Brian Solis on Retail Remix
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Episode 25

Inspiring Innovation In The Novel Economy

Featuring: Brian Solis, Salesforce

In March 2020, Brian Solis began his tenure as Global Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce. Brian has built a career around studying humans, technology and how their intersection impacts businesses and humanity overall. Little did he know that he would begin his new role during one of the most disruptive happenings in decades. During this special episode of Retail Remix, Brian and Alicia talk about how these developments inspired the creation of the Novel Economy, and how our mindsets, lifestyles and behaviors during this time will serve as a catalyst for our future. Listen in to get Brian’s take on how:

  • The Novel Economy coincides with his other principles, such as Digital Darwinism;
  • This new era impacts the way organizations tackle innovation; and
  • Strategic questions business leaders need to ask in order to develop their plans for the future.


hey everyone and welcome to
a very special live video
version of the retail remix podcast um
hopefully you know me i’m alicia
esposito and i have
you definitely know our guest today uh
brian solis brian
always a pleasure to catch up with you
and of course um hear your take on
what’s going on in innovation and
specifically retail great to have you
well it’s wonderful to be here although
this is the first time we’ve worked
together in all of these years where
we’re actually doing something virtual
so i’m excited to see what we do here
i know absolutely it’s always through
phone so this is definitely
new world new realities as they say so
i’m excited to
hop on the line with you um to kick
things off
uh wanting to get your take on how your
new role is going so
you announced a few months back uh your
role as global innovation evangelist at
salesforce i think it was around like
march or so
so how’s that been going it’s been a few
months now
it seems like like a year at least
it’s really it’s really a wonderful and
change in the direction that i was
headed so i for those who don’t know
i’ve been a digital analyst and a
digital anthropologist
for a very very very long time and
my my job essentially was to study
disruptive technologies
impact on markets as retail being one of
and then as an anthropologist study
technology’s impact
on basically humanity how is it changing
our behaviors our values our norms our
decisions etc routines
and try to reverse engineer them to help
executives understand those trends and
move forward with a human-centered
and studying all of the different
especially as they became more
exponential as
as innovation was accelerating was
really too much
to to track as one person
and so my friends at salesforce
offered me the opportunity to continue
the work in studying digital
and understanding then how we can use
technology with a purpose
and it’s been phenomenal it’s just been
absolutely phenomenal access to some of
the most innovative companies in the
salesforce being one of them but having
access to some incredible minds some
incredible trailblazers
to not only inspire my work and my
research but also to be able to share
uh my my research with open minds for
people who
are ready to bring change who are ready
to to to innovate forward
uh and in just in just a few short
months i’ve i’ve
actually completely reset my entire
narrative my entire research
track my entire findings i’ve almost
left behind some of
most of my work before march 1st of
course related to uh you know this
global pandemic that’s going on
but of course it it’s sort of forced
both a new opportunity a new role also
this pandemic
to see what’s happening in a new light
and then be able to
create new paths forward that i might
not have otherwise seen
yeah that’s fantastic you actually sort
of already answered my next question for
you around
how everything going on kind of reset
your focus
or shifted your priorities because i
mean like you
said earlier i mean covering innovation
is already such a
big topic there are so many layers to
what goes into that
i mean it’s company culture it’s tactics
it’s audience it’s
the more behavioral or psychological
components that go into innovative ideas
but then throw in a global pandemic and
it’s a whole big
um it can get a little messy i could
imagine but how did
how did the context of this new world
and just the uncertainty and and
volatility how did this kind of
change your path as you were starting
this new role yeah you know what i got
to remember
the word that you just used volatility
is actually one that i have not heard
used enough
to describe these times in fact i hear
uncertainty all the time but not
volatility and the reason why this this
word is important
is because that’s exactly what makes
so complicated and we’ve always had
uncertainty if you think about it life
was never
sort of guaranteed in any direction but
uh how
the volatility is actually what changed
my work specifically so if you think
and retail has been one of the most
most important conversations i’ve been
having almost on a daily basis
because it was shut down
