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A Rant on Fracking, the Middle East, Education and Retail

retail discussionI was talking to an economist the other day. He was excited because of the boom in natural gas he feels could raise our GDP from 1-2% to 3-5%.

I told him I wasn’t keen on it as I was against the new process used to release the gas from shale known as fracking. He came back with, “How could you be against something that could make us independent of Middle Eastern oil?”

I said few things are black and white and if fracking was so good, why won’t oil companies give us a complete rundown of the chemicals used? “Look,” he said, “if some guy sold the rights to his land for 7 million dollars, and the fracking contaminated his drinking water so he has to have drinking water trucked in, well at least he has 7 million; I think that’s fine.”

I countered that my fear is that 50 years from now, they will look back at the irreparable harm we did to the environment. “Well, the state of Pennsylvania has approved it so why shouldn’t you?” He went on… Continue reading A Rant on Fracking, the Middle East, Education and Retail »

A Retail Doctor Special Report: What Every Retailer Must Know About The Millennial Generation

Millennial special report retailMany retailers would rather hire a 50-year-old who they think has more of a work ethic than hire a 20-something Millennial.

The Millennial Generation (those generally born 1981 through the mid-1990’s)  were raised by Boomer parents who came down to school and fought their battles for them thus shielding them from the reality of consequences.

They never lost anything because parents hovered and swooped in like helicopters to make sure everything stayed in order.

Like it or not, accounting for 25% of the US population, the Millennial Generation is the largest consumer group.

As one author put it, “When Gen Y [Millennials] speaks, boomers must listen.”

I don’t presume to be “the” expert like those who have written volumes on the Millennial Generation but during my research I met some great resources that validated and expanded my understanding on the topic.

I think the insights presented here will help you as a retailer understand some of the major trends Millennials are driving and that you can’t ignore.

Who They Are

The Millennial Generation desires to change the world. They are generous with their time and donations. According to the Millennial Impact report, More than 70% of Millennials surveyed said they have raised money on behalf of nonprofits.

Clearly, this generation believes in giving back as part of a broader social compact of helping others. While they do want the world to entertain them, they have more of a sense of We than any other generation.

As put in the New York Times, they have “No anger, no edge, no ego.”

Millennials live two lives – one in real time and the other in an edited virtual world. This is a generation who experiences life through their smartphone held on outstretched hands taking videos to capture and share their moments on Facebook or Instagram.  For them, it’s not about being in the moment – it’s about capturing a moment and sharing it.

They’re very much keeping up with the Joneses, but not by collecting things and products like their Boomer parents but by collecting photos, friends and experiences.

Most would like to own their own business at some point. If Zuckerberg can do it, why not them?

What juices their lives? Creating and experiencing.

They’re Not Like Boomers

Let’s be honest, when Boomers hit 18, they had to get out of the house so they could have their own place to have sex. That meant they had to learn about not only getting the apartment, but paying for it on their own.

The Millennial Generation is not leaving the house; not because they don’t have a job, but because quite simply, why should they? When the house comes with room service and a clothes washer stocked with detergent, there’s no motivation for them to leave.

Rebellious? Hardly. Unlike Boomers, the Millennial Generation tends to listen to the same music, watch the same movies and use the same products as their parents.

Baby Boomers had definite times they lost friends: moving from elementary school to middle school, to high school and between different jobs. This forced them to have to make new friends along the way.

Millennials can keep track of every friend they’ve met via social networks. That means when they’ve moved, they have that security and never feel isolated from their friends. They always have a tribe of people to tell them things will be fine.

Boomers used to be much more isolated and alone and had to be encouraged to “Reach out and touch” by AT&T. Millennials never have to feel alone because they can constantly share pictures and texts.

Boomers were taught obedience in Sunday school and public school where they learned the social norms of the world. It was very much a world of children should be seen and not heard.

That’s not this generation…

Mr. Rogers told Millennials they were special and important.  Helicopter parenting kept them in a protective world. No one won, lost or was picked last. Is it a wonder that if no one taught them consequences for their actions, they didn’t learn?

You can read the full special report at no cost by clicking the button below:

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Retail Employees: 7 Things You Must Do To Develop and Train

retail sales consultantYour success depends on how well you develop and train your retail employees.

