Valentine’s spending looks to enjoy a similar boost seen with the 2017 holiday season, the most since the Great Recession of 2009. Strong indicators include a roaring stock market, low unemployment, and high consumer confidence.

Kelli Hollinger, Director of the Center for Retailing Studies, says, “Shoppers opened their wallets more than analysts expected this past Christmas, with many retailers exceeding sales projections. Both retailers and consumers are beginning 2018 with more optimism. For Valentine’s Day romantics looking to spend on their sweethearts, retailers will offer promotions for top-gifting items, like candy, flowers, and jewelry that fit any budget.”

Create something memorable
Experiences remain popular, even when the sweetheart in your life is a furry friend. PetSmart is hosting pup playtime 9-5 on Valentine’s Day in select markets. Doggie desserts include a free ice cream treat, plus a free digital keepsake for pet parents.

If day trips are more appealing than diamonds, shoppers seeking experiences can book special romance packages like some of the options from Groupon, Travelzoo, or Renaissance Hotels.

Personalized gifts such as one-of-a-kind socks emblazoned with couple’s names or even faces, like sockprints.com add a little humor to gifting.

For a special night out, online sources like OpenTable are helpful for finding local restaurants with special menu items and promotions for February 14th.

Online and mobile shopping continue trending up
More consumers will shop with their thumbs, browsing, and buying more than ever from their mobile devices. Trendsetter Magnolia Market is featuring special selections for Valentine’s Day.

Online purchasing offers added convenience this season. Texas grocer H-E-B offers in-store pickup or delivery with floral orders.

Tech gifts are in
Besides traditional Valentine’s Day surprises, tech, and mobile accessories have become a popular item for both men and women. Online retailing giant Amazon is featuring deals on hundreds of tech selections, from headphones and smart watches to romantic-themed movies.

Don’t forget the favorites!
Classic Valentine gifts including cards, candy, dining out, and flowers will still top many lovers’ shopping lists.

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Texas A&M

Students from Mays Business School recently participated in the annual YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF) case study competition. Sixty of the top business, retail, and fashion design programs from universities around the country were represented – including Parsons School of Design, Harvard, Fashion Institute of Technology, Pratt Institute, and Academy of Art University.

As the premier educational fashion non-profit in the U.S, FSF seeks to identify and create career opportunities for students worldwide. FSF grants the largest sum of money and total number of scholarships in the entire fashion community. It also offers hands-on experience via internships with the world’s top fashion companies and most influential leaders – such as Nordstrom, Ulta, and Lululemon.

For the 2018 FSF case study, students were asked to explore a retailer of their choice regarding how the integration of digital technology with offline shopping can improve performance. They spent an entire semester developing a business plan, promotional campaign, and financial analysis.

“My project primarily focused on transforming the fitting room at and allowing customers to ‘virtually immerse’ themselves into an environment of their choice. They can see how they really look beyond the blank-space fitting room when trying on clothes,” explained marketing major Payton Cupstid ’19.

Eight Aggie students were awarded $5,000 each in scholarship funds. Cupstid received an award of $15,000 for a perfect score on her case study paper. Texas A&M was the only university in the competition to have a student that finished with a perfect score.

Students received their awards in New York City on Jan. 9 at a gala featuring special guests such as style icon Martha Stewart and fashion model Coco Rocha.

“It was a challenge, but a fun challenge. The ten-page business plan required a lot of work and many hours of my time, but I enjoyed every minute I devoted to it,” said Cupstid. “I was able to utilize my skills and passions, while also creating something that resembled the abstract thinking and hard work that I am willing to take on to succeed.”

Cheryl Bridges, Executive Professor of Marketing at Mays and mentor to the eight winners, reflected on the trip. “This whole process takes a tremendous amount of work and effort outside the classroom,” she said. “The idea is to get them excited about the industry, and prepare them to hit the ground running when they start their career.”

