Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The In’s and Out’s of Future Freshmen

One of the advantages of being a member of NACS is the demographic and trend research we receive from TRU (Teenage Research Unlimited). Those teeny-boppers grow up and go to college to buy tons and tons of stuff from the bookstore!

The latest two trend summaries of teens for Spring 2007 we thought contained a wealth of information to use when considering business and marketing plans for the upcoming academic year.

The first details music and athlete “TRU Scores” (calculated with some top-secret TRU algorithm from those teens who responded that they like music/athletes "Very Much"). And while the lack of Bowie, Dylan, or Rufus is evident, it is interesting to see good ol’ Canadian "rockers" Nickelback in the #2 spot. Check out the ratings of Chili Peppers (11) and Panic! (4), as well. Notable is the increase in Country artists on this list, including cross-over group Rascal Flatts (10).

In terms of the athletes, Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James took the top spot. NBA, NFL, MLB, and a spattering of other sports populate most spots on the list. And if you’ve never heard of MMA (mixed martial arts) and the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships)…you soon will. This sport is catching on with teens (and others) and several of the popular UFC fighters made the list this year. Before leaving this list, we have to point out that Tony Hawk scores very high (6). Athletics or marketing? You be the judge....

The next summary of note is a teen "What's In /What's Out" list covering fashion, music, technology, etc.

In fashion, “hoodies” continue to rank highest in fashion (92% with girls and 84% according to guys), as well as "college-logo clothes" (68%-girls, 66%-guys). If only we could slap HARVARD on everything. :) Short skirts, flip-flops, and denim shorts (?!) are all high on the list. It’s also worth noting that 31% of guys say “tall high-heeled boots” are in -- hmmm...

Compelling tidbits from the technology list:
- DVDs, Cell phones, and Home Video Games top this list for guys and girls.
- Only 27% (guys) and 20% (girls) think that virtual worlds (e.g., Second Life) are in.
- Podcasting was near the bottom for both genders.

Perhaps the term “Podcasting” confuses consumers into thinking they need an iPod or MAC to use? Virtual worlds are still in the early adopter stage so no surprise there.

There weren’t many surprises on the “Activities” summary. But we wanted to point out that "going to college" is an IN activity for guys (84%) and girls (90%)! Going to concerts scores extremely high and is something to consider when focusing on the "community embraced" campus store. We’re not sure why 22% of girls think backyard wrestling is in, though. Maybe they do that while the guys are shopping for tall high-heeled boots….

Issues such as eating healthy (Cstore!) and caring about the environment/volunteering score high in the issues area. We (read: “Mark”) ignored sports ‘cus hockey scored very low (but get a load of Paintball—70% for guys and 60% for girls!). And for obvious personal reasons we decided to leave you to your own devices re: hairstyles.

We were thrilled to see how Backpacks (69%/65%--guys/girls) (gen. merch. angle) and Bedroom Accessories (58%/87%--guys/girls) score in the "other stuff" category.

And new revenue streams…? A campus Tattoo Parlor might be an interesting revenue angle (tattoos—61%-guys, 63%-girls).

Mark Patten
MacEwan Bookstores

Tony Ellis, CAE

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Information is Power!

Okay. I don’t want to use The Retail Muse to offer shameless plugs for NACS programs and services.


We currently have THREE…FREE…VERY insightful resources on our website that I think you have overlooked, somehow. At least, the website statistics on the download of these items aren’t very robust.

So, I’m disguising my voice, hiding behind the opaque curtain, and issuing a call to action. Click, download, and play…Information is power!

1. “Retail Inspiration: Insight from Student Leaders and Customers” Webcast
Recorded live at CAMEX in Orlando, this audio-video webcast features TRU’s Michael Wood sharing the in’s and out’s from the Fall 2006 TRU® report and a qualitative research project sponsored by the NACS Foundation.

