On day 2 of Revionics’ Insight 2015 Conference, I am remembering again why I love the retail business so much. In retail, it seems to me that there is always an opportunity to separate one’s business or vision from the competition, whether by assortment, service level, price or some other factor. This morning we were treated to a great lesson in the importance of brand. Tim Lowe of Lowes Foods gave a fascinating presentation on how they define and protect their brand, and how this drives their business. Tim talked about the importance of “knowing what you stand for…” , and in a business as tough as grocery it really makes you think about the truth of this.
We all learn in school the principles of market segmentation and differentiation. What I think sometimes we forget, though, is how to personalize the experience our customers have.
“What does your brand say about you?”
A simple question Tim posed in his talk, and what I’ve been thinking about this morning is how important this question is. As consumers, we value experiences. I think we often measure the quality of a retailer based on how our experience matches our expectations. If your brand is about the lowest price, keeping score is pretty straightforward but winning is really hard. Most people say that a winning strategy has to be built on much more than price. The reminder I had this morning was on the importance of defining and implementing a vision around the brand. As I listened to Tim’s presentation and saw examples of everything from somewhat edgy highway billboards (see the background image for a cool example, and see even more in this story on brandchannel) to store features such as a working greenhouse and wood fixtures styled in local decor, I started thinking about how the brand vision could (and should) be the guide that keeps one focused as the implementation of a strategy gets more and more complex. In my experience, getting to a full blown operational process for executing on a (new) vision drives a whole set of complex measures and metrics. A clear brand vision, then to me, should be that “center of gravity” to remind everyone of how and why we are keeping score in the first place.
Tim’s presentation this morning reminded me of how important it is to first decide what it is that you want to be – in his words “what you stand for”. Their particular strategy is built on some key principles, some of which I have transcribed as being “locally owned” and having “locally sourced food”. Here’s an example of what you see on their website (locally-grown-carolinas).
If you don’t live in a market that Lowes Foods serves, have a look at their website. I think you will find a really cool example of a company that has figured out what it wants to be and then built all the process and infrastructure around that vision to bring it to life. Did I mention how much I love the retail business?