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You have to understand your customer, says George Jones.

George Jones: Well, as far as key marketing concepts within retail, it really varies a lot depending on your customer, what you’re trying to sell, etc. I think one of the key things that you have to grasp in any retail company that was first understanding your customer and trying to understand their wants, their needs, and what you could give them that would make them want to shop at your store versus your competitors’. That’s a big, big deal and after you understand that then you start trying to put in place strategies that will allow you to be the best place to shop for this certain category or whatever it is. For example, if we look at a company like Borders you have to first assess what you can do and what you can’t do. We realize that we can never have a sustainable competitive advantage on price alone. You just can’t because the- I’ve found over the years that to have a sustainable competitive advantage on price you have to be the biggest or the lowest-cost operator and we’re neither. So then you have to realize- still realizing that being competitively priced is hugely important to the customer what are you going to win on? If you can’t win on price, what are you going to win on? And I think for us the thing that we really want to win on is the experience, the shopping experience in our stores. We know that that’s important to customers already. We know that our average customer is spending almost an hour in our stores and what can you do to make it even better? What can we do to make that experience enough better that a customer would drive past our competitor for another five or ten minutes, the- drive past our competitor’s store to get to our store? And that’s again a question I think you have to ask yourself.


Recorded on: 6/18/08