measure success of communications strategy

How To Measure the Success of Your Communications Strategy

We’re excited to share that our eBook, the Retail Tech PR Handbook, is out now! The handbook dives into several aspects of what makes a PR campaign successful, and a key component is measurement.

Since measuring the success of your communications plans is as important as the plan itself, we’ve included highlights from the chapter below. To read the full eBook, download it here.

How to measure your communications strategy

As a marketer, you know firsthand the challenge of demonstrating communications success to executive leadership. It’s essential to put tangible numbers behind your work.

And, if you’re effective and proving PR’s value, you are more likely to ensure that communications secures its place in your company’s overall marketing strategy. Unfortunately, only 20% of PR professionals are involved in marketing planning.

To ensure that you receive your deserved seat at the table, let’s review two best practices for communications reporting.

1. Monthly media measurement

The most common method for measuring a PR strategy’s success is through media measurement tools, such as Cision or Meltwater.

Each tool has pros and cons, but overall they help you track your company’s mentions over time, while also identifying pickup reach, readership, social impact, keywords and more.

In addition to helping you understand the value of your media mentions, these platforms identify your share of voice in comparison to key competitors. We recommend tracking four to five competitors, which allows you to clearly identify how you stack up in your industry and receive inspiration from competitor campaigns.

By completing monthly media measurement, you’ll be able to evaluate campaign success and keep track of your progress towards your PR objectives.

2. Quarterly Key Performance Indicators (KPI) reporting

KPIs provide a fantastic way to track towards your overall company goals. We recommend identifying your KPIs when you develop your strategy, and then tracking them on a quarterly basis.

Setting quarterly goals, instead of monthly, allows you to account for the peaks and valleys of each month. PR has its ups and downs, with some months having more news than others. A quarterly goal averages out these discrepancies.

When you kick off your measurement strategy, you’ll want to establish KPIs through an audit, which provides a baseline report to identify ideal yet realistic goals.

Some examples of quarterly KPIs include:

  • Overall number of mentions
  • Number of byline articles published
  • Number of press release pickups
  • Number of data-focused mentions
  • Competitive SOV

There’s no right or wrong number of KPIs to track, but for reference, a Muckrack survey found that the average PR pro tracked five metrics in 2021.

How to create a results-driven PR strategy

The old adage that communications professionals “aren’t good at math” is not a good reason to get PR measurement wrong, or skip it altogether.

When done right, measuring PR ensures you’re able to keep your unique story in the forefront of the news, while tracking against overall marketing objectives, such as lead generation. And it also helps ensure that PR gets the respect it deserves from your company’s executive team.

To learn more about crafting a top-notch communications strategy, be sure to read the Retail Tech PR Handbook. Download here!

announcing retail tech pr handbook

Announcing the Retail Tech PR Handbook: 3 Key Takeaways

Retail technology is evolving at at an increasingly rapid pace, and that’s good news for retail tech companies. According to IHL Research, this acceleration creates a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for technology companies, as retailers embrace new solutions.

Now is the time for retail tech executives to seize the day and capture attention through strategic PR and communications initiatives.

The question is how?

Enter our eBook! Today, we’re excited to announce the launch of the Retail Tech PR Handbook.

As experts in retail tech PR, we wanted to give our clients an all-encompassing resource that covers everything we’ve learned over our 20+ years experience in this fascinating industry.

The eBook is a blueprint on how to create and execute fantastic retail tech PR strategies. And in celebration of its launch, we’re offering three key takeaways below.

1. Do your homework.

Before launching your PR program, assess if your company is prepared.

Some key questions to ask include: What are your PR goals? Do you have the marketing resources and people needed to help manage your PR strategy internally? Are you ready to commit to PR for the long run?

Successful PR is an integral part of your overall marketing mix. Doing your homework will ensure that you’re prepared to dedicate the right internal and external resources.

2. Craft a compelling story.

Storytelling is at the heart of media relations, which relies on convincing an editor to write about your solutions by crafting a strong, compelling narrative. In turn, these editors’ publications influence who will buy your products.

We recommend evaluating your messaging and value proposition for clarity before executing your media strategy. We also recommend selecting a great partner to help you craft your compelling story.

3. Create a PR plan.

PR plans are like driving directions for a road trip: you need to know what turns to take to arrive at your destination. You also need to leave some wiggle room for stopping for gas along the way. Some of those turns and exits will come soon, others won’t happen until much further down the road.

Your PR plan should include PR activities that are built into the plan well in advance to make the most out of long-lead time opportunities, such as trade shows, awards, product launches, research projects and any seasonality to your retail brand.

In addition, your PR plan should incorporate pit stops, or the necessary wiggle room set aside each month for unplanned activities like incoming media and analyst relations requests, company news, and more.

Keep learning about retail tech PR

Ready to learn more about how to create a top-notch retail tech PR strategy? Fantastic!

You can download our eBook here. Happy reading!

Retail Sustainability Is So Hot Right Now

Sustainability has been a huge topic in retail for more than five years now. But the trend keeps on evolving, a reality Catherine Seeds explores in her latest video. Listen to her thoughts in our latest video, or read the transcript below to learn more!

Catherine Seeds presents: retail sustainability

Hi y’all! I’m Catherine Seeds, president of Ketner Group, coming live to you from beautiful Austin, Texas!

If you’ve been listening in to my KG ABs (audio blogs) I appreciate you coming back for another go-round.

