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: 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.
  • Posted on: 01/29/2021

    Is Hobby Lobby making a mistake (a big one) ending 40 percent off coupons?

    Promotions are addictive. Once a consumer is used to getting them, they're expected and triggering a sale without them is incredibly challenging. All this creates a vicious cycle. Weaning your consumer base off promotions is typically the right answer in theory. But in practice, the execution matters so much more to avoid a shock to the system. Retailers have to slowly unravel the bandage rather than rip off the band aid all at once. The best approach is to start by removing those promotions that just don't work against their objective (whether it be traffic, basket or something else). Then start by peeling back strategies that create excessive depth -- such as stacking, followed by decreasing depth and frequency across the board. For each move, keep line-of-sight into performance of these promotions through analytics and KPI tracking. In parallel, retailers should start fresh to create their promotion playbook.
  • Posted on: 12/18/2020

    Does David’s Bridal need a loyalty program?

    On the surface, a “loyalty program” for a bridal retailer is an odd concept since it signals transactions over a sustained period of time. However, David's is really trying something different in trying to disrupt the wedding market. The program could be successful with a certain segment of brides (albeit small). Those that are looking for a simple, streamlined, and consolidated process. It minimizes the guesswork for this segment of brides and the need to research all options and the burden of choice that exists today. Additionally, for someone swept up in the wedding planning process, the “gamification” aspect of spend $X to get X points can be exciting — I get married AND I get free things. We’ve seen this work for companies like Starbucks where customers end up spending more to get the points needed for that next freebie. While the analogy is not fair since the occasions are completely different, it relies on the concept for a shorter amount of time albeit still many months. With that said, brides don’t necessarily plan on coming back again and again once they’re happily married so the retention goal may not be fulfilled.
  • Posted on: 09/22/2020

    Will 2020 be the year the holiday selling season changed forever?

    Retailers may be right in anticipating (or stirring up) enthusiasm for the holidays well in advance. Many are particularly eager for this holiday season after a difficult year and might start preparing earlier than normal, especially with fewer seasonal social engagements due to distancing, leaving a little extra time on their hands. Nevertheless, Black Friday and Cyber Monday remain the best opportunity to snag deals in the American mind, so retailers shouldn’t expect lengthening the promotion period to completely buffer the fulfillment challenges around that weekend (or the days of last-minute shopping leading up to Christmas). The downside to extending the holiday selling period is that it kills some of the buzz around annual sale days. If shoppers start to think “I can get those deals anytime in the next two months,” then the incentive around urgency to get it while it’s hot goes down, along with the excitement around shopping in general. While it could prove a boon for the unusual challenges of 2020, for retailers to make this an established practice could be shooting themselves in the foot.
  • Posted on: 09/22/2020

    Can Trader Joe’s continue thriving without delivery and curbside pickup?

    Prior to the pandemic, online grocery was growing faster than the overall grocery market and predicted to more than double from 2018 to 2023. Of course, the pandemic will have expedited this trend that was already in motion. Has Trader Joe’s missed out on an enormous opportunity to capture a massive market by losing online grocery shopper segments? It’s possible, but the fact of the matter is that many Trader Joe’s shoppers go there for the experience itself—sampling and discovering new, novelty products and plucking them off the shelves, the small, neighborhood feel, etc. This could explain the trends found by as the general population begins to warm back up to (masked) in-store shopping. And there’s something to be said for the emotional appeal they make with the prioritization of “their people” in a very emotional time. Trader Joe’s has always been distinct from other grocery stores and is continuing to make that distinction during this time, further solidifying their brand identity and what they stand for. Time will tell if this noble endeavor pays off.
  • Posted on: 07/30/2020

    Beauty becomes a digital beast

    The short answer is yes. Shoppers have become accustomed to the convenience of online shopping (any time, any place), and the technologies that facilitate it are always improving especially augmented reality in an industry that is highly try before you buy based. The in-person consultation experience is what fosters trust and brand loyalty, and it will become less and less relevant as more beauty companies enable these relationships online. The trick to success will be building connections in a virtual environment. There will be a bit of a whiplash effect for consumers around in-store shopping for some time -- many will maintain caution around physical touch aspects. This goes for any industry where sales traditionally rely on high-touch shopping, from furniture to apparel and beyond, and these categories would do well to take a cue from beauty. The trend should be somewhat predictable: how often have we seen a shift to digital revert back to physical? Rarely is this a pendulum swing; it is more often a constant evolution.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2020

    Will Boomers and Gen X keep shopping online post-pandemic?

    Months of living in a pandemic world has been habit-forming, but so are 60+ years of living. It’s true that while many Boomers used to shy away from online shopping due to a lack of confidence with the digital world, some have a newfound sense of ease with and appreciation for it, thanks largely to Amazon. Nevertheless, this generation’s behavioral pliability is probably less than those after them simply due to their age. Older consumers may maintain a remnant of pandemic purchasing patterns, but most will be eager to resume their “normal,” even though caution around the physical shopping experience is likely to be greater and linger longer for this crowd. I predict a slow but steady, if not altogether complete, return to old habits. Strategies for maintaining their digital business might include a continued focus on safety and reminders of how easy online ordering made it to stay safe and healthy the last few months.

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