it was shut down uh it’s we’re starting
to see i i take a global perspective on
innovation so
we it’s not just the united states it’s
shut down or or that we’re reopening too
early we’re starting to see for example
uh australia the what happens when you
open too early
uh they’re they’re going into another
they’re going into second wave shutdowns
right now
uh and that that means that we have to
in real time learn how to live with
and so how that changed my narrative was
understanding then
how can you innovate in times of great
and there’s that old saying that
necessity is the mother of invention
now i’m gonna have to come up with some
some some update to that around
volatility because what what we’re in
danger of and how this
inspired my work is we’re in danger of
trying to
survive right now we’re reacting
to this disruption and i think
psychologically in the back of the mind
of executives there’s this idea that
we’re going to one day return to
normal and that is
the antithesis of innovation
that is essentially i think i presented
on this
actually at ric last last year in new
york around
iteration versus innovation iteration is
actually using new technology
new trends to update existing models
uh nothing wrong with that we do we do
have to iterate but there’s also
innovation which is creating new value
and that’s that’s what these times also
call for so what i
what i needed to do in my work was to
practice what i preach which was
let me let me just clear the slate let
me let me let me
understand and appreciate this
disruption in this volatility
uh because if we if
we don’t we’re going to try to fight to
get back to normal when in fact
what we’re looking at is normal being
part of the problem
so if you look at amazon
i think it officially launched in 1995
you look at uber i think uber launched
in 2007
uh facebook twitter 2006 2007
we’ve been seeing the digitization of
not only
commerce and retail but humanity for
the better part of 20 years and so the
disruption that we see from a business
standpoint by this pandemic
is 20 years in the making it’s not
related to covet 19
per se is just accelerated by it
and so that means that we’ve had a lot
of runway
to figure this out and we’ve seen
something like what is it
since march 1st e-commerce has
accelerated its growth rate
in its 10-year growth rate in three
add to that the psychology of change
which is 66 days on average to make new
behaviors automatic
add to that the anxiety that a consumer
or a human being might feel in going
into physical spaces
concerns for their health and safety
essentially what you have is
forced new models for retail to think
now about how do we innovate forward so
we can capitalize
on the digital first behaviors that are
now starting to take deep root
within consumer mindsets to move forward
and then i’ll kind of wrap this up
because i could talk about this for
hours but
i called it the novel economy yeah
and i do want to get into that so yeah i
didn’t want to talk about the new normal
because none of this is normal this is
an interim normal and it’s a it’s
as an optimist it’s an opportunity to
the way forward okay got it yeah let’s
definitely dig into that because
you know i agree it’s an interesting
dynamic of conversations that we’re
having especially
right now because there are
a lot of debates around you know what
behaviors or pivots from the consumer
were out of necessity or urgency right
an immediate need to replace something
like oh i can’t go into a store
so i need to go online to get what i
need um
or you know i’ve never done online
grocery shopping before i don’t want to
go into the store because i’m at risk or
someone i know is at risk i’m gonna go
but will that change over time who knows
the jury’s still out but that that
conversation of
short versus long term um and and
also what will be you know a completely
new trend or disruption or is this just
an acceleration
of the already existing trends and i
you know your concept of the novel
economy may help kind of break
that down i i love this notion of
starting fresh because i think
um you know we do sometimes kind of
dwell too much on the past and
history tells us or our past business
reports tell us
and we don’t have any benchmarks based
on something like this before so i do
think having that new completely clean
slate is
is important um it can kind of give us a
new perspective on things but
let’s get into the novel economy because
i really appreciate your
um ability to not only dig into the
technical side but also
the psychological the emotional factors
that impact us as humans right because
it’s all connected
um let’s start at the high level and
then we can dig into like what’s
happening now i guess
um you know what exactly is the novel
and let’s look at this through the lens
of retail i guess too
and um you know how it’s impacting our
consumers um
you know what what really drove you to
no this is this is our world now and
this is how we need to be thinking in
order to
enable you know moving forward as a
or even supporting innovation
yeah everything everything in my opinion
is up for
a reset it could be uh and i think it’s
going to be clearly
defining who are the winners and who are
