PROFILE

Michael Decker

Vice President, Marketing Strategy, Medallion Retail
Michael has thrived in the world of national and international brand communications, having worked with agencies, retail marketing companies and brand clients over the course of his 25-year career. He is responsible for leveraging brand, shopper marketing and in-store visual merchandising expertise to help retail and brand clients build custom, dynamic selling environments. Michael graduated from Bucknell University with B.A. degrees in Economics and Psychology. He is the recipient of the Gold Effie Award and his broad marketing experience extends to health and wellness, CPG, beauty, financial services, hospitality and specialty retail brands, including Medifast Weight Loss, Sweet’N Low, Sugar / Stevia In The Raw, Matrix Biolage Hair Care, Valley National Bank, Hilton Hotels, The Waldorf=Astoria, Barnes & Noble and Foot Locker.
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  • Posted on: 12/12/2018

    Is Kroger following the Sears playbook for self-destruction?

    No physical retailer can EVER afford to have even one "bad" store or in-store experience. It's a cancer on the brand. Good for Kroger in diversifying to eCommerce and progressing with 60% YOY growth, HOWEVER, all that is for naught if a customer loses faith in the brand at the store level. The Sears death spiral was as much from financial (debt) looting as it was from physical store neglect. Kroger should never grow digitally at the expense of its core business. They should close underperforming, outdated and tired stores and double down on the newer concept stores so they can RAISE perceptions in each marketplace. This will in turn help them online. They need to excel at BOTH.
  • Posted on: 12/05/2018

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Pier 1 Imports vs. TJX Companies

    Two completely different strategies with different expected goals and KPIs. The Pier 1 spots build the Pier 1 brand with comedy. They are seeking to enter the "holiday consideration set" and drive like-minded shoppers into their stores for great gifts. At the same time, they convey an attitude for the brand -- making their gifts "cool" for both the gifter and the giftee. TJX serves up promotional ads that are price/value oriented. They do not elevate TJX but instead rely on the actual products being showcased as the draw. The problem with that is the hit-or-miss appeal of the featured products. I personally think Pier 1's is the superior long term strategy for retail success.
  • Posted on: 12/03/2018

    Payless scores with mock-up luxury shop

    Have to admit that I am (perhaps oddly) NOT a fan of this shopper marketing stunt as it relates to the Payless brand revival. Of course it is done at the expense of the high-end shoppers who are made fools of -- but my subjective take away is that Payless merchandise they are duped into buying is just that -- fool's gold. I can't help but think that the brand quality and stylish pedigree of each shoe is simply NOT there. It's an oddly negative (and vaguely uncomfortable) spin to make fun of the people your customers aspire to. I'd let this stunt go as an interesting experiment and get back to more positive positioning of the brand as stylish value.
  • Posted on: 11/27/2018

    Enjoy Life connects with consumers ‘one-to-one’

    This is a fascinating look at the inbound (owned and earned digital dialogue) vs. the outbound (paid advertising) marketing question. And I think the best answer is we truly need both. Outbound, top-of-the-funnel branding is a powerful way for a brand to scale up and introduce itself -- broaden its appeal to newer and bigger consumer bases with spot-on creative via traditional broadcast and other media. At the same time, customers expect (DEMAND!) to be engaged and nurtured with personalized digital communications (and special offers). Yes, young brands need to build their core customer base first with one-to-one digital (because its targeted credible and cheap). But if these newbies want to grow, they also need to reach out and touch lots of people -- rather quickly!
  • Posted on: 11/26/2018

    Will a radical transformation lift or sink IKEA?

    This re-group seems necessary to stay relevant and consistent with their long term planning to become more digitally available, however IKEA should also carefully consider their strengths before completely cutting the suburban cord. A NEW (quite substantial) suburban shift of Millennials with young children to home ownership and the more traditional suburban settings they grew up in is happening right now. Small IKEA stores in urban settings make sense too. Test and optimize IKEA!
  • Posted on: 11/21/2018

    Waitrose disses John Lewis’ Elton John Christmas commercial

    Too funny. Waitrose achieves two things simultaneously with this one. They increase the number of views for their sister company John Lewis' spot (I mean who could resist checking out the Elton John spot after seeing the Waitrose commercial?) and they strategically drain the "smarm" response that many of their younger target audience (i.e.: the daughter in the Waitrose spot) might have given that they barely know who Sir Elton even is. The biggest risk with highly emotional advertising is the possibility that your audience may not react the way you hope. This sister effort takes the sting out for those in that camp while boosting audience and acceptance with a clever twist. It's always productive to be able to laugh at yourself. Makes you real... Good work.
  • Posted on: 11/12/2018

    Is it time for U.S. retailers to embrace Singles Day?

    Very interesting cultural phenomenon. Traditionally China has NOT been successful in gaining international attention with homegrown, cultural celebrations — apart from the Olympics which is intrinsically international. I see a backlash burgeoning in the US beginning with our youngest two generations against "self-centered materialism" given the current state of affairs with our political climate. Alibaba is wise to try and re-brand "Singles Day" to a "Global Shopping Festival". That strategy will engender many more consumers outside of the US, for sure. I have doubts, however, for a continuation of its massive appeal in the US Marketplace given our increasingly insular trade practice and protectionist, consumer attitudes.
  • Posted on: 11/05/2018

    Is Toys ‘R’ Us starting its comeback in Kroger’s aisles?

