Monthly Archives: May 2017

Hot Hotel market gets less roomy

On March 8, we discussed Restoration Hardware, West Elm & Williams-Sonoma getting into the hotel biz. Now you can add another name- J.C. Penney.–hospitality

To be fair, they’re not actually opening actual hotels- just trying to supply them. I doubt that Penney’s wares will compete at places that would have bought decor from Restoration Hardware, West Elm or William-Sonoma. But it is a sign that hospitality – be it the part-time cowboy unregulated tax-dodging sector (airbnb) or the full-time, regulated brands – is a hot sector. Perhaps more competitive than ever – and more fragmented- but hot.

This older article from Skift remains imo a terrific little context-setter on that growth:

People now travel more. They’re savvy about value, location, decor.  And that travel cements new trade relationships & friendships across borders & cultures. imo the more we travel, the more we learn about the world, and the more we lessen our multicultural ignorance as a species.

So let’s be hospitable. And grow together.



Loyalty and Data – decisions galore!

As one of the oddballs who worked in both the ‘product’ and ‘service’ sectors on both sides of the USA-Canada border, I’ve seen many loyalty programs arrive, and others go bust. Researching what consumers want from their loyalty programs may seem easy (compelling savings rate, relevant incentives to redeem, VIP treatment, respect, easy visible point status, instantly redeemable, few ‘conditions’ or delays to redeem, etc).

Believe it or not- loyalty program design is actually fun! What’s not ‘fun’? Running one! ie if you think running a loyalty program is easy, think again!

These are LOYALTY programs- every move you make is visible to your most valuable players (MVP’s); a misstep is costly- a lesson that some Loyalty ‘experts’ seem reluctant to accept (Air Miles?). In fact, running a loyalty program is so daunting that Canada’s largest grocer, Loblaws resisted implementing one (decades after Metro, Sobeys and Safeway all had one), until their I.T. system had been upgraded and they had access to lessons learned on recently acquired (and admirably run) SDM Optimum program. Better to not launch at all, than launch badly and ruin the brand’s  relationship with MVP’s. Props for the patience and maturity to take that path on that timeline!

And now Nordstrom’s is launching a Visa-based loyalty card.

Why not start their own loyalty program, on their own? Because that would be costly in terms of resource and risk, especially…

  1. Infrastructure complexity & costs
  2. Data security responsibilities/ liability

Well, okay, so now it seems obvious that every firm should just partner up with AirMiles, or Visa or Mastercard or Amex, right? Right?

Well now consider what the downsides of a ‘private label’ loyalty arrangement might be:

  1. you don’t own the data – for modeling, or other analysis (you’re always requesting the data)
  2. you probably won’t get ‘full picture’ data (how they shop/behave across categories, payment methods, channels)
  3. you don’t control ways to access consumers

That’s a sobering list of drawbacks to going the Private Label route, as Nordstrom’s seems to have done.

Can’t really have it all, can you? But then again, decades of experience with loyalty programs teaches us that ‘easy’ doesn’t describe loyalty management, nor the decisions that accompany loyalty management programs. Tread with care!

-and a Financial Post  follow up on Loyalty Cards just a day later:

Steven Litt

Want to be a Research Analyst? Then read Sarah!

Fine blog below; the articulate, diligent Sarah Schmidt (I recommend you follow her!) gathers multiple points of view on the role of Research Analyst.

imo one surprise is how many times you see the same sentiments echoed.

Analysts are talented people and, over the next few years, the industry needs many more of them. Have you got what it takes?  If so, the jobs will be there!

Demographics: Change is Gonna Come

Will your  staffers be humming Dylan? There’s a growing chance they will.

Demographic ‘changes are coming’ -it shouldn’t be a shock.  Are those changes working in your favour? your organization’s favour?

Demographics move so slowly & are so well monitored that some organizations are unhurried to act; they prioritize reacting to short term market change instead. Managers/Marketers/Retailers tend to be recognized, rewarded, feted for ‘reactive’ skills such as acting on shifts in daily public sentiment (which can ‘turn’ on a brand in a moment) or fashion taste (crocs in, uggs in, crocs, out, uggs out,…) or labour swings (outsourcing to freelancers, crowdsourcing, etc).

However, demographics are key b/c they’ll affect who will be on your team, who will be your customers, how you convey your message, which kinds of products & services are more likely to succeed.  And demographic changes, being so comparatively slow paced & inevitable, play the role of the warm water in a soon-to-be boiling pot. Just cuz change is slow doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be recognized and dealt with. Yet many otherwise-smart organizations fail to make fundamental necessary ‘evolutionary’ changes.

One college I know of, has seen it’s ‘Full-Time’ education arm add more & more in-demand ‘applied’ graduate certificates. The college now emphasizes a faculty’s  industry experience & contacts, ensures students earn industry accreditation  and even makes some courses available on Friday evenings & Saturdays. That shows some demographically-inspired smarts! Such traits have relevant appeal for the rising (& demographically driven) number of ‘mid-career re-education’ seekers. But this same college remains reluctant to face an ever-warming-water fact- ie THIS IS THE NEW REALITY! They won’t admit that consumers seeking mid-career retraining see the college as 1 brand, not 2 schools: ‘Continuing Education’ and ‘Full-Time’??? What dat?!?! At present, the public must navigate two completely separate systems- course calendars, websites, faculty are all 100% separate. The left hand & the right hand of 1 college brand don’t know the other exists. Consumers just want the college’s retaining/ reeducation options to be clear; why must they face a brand with 2 completely different bureaucracies, advertisements, sets of faculty, etc- when courses are offered by the same brand, on the same premises, at only slightly different times of day, days or the week? To consumers seeking re-education option clarity, this is baffling.

But, just b/c that organization won’t react to the ever-warming water, that doesn’t mean YOU should ignore demographic & long term societal changes. Ergo, a few highlights on this fine CBC story:

  • Atlantic Canada (now joins parts of Vancouver Island as) Lead Market for Seniors.
  • More people 65+ than children in Canada now.
  • Boomers are gobbling up jobs, and working later into life.

Enjoy! And consider what changes are a coming for your organization given these slow-churning shifts.