not the winners
moving forward putting that nicely
there’s because we’re talking about
things as the new normal or even as the
next normal
that psychologically limits our ability
to act and react we’re putting ourselves
in a box
and that box is sort of framed by the
world we once knew
and how we’re trying to adapt in this
new world
let me let me take a step back to just
talk about
the word novel itself it was inspired by
the novel coronavirus
and novel in that context means new and
there’s no playbook there’s no
best practices or case studies that we
could follow
so we’re sort of inventing or we can
invent as we go
um so essentially we’re coming into you
know this
in one regard and we’ll be coming out of
this in some regard and it’s really sort
of a choice that we have an opportunity
to answer or to consider
so the novel economy then said if we’re
entering like with the novel coronavirus
new and unusual times then
let’s break out the reality of it first
it’s broken into three phases first is
it’s pretty pretty much where we all are
work from home
uh taking physical retail spaces for
example and having to
reimagine them for a virtual world so
the reactive
component is to think about well we got
to do we got to go digital we got to
update upgrade
all of our existing touch points to
support support scale
of course we have to deal with the
hardships of of
closures and what that means in terms of
furloughs and layoffs and
really difficult conversations to have
it is it is a moment in time
the phase two then is well what do we do
next and phase two
is alive so survive then alive
alive here is where i say let’s forego
conversations the new normal and next
normal let’s think about it as an
interim normal so in phase one we do
what everybody does which is react
so if everybody’s reacting and
everybody’s investing in digital
transformation e-commerce working from
home etc
then we’re at parity so what do we do
now that’s going to be different to
allow ourselves to move forward we have
a force
reset a force functioning device that is
this global pandemic
to rethink right now what do we do
differently moving forward it’s a luxury
actually that we would not have
otherwise had
so in the alive phase there’s iteration
so improve what is and now we make
strives to all of those things we’ve
talked about in meetings
uh how are we going to attack d2c how
are we going to think about
amazon how are we going to think about
our next products and our next services
you’re already taking losses right now
so we’ve already thought about
innovation as a cost center now
it’s an investment in your future so
accelerate those conversations
it’s counterintuitive in this moment
people actually want to hunker down they
want to focus they want to cut costs
they want to do a lot of decisions are
made by the cfo right now
but the history shows in in every
point of disruption whether it’s a
recession or depression or what have you
great innovation comes from it because
people say this is that moment where we
can do what we couldn’t do before
so then that leads to phase three that’s
the thrive
part this is where differentiation
starts to happen
we’re now looking at a period of about
18 months right even if we got a
let’s say a vaccine in january and take
months and months and months
for the world to have heard immunity
to be able to feel confident and again
but we’re
we’re deep rooted in new behaviors in
the psychology of this new consumerism
so thrive is then accelerating in this
digital first
digital only era the world is reopening
so we’re ahead of the game and
reimagining what physical
now looks like then the relationship
between physical and digital right
in the alive phase we’re putting
plexiglass in stores we’re giving people
masks we’re handing out
sanitizer but in the thrive phase
we get to completely reimagine space and
the relationship with technology in
space computer vision
data experiential learning and insights
interaction for example a company like
which was already reimagining stores
with the
the onset of toys r us and their own
flagship stores and what it means to be
a store
we were already starting to get a taste
of what that possibility could look like
so now you have the a lot the survive
alive and thrive phases of the novel
economy you have this framework for the
next 18
24 months and so how do you want to
operate within that
uh and i’ll i’ll turn it back over to
you but
for me in my work i’ve already started
to see just
in in three to four months the rapid
changes of consumerism in that digital
and i’m sure we’ll talk about it when we
get to the generational end concept but
uh it’s it’s profound it’s a profound
opportunity for those willing to pay
and do something different moving
forward yeah absolutely so a quick
follow-up question to that i love that
it’s broken down into stages but
um my question is are those stages and
quickly in this case retailers go
through those stages
is it contingent upon like where we are
a world like going through the pandemic
or is it possible that businesses can
kind of go through these stages
more swiftly you know more efficiently
depending on
how much they embrace this you know