In my latest AB installment, we dug into the shopping habits of Gen Z with my daughter Madeline and, most recently, tried to peel back the initial layers of the metaverse.

Sustainability is what the people want

Today, we are going to dive into something very hot right now in retail – sustainability. For anyone listening who thinks this is just a fad, let me back up this statement with some truth bombs.

According to a recent survey by Capgemini, almost 80% of retailers believe that their sustainability work increases customer loyalty. Couple this stat with insights from a recent Sensormatic consumer survey that indicate that American consumers consider sustainability when making at least some purchases, and the sustainability trend becomes even more evident.

In that same survey, research shows that 80% of nearly half of those surveyed believe the responsibility to be more sustainable falls on retail organizations. What’s more, 70% said they would change their shopping habits if they discovered that a store or brand was not operating sustainable. 

Think of that for a minute!

Now more than ever, a significant number of shoppers are taking a “stand” by showing their support at the checkout for more sustainable retail practices.

Consumers, young and old, continue to be conscious of how their lifestyle and shopping habits can affect Mother Earth, and they are putting their money where their mouths are to ensure that retailers are also stepping up to the plate when it comes to sustainable practices. 

As with anything, if you want to make big changes happen, you must often take baby steps. Here are a few examples of what some retailers are currently doing to galvanize their own sustainability practices.

B Corporations for the win 

For retailers who looking to get the jump on becoming “official” when it comes to sustainability, B Corp status is the way to go. Organizations who are designated B Corp, “are leaders in the global movement for an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy.”

According to the B Corp website, B Lab assessment measures a company’s entire social and environmental impact.

Examples of B Corp Certified retailers include Toms Shoes, The Body Shop and Allbirds. These and over 4000 retailers in over 70 countries are, as our friends at Business Insider describe, helping drive a global movement that uses businesses as a force for good.

What’s old is new again in fashion

As I discussed with my 17-year old Gen Z daughter a few months ago, thrifting is all the rage, and it is only gaining in popularity. According to my cost conscience youngling, thrifting allows her to double down on her own unique style at a lower cost.

According to BYU professor Michelle Hyde, “I believe thrifting is a huge trend that will continue to grow, particularly pushed by the younger generations that are environmentally conscious. Never have young adults been so in-tune and so environmentally aware of the negative impact of conspicuous consumption.”

In an interesting twist to the thrifting trend, retailers have adopted their own resell programs. Examples include Patagonia’s “Worn Wear” program and Ikea’s Buy Back and Resell program.

Online marketplaces for resale luxury goods, as Ketner Group’s Jeff Ketner talked about in a recent blog, are also doing their part to drive the circular economy.

Saving the Earth one store at a time

Although the business and popularity of digital commerce continues to grow, shoppers like me are creatures of habit and still enjoy doing business in person, in a good old-fashioned store. The store will always be the gathering place in modern society, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need an Earth-friendly facelift.

Sustainable US women’s fashion brand, Reformation, has implemented several strategies to save energy, improve water efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions in their stores. This includes incorporating materials like LED fixtures, rammed earth, and recycled fabric insulation in its buildings, and offsetting its construction footprint and electricity usage.

Not to be outdone, fashion designer Stella McCartney’s flagship store in London has sustainable sourced furnishings, biodegradable mannequins and an air conditioning system that cleans the air using nano-carbon technology. 

If sustainability were easy, everyone would do it

Sustainability is top of mind for retail CEOs, which is certainly a good thing.

At this year’s NRF Big Show, the big guns at several of the top retailers made this topic front at center. From Walmart’s John Furner who discussed concerns about climate change and the importance of diversity and inclusion, to Pepsi CEO Steven Williams who talked about sustainability as it relates to the value chains of products from farm fields to packaging composability. 

On the flip side, being a “sustainable retailer” is not an easy gig, and according to Home Depot CEO Ron Jarvis, there’s really no such thing as an environmentally friendly company. According to Jarvis, “Unless you’re an organic garden grower that has your garden by the river, and you deliver all your products in a wagon and a buggy, then you’re not environmentally friendly. 

Jarvis goes on to say that everything that retailers do has an environmental impact. Retailers have the burden of looking at all the factors and deciding which ones are acceptable risk, which ones could hurt the greater good, and which ones could hurt society.

We want your thoughts on retail sustainability

When it comes to sustainability in retail and all that entails, I’ve only just scratched the surface on this topic. There is so much more we could dish about, including Earth-friendly packaging, rental business models, incentivized recycling, eco-energy delivery options and more. More to talk about on another day!

If you have any comments or insights on this topic, our crew would like to hear from you! The Ketner Group team loves to talk retail, give us a shout to learn how our retail expertise can help elevate brand awareness and support your marketing goals.

jerry sheldon ihl group

From Electric Cars to Customer Journeys: Talking Retail with IHL’s Jerry Sheldon

One of the things I love about working in retail technology PR is the chance to develop friendships with so many of the clients, editors and analysts we work with at Ketner Group.

That’s certainly the case with our friends at IHL Group, who helped me learn my way around the retail tech world 20+ years ago.

I recently had the chance to interview IHL analyst Jerry Sheldon about the current state of retail, what’s ahead for the rest of 2022 and why he thinks electric cars could be a disruptive force in retail.

Following are some excerpts from our conversation. Enjoy!

Inflation and recession are the top concerns for the U.S. economy. How is this impacting retail, and what are some of the other headwinds facing retailers in the second half of 2022?

