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The Retail Revival: Reimagining Business for the New Age of Consumerism

ISBN: 978-1-118-48967-3
272 pages
March 2013
The Retail Revival: Reimagining Business for the New Age of Consumerism (1118489675) cover image

Traditional retail is becoming increasingly volatile and challenged as a business model. Brick-and-mortar has shifted to online, while online is shifting into pop-up storefronts. Virtual stores in subway platforms and airports are offering new levels of convenience for harried commuters. High Street and Main Street are becoming the stuff of nostalgia. The Big Box is losing ground to new models that attract consumers through their most-trusted assistant—the smartphone. What’s next? What’s the future for you—a retailer—who is witnessing a tsunami of change and not knowing if this means grasping ahold of new opportunity or being swept away?

The Retail Revival answers these questions by looking into the not-so-distant retail past and by looking forward into a future that will continue to redefine retail and its enormous effect on society and our economies. Massive demographic and economic shifts, as well as historic levels of technological and media disruption, are turning this once predictable industry—where “average” was king—into a sea of turbulent change, leaving consumer behavior permanently altered. Doug Stephens, internationally renowned consumer futurist, examines the key seismic shifts in the market that have even companies like Walmart and Procter & Gamble scrambling to cope, and explores the current and future trends that will completely change the way we shop.

The Retail Revival provides no-nonsense clarity on the realities of a completely new retail marketplace— realities that are driving many industry executives to despair. But the future need not be dark. Stephens offers hope and guidance for any businesses eager to capitalize on these historic shifts and thrive.

Entertaining and thought-provoking, The Retail Revival makes sense of a brave new era of consumer behavior in which everything we thought we knew about retail is being completely reimagined.

Praise for The Retail Revival

“It doesn’t matter what type of retail you do—if you sell something, somewhere, you need to read Doug Stephens’ The Retail Revival. Packed with powerful insights on the changing retail environment and what good retailers should be thinking about now, The Retail Revival is easy to read, well-organized and provides essential food for thought.”
— Gregg Saretsky, President and CEO, WestJet

“This book captures in sharp detail the deep and unprecedented changes driving new consumer behaviors and values. More importantly, it offers clear guidance to brands and retailers seeking to adapt and evolve to meet entirely new market imperatives for success.”
—John Gerzema, Author of Spend Shift and The Athena Doctrine

The Retail Revival is a critical read for all marketing professionals who are trying to figure out what’s next in retail… Doug Stephens does a great job of explaining why retail has evolved the way it has, and the book serves as an important, trusted guide to where it’s headed next. ”
—Joe Lampertius SVP, Shopper Marketing, Momentum Worldwide and Owner, La Spezia Flavor Market

“Doug Stephens has proven his right to the moniker ‘Retail Prophet.’ With careful analysis and ample examples, the author makes a compelling case for retailers to adapt, change and consequently revive their connection with consumers. Stephens presents actionable recommendations with optimism and enthusiasm—just the spoonful of sugar we need to face the necessary changes ahead.”
—Kit Yarrow, Ph.D., Consumer Psychologist; Professor, Golden Gate University; Co-Author, Gen BuY: How Tweens, Teens and Twenty-Somethings are Revolutionizing Retail

“Doug Stephens doesn’t just tell you why retail is in the doldrums, he tells you why retail is a major signpost for the larger troubles of our culture and provides a compelling, inspiring vision for a future of retail—and business, and society.”
—Eric Garland, author of Future Inc.: How Businesses Can Anticipate and Profit from What’s Next

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ix

INTRODUCTION: REVOLUTIONS AND REVIVALS xi

PART 1: THE END 1

CHAPTER 1 It’s Not a “Recession”! 3

CHAPTER 2 The Disappearing Middle 25

CHAPTER 3 Rest in Peace, Joe Average 41

CHAPTER 4 The Broken Funnel 71

PART II: THE BEGINNING 89

CHAPTER 5 The New Law of Average 91

CHAPTER 6 Who Owns Your Brand? 121

CHAPTER 7 Rehumanizing Retail 149

CHAPTER 8 The Third Shelf 175

CHAPTER 9 The Destination Is You 195

CHAPTER 10 Break It, Build It and Make It Beautiful 217

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 229

ENDNOTES 231

INDEX 241

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The founder of Retail Prophet, Doug Stephens is one of the world's most respected and influential retail industry futurists and advisors. His work and thinking have influenced many of North America's best-known retailers and brands, including Walmart, Home Depot, Razorfish, Disney, Loblaws, WestJet, Citibank and Air Miles to name a few.

Drawing on over 20 years of international experience in the retail industry, including the leadership of one of New York City's most historic retail chains, Stephens tracks key shifts in economics, demographics, technology and media to assemble a complete and credible picture of how retail and consumerism are evolving.

He is a highly sought-after keynote presenter, speaking regularly to diverse business and government audiences across North America and Europe about the key changes in consumer behavior and technology that are central to the success of organizations and entrepreneurs.

He is also a regular contributor on the acclaimed television series App Central TV, a retail business contributor for CBC Radio, and a frequent source of opinion for global business media. Stephens sits on the advisory boards of a mobile technology company and the Dx3 digital conference. Follow Doug on Twitter @RetailProphet.

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