    Kroger is wise to test this "toys with your groceries" concept via pop-up because it is fraught with peril. Millennials (parents) have proven time and again that they are most responsive to specialty (brandless) retail -- they want the perceived expertise and credibility of "craft curation," especially when it comes to their children's needs. Recycling Geoffrey from a bankrupt, discount toy emporium of another time feels a little tone deaf to me. Not to mention the inevitable hassles of having to negotiate AWAY from the toy aisle every time you bring your toddler with you to buy food! That said, pop-up is the ultimate market test and Kroger is smart to test drive their bargain-based investment before making it an all-store initiative!
  • Posted on: 11/02/2018

    Are Target and Walmart customers dreaming of a mobile checkout Christmas?

    Mobile checkout is not new technology. The better question here is why did this take Walmart and Target so long to implement? Mobile "in line" checkout is a no-brainer from the customer perspective, especially when it doesn't involve the necessary "express app" upload that other retailers have tried and failed to force on data weary customers. The retailer challenge is in proper staffing to make sure this customer experience is pulled off without a hitch. It will require full time adult cashiers with gravitas that can be trusted to scan every item accurately and handle pricing questions without fail. Shuffling and scanning a large basket of small goods without overlap or misses may be easier said than done. It's an investment in a better physical store, shopper experience so very worthwhile and will encourage return visits during the hectic holiday season. One other hurdle on the tech side is the safety of transmitting credit card data wirelessly in-store. I suspect that has been resolved and also may be the reason for the long delay in implementation.
  • Posted on: 10/31/2018

    Will Goodyear roll over rivals with new Millennial-friendly showroom concept?


    Roll feels like a refreshing upgrade to the traditional, age-old "three hours in a dirty garage with bad coffee" tire shopping experience. Tires are a consumer durable that demand high customer engagement (lots of choices and high price) on a very low frequency (every 50,000 miles!). This combination provides the perfect opportunity for physical retail concepts to shine. Consumer research begins online, of course, but it is the in-store experience with a knowledgeable salesperson AND compelling display that closes the sale. Today's consumer is time and attention stretched, so providing an inviting "in-store shopper moment" with the opportunity to leave and shop while you wait is a clear differentiator in the category would be appealing to all generations, in my opinion. If Roll is proven successful, we will see an immediate ripple effect with competitors opening similar shops in lease-starved malls across the country. Great idea.
  • Posted on: 10/30/2018

    Can Brandless deliver on its lofty goals in a pop-up?

    Brandless has gotten some traction as an eCommerce pure play in the everyday value corner of food & beverage sector but were always missing something. They have staked their turf well as a millennial magnet -- offering socially responsible products at seemingly wholesale pricing. They "put people first." The one chink in the armor was that their people and their customers never really got to meet one another. Pop-up retail's their first baby step towards the inevitable brick and mortar retail evolution they crave. Like a Trader Joe's on steroids (natural steroids of course!), Brandless customers will see the physical store shopping experience as a pleasant food shopping journey with like-minded souls. Brandless pop-up experience delivers against all four of its stated goals in "getting real" with their customers by building a real store that they can touch and feel. We visited the New York City pop-up last week and it delivered as advertised: Community (lots of people just like me), Education (social responsibility), Trial (really just $3??) and Range (both coasts). Check, check, check, check. Boom.
  • Posted on: 10/25/2018

    Black Friday is too late

    Yes, clearly Black Friday continues to creep into a much broader selling season for contemporary shoppers. The exploitable gap for retailers is to audibly market an "anti-Black Friday" position -- advertising a more socially acceptable take on "great value holiday pricing" to encourage early shoppers to spend to their heart's content -- rather than hold back for bigger bargains during the proverbial crush that is fast disappearing anyway. And adding to that, closing on Thanksgiving (against all odds) is another courageous, long-term brand builder that will appeal to young consumers interested in giving their business to socially responsible (caring) employers.
  • Posted on: 10/23/2018

    Why haven’t CPG giants figured out what makes small brands so popular?

    This one's pretty easy when you start to analyze TODAY's burgeoning consumer marketplace. Today's shoppers (especially Millennials) have a voracious appetite for "what's new" and they have a lightning fast social media apparatus to research and find out what's "hot" today! Large CPG's are not set up to innovate. They are set up to produce vast volumes of product and to collect on what we used to call "Cash Cows". They are generally slow and risk averse (because of their monolithic production and distribution investments). And they still make most of their money through traditional retail channels (chain grocery stores secured with paid shelf allowances). Once a disruptive, independent product proves itself, it behooves a behemoth CPG brand to simply acquire it. Once it's acquired though, it's probably not new anymore and so the growth cycle continues to favor the latest category disruptors. This phenomenon gets compounded when savvy Millennials drop the new "corporate brands" simply because they are suddenly "bottom-line corporate" and no longer true to the causes that attracted them to begin with. Independents bring new ideas, new products and a cutting edge, authentic ring that pleases today's consumers emotionally. They also are often "socially responsible." If successful, they grow at meteoric rates. Because their customers know the difference.
  • Posted on: 10/22/2018

    How should retail employers prepare for Gen Z workers?

    Gen Z has been exposed to a much more difficult economy (not to mention the dark side of social media) during their crucial formative years (as young children) and so are less sheltered than their Millennial brethren. Hate to generalize, but the environment we are raised in does have profound effects on our approach to life as adults. The economic and social challenges our Gen Z children have experienced will make them more empathetic and less "entitled" and more open-minded in their lifestyle choices and their demeanor in the workplace. Their managers may be pleased to see a renewed work ethic as well.
  • Posted on: 10/11/2018

    Amazon pop-up gets the Good Housekeeping seal of approval

    This strategic partnership between Amazon and the Grande Dame of CPG, the Good Housekeeping Institute is great to see. It’s purely symbiotic with the Good Housekeeping seal gaining relevance online (with new generational grocery shoppers) and Amazon continuing to bolster their presence in the physical world while boosting Mall of America. This is a well thought-out and seamless pop-up retail partnership spanning two business channels and multiple generations. Win-Win-Win

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