The impact of inflation on consumers is a tale of two cities. If you’re above the median income, your stock portfolio has been hit, but inflation isn’t impacting your day-to-day quality of life.

However, if you’re below the median income, the rising price of gas, food, and other essentials has a significant impact.

In addition to inflation and fears of recession, there are the uncertainties of supply chain challenges, the war in Ukraine, chip shortages and the lockdown in Shanghai due to COVID. As a result, retailers will face a number of headwinds in the coming months.

You’ve expressed concerns about how the lockdowns in China could affect retailers and retail sales for the remainder of the year. Can you elaborate?

As Shanghai reopens, it’s going to take time for manufacturing to get back to normal.

There is a huge backlog of container ships queued up at the port waiting to be loaded, along with pent-up demand to get product to the U.S. In an effort to catch up, shipping levels will be much higher than usual, which will create a logjam at ports of entry.

What happens when all those container ships arrive at in Long Beach? We have rising gas prices, a shortage of long- and short-haul truckers, and limited capacity to unload these container ships.

I’m concerned about the impact of all this on Back-to-School shopping. Schools have re-opened, so there will be a lot more kids returning to the classroom and demand could easily exceed supply.

Inflation will likely continue to be a problem. The food sector has been hit hard with inflation, there’s a massive shortage of cars, and now inflation could spread to the apparel sector.

I hope all this can be rectified before the Holiday shopping season.

IHL has always been a big proponent of unified commerce. Why is it so important for retailers in the post-COVID era?

We published research on unified commerce and optimized customer journeys in January 2020, and then bam! Here came COVID. It’s ironic to see how our findings played out.

During COVID, big box stores had a huge uptick in revenue, and we saw some amazing comps. But if you look at gross margins, they only slightly improved.

The reason is, you had a big shift in how customers were shopping, and retailers had to support a number of fulfillment models that weren’t profitable. (Note: see chart below). There were significant erosion in profit margins, which creates a big opportunity for technology vendors.

Order management, for example, became very important because retailers had to quickly determine the most profitable way to fulfill an order. Do you fulfill it from your store? Do you fulfill it from your warehouse? How do you ship it?

The importance of mobile devices in retail continues to grow. Can you briefly describe the shift you’re seeing in mobile usage?

Mobile is an interesting example of how retailers are adopting technology. Mobile 1.0 and 2.0 were embraced in particular by smaller retailers that adopted mobile devices as their transaction platforms.

Then with COVID the customer journeys changed, with more curbside, ship from store, etc., and mobility helped support this.

So while we saw a significant shift to mobile POS for SMBs, the really big adoption happened in the enterprise space, helping Tier 1 retailers support the new customer journeys. That’s why we’re calling it Mobile 3.0, which we reference in our report on enterprise mobility.

The past few years have seen significant increases in retail IT spending. As retailers implement new technologies, what are some of the pitfalls to be avoid?

Retailers need to be careful to not overlook security. Every internet or network connected device is a potential entry point for bad actors.

All the IoT devices in stores today are potential entry points into the network, and if they’re not secured properly, it can be problematic. There are potential pitfalls in something as simple as electronic shelf labels.

In our research, we have found that there were a lot of security holes that were opened up as a by-product of bringing devices onto the network in a pretty rapid fashion during COVID.

Looking ahead, what are some of the retail trends you’re thinking about long-term? What’s going to be different 5 years from now?

Electric cars will have a profound impact on retail. Supercharging an electric car takes 30 minutes. How does that affect road trips and where you might stop because of supercharging? How does that affect customer visits and dwell time at gas stations, shopping malls and grocery stores?

How retailers accommodate electric cars could be a big differentiator; this could also give consumers a reason to return to shopping malls. Whereas a gas station can accommodate only a handful of cars, malls could have hundreds of charging stations. Why should consumers queue up at a gas station with limited charging stations when they can go to an air-conditioned mall with numerous restaurants and retailers?

Shopping malls could potentially disintermediate gas stations and provide shoppers with the kind of customer experience that creates long-term loyalty. Electric cars have the potential to impact nearly every retail vertical.

direct to avatar

Direct-to-Avatar (D2A): Retailers, Are You Ready for It?

According to our president Catherine Seeds, one of the best parts of her job is learning “the next big thing” happening within the retail industry. Her latest video discusses the latest trend: Direct-to-Avatar.

Prefer to read a transcript of her video? We’ve included one below!

Catherine Seeds presents: Direct-to-Avatar

The best part of my job is learning and researching “the next big thing” happening within the retail industry. For more than 20 years, I have had a front seat for hundreds of game-changing innovations. It’s always exciting to see what’s coming next.

Hi, I’m Catherine Seeds, president of Ketner Group – thanks for listening in.

Right now, there is a huge momentum shift for brands to create strategies around direct to consumer (DTC). We all know that the customer experience is everything.

This means it is critical for brands to figure out how to create closer connections with their customers. Whether that means bypassing the more traditional retail model or even opening retail concept stores. Our very own Jeff Ketner talked about this trend in his most recent blog. 

When it comes to creating closer consumer connections, the “next big thing” on the retail horizon is a step beyond the DTC trend. To be more accurate, it’s a step into the vast virtual world of avatars.

Direct-to-Avatar: changing the digital economy game

The Direct-to-Avatar term, or D2A, refers to the business model of selling products directly to shoppers’ avatars. The model sidesteps the management and logistics of sending an actual physical product to a consumer. 

