What is Macy’s Doing?

Macy’s keeps changing direction and now has no real core vision. First, they were buying regional department stores to  become the “national” department store. They did a good job of choosing successful regional department stores. However, they then centralized policies and procedures negating those that made the regional stores successful. For example, brands of products were changed, when the previous assortment was what the local customers wanted. They changed return policies when the customers like the ones the regional stores had. Then they wondered why they were not as successful as the local stores had been.

Then when the elimination of coupons, like at JCP, was a failure and other stores, like Kohls, began offering more coupons, Macy’s changed course. Macy’s customers received a lot of coupons, even more coupons if you spent more money. However, when checking out you could only use one coupon, even when you had a fistful. Now I think you can use three at a time. How frustrated are customers when they are shopping, have been sent lots of coupons, and can not use them? Good policies do not frustrate customers.

Now that sales are still low Macy’s is going to experiment with putting off-price Backstage stores in about 45 of their current stores. So now customers can go to Macy’s and buy regular high end items and off-price items. So who is the store? What does the brand represent?

Why not figure out what policies and procedures customers want (remembering that you now need to serve Millennials and Baby Boomers). Then create a vision that allows you to grow with customers as they change while maintaining your core mission.

Right now the core Macy’s brand changes in my mind with each new tactic and that is not a good policy.

What Did We Learn About Polling?

Analytics is not just creating algorithms and running numbers. Analytics also must include thinking deeply about the formulas, what the numbers mean, and how do the numbers relate to people. At the beginning of the race many people said Donald Trump was not a serious candidate.  I disagreed with everyone and said that Donald Trump was a serious candidate because he voiced what many people were thinking.  While I disagree with him on many issues, he did tap into a very real deeply felt sentiment.

People want change – I get it. People want to be better off – I get it. People did not trust Hillary – I get it. But do those people really believe that going back to a trickle down policy, having the federal government tell them how to live, and policies supporting the 1% will really be the change that makes their lives better? Donald Trump’s rust belt strategy taped into great dissatisfaction with the status quo.  Ignoring those states in the final days of the election is like the companies who offer great deal to new customers but ignore their current customers. Now Donald Trump needs to consider his position going forward — Hillary Clinton is still ahead in the popular vote at the time I am writing this — how well will he read the sentiment of those people and include them going forward.

Going forward, those who promote polling and analytics need to include the interpretation and detective work along with creating algorithms and running numbers.

Personalization or Creepy?

Retail wire.com had an article presenting research on how many people think certain types of personalization are creepy and asking whether the number of people thinking these activities are creepy will decrease in the future:  https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/155caee1c48a9210

While many consumers are comfortable sharing information in return for benefits, that does not mean they like companies using the information in ways that are creepy. For example, Amazon may give suggestions about what other shoppers have purchased while you are online but that is not the same as computer screen suggesting accessories while you are in the dressing room trying on clothes. Finding the line between helpful and too invasive is critical for success.

Culture and Negotiation

Kevin Groves, Ann Feyerherm and Xinhua Gu recently had their article, “Examining Cultural Intelligence and Cross-Cultural Negotiation Effectiveness,” in the Journal of Management Education. This is great news because more information is needed on this topic. They stated that cultural intelligence (CQ), defined by Earley, Ang, and Tan (2006) as “a person’s capability for successful adaptation to new cultural settings. . .”

Certainly cultural intelligence is necessary. I do, however, take issue with two comments.

First, it is not enough to know that adaptation is necessary or about generic cultural customs. Knowledge of and skill development in specific strategies and techniques appropriate for different cultures necessary for success.  Schuster and Copeland have developed cultural classification models with recommendations for adoption in their books published in 1996 and 2006.

Second, there is a statement that there is very little empirical research documenting the impact of cultural adaptability on the success of negotiation. Schuster, Brodowsky and Anderson have published several articles reporting empirical validation of the Schuster and Copeland model.

The work reported in this article would make an even stronger impact by incorporating relevant academic work  that is directly relevant to the topic.

How Did Brexit Happen?

From the news reports, those voting for Brexit appear to have based their decision on fear, nostalgia, and a single issue. Immigration issues are emotional and many people are fearful of increasing diversity because of the change it implies.  The past usually appears better when looking back in time.  Th good old days are full of fond memories and today is filled with change which is stressful.  Leaving the EU will not lessen the stress of all the decisions that have to be faced. The future will entail change whether or not immigration is halted, whether or not the UK stays in the EU.

Apparently a lot of people in the UK are now searching for information on the EU and Brexit — after the election.  Taking a position on an individual issue is important but basing a vote on only one issue is dangerous.  Not understanding all the implications of l having the EU is hard work, not fun, and not a great sound bite.  However, without that information people may have made a decision that is not really what they wanted.  Leaving the EU will not bring back the good old days (that world no longer exists), will not necessarily stop immigration, and will not necessarily bring universal wealth.

As we prepare for voting this fall in the US, it is important that decisions are not made out of fear, nostalgia, or a single issue.  The world is complicated and we need to make informed decisions.




Update on Marketing Analytics and Data Science Conference

Check Peggy Blieniek’s blog entries regarding the upcoming conference:  http://starrybluebrilliance.com

Playing Detective with Data

The Marketing Analytics & Data Science conference in San Francisco (June 8-10, 2016) is a great event for those interested in hearing from leading practitioners.  I will be doing a presentation that will demonstrate how the questions you ask influence the results of your analysis and understanding of the situation.  This, in, will impact the quality of your business recommendations. If you are interested in the conference click here.

Marketing Analytics for the Classroom

For a long time marketing analytics has been synonymous with data mining.  However, technology now makes many more activities possible.  Analyzing consumer behavior and responses now also includes social media and online purchasing which creates huge data files.  They can be mined to better understand consumers and used to create predictive algorithms. Companies also need to know what marketing activities have what results which is a challenging task.  There are some versions of marketing automation software than can track how consumers respond and whether those responses are profitable.

Marketing faculty need to include these tools. The following article introduces a tool that helps:  http://online.wsj.com/article/PR-CO-20140812-908039.html

A friend sent this link to a great article comparing Facebook to television as an advertising medium:  http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2013/03/facebook_advertisement_studies_their_ads_are_more_like_tv_ads_than_google.html

A company named Datalogix has created the ability to triangulate shopper purchase data, Facebook user data, and advertising exposure data by consumer without tracking personal information.  That in itself is quite a feat – to protect privacy, capture that data, and match it.  The fascinating conclusion is that clicking on ads in Facebook is irrelevant because advertising in Facebook works like advertising on television – it creates awareness, image, and brand information.  According to Datalogix’s data after tests on about 70 brands, exposure to this information did increase sales.

If this is true, then Facebook may now be able to demonstrate value to the business community which would breath new life into the possibility of generating more revenue from businesses.


This afternoon I attended a performance of Allegiance at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego.  The musical is about Japanese Internment camps in the U.S. during WWII.  The story is about family, culture, patriotism, differences, and being stubborn.  It was the most moving experience I have seen in many, many years!  The play has been in development for four years and this is now being presented to the public here in San Diego before going to Broadway.  George Takei, Paul Nakauchi, Michael Lee, Telly Leung do an outstanding job of portraying the characters, the emotions, and the reality of that time in history.  If you have the opportunity you should see the musical.  It will leaved you thinking and wondering. . .