Students like Payton Cupstid understand the importance of transformational learning opportunities like the FSF case study competition.

“If you’re applying for an internship or full-time job, you’re already ahead of other candidates because you get to showcase your work,” she added. “Mays and the Center for Retailing Studies do a wonderful job of providing students with learning opportunities.”

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Students, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

The American Marketing Association (AMA) and the American Marketing Association Foundation (AMAF) announce Leonard L. Berry as the winner of the 2018 William L. Wilkie “Marketing for a Better World” Award.

Berry is University Distinguished Professor of Marketing, M.B. Zale Chair in Retailing and Marketing Leadership, Regents Professor, Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence at Mays Business School. He will receive the award during the 2018 AMA Winter Academic Conference in New Orleans in February.

Berry is a leading scholar in services marketing and retailing studies and, more recently, a leader in the study of healthcare service. He has been published in leading journals and has written 10 books, including Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic, Discovering the Soul of Service, and On Great Service. Berry established the Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M University in 1982, serving as director until 2000.

He has received numerous honors including the AMA-Irwin-McGraw-Hill Distinguished Marketing Educator Award, Paul D. Converse Award, and the Lifetime Achievement Award for Research & Scholarship from the Mays Business School. In 2015, he was named an AMA Fellow. Professor Berry received his Ph.D. from Arizona State University, and in 2014 was inducted into ASU’s Carey School of Business Hall of Fame.

…Read more

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Faculty, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Texas A&M

By Venkatesh Shankar, Mays Business School at Texas A&M University

Courtesy: The Financial Brand

As we near the end of 2017, what’s in store for 2018? Will it be economically better for us? What technological shifts will we witness? How will it change our and organizations’ behaviors? What will be the major business trends? How will marketing change? How will retailing transform? Marketing Professor Venkatesh Shankar of Texas A&M University offers his predictions for such questions.

The world and U.S. economies are expected to continue their growth in 2018. Although the world economy is predicted to grow by about 3.6 percent, developed economies are anticipated to grow just under 2 percent. The U.S. economy will grow in the low-to-mid 2 percent level. Unemployment in the U.S. will remain in the low four percent level. Inflation will continue to be modest. U.S. wages might rise by 3 percent, but U.S. healthcare costs will also likely grow faster, by 6 percent. China’s economic growth might slow a bit, but China will march on in economic prosperity. Interestingly, next year, Chinese tourists will far outspend American tourists, a trend that will continue until 2025.

Courtesy: cioandleader.com

2018 will witness the emergence of Gen Z or centennials (those born 1995 or after), the first generation born with devices in hand. Currently numbering 70 million, members of Generation Z are entering college or the workforce and are rising in influence. Because they are more digitally native than the baby boomers and millennials, they will play a huge part in digital transformation. Regardless of the level of their influence, the interplay among three generations, baby boomers, millennials, and centennials will lead to interesting digital dynamics in the society and workforce.

Deeper into digital

More people will be connected and will be digital. For example, by the end of 2018, half of adults in developed countries will have at least two online-only media subscriptions.

Spurred by Pokemon augmented reality (AR) experience, AR will become more mainstream with AR enabled apps and smartphones. More than a billion smartphone users around the world will create augmented reality content at least once during 2018.

Livestreaming will become more mainstream. China will become the world’s largest livestreaming market at $4.5 billion, almost doubling in size from 2017.

Consumers will increasingly use visual and voice searches. In fact, as more devices, people, content, and services become intertwined, we will see a super digital network – or what Gartner calls a digital mesh.

By the end of 2018, digital will impact more than half of the $4 trillion U.S. retail market. Groceries, the last bastion of brick-and-mortar retail, will start moving more rapidly online. The role of sales associates in retail will diminish or dramatically transform.

Courtesy: vca.ag

Artificial intelligence (AI) will continue to make rapid strides, affecting our daily lives, business decisions, and societal changes. AI will reshape customer experience. Chatbots will become the face of AI and will change the way apps are configured. However, these technological enhancements come with downsides. About 30% of the organizations will see a decline in customer experience performance.