It was described in a recent Decode_M article, as this, “The DTC business model forever changed how we shop, cutting out the middleman. The next evolution of sales channels (D2A) will bypass humans completely, selling straight to our avatars instead.”

This might sound like a trend for only future generations. Wrong! Direct-to-Avatar is here and now. According to Crucible, Direct-to-Avatar expects to be the largest digital economy in history, topping $1 trillion during this decade. 

Need further proof? 

According to Nicola Mendelsohn, vice president of global business group at Meta, “Within the next decade, the metaverse will reach one billion people, host hundreds of billions of dollars of digital commerce and support jobs for millions of creators and developers.” 

The complete potential of the Direct-to-Avatar business model has yet to be realized. The fashion and luxury industries, however, have certainly already taken full advantage of this movement. More on that later!

Roblox and Gen Z: a match made for the metaverse

If you are familiar with the Direct-to-Avatar trend, then you have most certainly heard of Roblox. As the biggest player in the metaverse, Roblox has more than 50 million daily active users with nearly 10 million developers on the platform.

67% of Roblox users are under the age of 16, also known as Gen Z. For fashion brands, Roblox is a perfect gateway to Gen Z – a generation whose disposable income has reached an estimated $360 billion, according to Gen Z Planet. 

Brands dipping their toes into the metaverse should also be paying attention to Generation Alpha, those born after 2010. These young consumers influence $500 billion in purchases per year. 

As Christina Wootton, VP of global brand partnerships at Roblox says in NYLON, “Self-expression is a huge part of any shared experiences, be it in real life or in the metaverse. The Roblox community, over half of which is over 13 years old, is very engaged, spending billions of hours on the platform every month, and digital fashion plays a hugely important role in our community’s creative self-expression.” 

According to Wootton, 25 million virtual items were created by the Roblox community in 2021 alone, and over 5.8 billion virtual items (both free and paid) were acquired on the platform.

Becoming fashion-forward with D2A

Given their proclivity to all things digital, it’s easy to understand why the Direct-to-Avatar model is so attractive to younger consumers. This is especially true for the fashion industry. It creates an easy way to access and engage with younger demographics. It also provides a more impactful way for companies to connect with their shoppers beyond digital ads and content.

Here are a just a few examples of fashion brands releasing D2A digital collections, as featured in a recent Wunderman Thompson blog:

  • Ralph Lauren released a 50-piece digital clothing collection in August 2021, available for purchase in social networking app Zepeto. 
  • American Eagle announced a digital clothing collection for Bitmoji avatars in July 2021. 
  • Gucci and The North Face released a joint collection for avatars on Pokémon Go in January 2021. 
  • In March 2021 Gucci released virtual sneakers that can only be worn with AR, using technology developed by Wanna. 
  • Digital fashion house The Fabricant has partnered with brands like Adidas, Puma, and Tommy Hilfiger to virtualize their garments.

Most recently, youth retailer Pacsun, announced its first dedicated experience on Roblox called PACWORLDa fantasy interactive mall experience where players are the owner and operators of a new mall. Their objective is to make the mall as profitable and popular as possible.

Is Direct-to-Avatar the future of shopping?

Time will tell if the Direct-to-Avatar movement will stick. Looking at the stats, however, the odds are certainly in its favor. Digging into this topic has encouraged me to borrow my son’s Oculus headset and journey into the world of the metaverse.

The Ketner Group team will be keeping an eye on this trend as it continues to develop. For brands, Direct-to-Avatar brings endless financial and customer loyalty possibilities.

As WGSN Insight’s Cassandra Napoli said recently at NRF 2022, “The possibilities are truly endless for brands in this avatar economy, as avatars will extend the scope of storytelling for brands. And while digital fashion is not a new concept, it’s gaining momentum. It provides brands with a potentially more sustainable and inclusive — not to mention lucrative—way to reach consumers.”

Thanks for joining me today. Let’s keep the conversation going! 

Get in touch today to find out how our retail expertise can help drive brand awareness and support your marketing goals. 

Ketner Group Domain ATX

Deep in the Heart of Retail: Ketner Group’s New Home

Moving into a new home is a lot of work—boxes to pack, movers to coordinate, juggling a seemingly endless array of details. However, it’s also a cause for celebration, full of excitement and new possibilities.

That’s certainly the case at Ketner Group these days. We moved to a new office in Austin last month, and it already feels like home. Our Austin team feels we’re right where we belong, in the middle of one of the best retail developments in the country.

Ketner Group’s Austin office is located in the Domain, the landmark mixed-use retail development that has helped make Austin one of the most desirable retail markets in the country.

With Ketner Group’s focus on retail technology PR for 20+ years, it’s the ideal location. Our clients have been on the forefront of retail tech trends for over two decades, and many of the most innovative brands in the business are right outside our door.

Austin’s Domain is retail at its best

Remember how the so-called retail apocalypse was supposed to put an end to physical retail? The Domain is a prime example of why that prediction never came true. Experiential or destination retail has been all the rage in the industry the past few years, and the Domain is a case study of experiential retail at its best. People actually love to work shop, dine and live here.

Here’s a quick rundown of the numbers:

  • 38,000 residents, making the Domain its own mini-city.
  • Well over 2 million square feet of office space, with major employers such as Meta, Amazon, Indeed,  Vrbo and hundreds of smaller companies.
  • Over 50 restaurants and nearly 200 luxury and exclusive retail stores and brands, with more on the way.