idea that we’re starting from scratch
and we we have an opportunity to
push a little further and do a little
more because i feel like i
saw a pretty distinct line in the ground
between those that like really rose to
the occasion and like we’re set
said you know we need to make some sort
of change to be where our customers are
so let’s
do it let’s move and those that did have
a tougher time so
is it again is it contingent upon like
where we are in context of the pandemic
itself or is it more
business and um i guess culturally
it’s a it’s a hard question to answer
because because we
we’re not dealing with a logical
situation we’re dealing with an
incredibly irrational situation
and also a virus and
the reason why is because unfortunately
especially those
in the united states or in argentina or
in other countries
not argentina brazil excuse me where we
where we see politics affecting
how humanity deals with the virus
and so it makes it illogical so for
we’ve seen in in many retail
environments uh in australia
uh the united states especially all
around the world
where there are physical ultra
in retail environments over whether or
not someone should wear a mask yeah
all right so now you have a workforce
who’s already you know that’s already
incredibly delicate fragile now having
contend with not only operating a store
but also having to operate now within
worrying about their own health but now
their physical safety because they have
to enforce these new types of things
that people
are are fighting back against so this is
one answer to your question because it
essentially a long way of saying unless
something changes at
a leadership level we’re going to
this unnecessarily and
that means that it’s going to
give time to retail executives
to absolutely consider now what
not only how do we operate in these
times so in that that three series
but what’s the purpose of which we
operate because we don’t necessarily
have to be
the retailer to all we have to be a
retailer to a group of consumers who
share the same
values and aspirations as we do and this
means that some retailers are going to
have to make choices
about the customers they want and the
customers they don’t want
and this means that brand itself
is now up for a reset
so pillars have to consider
consumer and employee safety they have
to consider
values as we’ve just just mentioned but
what does what does being
a beacon of light as a brand mean
in these times that are chaotic that are
that are incredibly frustrating
and then also then what how do we lead
our customers forward in by delivering
those aspirational experiences
where we are the the light in their
so this is a this is a philosophical
that will guide the the uh the
investments but also then the technology
investments that bring to life those
experiences that we want to give people
so uh the the thing that i’ll sort of
close here and if if i didn’t hit any
part of your question
i’ll i promise i will uh
the this is a time for leadership
and not necessarily one driven by the
existing standards of what shareholder
value and stakeholder value are
but but really considering now
what it means to be a brand and then
create the retail infrastructure and
around that because the more this plays
out and the more
uh the more that we play the fears the
more we create anxiety
the more we introduce what’s called a
deeper somatic marker
in the lives of every consumer where
you’re going to
feel a deep visceral response to these
and we’re going to look for the things
that make us
feel better not worse
because that’s kind of what’s playing
out right now
yeah it’s really interesting brian how
response evolved because
i didn’t really go into crafting this
question thinking
that we were going to get into mission
and values right but i think
the key thing for us all to remember
now is that these are
and should be integral into the brand
you know the retail business and
you know that’s always been the case but
now i feel like
there is a very
clear shift that like you know a lot of
marketers used to say like oh like we we
shouldn’t support x or stand by
why because that’s that’s risky right
like let’s try and be as
for everyone as possible it’s not let’s
not um
you know muddy the waters or or try and
you know put support towards any
cause whether it’s social um political
uh you know
environmental but it seems like from
what i gather from
your answer that this is just kind of an
non-negotiable at this point that there
needs to be like a deep
reassessment of the brand and
what a brand wants to be in context of
the consumer in order to kind of do
everything else am i am i getting that
right i want to make sure i’m not
you know misinterpreting what you’re
saying no i mean in
an ideal world it wouldn’t have to be
this way uh but
because it is what it is uh you’re cons
let me give you a couple stats uh 64
of consumers right now are feel for
fearful of their own health i don’t know
why that number isn’t higher but
uh 82 are fearful of the health of
others 64
are worried about the impact of all of
this on their personal job security and
are worried about the pandemic’s effects
on the economy
add to that politics add to that what’s
happening in physical environments