Companies will use more of machine learning and AI tools to enhance their businesses. For example, about one-tenth of the purchase decisions will be guided by AI or machine-learning powered agents.

Behind the learning curve

The negative rub of the technology advances is that by 2018, the United States could face a shortage of 140,000-190,000 people with deep analytical skills as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts with big data analysis expertise. This creates huge challenges as well as opportunities for data science and analytics programs.

Courtesy: bitcoin.com

Finally, cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, ethereum, and litecoin will surge in popularity. Blockchain technology, the backbone behind the cryptocurrencies, will start to take a stronghold in financial exchanges and collaborations. Speculation will keep the cryptocurrencies’ values wildly volatile, but they will rise in importance as a viable future alternative. In fact, if one had invested $1,000 in bitcoin in 2008, it would be worth over $40 million now. Similarly, litecoin has returned 5,700 percent in 2017 alone!

 

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Faculty, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Research, Spotlights, Texas A&M

An important aspect of the Mays Business School Strategic Plan is connecting Texas A&M students to former students, industry partners, and employers. The M.B. Zale Leadership Scholar program is shining example of this vision.

Named for the innovative merchant M.B. Zale, the founder of Zale Jewelry Company, the program emphasizes professional development for top retailing students at Mays. The Zales Scholars program is open to all business majors, with a highly competitive application process.

Through hands-on learning experiences that span two semesters, Zale Scholars build industry knowledge through interaction with retailing executives from across the state and country. Some of these experiences include a trip to New York City over Spring Break to tour retail flagship stores and buying offices. Monthly Friday seminars teach negotiation, effective communication, and professional presence.

“I encourage all business students to apply to the M.B. Zale Scholar program. This program will give you the necessary tools that will launch you to success, and finding your dream job,” said Supply Chain Management student Allison McGraw ’19, who just completed her final semester in the program.

Students attend the annual Retailing Summit, an executive education conference in Dallas, hearing case studies from top 100 retailers to startups.

“As a Zale Scholar, I view all of the program’s experiences as professional development opportunities to gain a better understanding, and evolve my personal career mission. From executive coaching, lunches, and coffee chats, I have networked with numerous professionals and gained multiple perspectives on how to deliver value beyond the ‘perfect product’ and discover new methods to interact with customers in a relevant way,” explained Marketing student Aricka Anderson ’18.

Zale Scholars also participate in on-site visits where they can observe the workplace environment. In October, the group visited the headquarters of Francesca’s in Houston.

“I researched Francesca’s as a high schooler, and it was studying this company that I decided I wanted to study retailing. Being a member of the Zale Scholar Program has given me numerous opportunities for face-to-face interaction with Francesca’s recruiters and internship coordinators,” added Business Honors student Caren Valenciano ’20.

The M.B. Zale Scholar program provides impactful learning experiences for students, and helps develop transformational leaders for tomorrow.

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Mays Business, News, Students, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

Shifting consumer attitudes are favoring online shopping more and more compared to brick-and-mortar stores, according to the 2017 C-CUBES™ Benchmark Retail Study released by Mays Business School at Texas A&M University.

Even with traditional stores adding more convenience services such as curbside delivery and in-store pickup, the shift toward online shopping has remained steady.

Four out of five consumers (81 percent) agreed with the statement that they “love the convenience of online shopping,” while 78 percent agree that “online shopping saves time and money.” Relative to physical stores, 62 percent agree that “online stores offer better value.”

The study is based on a nationally representative online survey of 5,881 adults conducted during October-November 2017. The margin of error is +/- 1 percent at the 95 percent level of confidence.

