Rich Kizer

Partner, KIZER & BENDER Speaking
Rich Kizer is a consumer anthropologist, retail strategist, keynote speaker, author, consultant and one-half of the KIZER & BENDER Speaking team.

Rich and his partner, Georganne Bender, 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. They recently served as official correspondents for the National Retail Federation’s Digital Retail 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: 07/18/2018

    Will Kroger’s new app make customers healthier than those who shop at rivals?

    Ok, I agree that there are many customers who will not be interested in utilizing this app -- those that either have no issues with health or weight, or those that basically don't care. However, companies like Weight Watchers and others have demonstrated that customers who have issues become totally absorbed disciples and partners; with counting points, calories, living the life or whatever. And that is a big part of our population. I believe this app will be welcomed with open hands. And this obvious desire of Kroger to help with health will create a new heart-share from their customers -- not bad to have. I also think they will learn much about items purchased by these customers that fall off the healthy grid. Overall, I think that many customers will love this app!
  • Posted on: 07/17/2018

    Direct-to-consumer brands key to Nordstrom’s assortment

    Nordstrom is a brilliant retailer. To become "partner of choice" for unique brand offerings separates them from the "pack" of department stores. Consistency of the brand's items being unique, attractive and selectively available is the key to this merchandise strategy's success -- for both Nordstrom and the vendor. With the changes coming to the department store industry that stores are making to remain a competitive force (thinking of the change at Macy's, Nordstrom and other leaders) -- in a year or so, will we still use the title "department store?" Or will we use some other name that conjures up a sense of meaning, emotions, excitement, fashion and exclusivity of experiences and products?
  • Posted on: 07/16/2018

    Target offers discounts as teachers prep for back-to-school

    It is brilliant. We have spoken to many teachers and hear the stories of how they invest in their students. I'm not surprised to see these retail promotions for teachers, and I tip my hat to these retailers. Not new, but needed. I would hope the entire creative retail industry would get on board and donate (instead of throw out) the odds and ends they have that I am sure teachers could use. Here's an idea: donate construction paper (scraps or full sheets that need to be cleared out), let the children create holiday cards and sell the cards in the store with proceeds as an in-store credit for the teacher. And my final thought: it's a good business move.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2018

    Ellison shaking things up at Lowe’s

    I do agree with Doug. However, we always suggest that when taking over the reins of a business, as a new CEO for example, don't just throw the the operation and staff upside down and out because you need immediate change. That can cause a lot of immediate chaos and uncertainty among those left. Get to know who is good, bad and extremely marginal, along with making plans for the big change. You never know where great talent has been stifled. That being said, I think bringing on Mr. Ellison is an incredibly great move, and I am sure we will see very enlightening changes come about in the near future.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2018

    Did Build-A-Bear destroy its brand with a successful promotion?

    There is an old adage: Love me, love my kids. Look, promotions are a good thing when they are thought out in advance. At Build-A-Bear, what did they think was going to happen? And then the nightmare occurred, with pictures and videos of kids crying because the store couldn't fulfill their dream promise. You can't ask a kid if they want a sucker, and then say to them: "tomorrow"! Resurrection? A disaster ... maybe not. But the brand has taken a big hit. All the talk will probably subside in a few days, and the people at Build-A-Bear will sigh with slight relief. However, positive, ongoing messaging from Build-A-Bear is going to be critical here. Not irreparable damage, but a big hit occurred. They "shoulda" known.
  • Posted on: 07/12/2018

    Survey: Customer experience tech rivals personal attention from staff

    It seems to me that personalized service is the one trump card smaller retail has to its advantage. I don't think that will ever change. However, when technology is merged very effectively (and working) into the in-store/in-restaurant experience of customers, it is perceived as a message to the customer that the business cares about improving their experience and receiving input from the customer's point of view. Amen to Bob Phibbs's comment, "When I am ready to pay my check ..." -- be sure to read his post.
  • Posted on: 07/11/2018

    Is your culture your brand?

    I think we make branding integration far too hard. First of all, in my opinion, the brand is the feeling (emotion) customers possess in their mind (positioning) when they see, think of or hear our name. It is true that everyone in the company must understand the emotional picture that brands create. And they must all understand their role in supporting it. Years ago, a slogan (not the brand) of a company was: "when you absolutely, positively need it the next day ..." It created that emotion, and emotion supports the brand. So everyone working at that time took pride in their performance as team members. Employee integration into the brand is also strongly demonstrated with the Zappos yearbook, featuring each employee and their role in the brand. Everyone knows and lives their role with pride. It is extremely important that everyone, from the C-suites to the front-line employees constantly talk and live the values and importance of the brand. When pride occurs in this arena, explosions take place. We all need to occupy an important place in brand enforcement and know it.
  • Posted on: 07/10/2018

    Nordstrom opening more Local stores without inventory

    I love the fact that brilliant retailers keep moving to find solutions to silence the saga of "the demise of department stores"! Kudos to you, Nordstrom. I see this as the perfect answer for clients that are busy and in a hurry. My "old retail dog" mind still reminds me of the power of impulse shopping that crosses the boundaries of the intended need. I feel that could be a concern here. "Pulling the desired items from the local store the same day" is important, obviously. However, I am not sure if requesting that the client to make a return visit to secure the package is in the culture of Nordstrom. Times like this create challenges, and I think Nordstrom is the company that can and will figure out the answers. I'm looking forward to wandering in!
  • Posted on: 07/09/2018

    Are shoppers ready to pay to park at the mall?