Austin is on every list of the fastest growing metro areas in the country, and retailers are paying attention. Last month Gucci opened a store at the Domain, joining other top retail brands including Neiman-Marcus, Nordstrom, a flagship Restoration Hardware, and many more­—running the gamut from A (Apple) to Z (Zara).

As a local real estate analyst said, “if you’re a retailer I don’t know of a place you’d rather be than in Austin.”

An ever-changing retail innovation lab

For Ketner Group’s Austin team, the Domain is a retail innovation lab that showcases the best in  modern retail, and it’s right outside our door. As an agency that lives and breathes retail technology PR, it’s the ideal location.

On a recent Tuesday afternoon I visited the Herman Miller store at the Domain and was immediately greeted by an employee who was busily sketching store layouts and designs. She’s a staff architect at Herman Miller and is using as the store as inspiration to study and imagine new store concepts.

Herman Miller calls its Domain Store an “experiential retail concept,” one of only a handful of company branded stores. The staff was friendly, accommodating and excited to work at the Domain. One associate I talked to has lived at the Domain for several years and is glad to be able to walk to work.

With thousands of high-tech office workers within walking distance, it’s a smart location for the iconic office furnishings designer and retailer.

Herman Miller Domain ATX

Directly across the street is the first Texas location of The RealReal, the popular online marketplace for authenticated, resale luxury goods.

The RealReal exemplifies one of the retail trends that are most prominent at the Domain—online brands that have opened physical stores. It’s a colorful, well merchandised boutique that invites shoppers to stick around and browse.

Harmonized retail with an Austin vibe

The best retailers today are moving beyond omnichannel to what our friend Steve Dennis calls “harmonized retail,” putting the customer at the center of the experience regardless of where and how they shop.

The Domain is a successful case study in harmonized retail—a totally immersive experience where you can work, live, shop and dine.

No wonder it’s on the radar screen for the best retailers in the business. Even as it’s grown, though, the Domain has managed to retain an “Austin vibe,” even offering its own version of Austin’s famed Sixth Street entertainment district.

Our team loves the opportunity to explore great restaurants and retailers that are just a short walk from our office. Like many PR agencies and professional services firms, we’ve adopted a hybrid office model that gives everyone an opportunity to work from home, a coffee shop, the office—whatever works best for them.

However, there’s an extra incentive to show up at the office now. Ketner Group’s Austin team is thrilled to be in our new home at the Domain. Reach out to schedule a time to come see us and we’ll show you around!

Gen Z Madeline Q&A Blog

Dishing With My Daughter: Interviewing “Gen Z” About Shopping Habits

Today we are digging into a topic that I find incredibly interesting – Generation Z and their shopping habits. Gen Z, the group of 72 million youngsters born between 1997 and 2012, can’t remember a time before the internet and widespread digital technology. According to McKinsey, Gen Z has a greater interest in human rights, race and ethnicity issues, LGBTQ+ equality, and feminism than generations before them.

Gen Z has never known a country not at war. As well, most have seen first-hand the financial struggles of their Gen X parents. In my opinion, they are old souls always searching to find their unique identities but are grounded in fiscal and social responsibility.

And I should know – I have two! 

I recently sat down with the oldest of my two Gen Z’ers, Madeline. Born in 2005, Madeline is a high school junior busy with her various school and volunteer activities. She also holds down a part-time job at a local pizza restaurant. But just like any high school teen, she loves hanging with her friends and, of course, shopping.

I was able to pull Madeline away from her very busy life to have a conversation with me – her Gen X mom who still doesn’t understand exactly how Snapchat works – to spill the tea on her likes and dislikes when it comes to retail shopping. 

What I found was not surprising at all. Madeline’s habits match up to the general characteristics of Gen Z. She is digitally connected all the time, but fiscally aware when it comes to spending her hard-earned money.

Check out our full conversation in the video or transcript below!


Transcript from “Dishing with my Daughter”

Tell me a little bit about what you like about shopping in the store and what you don’t like.

I like being able to see all the clothes in person and being able to know what kind of material is really used, because different styles and materials all fit differently.

I like knowing exactly how everything will fit. What I don’t like about in-person shopping is all the other people around me. As well, in my experience, retail workers are sometimes rude.

Gen Z Madeline In Person Shopping

When shopping in store, do you like having the help of a retail worker?

Sometimes. But I mainly do things by myself because they (the retail worker) are not in my head. They don’t know what I really want. I could tell them what I want, but I would rather not. 

I know you do a lot of online shopping! I’m curious, what do you love about online shopping and what is maybe frustrating about shopping online?

I like it because there are more options–in terms of sizes and other options. You could find something you like in-person, but they might not have your size or the color you want. With online shopping, they’re more likely to have your size. It’s easier to find things online because you can just search the style you are looking for. It also seems more organized to shop online than in the store.

Gen Z Madeline Online Shopping

Tell me a bit about the brands that you like to shop at online and why you keep going back to those shops?

I really like Shein because they have so many options. As soon as you think you’ve found all their options or you got to the bottom of the list, there are always hundreds of more items to view. And it’s also very cheap, for the most part. I don’t think I’ve ever spent over $15 or $17 on one thing at that store.

With online shopping, you can take as long as you want, instead of feeling like you’ve been in one store too long. I feel like the retail workers are thinking, “What is this girl doing here for so long? Is she lost or something?” 

