PROFILE

KatieThomasKCI

Lead, Kearney Consumer Institute
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  • Posted on: 10/12/2021

    Rather than compete, Walmart inks exclusive deal with Netflix

    This is a great partnership from a consumer perspective - these strategic partnerships simplify getting eyeballs on both brands and keep things streamlined for the consumer, rather than needing them to add one more streaming service or DTC website.
  • Posted on: 10/08/2021

    Should retailers be looking to leverage free return shipping?

    I completely agree - we need consumer-friendly ways to improve the returns process for some of the exact things you call out, like uncertain sizing within a brand and across the board.
  • Posted on: 10/08/2021

    Should retailers be looking to leverage free return shipping?

    While returns do cost retailers a lot of money, I'd argue it's also a cost of doing business. Consumers of a product should have the right to return something if it doesn't fit/suit their needs/the quality is lower than expected. I'd argue that even the above treats the symptom, not the cause. Enabling retailers to get the product back on the floor quickly/in season is great but ultimately there needs to be a larger fix to the overall returns value chain.
  • Posted on: 10/04/2021

    Amazon asks, why wait for Black Friday when you can get Christmas deals today?

    Earlier deals may be best for the retailer, but many consumers are simply not ready to be shopping for the holidays yet. Excluding this year's supply chain issues, not sure consumers should be punished by not being ready to buy holiday gifts in October.
  • Posted on: 10/01/2021

    Is working in retail a real job?

    The career path debate is an interesting one, but is that what employees in retail are saying is the core problem or detractor? I would guess there are more fundamental issues that need to be fixed first that cause unhappiness in the day to day - emotional consumers that employees are not given the proper training or access to handle, flexibility in schedule, benefits, etc.
  • Posted on: 09/28/2021

    Whole Foods goes from free to $10 grocery delivery fee for Amazon Prime members

    I agree - I think the more powerful point in the above is "Many pointed to the diminishing value of the Prime membership as they claim Amazon continues to remove perks." - between longer shipping times and decreasingly reliable reviews, many consumers will question this membership. Perhaps Prime Video provides some cover...
  • Posted on: 09/28/2021

    Will Americans finish this year’s Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving?

    I completely agree. Consumers are not as organized as the above claims - for many, the absolute earliest they are ready to think about holiday shopping is Black Friday, where they've also been conditioned to expect the best deals. On top of that, even the definition of "holiday shopping" gets a bit fuzzy with Black Friday, since many people shop for themselves that day as well.
  • Posted on: 09/27/2021

    Madewell launches a circular shopping experience with thredUP

    Brands have to remember that for these initiatives to be a success, they often rely on consumer participation. While any and all of these initiatives are a step in the right direction, it will take time for consumers to adapt and engage, especially those that aren't actively looking to be more sustainable (and these programs seem to target people who are).
  • Posted on: 09/22/2021

    Ron Johnson loves stores but says retail is moving to ‘commerce at home’

    I completely agree - and mall traffic was up to some of its better pre-pandemic levels before Delta really hit. On top of that, isn't he missing one key aspect of stores and shopping - the socialization/activity of it? Going to the mall isn't just transactional, it's spending time with family and friends, enjoying each other's company, getting input on purchases - lots of perks!
  • Posted on: 09/20/2021

    IKEA’s first-ever festival provides tours of homes from around the world

    I love the balance of the designers and every day consumers. This combination of the aspirational with the realistic really allows consumers to get inspired in terms of what is actually feasible for them to achieve. Since IKEA is still a largely affordable brand, no reason to go only aspirational and ultimately be out of reach.
  • Posted on: 09/17/2021

    Can retailers benefit from tapping employee emotions?

    Showing emotion often means one simple thing - employees care. Tamping this down can certainly backfire - I'm sure we've all seen that happen. Letting passion shine through is a great thing - and it also allows people to learn. If frustration stems from more of a "my way or the highway" attitude, it's also a great opportunity to coach. It does get a bit more complicated on the selling floor. While showing emotion amongst fellow employees should be encouraged, it's more complex if it starts to show in front of customers. Especially frustration or anger.
  • Posted on: 09/15/2021

    Are consumers craving more warehouse and anniversary sales events?

    Agreed - and it's also helpful when the products on sale are relatively exclusive to the retailer hosting it, which Nordstrom does well. It seemingly benefits both the consumer and the retailer. As an N of 1, I do feel like I re-engage with Nordstrom during their anniversary sale, and then have rewards that drive me to spend there for the holidays. The "me too" sales are a strange reaction to me (e.g., in reaction to Prime Day) - it seems like a race to the bottom, and an indication that other retailers do in fact rely on those sales despite the discounted prices.
  • Posted on: 09/14/2021

    Will Kohl’s be known for something other than its retail partners?

    Prior to some of these larger partnerships, Kohl's still did a nice job with designer partnerships within Kohl's. I'd argue they could mimic Target in some ways by having a few core strategic design partnerships, while also enhancing some smaller brand relationships (e.g. DTC) for key departments in the store. Where Kohl's has potential opportunity is the store itself. It's elevated from the big box stores, and I think they could play into that a bit more - make it more comfortable and more of a destination.
  • Posted on: 08/09/2021

    What benefits do premium loyalty program members value?

    I'd argue that a lot of loyalty programs aren't really consumer first, and that's where they struggle. When you dig into the real rationale for companies launching them, it's often to gain data, not serve consumers. Otherwise, you wouldn't see some of the complexity and silly rules. On a personal note, it really bums me out when points expire. If I spent the money to earn the points, why can't I keep them...?
  • Posted on: 08/06/2021

    Should retail prepare for a vaccine resistant virus?

    Agreed - to me, it's not about planning for COVID-19 variants - it's about finally figuring out how to be more adaptable and agile in general. Certainly disaster planning, but even on the smaller scale. "Agility" is a word that we've thrown around for a while, but shouldn't this experience be what pushes retailers to really learn how to change and adapt quickly?
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