New York–“Merchants and marketers are nervous,” Paco Underhill, founder/managing director of New York-based research and consulting firm Envirosell, said during his keynote address at Shop.org’s FirstLook 2005 on Thursday. “The basic tools of marketing do not work the same they used to.” Because the population is aging, their shopping habits are in transition. “Our core retail culture is tired,” he said, noting that the classic American strip mall is now 70 years old.
These days, customers want stellar service and good prices. Deep discounting of product is on the rise. The fastest-growing chains in this country are ones that Underhill called “antidesign”?stores that are long on functionality and short on style.
To thrive in this sort of environment, Underhill urged attendees to make a point of using 21st-century marketing tools such as e-mail to get closer to customers. In the end, he said, “our scanning devices, transactional data, and clicks online don’t mean a thing unless you build an emotional connection with your customers. Technology in and of itself is not the solution. Focus on the application and not the technology.”