Yesterday I shared an important story on the teenage mind, how there are two different neural and psychological systems that interact to turn children into adults. Over the past generation, the developmental timing of these two systems has changed and researchers have discovered that experience is what shapes the brain, not schooling.

As long as they are given real responsibilities with a mentor, teenagers are able to mitigate the effects of the onset of puberty at a younger age and go on to become successful adults.

I interviewed Scott Reed, who has owned his successful Chick-Fil-A franchise for 23 years in Marietta, GA for this post. His restaurant is known across town for its immaculate interior and manicured exterior.  Scott’s outlook about who he hires and where he focuses his training time provides clues for any retailer working with teenagers – or anyone really. Continue reading Retail Employees: 7 Things You Must Do To Develop and Train »

Teenagers Have Changed: Here’s What It Will Take For Them To Succeed In Retail

In the Wall Street Journal article, What’s Wrong With the Teenage Mind? Alison Gopnik takes an in-depth look at two trends affecting the maturation of teenagers.

She has found puberty is kicking in earlier and earlier, and that teenagers are taking on adult roles later and later.

She says in part, “In the past, to become a good gatherer or hunter, cook or caregiver, you would actually practice gathering, hunting, cooking and taking care of children all through middle childhood and early adolescence.

But you’d do all that under expert adult supervision and in the protected world of childhood, where you would have experienced the impact of your inevitable failures and learned from them.” Continue reading Teenagers Have Changed: Here’s What It Will Take For Them To Succeed In Retail »

Why Baby Boomer Luxury Purchases Are In Danger

I’m a child of the sixties.

I was fascinated every week by the Apollo pictures in the oversize Life magazine. I watched the death tolls at the end of every CBS Evening News with the man who represented unbiased reporting, Walter Cronkite.

I saw the Beatles premiere on Ed Sullivan. The day John Kennedy was assassinated – when my mom invited the Fuller Brush door-to-door salesman to come in and watch the TV coverage. The riots in LA, Detroit and the rest after MLK was murdered. The summer of love. Anti-war demonstrations. Woodstock. Kent State. The moon landing.

We baby boomers grew up on a steady diet of black and white commercials that included these questions:

  • How about a nice Hawaiian punch?
  • Aren’t you glad you use Dial (don’t you wish everybody did?)
  • Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper too?
  • Is it live, or is it Memorex?

People really did believe that Sears had the best Kenmore appliances and Craftsman tools. Levi’s held up better than the rest and Keds sneakers allowed you to go farther.  It’s back when brands meant something.

It’s back when a box fan was made in America to last, not to meet a $20 price point.

Since there was no Internet, it was when we delivered the day-old news on our Schwinn bikes around the neighborhood.

When my mom shopped for fabric and McCall’s dress patterns. When my dad was the gardener using Scott’s Turf Builder.

Again, it was back when brands meant something.

Baby Boomers were the generation who built Procter & Gamble, Best Foods, Unilever, Macy’s and the rest. And we are still hard-wired to want to see shopping in those terms because we are the generation driving the retail engine.

Spending by the 116 million U.S. consumers age 50 and older was $2.9 trillion last year — up 45% in the past 10 years. Meanwhile, the 182 million people younger than 50 spent $3.3 trillion last year — up just 6% during the same decade, according to an analysis for USA TODAY of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data by The Boomer Project.

Photo by Kim Stiglitz verticalResponse

Nowadays CMOs have abandoned the very foundations of a brand.  Twitter is filled with stories about how marketers are paying people to “like” them on Facebook and getting tablet computers into employees hands.

But nothing prepared me for this pathetic example at left provided by Kim Stiglitz at VerticalResponse of GAP paying for people to just say they provided a 10 on their experience – to receive a 20% off coupon!

With all the talk about “transparency” when dealing with the younger generation, GAP is demonstrating they don’t really care about your experience, just lie and get your 20% off.

What an insult to such a once-great retail brand (coincidentally started in the sixties) now reduced to a click to receive yet another discount coupon.

They aren’t asking for what you really think or value, just kidding themselves people really believe this stuff bullshit.

Branding, it was how Boomers were made into the powerhouse shoppers we still are today.

The Retail Generation Gap – Why Premium Brands are Stuck, my new free special report for retailers, can show you that this new generation is being taught its more about appreciating clicking “like” than purchasing premium brands.  I show you the disconnect quickly and easily and ways to get them past that.  Snag your copy now, before your competitors do.

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