“Our study identifies the two big drivers of retail—convenience and value—that are fuelling online growth. Yet, physical stores will not vanish,” said Shrihari Sridhar, Center for Executive Development Professor of Marketing at Mays Business School. “Results show that 69 percent really enjoy going to a store and window shopping. There is also some backlash against online shopping, with 38 percent agreeing that e-commerce has taken out all the pleasure from shopping. Traditional retailers are at a critical strategic juncture. They need to balance the value and convenience of online shopping with the pleasure of in-store browsing.”

To challenge Amazon’s dominance in online sales, traditional retailers are responding to these elevated consumer expectations for convenience.

Retail giant Walmart announced that it will offer same-day store pick up for a greater variety of hot products ranging from the iRobot Roomba robotic vacuum and Xbox One S gaming system, to a 70-inch Vizio 4K television. Not only does Walmart provide the option for customers to receive a text alert once an order is ready, they will also have the ability to collect items in-store as late as 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Target, with 1,834 stores, recently acquired grocery delivery startup, Shipt. The acquisition builds an important same-day delivery network for Target.

“Brick-and-mortar retailers can leverage their physical store locations to get products to customers as quickly as possible,” added Kelli Hollinger, Director of the Center for Retailing Studies at Mays Business School.

The 2017 C-CUBES™ Benchmark Retail Study is conducted by the Collaborative for Customer Based Execution and Strategy, sponsored by the Center for Retailing Studies, and underwritten by the R.C. Barclay Endowed Library Fund. The goal of the study is to provide an evidence-based approach to incorporate the customer’s perspective in strategic planning and execution for retailers. The research team for the Retail Study includes Vikas Mittal and Kyuhong Han at Rice University, along with Biwong Im at Texas A&M University.

For more information, contact:
Kelli Hollinger, Director, Center for Retailing Studies
khollinger@tamu.edu; 979-845-5898

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Research, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

By Venkatesh Shankar

The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) voted 3-2 on Dec. 14 to overturn the net neutrality rule that was put in place in 2015 by the then FCC. What does it mean for different stakeholders, including consumers, companies, and communities?

Courtesy: bbc.com

The net neutrality rule required common carriers or broadband providers or Internet service providers (ISPs) (e.g., Comcast, Verizon, Charter, AT&T) to treat all data on the Internet equally and not discriminate or price differentially by user, content, website, app, device, platform, or communication mode.

What are the pros of net neutrality? In principle, net neutrality is egalitarian. Since the Internet is a public information network, it should be viewed as a public utility, much like electricity and water. Net neutrality treats all content and data equally, whether they are from a big firm like Netflix or Google or a start-up firm. It also prevents ISPs from blocking or throttling (slowing down) data, or price discriminating against Internet users. Without net neutrality, ISPs may be emboldened to raise prices on certain consumers and firms and shut out competitive services.

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Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Faculty, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Research, Texas A&M

Holiday shopping is increasingly migrating online, according to the 2017 C-CUBES™ Benchmark Retail Study. This is the first consumer holiday report conducted by Mays Business School at Texas A&M University.

In 2016, about half of the participants (52 percent) did more than 40 percent of their holiday shopping online. This year, 62 percent plan to do more than 40 percent of their holiday shopping online. The vast majority of all consumers intended on shopping both store aisles and via digitally engaged devices, with fewer than 10 percent of respondents planning to only patronize physical stores.

This shift in consumer buying behavior is most affecting fashion products such as clothes and shoes, which top many wish list items at Christmas. About one in three respondents (34 percent) shop for these goods online.

The study is based on a nationally representative online survey of 5,881 adults conducted during October through November 2017. The margin of error is +/- 1 percent at the 95 percent level of confidence.

“Shoppers are the most clear about their shopping preferences during the holidays because of the planning it requires. These changes are here to stay,” said Shrihari Sridhar, Center for Executive Development Professor of Marketing at Mays Business School. Particularly retailers dealing in trend-influenced goods – like apparel, shoes, and jewelry – need to develop stronger digital options, because customers find online shopping to be a time saver and value generator.”