I’ve spent almost two hours just on one website making sure I got all the colors in, the size and the style. I spend my own money when I shop, so I want to make sure I’m getting exactly what I want.

Gen Z Madeline Online Shopping

Let’s talk about social media shopping – very popular with Gen Z. Can you give us an example of how you use this?

I find a lot of the things that I’m interested in on Instagram and Facebook the most. Because of the algorithms, I think they (the social media channels) consider what pages I follow and what things I like on Explore pages. I really like a lot of Western, 60s, 70s and early 2000 styles, so I follow a lot of people and small boutiques that carry those styles. 

As I’m going through my feed, I’ll see a pair of jeans or a cute blouse in the styles that I like, so that’s helped me a lot when I’m shopping. It’s helped me expand and learn about new stores, and it’s also helpful for smaller boutiques too. Tiny boutiques will pop up on my feed that I’ve never seen before, so I often end up buying things from them, too. In that way, I feel like I’m doing my part to help small brands. 

My thing is that I come up with my own style in my head, but I don’t always know how to search for what I’m looking for on an online site. For example, I was trying to find my prom dress online last month. I was looking for a dress on Lulus and I knew exactly what style and theme I wanted for my dress – an icy platinum look. But on so many online sites, you can’t really look up icy platinum in their little search engine. So, I went to Pinterest to find what I was looking for.

With Pinterest, I literally typed in icy platinum prom dress! So many options came up and I was able to find some dresses that I liked. From there I looked at the names of the dresses, did a Pinterest search again and ended up finding the exact icy platinum dress I wanted! 

Gen Z Social Media Shopping

Let’s talk about thrift shopping! Tell us a little bit about why you like thrift shopping and how that’s helped you with your style.

I like thrifting, and feel like I’ve been thrifting before it was a trend! I like it because the clothes are super cheap there. I’m also a big fan of early 2000 styles. There are a ton of options in terms of clothes and accessories items from that decade at stores like Goodwill. And, like I said before, it’s also cheap. My friends and I can walk in there with $50 to spend and can buy probably close to that number of shirts! How could you not want to go there?

Side note: After speaking with my Gen Z’er for this blog, I took a closer look at the thrift shopping trend. According to according to a report from GlobalData and the online thrift store ThredUp, the secondhand market is projected to reach $77 billion by 2025 and is growing at a whopping 11 times the rate of the broader retail clothing sector. The drivers of the growth are younger consumers who are drawn to thrifting for its sustainability and eclectic and cool styles.

Gen Z Thrift Shopping

As a Gen Z’er, what else helps influences how you shop, either on social media or online or in a store?

A big part of my influence in what I like to shop for and wear is honestly music. I love older music, like Fleetwood Mac and Lynyrd Skynyrd – mostly bands from the 60s and 70s. I like the styles from that era. Sharon Tate is another style icon of mine. I would say she a big influence on the clothes and accessories that I buy.   

Gen Z Shopping Music Influence

Let’s talk retail!

At Ketner Group, we love digging into all things retail – even with our kids! Get in touch today to find out how our retail expertise can help drive brand awareness and supporting your marketing goals. 

retail tech company nrf 2022

NRF Wasn’t the Same This Year, But the Show Goes On for Retail Tech Companies

Our CEO and founder Jeff Ketner started going to NRF about twenty years ago. It’s always been the event for building relationships in the retail tech industry. But this year, like last year, was different. His latest video discusses the shift in the landscape and how tech companies can respond. Prefer to read than watch a video? We’ve included a transcript of his discussion below.


The show goes on for retail tech companies

Hi, I’m Jeff Ketner, founder and CEO of Ketner Group. NRF may have gone haywire, but every marketer knows that the show must go on. And that’s what we’re talking about today.

As a retail technology PR agency, we’ve attended more than 20 NRF Big Shows. Before COVID, there was always a buzz of excitement. Our clients were there, we managed countless press and analyst briefings, and it was an annual celebration of all things retail.

This year was different. With Omicron raging, NRF attendance was off by as much as 2/3. Most of our clients stayed home. We did, too. It felt strange. On the other hand,  retail is back. It’s healthy, and that’s good news.

Retail sales in November and December grew more than 14% compared to 2020–far exceeding the most optimistic expectations. Retailers overcame huge challenges last year dealing with inflation, supply chain disruptions and the continuing impact of COVID.

Much of the success retailers have found can be attributed to their technology investments. Which begs the question, without NRF, how can retailers find their next big tech initiatives?

For technology vendors, strategic marketing and communications is more important than ever. One important way to get the word out is through media and analyst relations.

Give media and analysts news they can use

In the past, retail tech companies looked to NRF as a opportunity to make an impact through media relations. Ketner Group has managed hundreds of 1:1 meetings over the years.

Those in-person press meetings at NRF didn’t happen. However, the media still needs to hear about your new products, customer wins and trends you’re seeing in the industry. And there’s no better time than now. Retailers are finalizing their IT priorities for the year, and they’re looking to retail and business media as key resources to help guide decisions.

retail-awareness

A retail technology-focused PR agency like Ketner Group can help you break through the noise and get your story out to the media that matter most. With a great story and the right agency support, the resulting media coverage can help get the attention of prospective customers.

It’s the same with industry analysts. They rely on PR firms to help them stay current on the changing technology landscape. Analysts are key influencers with retailers; time and effort here can make a difference in bringing tech vendors to the attention of analysts.

