August 15, 2013

2012: Transition

Five popular songs from 2012:
  • "Somebody That I Used To Know" - Gotye featuring Kimbra
  • "Call Me Maybe" - Carly Rae Jepsen
  • "We Are Young" - Fun featuring Janelle Monae
  • "Payphone" - Maroon 5 featuring Wiz Khalifa
  • "Lights" - Ellie Goulding
By the end of 2012, only 27% of my projects were under the "Catalog PhD" framework.  The rate is similar in 2013 ... both years down from the 60% project rate for 2010 / 2011.

Times changed, and changes really accelerated in 2012.

Who do we blame?

Judy ... Jennifer ... and Jasmine.  Especially Jasmine.

As has been well documented on this blog, our three ladies have very different behavior.
  • Judy = Catalog shopping maven.
  • Jennifer = Amazon - price comparison fan.
  • Jasmine = Post mobile/social.
Each customer audience has a different set of challenges.  Catalogs, obviously, have minimal or no impact on Jasmine ... and have some impact on Jennifer.  As a result, my catalog-centric project work declined, reflecting the shift in marketing tactics surrounding each customer persona.

Conversely, merchandise-centric projects ramped-up, significantly, and for good reason. Merchandise issues impact Judy, they impact Jennifer, and they impact Jasmine ... always have, always will.

The vendor community has not caught up with the "merchandise issue".  They will.  Vendors need to know that a problem is wide spread, and that a solution can be scaled with minimal incremental expense as additional clients seek a solution.

By the end of 2012, more than half of projects had a strong merchandise component to them. Most interesting, of course, is that it is easier to explain why a business is succeeding/failing via merchandise than via channels or attribution tactics. Nobody publicly talks about this in the marketing literature. My email inbox, however, is filled with merchandising challenges.

The disconnect between the marketing literature ... and the projects I am working on ... continues to increase.  Jasmine-centric projects have merchandise problems ... Judy-centric projects have merchandise problems.  The marketing tactics are usually completely opposite, while the merchandising issues are amazingly similar.

Merchandise analytics are going to be an important component of our future. The main reason a customer purchases from a business is merchandise. You might buy a car from Toyota because their cars never break down and get great gas mileage. But you were in the market for a car in the first place, right? This means that the merchandise, the car, is the most important issue. A reliable car with great gas mileage is a great product, great merchandise. We all buy great merchandise. So why do we choose to ignore merchandise, hoping instead for omnichannel lightning in a bottle?

P.S.:  Modern software makes it terribly difficult to understand merchandise productivity issues. Show me where, in Google Analytics, you can quickly roll up a five year comp segment analysis, comparing productivity of different merchandise categories on comparable customers? We dove head-first into conversion-related issues, and after spending ten or fifteen years becoming masters at analyzing how large blue buttons convert, we did not get in the practice of understanding how a failure to create new products in 2011 causes conversion rate failures in 2013.

P.P.S:  Don't think merchandise issues aren't the most important topic of 2013? Go ask those who invest in Apple what they think of merchandising issues. No fundamentally new products for three years, and market share being gobbled up by Samsung, who has innovated in ways unimaginable three years ago. If you are an Executive who thinks Apple has problems, then you had better take a deep dive into your own merchandising ecosystem!!

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