Shikha Jain

Partner, Simon-Kucher & Partners

Shikha Jain is a top-line growth advisor with a client portfolio that spans the B2C world including fashion/apparel, footwear, beauty, consumer goods & durables, specialty retail, consumer services, consumer internet, and luxury goods. Shikha works with CXOs to build effective go-to-market strategies and commercial excellence on all revenue growth topics.

Advisory areas span consumer segmentation, value proposition, and activation strategies; portfolio architecture; price setting and optimization; promotional effectiveness; digital journeys; channel expansion; governance; and transformation.

Over the last decade at Simon-Kucher, Shikha has developed a strong acumen in North America markets, though her experience ranges across Europe, Asia and Latin America. In addition to helping her clients grow, she also devotes her professional energy to furthering diversity and inclusion in the workplace and studying the role of sustainability to drive future business growth.

Shikha received her MBA with a concentration in Strategy and Marketing from the University Of Chicago Booth School Of Business. She started her career at a global investment bank as an analyst, focusing on M&A and capital markets advisory. She holds a B.S. in Economics and Mathematics from Smith College.

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  • Posted on: 12/20/2021

    What happens when D2C brands diversify product lines?

    Expansion into adjacencies is only natural. A pure online brand needs physical stores especially if their products require touch/feel/try. In parallel, once they've established themselves in their core categories, it's important to have something "new" in order to keep bringing back their loyal customers, especially in categories that are durable vs. consumable to build customer lifetime value. Without innovation or newness, brand heat will dissipate.
  • Posted on: 12/09/2021

    Will consumers ever get over the price hurdle for sustainable goods?

    It's about the consumer demand in conjunction with company objectives. As younger consumers make up more and more of the workforce and build wealth, they will shift their demand to green-friendly alternatives. In fact, the willingness to pay for sustainable goods is decreasing and will continue to do so until it becomes table stakes. This is the equivalent of digital transformation that has been happening over the last few decades. No company operates on pen and paper anymore. Similarly, a few years from now, companies that are not sustainable may no longer exist. Reader beware: I am the lead author on the Simon-Kucher sustainability study.
  • Posted on: 10/29/2021

    When should holiday marketing start?

    As consumers are becoming more aware of the supply chain challenges in mainstream news outlets, it is absolutely fair game to message how early commitment can lead to lower delivery costs and minimizes risk that an item will not be available. The key will be helping the consumer understand that they should not wait for a “better deal” that is just around the corner. If a retailer has a promotion in early November, communicate that this is equal to or better than the Black Friday offers. Lay out in the website that there are strict delivery deadlines and pre-Christmas delivery will cost more and more the longer consumers wait.
  • Posted on: 10/28/2021

    Christmas 2021 may be one for the record books

    I think it is clear there has been pent up consumer demand that will drive a record setting Christmas season. The challenge for retailers will be to fully capture this demand:
    1. Supply Chain: While the original article from NFR mentions retailers' investments in supply chain systems, the sudden surge for the holidays paired with backlogs in the US ports + shipping challenges will leave retails little room to move if they require more inventory;
    2. Employment: COVID has changed the purchasing landscape permanently to give Online Sales the edge, but some consumers are returning to in-store purchasing for the holidays. Retailers may struggle to hire seasonal workers amidst a more structural hiring challenge they've been facing all year.
    The retailers about to meet these challenges will be most successful:
    1. Early commitment: Retailers able to implement and communicate earlier promotions to beat the Black Friday and Christmas rush could push through orders before supply chains become even more constrained for the season;
    2. Shift to proof of purchase: With growing consumer awareness of supply chain constraints, would there be an opening to provide delayed presents via proof (perhaps a product 1 pager of the purchased item with a time estimate).
  • Posted on: 09/28/2021

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

    Interesting move by Whole Foods, specifically the way they are positioning the main drivers of the $10 delivery charge. First, the transparency that this is an effort to pass on increased costs to the consumer speaks to the overall rising costs in the unit economics for grocery deliveries. Second, the intentional choice to add a delivery fee rather than increasing product prices speaks to an assumption of consumer acceptability of one type of fee over the other. In similar situations (and most notably online shopping in general), some of the reasons why carts are abandoned is because of steep or additional fees that were not transparent at the start of the transaction. In this situation, positioning and differentiating the delivery fee will be critical. A flat "convenience" fee is typically the 1.0 strategy but a 2.0 strategy involves thinking about the full range of consumer needs and willingness-to-pay. For example, differentiating by time(s) of day, day of week, or speed of delivery. However, as an overall impact to the Amazon business, Prime Members that shop on Whole Foods are are unlikely to be deterred based on this decision. Free delivery from Amazon overall is likely still the main driver of the Prime Membership.
  • Posted on: 09/27/2021

    How bad will product shortages get this time?

    This time around, cost increases are being passed on to the consumer. In order to avoid backlash, Costco (and others) should make sure that the communication is clear. There are long-run implications to take into account as well, such as the upcoming holiday season, and the fact that inflation will only further bifurcate wealth disparities. Some of the same problem-solving mechanisms from last year might be deployed, but much of it will come down to proactively adjusting pricing and marketing strategies to fit the times.
  • Posted on: 09/16/2021

    Online grocery shopping is pretty much all about convenience

    It appears convenience will continue to be the primary reason online grocery works, with the main drawbacks being the ability to select one’s own produce or losing the enjoyment of going to the store. Now, with hybrid models in both work and school and families juggling schedules all from the home, lower priority mundane tasks are being outsourced, and necessity kicks in. Grocers can key into these new and growing felt needs with a needs-based segmentation that better serves target audiences, defines a long-term growth plan, and tangibly informs business moves. Winning strategies will differentiate their value proposition and messaging, acquisition strategies, promotions, offerings, and marketing investments around these consumer segments. By putting the shopper at the center of the business, a good segmentation can also be leveraged to form membership strategies around meeting the individual segment needs, build loyalty programs, and design incremental tiers of service offerings (like priority delivery or elevated shopper interaction capabilities). This capability to understand consumer needs is infinitely closer in reach to the grocery industry through ecommerce, thanks to increased data and machine learning.
  • Posted on: 08/13/2021

    Are websites a must-have for all retailers?

