Friday, March 20, 2009

Beating the consumer downturn.

The conference proceedings began with some opening remarks from Chair, Declan Curry (of BBC 'Working Lunch' fame) regarding the intentions of this year's conference. Then Justin King - CE of Sainsbury's (who last night won Retail Leader of the Year award at the Oracle Retail Week Awards) - took to the stage. 
Some interesting points about how Sainsbury's DNA is evident in all of their advertising, past and present. Their core ethics still represent those of the brand in it's beginnings 140 years ago.
  • Their customer seeks "Value without compromise" and Justin feels it is necessary to speak to their customers in a language that they understand whilst continuing to innovate the product they offer. Particularly in times of economic crisis. 
  • The sign above their 1969 Dury Lane store read "Quality Perfect. Prices Lower" and they try to continue these values today whilst remaining ethically and environmentally responsible.
  • The key message was that retailers need to stick to their values and not lose sight of what their customer's expectations are.
A panel discussion followed featuring Justin King, John Lovering (Chairman of Debenhams) and Phil Wrigley (Executive Chairman of New Look). Many interesting points came out of the discussion.
  • Offering value is not a short term solutions.
  • It was suggested that perhaps the majority of businesses who have collapsed over the last 10 years had a view to serve yesterday's customer. 
  • With it being "25%" more expensive today for British retailers buying from suppliers and with the strength of the Euro, New Look have intentions to expand globally. 
  • Retailers aiming to survive the recession must "Kill or be killed".
  • The encouragement of staff through leadership and enthusiasm is vital in order to retain a vision of the future for your company. 


lynsey anderson said...

I think subjects like this bring around a certain point, as a previous (long ago) employer of a supermarket who are particularly keen to provide the best customer service possible, that have consumers become to picky? has such competition between big rival companies like sainsburys,asda & tesco become so much that now the consumer can demand extreme standards? forcing small time companies who cant compete with such requests to be closed down in such times.

What Kat Did said...

Good point Lynsey, thank you. This year's economic downturn means that more than ever supermarkets need to meet the biggest demand from customers: getting VALUE FOR MONEY.

The price wars are indeed affecting smaller businesses, but look at the success of Lidl & Aldi over the last 6 months. It is keeping TODAY'S customer in mind and willing to evolve with that customer that is going to sort out the competition.