If you write it, the leads will come

What about all the sales leads you didn’t get this year?

For many retail tech companies, NRF has always been the #1 source of leads for the year. That’s something that’s hard to replace, so now is the time to double down on new, creative content initiatives to develop and nurture leads.

retail-content-development

Thought-provoking content is important. You own it, and you control the message. It gives you the opportunity to engage readers with your viewpoint on some of the biggest issues they’re facing. Your content can include press releases, bylined articles, case studies, blogs and LinkedIn articles, as well as long-form content such as bylines and white papers.

Content marketing is essential for engaging retailers as they research technology vendors. It can help replace some of the leads you would have received at industry events, and it’s a critical part of your marketing strategy.

The great technology reset

With or without NRF, marketers have lots of opportunities to help their companies make an impact in 2022. According to our friend Greg Buzek of IHL Group, retail is in the midst of a once-in-a-generation technology reset; you can’t afford to miss out.

increase-retail-tech-leads

This represents a huge opportunity for technology vendors—and a specialized retail technology PR firm like Ketner Group can make a difference. We’ve focused on retail technology PR for over 20 years. Our understanding of the industry makes us experts in retail tech marketing, and we’ve developed invaluable relationships with key retail tech influencers – both media and analysts.

2022 will be an exciting year in retail and technology. And with proactive PR and creative content in your marketing playbook, your company can play a big part in it.

Thanks for listening. We’d love to hear from you! Reach out to connect with us.

amazon go evaluation

“It Feels Like Stealing!”: A First-Hand Experience at Amazon Go

As someone who never considered herself a “tech nerd” before joining Ketner Group, I would not have predicted that I’d be be jumping at the chance to try out new store technology. But after nearly two years of talking about all things e-commerce, personalization, omnichannel retail, etc. and hearing our clients describe their impressive innovations – I have developed quite an interest in the technology that powers our daily lives.

And what e-commerce platform is arguably the most pervasive to our day-to-day? None other than Amazon. With its user-friendly interface and convenient delivery options, we all rely on Amazon at least once in a while. But ever since the digital-first retailer entered the brick-and-mortar space and started changing the way we shop I’ve been interested in checking it out.

I’m fortunate enough to work in Ketner Group’s NYC office, so I was just a short subway ride away from the Amazon Go store on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. But for those of you that were curious about how the Just-Walk-Out technology works, yet don’t have such easy access to the new-fangled store, I’ll walk you through my experience.

Setting the shopper expectations

After initially looking up the store to plan my excursion, I was surprised by the hours. Amazon Go stores in New York City all close by early evening and remain closed all weekend. As a nine-to-fiver, this confused me – the times seemed to limit the number of people who could try out this cool, new buying experience. However, after reading more, it all made sense.

The Amazon Go store was never intended to replace a trip to the grocery store or your favorite department store (although, Amazon is looking to create a department store in the near future). Instead, this store was designed for the nine-to-fiver who forgot their lunch or needed a quick snack during the day. The shop only sells grab-and-go meals, packaged snacks, and drinks.  

First impressions of Amazon Go

When the subway came to a stop on E 53rd and Lexington Ave., I emerged from the exit and immediately saw the Amazon Go sign. A perfect location for a store appealing to white collar workers, the store is right in the center of tall office buildings and less than 40 feet from the popular subway stop.

From the outside the store looks sleek. There is a simple black awning with the recognizable Amazon logo and a sign that promotes the products on one side and explains the unique technology on the other.

amazon go exterior

Next, I saw the Amazon lockers just inside the first door. This is another example of Amazon’s easy delivery options because this central location is convenient for workers looking to pick up their order from a secure drop box on the way home. After taking in the façade and the lockers, it was time to go inside.

Scanning in: two options

Upon entry you have two options: scan your palm or scan a QR-code. The latter is simple, you just open the Amazon app, tap “in-store code” and scan the QR-code that comes up. The former option connects your palm to your Amazon account after you first set up the technology, only once, at a kiosk by the front door. In under two minutes, you can unlock this option, making it so you don’t even have to take out your phone and navigate to the app to enter.

scanning in to amazon go

Intrigued to see how it worked, I chose the former and set up my account at the kiosk so I could simply hover my palm over the sensor to open the turnstile gate and begin my shopping journey.

The in-store experience was unusual

My first thought once I made it past the front gate was the lack of inventory. To be fair, I went to a store clearly designed for the nine-to-five worker at 5:20 p.m. on a Friday, but I was surprised by just how many shelves were empty. Regardless of time, grocery stores rarely look like this, unless it’s the toilet paper aisle during a global pandemic.

amazon go inventory

Almost all of the grab-and-go meals were sold out, and many of the snacks were missing from their aisles. And there were no employees restocking because there were no employees at all. The only people in the store at the time were me and one other shopper who came in, grabbed a soft drink, and ran to presumably catch his train home.

Despite the store being understocked, it was extremely clean. I never saw anyone cleaning, but I’d assume that an employee comes in (or checks one of the hundreds of cameras) every so often to make sure the place is neat.

Skipping the line

The main pull to Amazon Go is, of course, the Just Walk Out technology. According to Amazon, gone are the days of having to wait in line and speak to a cashier, or even scan a barcode at self-checkout. Now, if you identified yourself on the way in and your Amazon account is linked to a credit card, all you have to do is pick up a product, in my case a granola bar for the walk home, and head out the door. It feels like stealing!

