PROFILE

Georganne Bender

Consumer Anthropologist, KIZER & BENDER Speaking
Georganne Bender is a consumer anthropologist, retail strategist, keynote speaker, author, consultant and one-half of the KIZER & BENDER Speaking team. Georganne and her partner, Rich Kizer, are contributors to MSNBC’s television program Your Business. They made Meetings & Conventions Magazine's list of Meeting Planners Favorite Keynote Speakers, have been named two of Retailing's Most Influential People, and have been listed among the Top 40 Omnichannel Retail Influencers and the Top 50 Retail Influencers since 2014. Their award-winning Retail Adventures blog was named the Top Retail Blog by PR Newswire Media, and is consistently listed among important retail and small business blogs. KIZER & BENDER are partners and emcees for the popular Independent Retailer Conference. Any speaker can talk about consumers, but KIZER & BENDER actually become them. In addition to yearly focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and intensive on-site studies, their research includes posing as every kind of customer you can imagine; and maybe even a few that you can't. The result of their research is literally straight from the customers’ mouth: solid ground level intelligence you can use to better serve your own customers. KIZER & BENDER are married, just not to each other. 2018 marks their 28th anniversary as a speaking team.
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  • Posted on: 03/19/2019

    Anthropologie hopes to earn an A+ with new plus-size clothing options

    I’m in Las Vegas this week. The selection of animal prints WITH rhinestones is truly amazing. Especially in sizes 14 and up.
  • Posted on: 03/19/2019

    Anthropologie hopes to earn an A+ with new plus-size clothing options

    Kudos to Anthropologie for offering 16W to 26W - actual plus-sizes. Too many retailers think plus-size begins at 12. It’s ridiculous to size shame women because they do not happen to be the size the fashion industry thinks they should be. I laughed out loud at “Anthropologie joins a growing number of retailers that are adding plus-size clothing in stores” - 10 stores out of 226? Yippee. Paula’s comment about rhinestones and animal prints didn’t make me laugh because fashionistas seem to think that anyone vaguely plus-size needs more tops with cats printed on them. So this is a start. Again. And nothing much else will happen and millions of women who do not fit into the fashion equation will still roam stores looking for something to wear. QVC offers everything it sells in sizes 00 - 28W, why can’t other retailers figure this out?
  • Posted on: 03/18/2019

    Burger King launches $5-a-month coffee subscription service

    Rich, my biz partner and fellow BrainTrust panelist, spends $2.00 a day on coffee at Starbucks every morning -- that’s over 50 bucks a month and it doesn’t include whatever else he buys. The only rub I see is that BK tends to launch marketing and abandons it quickly. McDonald’s, on the other hand, gives its programs time to breathe. I’ve had Burger King coffee and it’s good. I love this idea, I hope it takes off.
  • Posted on: 03/15/2019

    Pets rule the retail roost

    I remember reading a survey that said women spend more time choosing a gift for their pet than they do for their spouse or significant other. I think that about says it all. In some ways pets are the new kids.
  • Posted on: 03/13/2019

    Does new retail need a new prototype?

    The line in the article, “to the customer, retail is retail” says it all and we can’t forget that. Shoppers are bored, and retailers are frustrated, trying to quickly adapt to what the customer wants. Expects. Each of the modules offered have promise, and I particularly like the infusion of local flavor - what sells in NYC doesn’t always go over big in Milwaukee. It’s going to take new thinking and a lot of trial and error before a new prototype is embraced by big retail, but it’s time.
  • Posted on: 03/12/2019

    What will it take to make department stores relevant again?

    Acting smaller and becoming more nimble I get, but an app is not a store window and a place that only offers services is not a store. I was heavy into a store remodel the week of ShopTalk so I didn’t get to hear the speakers, but I do know that a department store is too big when it doesn’t have enough salespeople to help shoppers, and that when your store becomes a giant box filled with stale product and uninspired merchandising it’s time to change. I applaud the smaller, standalone things Macy’s and Nordstrom are doing to move forward, but those things are not helping customers who visit the actual department stores. What’s the plan to change the shopper experience in those physical spaces? No one seems to be talking much about that.
  • Posted on: 03/08/2019

    Will new Scan & Go tech turbocharge Sam’s checkouts?

    I love the ease of shopping at Amazon Go and the Scan & Go technology sounds like the next best thing. But I am visualizing myself pushing a cart down an aisle, grabbing a product I need, scanning it with my phone, checking to make sure it scanned correctly, putting it in the cart, and then checking the list that is also on my phone, stored in the Alexa app. I shop big and for me this sounds like a nightmare. But my nightmare is a dream to shoppers who want to avoid the checkout lines. Yesterday, we talked about grocery stores shoppers leaving “without pleasant human contact.” Scan & Go certainly isn’t going to help fix that perception.
  • Posted on: 03/07/2019

    Where are grocers failing on in-store experience?