- http://www.nacs.org/public/events/calendar.asp?EventType=2

2. “Research in Action: TRU® Impacts on Campus Stores” Webcast
Don’t have time to read all the research and figure out what it means for the college store? In this webcast program, college store experts from the NACS General Merchandise Committee share insights from the Spring 2006 TRU Study report and discuss implications for college stores. They offer suggestions on how to evaluate your current merchandise mix and how determine if you have what today's teens (and entering freshman) are looking for.

- http://www.nacs.org/public/events/calendar.asp?EventType=2

3. Brown is the new Black. Orange is the new Brown. Pink is the new Orange.

Where does it stop? Or does it come full circle!?

Color determines mood, inspires action, and evokes emotion. Choosing the right colors makes a difference--for your apparel, gifts, even your store.

So keep track of the next brown, black, and pick with the Pantone Color Forecast reports. Check out the “Pantone Fashion Color Report-Fall 2007” to gain some of their insights into the hottest colors for Fall before you even break out your Speedo!

Oh, and take note…Chili Pepper is the new Red.

- http://www.nacs.org/whitepapers/default.asp

Tony Ellis, CAE

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Learning from the Mouse

The Retail Muse welcomes Guest Blogger Pat Krivonak, Education and Development Specialist with NACS.

Pat muses…

Who wouldn’t want to see behind the Disney World show?! Learning tips and tricks from people who can sell millions and millions of rats?! OK, mice. I’m in. I took the trip to Disney World during CAMEX. I saw excellent examples of merchantainment strategies. My favs were…

1. Use the windows to tell a story. Disney creates windows that make potential customers curious enough to walk into the store. Don’t show too much in the windows. But do put higher-priced items near the door (to draw customers in) and lower-priced merchandise away from the doors to draw them in further yet.

2. Notice how the customers enter the store. Which door is used most frequently? (Disney ensured that a particular door would be used most often by installing a Disney character on the roof; he spits on the ground below every minute or so.) What side of the store do customers walk through first? Adjust your merchandise placement and other store environment elements as needed, throughout the day and year.

3. Adapt to the customer’s shopping habits. When it rains at Disney World, ponchos are re-stocked in anticipation of increased unit sales. When a large or heavy item is purchased, it is shipped to the customer’s home.

4. As with any retailer, Disney stores cannot sell what they don’t have on the shelves. So it is key to keep top-selling items in stock. Notably, Disney store employees can tell you the:

a) top selling items in their stores
b) time of day and/or under what conditions they sell the most units for each of the top selling items.

And remember, what sells the most in the morning is not the same as what sells the best in the afternoon or evening. Disney stores take hourly register readings to gauge traffic and discover the most popular products.

5. Hire actors not employees. Disney hires people who can and will play the part of providing a great customer experience. And everyone is expected to be “in character” whenever in a public space.

6. Supervisors at Disney stores spend almost three-quarters of their time on the sales floor--supporting and coaching front line employees. Customers are not in the back room. Moreover, retaining good employees and building store morale hinges on helping employees to be successful.

7. A cornerstone of Disney’s philosophy is the leadership chain. Managers spend almost ¾ of their time supporting and developing their supervisors, who in turn develop good front line people, who in turn provide great customer experiences. For example, Disney asked their employees what they wanted to have in their break rooms and what kind of music they wanted to listen to during their breaks. This allowed management to provide them with what they needed to refresh themselves.

It’s not about selling. It’s about a great experience. Disney continues the theme park experience into the store. Employees are focused on providing a memorable in-store experience and the sales follow. Disney effectively sets its stores apart from competitors selling similar merchandise by providing a genuine, uniquely Disney experience. Disney feels the competitive heat from online businesses and big box retailers like Wal-Mart, too.

If Walt were here what would he tell us? I think he would probably say something like this, “Bring the collegiate experience into the store. Make the in-store experience memorable. Everyone in the store should act as if they are the friendliest, most helpful student assistants in one of the greatest collegiate stores in the world. Make it fun! Always have what the students most often need. Put the most exciting products near the entrance, gradually decreasing to the least expensive and urbane, but don’t forget to keep an eye on it! As for the future, even TomorrowLand has been re-created two times, and we are thinking about doing it again.”

Pat Krivonak