Is The Shopper The Most Important Customer?

Shopper front

It’s hard to argue with the philosophy of placing the shopper at the center of your decision-making.  They do, after all, play a fairly critical role in our ability to succeed. Let’s face it, if she is not buying, we’re not winning. But I’d suggest that your most important customer might be much closer to home.  Maybe even right down the hall.

Have you ever witnessed a project fail because it was championed by marketing, but merchandising wasn’t onboard? Or seen a merchandising-driven initiative falter because store operations found it difficult to implement? I’ve worked with some of the world’s leading retailers, as well as smaller, regional banners, and the most common hurdle we have faced is fostering alignment among organizational silos.  It’s these internal customers that can make or break a project’s success.

Without fail, our most successful private brand engagements happen when our clients assemble a multi-disciplinary team to guide the work. We play the role of a neutral third party (and sometimes referee) to make sure the voices of the marketing, merchandising, store operations and yes, even the legal team, are heard.  Because the truth is, the right answer is not yours, or mine, but probably ours.

So continue (or start) to focus on the shopper, but also seek to optimize the number of satisfied and engaged internal stakeholders. It is not easy work, but it will deliver success over the long haul.



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Christopher Durham

Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan).

Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s.
Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago.

Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.