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: 09/21/2018

    Why don’t retailers concentrate more on selling the Christmas spirit?

    Retailers jump start their Christmas season so early, with stores trimmed out, that by the time December 5th rolls around the focus is "sell" and "beat last year." Retailers that touch customers' hearts and minds will do wonderful events during the season that draw customers. We've seen Santa Claus, Santa Paws (pictures if pets on Santa's lap), men's nights and ladies' events, angel trees to help those who are less fortunate -- the list goes on and on. People will buy gifts during the season because they have to ... but they will buy more when having a positive emotional experience. That should be the mission of every retailer.
  • Posted on: 09/20/2018

    What would 3,000 AmazonGo stores do to the U.S. retail landscape?

    Paula, your comments are interesting. We will be visiting the Amazon stores in Seattle this coming month, and will be asking questions. Will let you know what type of operational magic Bezos will create (and I believe he will!).
  • Posted on: 09/20/2018

    Would you believe older men with lower incomes are the new drivers of online sales growth?

    Georganne: Right on! Here's another thought: just as the huge wave of Boomers created business opportunities in their younger years, now today, retired and with money, perhaps the wave is slower but is now creating another wave of opportunity of convenience and ever-present shopping opportunities. Just a thought.
  • Posted on: 09/20/2018

    What would 3,000 AmazonGo stores do to the U.S. retail landscape?

    I read that Jeff Bezos once said that nothing is an experiment when everyone knows how it will work out. The big challenges for the lofty goal of 3,000 stores is certainly real estate and, secondly and I think most importantly, customizing the stores to local markets. No cookie cutters here! With the "customized by location" stores, I believe they will be positioned as convenience concept stores with every opportunity of grab and go implemented. Three-thousand stores? That is a lofty goal that I think is extremely difficult but, again, we're talking about Amazon -- and Jeff Bezos!
  • Posted on: 09/19/2018

    Are Aldi’s customers who you think they are?

    I agree with Jason Hart when he said that Aldi must continue to find ways to meet the growing needs of today's shoppers. There is a danger here: to sustain brand and market position today, businesses must focus on being just as good as the competition, at a minimum. They deliver? We'll deliver! When a new idea hits the street, it is like a tent falling on all business, and everyone jumps in and does it. But it can't stop there! Here is the real dilemma: There must be creative strategic thinking in every business, every day, that centers upon reinventing or creating unique customer experiences and actions that are not offered by competitors (yet). Yes, if these actions are successful they will be copied. But the tantamount truth in our business world today is: no one can sit still in our highly competitive markets and times. Today a business must focus on reinventing their business by at least 10 percent a year -- not necessarily big things, but customer-centric actions that make them stand out. We must do this just to stay ahead of our competitors. THEN, even as we do imitate to a degree our competitors actions, we're still the one setting the pace and thrilling the customers in this "me too" world. The message? It's not enough just to mimic.
  • Posted on: 09/18/2018

    Retailers need seasonal workers, but do workers need retailers?

    Very interesting that The Wall Street Journal reported that retailers this year are looking for approximately 100,000 more temporary staff than last year. That makes a competitive market if you're looking for some all-stars! So throw a little more money, give some paid time off ... and I don't think that's the answer. It's part of the answer. Today, these recruiting events (not just a table, but a place of creative interaction with store associate(s)) should show some key points: this place is fun to work at, it's easy to become involved in our product and culture, there's an opportunity to exercise your creativity, make friends and, most importantly, to be respected and appreciated. We're not just filling slots, we are hiring the most important position in the store -- the one that interacts with each customer and builds long lasting impressions and relationships.
  • Posted on: 09/17/2018

    What will a ‘new standard for green retail’ mean for Starbucks’ results?

    I just had a conversation with a Starbucks Barista. She was very aware of the new program and told me (with pride) they are already saving much more than 20 Million with their current efforts! I believe these kinds of long-term moves will create a path to huge savings and profitability. Starbucks is creating a brand new highway (through these thoughts and actions) that many others will travel leading them to more profitable futures.
  • Posted on: 09/13/2018

    Analyst: Whole Foods’ lower price claims are mostly ‘noise’

    There's an interesting thing about customers: When they join a retailer's tribe, they become disciples and can utter many reasons for their membership. That has always been true of Whole Foods, as evidenced even by our BrainTrust's comments here today about the quality of the items at Whole Foods. Now we join the Whole Foods disciples with Amazon disciples and form a larger tribe that buys what their perceptions or actual facts dictate to be better quality, priced accordingly. I don't think that prices are that much of an issue at Whole Foods with this tribe.
  • Posted on: 09/12/2018

    Gap CEO says retailers not turning in-store data into action

    I remember what one woman said in our focus group at Global Shop: "I want to date social media, not marry it!" True personalization offers are great. But when invasion occurs on a computer screen based on characteristics, preferences and so on, it becomes creepy. Great and sincere personalization is accepted. We must practice good taste.
  • Posted on: 09/11/2018

    A tale of two retail real estate markets

    Great things happen when retailers and potential landlords work off the same page with shared visions of the potential performance of the space. As landlords make deals with retailers and fill space, more shoppers show up, thus creating more foot traffic, and everyone wins. If landlords truly believe their facility will work for a retailer, offer the retailer the incentive of initial lower rates or perhaps an escalating percentage of sales lease. Thereafter, when the first option period ends, both landlord and retailer can discuss increases that continue to provide for the landlord and retailer a reasonable shot at success. Structured correctly, if both the landlord's and retailer's assumptions of the market and facility are right, everyone wins. It's the getting in that is hard, but that is what brings life to an empty area.
  • Posted on: 09/10/2018

    Should the outdoor industry welcome selling on

    This entire conversation has been experienced and repeated by every retailer over the years. And the retailer reactions discussed here should not surprise anyone. But the world is moving faster and forward. That being said, it is incumbent upon the retailers to become better, showing their personalized in-store experiences as extreme knowledge and specialization to the outdoor customer. Literally every retailer who has been confronted to this issue has had to "up" their service and customer experience. The new marketplace is not going to stop!
  • Posted on: 09/10/2018

    Grab and go and yadda-yadda

    I shop Mariano's frequently and find that their replenishment strategy is very strong. The associates seem extremely vigilant in surveying product movement. I believe those who are responsible for replenishment must be trained to anticipate product movement and then have the authority to take action. As an aside, I once asked one of the associates at Mariano's how he knew what he would need in the next hour, and his response was: "Trust me, I know! This is my show!" It all comes down to people.
  • Posted on: 09/04/2018

    Can Bon Ton Stores return from the dead?

    Recreation of days gone by. To gain mental positioning in the customers' minds today will be an extremely difficult challenge and will require big money, patience and incredible marketing strategies.
  • Posted on: 09/04/2018

    Walmart’s two-day shipping pledge comes with a caveat

    I wonder how far you can go by lying to customers and later trying to renew that relationship. Your best bet is to be honest and tell them what it will take to get their desired product with explanations. Lying to them is a fool's game.
  • Posted on: 08/30/2018

    Is Amazon a major threat to Trader Joe’s?

    This is like a stare-down! I have read and agree with the comments posted. But I was taken aback by one sentence in the article: "Fifty-six percent of existing Prime members said the Whole Foods program increases the likelihood they will renew their Prime membership." Fifty-six percent? That certainly says something about the relationship Whole Foods has in the mind of these customers. Hmmm. Marketers, take interest.

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