Georganne Bender

Principal, KIZER & BENDER Speaking
Georganne Bender is a retail and 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. 2021 marks their 31st anniversary as a speaking team.
  • Posted on: 07/30/2021

    Will throwing money at drivers solve the trucker shortage problem?

    Nothing happens without truck drivers, so will throwing money at drivers solve the trucker shortage problem? It can’t hurt. The article hit on the big fact that older drivers are retiring and younger people aren’t choosing driving as a career, even though the potential to make good money is there. Walmart has the right idea with increasing benefits as well. This won’t be an easy fix, but it is a critical one.
  • Posted on: 07/29/2021

    Store associates shouldn’t have to be the mask or vaccine police

    Requiring store associates to ask to see a customer’s proof of vaccination is a bit much, but if that has to happen then for the associates safety it needs to be a job unto itself. Like a bouncer at a bar. As I type this I realize how ridiculous that sounds, but that’s where we are. This entire situation isn’t good, worse because the state guidelines are wishy-washy. Are masks required or not? We travel to Las Vegas soon where the mask mandate is perfectly clear: wear one at all times indoors, but in my home of Illinois the guidelines are up for interpretation. The brunt of what happens at store level falls onto front line associates. Retailers, large and small, need to do whatever it takes to protect them.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2021

    Will the Delta variant keep shoppers and unvaccinated workers at home?

    New York City and California are requiring employees to get vaccinated or face weekly Covid tests. The Department of Veterans Affairs says front-line healthcare employees will be required to be vaccinated or face possible termination. The Delta variant is coming on strong and has the potential to negatively effect everything. Too many people are acting like this isn’t a big deal. It is and the fix isn’t hard. Get vaccinated.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2021

    Macy’s should have stayed local

    Ha! The Michigan Avenue location at Water Tower Place is now gone, but State Street is still a beautiful store.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2021

    Macy’s should have stayed local

    Marshall Field’s became Macy’s in Chicago in 2006 but locals still refer to the stores, particularly the State Street flagship, as Field’s. Macy’s was smart to keep many of the things Field’s shoppers cherished at that location, but it has never been the same. Lee is one hundred percent correct: Local, loyal shoppers rebelled and felt betrayed. They still do. Is a local connection important? Absolutely. But so is maintaining the existing stores. Even before the pandemic, Macy’s branch stores were messy, poorly maintained and merchandised, vanilla boxes. All of the ambiance shoppers love about a good department store is gone. Macy’s attention the past few years seems to be everywhere except on its existing stores. Who wants to shop where the fitting room carpeting is torn and the sales floor looks like a garage sale? Keep that up and the remaining loyal customers won’t stick around either.
  • Posted on: 07/23/2021

    How will COVID-19 shape future consumers?

    Good points, Ken! It’s interesting that you should mention the Great Depression. Because of her experiences as a child, my mother-in-law didn’t spend a penny she didn’t have to spend. Conversely, my mother tended to over stock. You never know how children will be affected; we may not see the full effect of COVID-19 for many years.
  • Posted on: 07/23/2021

    How will COVID-19 shape future consumers?

    My eldest grandson just turned six, his brother just turned one. There have been significant changes in their young lives, so yes, I do think it will be advantageous for retailers to pay close attention to this generation. My daughter worries about the baby because he wasn’t able to do all of the things his big brother did - like visiting friends, restaurants and stores - things that build social skills. The six year old is very aware of how his life was interrupted. He frequently asked about things we used to do before the “cold bug” hit. That being said, he bounced back quickly once we were free to move about without masks and social distancing. Young kids are resilient, but I worry about how the older ones will be affected. Even in grown up places the in-store experience has to be a good one because kids are taking it all in.
  • Posted on: 07/22/2021

    Beauty shop-in-shops are trending

    Really, how is this any different from the cosmetics departments in traditional department stores? Those departments have always been the go-to place to see name brand products all in one place. Ulta and Sephora standalone stores provide a similar service. It makes sense to bring respected beauty brands into stores that consumers already know and trust. Staffing each store-within-a-store with associates who know how to work with consumers of all ages is absolutely critical.
  • Posted on: 07/20/2021

    Victoria’s Secret is moving out of the mall

    Many of their stores still resemble boudoirs so the design will obviously need to change and I have no doubt that it will. What I am talking about is placing stores in locations that are easily accessible to your core customers. Shopping is social for young women. If they like to hang at the mall, be at the mall.
  • Posted on: 07/20/2021

    Victoria’s Secret is moving out of the mall

    We have a Victoria's Secret store at the local enclosed mall and at the outdoor mall about five miles away. Both are frequented heavily by teenage girls. If Victoria's Secret moves away from shopping centers - indoor or out - it needs to take into consideration its customers' ability to get to the stores. I know Victoria's Secret has older customers as well but from my observations shoppers tend to be on the younger side.
  • Posted on: 07/20/2021

    Is it time for retailers to reinstate pandemic protocols?

    One day we had all kinds of mandates and the next the “pandemic is over” switch was flipped. What had really changed? Certainly not the number of vaccinated Americans. Now we appear to be moving backwards in our fight against the varying forms of COVID-19. Even though I am vaccinated I am thinking twice about wearing a mask again in stores and I know I am not alone. As hard as it is, retailers have an obligation to keep their associates safe. If that means both associates and customers need to mask up and practice social distancing again then so be it. I do not understand the hesitancy to get vaccinated. If more people were vaccinated we wouldn’t be in this situation.
  • Posted on: 07/19/2021

    Is the Walmart/Justice tie-up a harbinger of more retailer brand partnerships?

    Walmart is bullish on growing its fashion business so partnering with well known brands makes perfect sense. The timing with Justice is good, too. The list of fashion brands at Walmart is strong and will likely draw more than Walmart’s core customers. An in-store merchandise presentation makeover is needed ASAP. Hanging rods and round racks won’t do the product, well ... justice.
  • Posted on: 07/16/2021

    Will retailers be jilted by the trend toward micro and hybrid weddings?

    The problem facing couples right now is control. You plan a wedding and the date gets pushed back because of COVID-19, so you pick another date, hopeful your wedding will be a go. When it can’t happen the way you want it to happen some couples opt to move forward in any way that they can. My son is getting married October and he and his fiancée want to be married at a specific venue. The number of people to help them celebrate their day has not been cut back, but here’s the thing: we’re moving forward in the hope that things stay the way they are and that the pandemic will not affect their wedding. So much of what is happening in the wedding industry is contingent upon what could happen next, so smaller weddings will be the norm for a while. But you can’t stop brides. At some point things will stabilize and the happy celebrations couples envisioned will happen again.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2021

    Can a Tesco exec school Amazon on physical retail?

    Anyone who worked their way up from collecting shopping carts to chief strategy and innovation officer at a major corporation has a lot to bring to the table. Amazon’s personnel choices as it moves into physical retail will be paramount to its success. The company will benefit greatly from Tony Hoggett’s hands-on retail experience.
  • Posted on: 07/12/2021

    Are independent grocers thriving?

    It is a good thing! The industry as a whole doesn’t pay a lot of attention to independent retailers, but some stores are. It’s not a coincidence that retailers like Macy’s are opening smaller footprint stores with curated and local assortments.

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