add to that the anger about something as
simple as masks and what you’re really
starting to
see is that humanity is in a boiling
pot of water and there where is
refuge right retail itself i mean we
used to talk about retail therapy
uh retail itself is meant to be a form
of escapism
is meant to be a form of personal
validation and aspiration
uh regardless of what it is we sell and
you had you have this pandemic but let’s
take a look at a couple other trends
that have been happening up until this
one was uh sustainability right so we
were already seeing
customers saying that they want to do
more business with brands
uh so retailers and consumer brands that
that are thinking about the planet right
if we think that covet 19 is the last
disruption that we’re going to have
as as a human race we’ve got a
got a lot of surprises coming so
essentially we have to consider how
important this is not just for some oh
let’s let’s just get on the bandwagon
kind of trend this is a real
issue then you have another trend that
was coming into this
of conscious consumerism do i need
all this stuff uh you know marie kondo
for example
helped us understand our relationship
with material items that maybe we don’t
need to surround ourselves with
maybe the catharsis of of donating
and reassessing what it is we need me
moving forward helps us
right and then there’s this other trend
that sort of sparked out of the
pandemic which is questioning then my
with brands and material goods what do i
need because right now not just
businesses are resetting things but also
human beings are resetting things like
i can go outside now i i
need a bicycle i need walking shoes i
athleisure wear i need you know so now
we’re reassessing all of the things that
we need for this
this life and coming back the
psychological conversation is will these
new behaviors stick
then you add lastly
the somatic marker that is this pandemic
and you
have essentially a recipe if you’re
willing to
bake it or cook it whatever you want to
do with it to deliver greater value to
someone who’s feeling all of these
uh so this becomes essentially a
foundation for new brand but also new
retail experiences
and also product innovation so what
could we create that’s new
that unlocks new value for this consumer
i call this
an ignite moment and it’s built upon
for years ago i wrote i worked a lot
with google around
introducing micro moments which was the
mobile first
consumer revolution that was taking
place but then i realized
that if there’s a lot of this
frustration anxiety stress and all of
these trends that are sort of coming
together and being accelerated
because of the pandemic then the ignite
is our chance to figure out when you
come into contact with my touch point or
my brand
whether that’s web whether that’s
physical product or what have you
how do you feel because it’s an
opportunity to say
i get you let’s move forward together
and this
this is powerful this is powerful yeah
i was going to ask how the work and
research that you’re doing now kind of
plays into other theories and principles
that that you’ve
established over the years like earlier
you reference digital darwinism the
micro moments which i know people still
um you know look to for insight and
guidance around what that
experience looks like but now that
you know we’re craving these
interactions right um
you know human to human you know face to
face is
important and i think now more than ever
we’re realizing oh like we need to like
be by each other like physically to like
feel connection
now we’re trying to replicate that
through digital to feel
that connection um less lonely which
there’s been research
you know over the past few years around
how even you know
gen z is becoming the the most stressed
out lonely
generation that’s a whole other question
but i guess
my question for you is how does this
this era we’re in where we’re we’re
craving that emotional connection that
context like i understand you let me
give you what you need
how does this play into the digital
influence and
and what brands and retailers need to do
to kind of reach
in the moment what is that strategic
i guess you could say like what does
that look like right now
that’s a that’s a really good question
it’s essentially the one we’re writing
or need to write right now right and if
you think about it people are going to
write a different playbook in how
they they choose to see or not see
what’s happening in these times
so as a digital anthropologist
what gave birth to digital darwinism
originally was my observations that
as technology and society evolve so does
and in in humanity that’s driven by
cultures values norms routines etc
digital darwinism is more pervasive now
than it’s ever been
because you’re starting to watch uh
essentially darwinism
play out what this has led
to for me in my research is this
this notion i haven’t published this yet
but this notion of generation
n so it’s generation novel which is born
out of the concept of the novel economy
builds upon my previous research that
said let’s
even as you mentioned like generation z
is the most anxious stressed out
lonely uh generation that we’ve seen in
