • Posted on: 05/02/2018

    J Sainsbury CEO’s singing hits a sour note on social media

    Oh boy. How unfortunate. This reminds me of White House economic advisor Gary Cohn's comment that, with a $1,000 savings on taxes, families could purchase a new car. So out of touch. I hope that Mr. Coupe's apology was sincere.
  • Posted on: 05/01/2018

    Is membership really what’s driving RH’s rebound?

    There's a lot at play here in this business model, including giant catalogs, large furniture that won't work well in smaller apartments, and a price point that's not for everyone. Let's hope that RH can arrive at a strategy as beautiful as the merchandise.
  • Posted on: 04/30/2018

    Kellogg’s advises CPGs to differentiate online

    Chris Perry's most important point is that brands need to be proactive. Now that consumers have multiple ways to interact with brands beyond the store shelf, it's important for brands to talk with consumers on their own terms. Look at Coca-Cola, introducing numerous new flavors and form factors, keeping customers engaged.
  • Posted on: 04/27/2018

    H&M in, Gap out of wedding dress business

    My daughter wore a simply gorgeous and classic wedding dress from David's Bridal that cost significantly less than she had planned. Millennials have a wealth of information, way beyond the local bridal store, which helps them to locate the right merchandise at the right cost. It's exciting to watch.
  • Posted on: 04/24/2018

    Will Prime members give Amazon the key to their cars?

    So am I!
  • Posted on: 04/23/2018

    Apocalypse? No. Retail faces a reset

    You can now take your child to Maggiano's Little Italy for cooking classes. Tween retailers are going to host birthday parties. And at the September meeting of the Store Operations Council, we'll get a tour of the new flagship DSW store, which has been completely reimagined. Get experiential, or fall behind.
  • Posted on: 04/20/2018

    CVS gets real without retouching in new beauty campaign

    Thank you, CVS. The emphasis on "real" has been a boon for Dove, and it will for CVS as well. We can't all look like a model, but we can feel like one.
  • Posted on: 04/19/2018

    Starbucks to close shops for racial bias training

    This shocking incident called for a definitive response, and kudos to CEO Kevin Johnson for responding so forcefully. Retail companies would do well to emphasize the old saw that "the customer is always right," and emphasize respect and goodwill for all. Besides, who among us hasn't waited in a Starbucks for a colleague?

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