The Big Squeeze
It certainly was a squeeze to get in to see Yellowdoor’s Peter Cross’s popular talk ‘The Big Squeeze’ at Top Drawer. Peter (who is the business partner of Mary Portas) gave a fascinating presentation about consumer behaviour and trends and how they’ve changed over the last 30 years.
He kicked off by talking about how the traditional rules of retail. He commented that the 4 Ps – Product, Price, Placement, Promotion – are no longer valid today’s society saying that we now need to focus on the ‘shopper’ rather than the ‘environment’. With the days of easy credit behind us consumers are no longer as free with their cash and are now in the driving seat in terms of their spending. Peter broke shoppers down into three main categories:
- The Empowered Shopper
The balance has shifted between consumer and retailer. Now that the Internet is so accessible the consumer often knows much more about products and it’s crucial for retailers to know as much, if not more, as the customer. Now we’re in an age of blogging we no longer look to ‘experts’ for reviews and the retailer needs to access the opportunities available on-line (Peter referred to www.maryportas.com where independent retailers can upload reviews of their shops).
- The Universal Shopper
We can no longer depend on socio-demographics to determine where, and how, people shop. Many consumers make their purchases based on their mood (e.g. people will mix things up – buying clothes from both designers and the high street and will shop at delicatessens, farmers markets as well as supermarkets, etc).
- The Value Hunter
One emergence from the recession has been people’s obsession with price and questioning of ‘value’. Consumers expect more for their money than ever before. Peter commented that as a result of this ‘Status Stories’ (product authenticity) have replaced ‘Status Symbols’ (such as logos and big brands). This stuck me as being particularly pertinent for designer-makers who have fascinating stories to tell about how their products are conceived and created.
To meet the demands and expectations of the above Peter suggested three main strategies that independent retailers can adopt:
Service: exceptional service can be the making and breaking of a shop. It is the least expensive and most effective way of making a difference.
Experience: rather than just displaying products retailers need become curators weaving stories into the way that products are shown.
Specialism: “express your specialism through everything”. The British high street is exactly the same and this is an opportunity for independent retailers to stand out from the crowd by providing something no one else does.
Peter closed his talk by asking us to go away and fill in the statement “I am a specialist in….” and then think about whether we are expressing this specialism is everything we do. It’s an interesting exercise and one I think that’s relevant to both retailers and designer-makers.
There were plenty of Cockpit makers at Top Drawer demonstrating their specialisms. Businesses showing this year included: Allison Wiffen Ceramics, Amanda Ross, Helen Minns (pictured above), Lush, Prillywear (pictured below), Thornback and Peel.
Letter press printers, SORT (pictured below), showed as part of ’Spotted’ -journalist Charlotte Abrahams’ handpicked showcase of ten exciting and innovative design businesses.
To find out more about Top Drawer and the hear Peter’s talk from 2010 visit the Top Drawer website.
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Tags: Customer, recession, Retail, sales, selling