I just read an interesting article about Mark Foote, CEO of the Canadian retailer Zellers. Since Zellers is a discounter, the down economy is helping its business. But Foote isn’t just sitting back and pegging his company’s growth on the recession. Here are several things that he’s working on:
- Lowering the prices on 250 key items from paper towels to ironing boards
- Designing in-store displays and signage to more actively communicate price savings
- Putting more focus on its higher-margin apparel category with products that mimic upscale brands like Lululemon
- Pruning up to 25% of the inventory to concentrate on the products that are most important for its target shoppers: “mom and her kids.”
- Looking for ways to more radically change the Zeller store experience in the future
According to Foote:
A new Zellers store would stop them in the first few feet and give them a moment of pause. A great new store builds on but changes the character of the brand.
My take: Foote’s actions highlight the importance of four questions that every senior executive should be asking in the midst of this economic downturn:
- What’s our core value proposition and how does it translate in this economic environment?
- How can we more aggressively tailor products, services, and experiences to meet the needs of our most important customers?
- How can we deliver more value and make sure customers recognize that value?
- Despite the focus on tactics in an economic downturn, how can we maintain progress on our long-term strategies?
The bottom line: Navigating through a recession takes active leadership