November 07, 2019

Gap

Art Peck, CEO, steps down (click here).

4-5 years ago, we were constantly told by the experts that Gap and their "data-driven" approach was the key to success.
  • CNBC (click here).
  • Creative Directors were "False Messiahs" via Harvard Business School (click here). The brand was moving to a de-centralized, "data-driven" approach.
  • Gap touts "big data" in 2018 (click here).
  • "Art Peck is Preaching Omni-Channel Religion" (click here).
  • Forbes: Could Big Data Replace the Creative Director? (click here).
  • 2019 ShopTalk Retail Conference (billed as the future of retail) featuring Art Peck (click here for the video).
What we were told, once again, was wrong. Wrong. Completely wrong.

Now, it is entirely possible that every data-driven step the CEO took was "right" ... and it is entirely possible every step was necessary. It is entirely possible that his claim that Creative Directors are "false messiahs" was accurate. And it is entirely possible that all the store closures were needed. It was entirely possible that Gap had to go through a ten-year valley to emerge on the other side and he wasn't given nearly enough time to move the brand through the ten-year valley.

It is also entirely possible that the "retail industry" ... the experts, the pundits, the conferences, the vendors, the trade journalists ... it is entirely possible that they all continually get it wrong, every single day, leading you astray in the process.

To solve the retail problem, you need to solve five key issues concurrently.
  • Changing customer demographics ... i.e. the end of the Boomer generation as the core customer and the embrace of Millennials / Gen-Z.
  • The decimation of malls and shopping centers as a shared platform for retail brand traffic ... in other words, you have to have a solution for every store you abandon as shopping centers die.
  • You have to have cute merchandise. Period.
  • You have to present your brand in a compelling manner (i.e. great marketing and you have to have outstanding Creative Direction).
  • You have to have a complete, compelling, and cost-effective plan to acquire new customers.
When you listen to retail experts, ask them what their plans are for each of the five retail problems that must be solved concurrently, ok? We've largely proven (in the past half-decade) that data / omnichannel wonkery is not the answer.

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