    Grocery stores have it tough when it comes to standing out because their products are much the same every visit. It’s hard to jazz up displays because at the end of the day a tomato is a tomato is a tomato. So they up the in-store experience with colorful graphics, classes, and demos. Wegmans and Mariano’s both offer a stellar experience, but even their stores gets stale when shoppers become accustomed to the stores' perks and quirks and they become part of the background. Grocers always have to be on the lookout for the next opportunity to thrill shoppers. A grocery store’s Achilles' heel will always be its people. That “pleasant human contact” craved by customers doesn’t happen enough. Associates stocking the shelves do not engage shoppers unless they are asked a question. I have never been stopped in any grocery store, in any state, by a manager asking about my visit, and the nicest cashier can be derailed by the bagger who puts the bread in with heavy canned goods. And then there is the conversation about what the associates are doing over the weekend. The invisible customer just stands there praying it will all be over soon. The best store is still only as good as its people.
  • Posted on: 03/05/2019

    Sexy isn’t selling anymore for Victoria’s Secret

    I don’t think Victoria’s Secret is awful, just out of touch with the consumer. There is a lot of opportunity there that they are missing!
  • Posted on: 03/05/2019

    Sexy isn’t selling anymore for Victoria’s Secret

    I commented recently on Neil Saunders' LinkedIn post about Victoria's Secret. At a recent visit to one of its stores I found the store design well done and the displays inviting, but it’s clear that I am not their target customer - and that's part of the problem. Victoria's Secret is all about sexy and airbrushed models. It’s a look that very few women can pull of, and if you like pizza, forget it. It's not reality. Victoria's Secret is long overdue for a refresh - keep the feel of the stores but let all women know that they are welcome; that there is beautiful lingerie is for you, no matter what size you wear. Update the marketing and fashion shows so they are not so cringeworthy in a #MeToo world. Until Victoria's Secret understands that women have moved on from the model it is still pushing it will be perceived as the store most out of touch with reality.
  • Posted on: 03/01/2019

    What will going separate ways mean for Gap and Old Navy?

    As a former Gapper I hope this separation doesn’t mean what I think it means, but I am afraid that it does. Gap has offered different versions of the same apparel since the '70s, its inability to move on is apparent even to consumers. Old Navy is different from its sister brands Gap and Banana Republic. Its offerings are fresh, fun and affordable. Old Navy will continue to thrive on its own.
  • Posted on: 02/28/2019

    Where does J.C. Penney go after ending its Bombfell subscription deal?

    This is bad news for Bombfell’s subscription customers, but it’s a good move for J.C. Penney. Jill Soltau is a smart woman who is making thoughtful decisions. I’m looking forward to seeing what she does next. Do I think subscription services are a business opportunity that department stores should pursue? Anecdotally, I’d have to say yes. Several of my friends are in love with Stitch Fix. And another, a high level fashion industry event planner, relies on Rent the Runway -- she doesn’t pack much anymore. Her work outfits are waiting for her at the hotel when she arrives. That sounds like heaven to me.
  • Posted on: 02/27/2019

    Walmart says ‘goodbye’ to greeters and ‘hello’ to controversy

    This is a big story in Chicago as a disabled greeter who has held the position of Walmart greeter for 19 years will lose his job in April. It’s a tough one because the greeter position has traditionally been held by elderly and disabled persons and some of these people are not physically capable of performing some of the new job requirements. Walmart has said that it is looking for customized solutions for all of those involved but that remains to be seen. Still, I wonder what Mr. Sam would have to say about this situation.
  • Posted on: 02/26/2019

    Will Walmart’s Baby Savings Day grow up to be a big retailing deal?

    I am continually amazed at the amount of gadgets considered necessary to raise a child these days. As a new grandmother, I bought most of them. Executed properly, Walmart’s Baby Savings Day has the potential to be an anticipated annual event. But it has to be done right both at store level and online, and that’s a big task for Walmart. Perceptions matter. This year’s event didn’t deliver as promised; next year’s has to be amazing or it will fall off of the customer's radar.
  • Posted on: 02/25/2019

    Should district managers be held more accountable for store performance?

    Having been a store manager for a few chains early in my career, I understand the inner workings of the district manager-store manager relationship. My district manager was there to ensure that the district and regional goals were met, and that I had what I needed at store level to make those goals happen. In a high-functioning store there is a fine line that good DMs don’t cross; their role is to support the manager who is ultimately responsible for how the store produces. And they are held accountable for what happens in their stores.

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