    It seems to me, with the gigantic struggle to motivate customers to visit the malls and to battle the empty spaces that need to be filled, the focus should be first on building reasons/events to draw customers to the malls. Announcing a charge to secure a good space to park seems a little premature. With football games, basketball games, etc. it works -- but not for a mall with serious downward traffic counts and square footage not being lit. I think the last thing you want customers to think about is paying to park. And if they won't pay, will they be agitated when they take the less convenient space? Maybe this could work for Black Friday and such other crazy times but, as a steady diet, I think more focus on the bigger issues is tantamount to successful growth. How many of us have found it a challenge to park at our local mall? My guess -- not many.
  • Posted on: 07/06/2018

    Abercrombie & Fitch goes to college with a new store concept

    I think that stores on the leading edge have to always be carrying out constant analysis about where their current and future customers are going, and discovering what they are demanding. There will always be a niche, but remember, generations change rapidly in taste and demands. This should be an ongoing project that never ends, because the landscape changes at a rate of at least 10 percent a year. Do a study every four years, and you've missed up to 40 percent of what is happening. I celebrate what Abercrombie & Fitch is doing, but every retailer should be doing this type of work to various degrees -- constantly.
  • Posted on: 07/06/2018

    Urban Outfitters buys into installment payment plan

    You're right Lyle. This is consumer credit. So lets see; if I miss a payment: $8 penalty. Then if the payment is not made then within seven days, another $8. And then, total late fees will not exceed 25 percent of the total order. People will go for this potential interest-free loan, and I imagine many will join up with Afterpay. I am a little confused on late fees not to exceed 25 percent of the total order. Bad credit risks could take advantage of this! "The platform has worked with more than 14,000 Australian retailers and brands, including Sephora, Estee Lauder, Lululemon and Myer"? Sounds like something to be very aware of, retailers. And Max is right: keep your eyes open on Amazon's reaction to a tool like this.
  • Posted on: 07/03/2018

    Amazon announces Prime Day-and-a-half

    Just when I think I'm my getting my head around the brilliance of Amazon, I get surprised again! Amazon knows it's in the retail business, and retailers must constantly reach out and create excitement. This is now a national event, with its own legs! Will it be a success? Hold on to your hats, it's going to be crazy! So how to compete? It's not about just pleading "buy local," but giving customers a compelling reason to buy with excitement. I would fight back with a 36-hour sale featuring great deals for an hour or two, and then another category or item for an hour or two, for the duration of the 36-hour period. I'm not saying brick-and-mortars should be open 36 hours straight, but they should focus on driving traffic during that period by offering ongoing incentives.
  • Posted on: 07/02/2018

    Walmart adds 3D virtual shopping tour for online home shopping

    I salute Walmart and all others who are making new paths to purchase, especially into VR. This is going to turn into a "clone," not close, race. What I mean by that is that every month companies will find new aspects to the use of VR; the ability for customers to pick an item, then shrink it, expand it, turn it 360 degrees and even change its color in their own home. Those retailers that wait to jump into the world of VR-assisted selling will find it a steep road to go up and catch those retail pioneers who are blazing that trail. Like the old saying; "If you want to predict your future, you must invent it." And since inventing is based on necessity, retailers must see this as a platform with legs.
  • Posted on: 06/29/2018

    Kroger to deliver groceries using driverless cars

    OK, a few tongue in cheek comments: It's raining, do I have to go out ... ? If someone else gets my stuff, will receiving credit be seamless, and easy? And by the way, if I get stuck behind this vehicle going 25 miles per hour in heavy traffic for 25 blocks, I am going to be agitated with the name on the truck! Bad karma for the brand. Now to be serious, the big point is that Kroger is intent on making gains in a very competitive industry -- i.e. automated warehousing, driverless vehicles, etc. Congratulations Kroger, sounds like you're hungry -- and that's good!
  • Posted on: 06/29/2018

    Will Amazon’s PillPack acquisition disrupt the retail pharmacy business?

    Everyone wondered when, not if. This is a gigantic move into an industry of over $500 billion dollars. Now Amazon gets an incredible part of it, in all states! On top of all that, there are probably contacts already made that will boost sales even higher. Yes, it is shaking the other players in the industry, and it should. Again -- Amazon changes the business landscape.

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