    With more consumers shopping online now than ever before, websites can make or break brands. Relegating yourself to foot traffic, word of mouth and even social media means you neglect entire segments of consumers who might otherwise discover your business. While the initial investment in creating an effective website can be daunting, it will pay off in spades for the simple reason that that is where consumers are increasingly taking their money. Consumer spend has shifted dramatically toward e-commerce as a result of the pandemic and is not likely to backtrack on this trend. Direct-to-consumer channels — chiefly websites — will not only boost financial metrics like revenue and profit, but will also provide invaluable opportunities for brands to fully own the consumer experience and consequently build brand loyalty and trust, all of which contribute to the long-term success and growth of the business.
  • Posted on: 07/21/2021

    Madewell is set on becoming a leader in the circular economy

    The research backs up Madewell’s conclusions that the new generation of shoppers rank sustainable materials and manufacturing highly in determining where they will shop. Younger consumers, in particular, look for and shop at brands that mirror their own values. So while perhaps it’s “not about competition” for Madewell, sustainable practices ultimately do provide a competitive edge in today’s market. This will only become more true as brands work to stay relevant and build consumer loyalty by reflecting their consumer base's values. Soon enough, brands will all be striving to be the “most sustainable” — and how better to quantify that than with circular economy credentials? The more companies that get on board, the easier it will be for shoppers to choose NOT to shop with those who don’t embrace the sustainable practices they value.
  • Posted on: 06/29/2021

    What should replace cookies?

    Moving away from third party cookie data can actually be a great opportunity for companies as this means they would need to rely more on first party data and keyword contextual-based advertising which can offer better personalization and marketing efficacy. Cookie matching and unifying data were challenging to begin with, often resulting in irrelevant ads and viewer dismay along the customer journey. Much of cookie tracking is also now rejected by leading browsers. Furthermore, first party data is more accurate since you collect information about your customers and normally generates higher revenue from a single ad. Using first party data affords you the opportunity to stand out because you have differentiated data from your competitors and can drive personalization because of the quality of the data. Here it will become increasingly key to have a solid strategy around collecting first party data.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2021

    Does every online retailer need to have a third-party marketplace?

    A successful online marketplace is two-sided: there must be both buyers and sellers. Finding vendors to partner with will likely be the easy part, though careful category and assortment curation is important. The key piece of the equation is the consumer — making your platform work for shoppers. Take Amazon. The top reasons shoppers go back to Amazon again and again are selection, convenience, and ease of price comparison. Value and price-related sensitivities are secondary for these consumers — likely the case for those who shop at Hudson’s Bay, Lands’ End and Saks, especially if they are able to provide the kind of assortment and convenience factors that consumers are looking for. The value offered by a strategically executed third-party marketplace that keeps shoppers on your website ultimately outweighs the risk for any retailer.
  • Posted on: 03/25/2021

    Why hasn’t plus-sized apparel been an easy win for retail?

    Fashion/apparel brand research shows that body image positivity ranks highly along with fair labor and trade practices and sustainable materials and manufacturing. Younger consumers, in particular, look for and shop at brands that mirror their own values which are often driven by social causes across many dimensions. In addition, research also points to comfort and fit as being the top purchase drivers for apparel. Combine both of these points -- body positivity and good fit/sizing -- and the business decision going forward should be on creating brands that are inclusionary to win overall.
  • Posted on: 03/17/2021

    Why is gaining meaningful insights from data still so hard?

    Very often companies devote time and energy to stitching together different data sources with the hope of developing a "single source of truth." This in itself is a daunting task and, as a result, can sometimes be abandoned if companies think that it is a low-value task not tied to hard dollars. Instead, start from the end, what are the KPIs and objectives that are important to track and manage? Then work backwards to figure out what data you need.
  • Posted on: 03/17/2021

    Will Dick’s repeat its big win in 2020 this year?

    The success that Dick's had last year can be summed up in a single phrase - commercial agility. They were able to pivot quickly to be prepared for necessities such as buy online and pick-up in store. In addition, they addressed evolving consumer trends towards comfort and athleisure trends as well as increasing price sensitivity that the pandemic further catalyzed. If they continue to be both reactive and proactive to changes when it comes to their product offering and pricing, they will see further success.
  • Posted on: 02/02/2021

    Will Allure editors outdo other beauty merchandisers with a new store concept?

    One of the challenges that continues to persist for online beauty is the ability to try before you buy. The digital experience, seamlessness between channels, and high levels of consumer engagement are all becoming tablestakes and beauty brand leaders are constantly pushing the envelope but there are still some hurdles to solve:
    1. Returns, particularly with color items. Returns for apparel/footwear works because the merchandise can be marked down/resold but the same does not apply to lipsticks, eyeliner etc.
    2. Augmented reality has helped solve some of the discovery challenges of yesterday and now that the technology exists (e.g. Sephora), it should not be too long before other market leaders off it.
    3. While influencers and the media are an important communication and engagement channel, they lack the personalization aspect that shoppers get in-store which is so critical to beauty and skin care. Virtual selling through beauty parties did see an uptick during the pandemic (e.g. Bobbi Brown) and is a good compromise.
    Allure is able to get the best of both worlds if they channel discovery and engagement through online encounters (in time improving those offerings) while also providing the in-store experience that will continue to be in demand.

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