My gut instinct after leaving the store was to look around and see if anyone was waving their hands at me trying to catch me before I rounded the corner with the stolen snack. But I had paid, and I had followed the rules of the revolutionary store – that’s really all I had to do. The cameras and sensors in the store and the technology that links your phone’s Amazon account to the in-store experience do all the work.

About five minutes after exiting, I received an email thanking me for shopping with Amazon. The email contained my receipt and a summary of my visit including the length of my trip. My credit card was automatically charged for the right amount and my shopping journey was complete.

Amazon Go has pros and cons

The Amazon Go store was undoubtedly cool. The convenience of just grabbing what you want and leaving, without any lines or conversations to slow you down, is unmatched and the excitement of scanning into a store with your palm was unique.

But at the same time, I’m not so sure I’m ready for the traditional in-store experience to fall by the wayside either. The experience felt impersonal and the comfort of knowing there is an in-store associate ready to help you in a normal store was missed.

For the grab-and-go lunch rush or mid-day snack crowd that Amazon Go is trying to appeal to, the frictionless experience is ideal, but for the everyday shopper, the Just Walk Out technology may not be the latest and greatest.

Keep the conversation going

Interested in talking more about Amazon Go and other retail technology trends? We’d love to keep the conversation going. Reach out to us to learn how we help retail tech companies create captivating communications campaigns.

stewards of the future webinar tameka vasquez

How Marketers Can Be Stewards To the Future

For the first KG Connects of the year, we were delighted to have Tameka Vasquez — strategist, educator and futurist — join Catherine Seeds to discuss the importance of being what Tameka calls, “stewards to the future.”

In her day job, Tameka serves as a global marketing leader at Genpact. She also just recently jumped back into the world of academia as an assistant professor at St. John’s University in New York. She started her work in futurism because, as she describes, “everything in the world is just made up, and we have the power to make up something else.”

Read a summary of the webinar below, or if you’d like, watch the full webinar on-demand through Zoom.

What is a steward to the future?

Tameka often uses the phrase, “steward to the future.” To her, it’s a literal phrase.

She explained that a steward is a person who takes care of passengers on planes or cruise ships during their trip. The same concept applies to marketing, according to her, marketers need to think, “how do we use [marketing] to navigate people from the point of where they are today to the future?”

A futuristic remix on the four Ps of marketing

Most marketers know the four Ps of marketing — place, price, product and promotion — as well as how important this is for organizations. However, in future-work, Tameka takes a different approach to this classic method.

four ps of marketing philosophy

She puts forth the following:

  • Possible: what is something that can reasonably happen?
  • Plausible: what is feasible given what we know right now?
  • Probable: what is likely to happen? 
  • Preferred: what fits expectations and ambitions?

She stated the importance of these future four P’s, especially for marketers, because, “there is a high degree of uncertainty and there are a lot of contextual instances where you have to apply these four p’s.”

Applying futuristic thinking to marketing plans

As part of her work as a futurist, Tameka has to think, “What does it mean when we say the future?” She continued, “that could be 2021, it could be 2030. Whatever that marker of time is, you can then decide what the story that you want to tell about the future is. How do we use the attention that we have in the moment to give people a view of the future?”

tameka vasquez attention quote

Using 2020 as an example, she described how we needed to meet the moment by educating people on COVID-19 best practices while also thinking about how current events allow individuals and organizations to reimagine what the future could be.

“If 2030 was a time where certain things were possible, 2020 probably accelerated that path where we now need to think about those things far more intentionally,” she explained.

Getting comfortable with discomfort

The future means change, and change is very uncomfortable for many. Especially when those changes run counter to organizational planning. Tameka says that while strategic planning is never really going to go away, we can factor change into our planning easier than we could in the past.

She said that, “we have the capability to be social listeners in a way that we just hadn’t historically. While you’re in this space of planning, you also need to be in a space of listening.”

marketing strategic planning

When it comes to meeting business goals, Tameka explained that it’s still possible to apply futurist thinking. The trick is to focus on KPIs while, “making slight pivots. The plan doesn’t get thrown out the window, you’re slightly shifting.”

Learning more about futurism

Futurist thinking isn’t the easiest to jump into. Tameka’s preferred method for learning is to look at what brands are doing beyond the product or service.

“I really want people to look at how certain companies have captured the moment and how they’ve used the sentiment of the time to better position themselves,” Tameka said.

She used the example of how Twitter has been able to respond to the moment where trust and transparency are critical. She said that Twitter has been creating features that improve transparency, such as flagging questionable information. This does two key things simultaneously: it demonstrates Twitter is rising to the moment while also showing what a future of transparency might look like.

Tameka also shared some great beginner resources:

  • Prescient2050: Free resources that will help get you started learning and using the tools of strategic foresight and shaping your future.
  • Brookings Events: A nonprofit that conducts in-depth research that leads to new ideas for solving problems.
  • Futures Festival: An event that highlights principles of inclusion, plurality, and collective participation as a means to how we can move toward challenging the status quo and move toward preferable shared futures.

Want to keep talking future?

There is a lot to discuss when it comes to futurism. If you want to keep the conversation going, reach out to Tameka on her website, follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn. Reminder: if you want all the insights from the webinar, you can watch it on demand.

watch kg connects january on demand

Join us for our March webinar to discuss B2B content!

KG Connects is moving to a bimonthly schedule for 2021. Join us in March for a discussion on how to create B2B content that puts Netflix to shame. Sign up for free.