Gwen Morrison

Partner, Candezent

Gwen’s career is focused on the intersection of retail experience, brand activation and innovation.
As CEO for WPP’s Global Retail Practice, she spent over 15 years helping clients and agencies navigate the dynamic retail environment across the world with focus on shopper behavior, technology transformation, format development and corporate responsibility. She has worked with major international brands across CPG, Retail, Banking and Automotive.

Gwen has led industry research in emerging markets and has written for business publications such as HBR and Brandweek. She serves on the editorial board of Journal of Brand Strategy. A frequent speaker at international conferences including National Retail Federation, CES, and Retail Leaders Forum in Sydney Gwen also guest lectures at Northwestern University, U of C Berkley and University of Arizona. Gwen serves on the Advisory Board of Fashion Group.

As a partner with Candezant advisory, Gwen consults retail tech start-up companies. She is a senior advisor to Open Voice Network and co-chairs their Commerce Community.

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  • Posted on: 12/29/2021

    New research shows strong influence of digital coupons

    The pain points are real. My experience in a local Safeway is that that it can be difficult to unlock the coupon. I find myself taking a picture of the digital coupon promo at the shelf edge in order to remember the offer. Then the check-out employee assists in finding the coupon within the app on my phone (not a comfortable COVID-19 interaction). Shoppers need to follow a number of steps including making sure their last home delivery is not open in the app, and to identify the physical store location they are in. With all the geo-fencing technology available, this should be automatic.
  • Posted on: 12/17/2021

    What’s driving the merch opportunity at restaurants?

    Agreed. I have mine from all over South America!
  • Posted on: 12/17/2021

    Do retailers have a recommendation bias problem?

    There seem to be two parts to this -- the ethics of job listings and customer targeting. In addressing the latter, I think this goes back to early days of CRM. The objectives have mostly been about catering to shoppers with more personalized and relevant content/offers. There are many examples of getting "too personal" (Maternity offers when it's a bit too soon) and just plain getting it wrong (a birthday promotional gift delivered for someone who passed away). Now with AI, we layer on the ethical issues with data, micro segmentation, ad serving, etc. There may be analogies with the media to learn from. Is the news outlet I access from a tablet serving too narrow a newsfeed? Is a retailer missing the opportunity to expand my exposure to their categories and product range based on purchase history?
  • Posted on: 12/15/2021

    Print catalogs help customers unplug for the holidays

    There are some great advantages of a print catalog. It gives retailers the opportunity to present a lifestyle magazine of their brand. From the consumer side, there are often the gift givers and the recipients. Amazon's toy catalog was mentioned in the article. This offers a chance for families to engage with one another around the perfect "must have" for the holidays.
  • Posted on: 12/15/2021

    Why did Nike buy a crypto collectables studio?

    It is the next frontier of innovation and Nike has always held this in its DNA. Many others have pointed out that the brand is taking big steps to meet the customer where they play, and in this case it may mean meeting the artists and trend setters the customer follows.
  • Posted on: 12/14/2021

    Should retailers do more to protect frontline workers?

    We've talked about how doing good is good for business. The same applies to taking care of employees - frontline and back. These are basic actions that simply makes sense. It's good to see these COVID-19 protocols which, by the way, protect customers as well. Keeping pace with cost of living expenses may be harder to peg, but the cost of attrition is most likely more.
  • Posted on: 12/14/2021

    Christmas commercials are going to the dogs, cats, guinea pigs …

    The Chewy spot delivers the bigger holiday anthem, with a higher level of merriment that entertains and ultimately encourages spending. They all deliver a message to connect with family and find holiday joy at home. This is certainly a "sort of post-pandemic, not quite over" approach. Interesting that L.L.Bean chose to go with pets.
  • Posted on: 12/13/2021

    Is the BOPIS experience getting any better?

    Retailers are have quite a juggling act on this one. They obviously need to make it as efficient as possible. The key is to assure shoppers that it really will be an "in and out" process. But how do you connect experience? Stores with their own parking lot seem to be winning. Target can keep the message "on brand" with fun signage such as "A Target Run with the Car Running." But retailers like Nordstrom have more of a challenge. Stunning holiday merchandising can end up along side industrial metal shelving that looks more like a discount warehouse. There is a long way to go.
  • Posted on: 12/08/2021

    Will five banners work better than one for Wayfair as it begins to open stores?

    Wayfair has already built up these brands with distinctive websites and merchandise assortments for each. When shopping Josh and Main for example, the only hint one gets of Wayfair is with post purchase insurance offers. It's a test we've seen Williams Sonoma go through with the likes of West Elm, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids and Rejuvenation. I'd expect they will experiment with sizes and locations as they roll out new stores.
  • Posted on: 12/01/2021

    Meijer offers teachers supply discounts beyond back-to-school

    This is also about supporting the community and giving employees an internal campaign for doing good. Over a decade ago, OfficeMax embraced Adopt-a-Classroom. Employees were encouraged to take a day off and deliver school supplies directly to classrooms. The experience of seeing the relief and appreciation on teachers' faces instilled a new sense of pride on the part of OfficeMax employees. While there is a public relations aspect to the Meijer program, it shows compassion for the community at large. Teachers need help all year round. Community support for them delivers a better classroom experience.

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