The 2017 C-CUBES™ Benchmark Retail Study was conducted by the Collaborative for Customer Based Execution and Strategy. Mays’ Center for Retailing Studies and the R.C. Barclay Endowed Library Fund sponsored the research, which analyzed shopping preferences across several consumer categories including fashion merchandise, grocery, health/beauty, office supplies, and pharmaceuticals. The goal of the study is to provide an evidence-based approach to incorporate the customer’s perspective in strategic planning and execution for retailers. “The report confirms that consumers are rapidly transitioning their holiday shopping from brick-and-mortar stores to online purchasing. The findings should guide retailers to invest in omnichannel capabilities, such as in-store apps, social media platforms, and efficient product search,” added Sridhar.

This is the first of five planned trend reports based on the survey. On April 11, 2018, the Center for Retailing Studies will host a half-day seminar in Houston for business executives to explore the findings in-depth.

The research team for the Benchmark Retail Study includes Vikas Mittal and Kyuhong Han at Rice University along with Biwong Im, a doctoral student at Texas A&M.

For more information, contact:
Kelli Hollinger, Director, Center for Retailing Studies
khollinger@tamu.edu; 979-845-5898

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Research, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

The Center for Retailing Studies (CRS) at Mays Business School welcomed new CRS board member and partner Jeff Mooney to campus on November 15. Mooney serves as Divisional Vice President for Dollar General, overseeing 1,800 stores in Texas and Oklahoma.

Speaking to students in three marketing classes and the Student Retailing Association, Mooney highlighted Dollar General’s rapid expansion, impressive shareholder returns, and humble company culture.

Dollar General is ranked #128 on Fortune 500, with 127,000 employees in over 14,000 stores across the U.S. Mooney’s territory alone recorded sales exceeding $2 billion. Dollar General has more stores nation-wide than any retailer outside of the food industry. In an era of store closure, Dollar General accounts for 80 percent of net new store openings in the U.S. since 2008.

Because of this growth and strong brand, Mooney stated “We cannot hire enough talent, we have to grow it.” Texas A&M is the first university to partner with the Nashville based retailer to launch an accelerated district manager career program. Recent graduates would start as store managers and progress to district supervisors with responsibility for 18 stores averaging $30 million in sales within two years.

To take care of its customers, Dollar General takes care of its employees. “The customer experience will never be better than the employee experience,” Mooney explained. Dollar General’s friendly employees are willing to make things more efficient for the customer. According to Mooney, it is easier to teach skills than to teach others how to connect with people.

Mooney also emphasized Dollar General’s culture of serving others. The company understands its customers, who are largely value-conscious consumers living paycheck to paycheck. Many rely on government assistance. He pointed out that delivering on the promise to serve others is crucial.

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

Store brands, often called “own brands,” have certainly come into their own. Some retailers, like Trader Joe’s, almost exclusively sell private label products. Overall, this category of manufactured goods represents about 20 percent of all products sold at grocery, drug chain, and mass merchant stores. Yielding a higher margin compared to national brands, like Tide or Doritos, the industry is poised only to grow and offer lesser-known, but highly successful, career paths.

In November, seven Texas A&M University students became the first Aggies to attend the Private Label Trade Show and University Outreach program in Chicago. The event attracts 2,800 booths exhibitors from 70 countries with over 5,000 buyers and visitors’ eager to discover innovative new products catering to modern consumer taste pallets, from organic spices, gourmet baked cheeses, to mango Sriracha beef jerky. Some of the attendees included companies partnered with the Center for Retailing Studies in Mays Business School.

Supply chain major and M.B. Zale Leadership Scholar Allison McGraw ’18 said, “I loved this experience! The opportunity to shadow a supplier on day one and then a retailer on day two allowed me to build a more complete understanding of the grocery business.” McGraw will intern next summer with PepsiCo/Frito Lay.

…Read more

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Students, Texas A&M