What I Should Have Said, But Didn’t

What I Should Have Said, But Didn’t

Last week, in Las Vegas, during the largest fashion industry trade show, MAGIC/PROJECT, I delivered the keynote presentation for the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund and UBM Advanstar. It was entitled, “Disruption is the Mother of Invention.” 

At the end of my presentation a woman stood up to ask a question. Actually, she made a statement.

“I own a fashion retail store,” she exclaimed. “I’m a good merchant, it’s a good store. It’s been in business a long time. Customers shop my store with their smartphone in their hand… and then they buy the item on Amazon Prime.” 

She cried out, “it’s not right. It’s not fair.” 

And then she said,

“What do I do?” 

My answer was “textbook,” when the last thing needed was a textbook.

Here’s what I said:

“Thank you for that excellent question. Your example is precisely what this presentation is about. Disruption in the marketplace and the requirement to reinvent your model.” 

I continued, “It’s not just Amazon… it’s H&M and Zara, who are faster to market. It’s Marshall’s and Ross Stores who are selling your brands for less. It’s the direct-to-consumer retail plays by your current brand partners. 

And, mostly, it’s a fundamental change in the path to purchase by your customers…” 

I invited her to stay after the Q&A to discuss some strategies and tactics. Then, I took the next question.

By the time I reached the back of the room, she had gone.

Here’s what I should have said, but didn’t:

“I see how upset you are.” 

I should have come down from the stage, and walked over to her.

“I understand and share that feeling. Our company is undergoing challenges to our business, too. It’s painful. 

You and I, we’re in good company. Thousands of retail stores, including giants like Macy’sNordstromJC PenneyKohl’s and powerhouse brands including Polo Ralph LaurenMichael Kors and Calvin Klein are facing the same challenge. 

The answers are hard to see and even harder to execute. Would you allow me to sit with you, later, and discuss some ideas we each have?” 

It's not businesses which are disrupted, it's people. Disruption is not academic, it's painful.

Perhaps it’s not too late.

I’m sorry I spoke to you in textbook phrases. If you’re reading this… please contact me. We can learn from each other. And, we can commiserate.

(c) David J. Katz – Las Vegas, 2018

David J. Katz is chief marketing officer at Randa Accessories, an industry-leading multinational consumer products company, and the world's largest men's accessories business. 

His specialty is collaborating with retailers, brands and suppliers to innovate successful outcomes in evolving markets. 

David was selected by LinkedIn as a "Top Voice in 2017." He has been named a leading fashion industry "Change Agent" by Women's Wear Daily and a "Menswear Mover" by MR Magazine.

His words and deeds have been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, The Huffington Post, MR Magazine, and WWD. He is a public speaker, and co-author of the best-selling book "Design for Response: Creative Direct Marketing That Works" [Rockport Publishers]. 

David is a graduate of Tufts University and the Harvard Business School. He is a student of neurobiology, consumer behavior and "stimulus and response." The name Pavlov rings a bell.

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  • Lee Jures

    Classy response, hope that she will find it on the Internet

  • Lee, thank you for reading and providing feedback. Best regards, David

  • Kirsty Smith

    We do all mistakes, it's good that you admit it

  • Wayne Murray

    I don't understand why she was offended to begin with. The truth hurts !!!

  • Jess Taylor

    I don't get why she was so shocked by your response

  • Evan Tanswell

    Oh dear, thanks for writing this

  • Patrick Nicholls

    Such a humble and down to earth response

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David J. Katz

Retail Guru

David J. Katz is a "LinkedIn Top Voice in Retail," a best-selling author, a frequent public speaker, an alchemist, and the chief marketing officer at Randa Accesories, a leading multi-national consumer products company, and the world's largest men's accessories businessHis specialty is applying insights, data, story-telling, technology and analytics to influence consumer behavior. He helps retailers, brands and suppliers create successful outcomes in evolving markets. David has "hands on" experience with P&L, M&A , Leadership Development and Digital Transformation. He has ongoing collaborations with global brands including Levi's, Polo Ralph Lauren, Dickies, Tommy Hilfiger, and Columbia Sportswear, And, he works closely with leading retailers including Macy's, Kohl's, JCPenney, Amazon, Nordstrom, Walmart, Target, Costco, Hudson's Bay, Liverpool, Debenhams, David Jones, Printemps, & El Cortes Ingles. Named a fashion industry "Change Agent" by Women's Wear Daily and a "Menswear Mover" by MR Magazine, he has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, and other publications. A frequent public speaker, he is co-author of the best-selling book "Design for Response: Creative Direct Marketing That Works," and has written many articles on marketing and consumer behavior. David has been elected a "top writer on fashion and Innovation" by Medium. A graduate of Tufts University and the Harvard Business School, in neuroscience and marketing. He studies, and applies, stimulus and response. The name Pavlov rings a bell. Note: Alchemy is a science or philosophy that transforms something ordinary into something meaningful, often through mysterious means. David studies consumers, identifies "jobs to be done," adds products and brands, stirs the caldron with a bit of marketing catalyst, and via transmutation, creates... retail gold.

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