a long time a lot of it due to
the relationship with technology in
digital phones
social networks i in fact wrote a book
about it called life scale
that explores the challenges
of rewiring your brain for living a
digital lifestyle in this regard
and what it does to us mentally
physically biologically and then what to
do about it moving forward
but generation n is a really important
reference point to guide innovation
moving forward
i i tend to want to give things a
but if you look at like the work of ideo
or disney essentially what we’re looking
at is human
or lego human-centered innovation
so in order to be human-centered you
have to understand then humanity
and so generation n was my
data-driven approach and then also
anthropological approach to looking at
how is the consumer change in these few
short months
before this i i talked about generation
c where the c stood for connected
and this has been sort of the the nature
of my work for the past 12 years
what i had documented 12 years ago or 10
years ago was that
if you live a digital first lifestyle
whether that’s shopping at amazon
whether that’s using uber whether that’s
using postmates to have things delivered
whether that’s
using social networks to you know
connect and communicate
you you developed a new series of
behaviors that were cross-generational
so if you were 55 35 25 you kind of went
through the customer journey the same
you had similar affinities to brands
this was important because it completely
changed how we thought about personas
how we thought about the customer
journey and
the the traditional funnel et cetera and
the hierarchy of brand relationships and
retail relationships with customers
now you add a pandemic and so kind of
hear me out here
you have generation c who was already
they were basically trained and prepared
for a shutdown
ah this doesn’t affect me because i’m
i’m connected i still shop this way
i have stuff delivered so now they
the expert consumer because this is
they’re operating in their environment
they’re totally native here
but now you have let’s say the
the later market majority who were not
digital first
who have to be digital first now so now
they’re coming into this
and they’re learning the benefits and
of of digital and
add to that they were also the ones
who i think 70 i can’t remember the
exact percentage but it’s in the 70s
that even as retail starts to open over
the next year
are not going to go shopping just
because of concerns for health and
they’re now really excited to have this
access to digital
and they’re going to use it so now the
concept of generation c
is bigger right so you’re connected
customer once
once you start living this digital life
as a consumer
you want things faster you become
impatient you have higher expectations
you want things personalized so you
start to become
this ultra consumer that brands and
retailers already had to design for
now you add the somatic marker of the
right toilet paper will never look at an
empty roll of toilet paper again the
same way
yeah these are these are these are
things that we’ll remember moving
and so now you have an emotional bind
across all of these demographics and so
if we take them time to study then
what’s on their mind what are they
buying how are they shopping what are
they aligning with
data it’s all digital we have an
opportunity to learn from that in a way
that helps us rethink brand helps us
rethink retail experience helps us
rethink the digital journey
helps us rethink safety and wellness for
physical design so that people will
feel good coming into our stores and
in invited and welcome and encouraged to
and essentially you have now the field
from which we can
we can pull all kinds of greatness
in terms of what the future can look
like as inspired
by generation n yeah
yeah there’s a lot to unpack there and i
guess you know when you
share this with all the folks that
you’ve been having conversations with
business leaders business executives
are they like completely on board like
this is great this is exciting or are
they like
what do i even do with this like where
do i even start
because like you said that this is gonna
be a point of evolution right like over
you know things may change a little bit
we may feel a bit more at ease or we may
have different expectations based on
what we
experience with other brands so i guess
the the big question is like how on
board are
people right now with actually moving
forward and digging into all of this
digging into all the opportunity
yeah i look i love the question and it’s
it’s it’s absolutely
the right question to ask some
some don’t don’t care about it at all uh
some interesting some really see it as
an opportunity to need help forward
uh and look i i want to make clear
generation n
isn’t the be all end-all customer
segment we have to consider there’s
still people who don’t
who don’t want this who like
the the physicality of their experiences
and there’s nothing wrong with that so
essentially what it means though is if
care about customers then we have to
look at
what is my iteration so i still have to
and then what’s my innovation strategy
and how much am i willing to
go after gen n because it’s not like
once you
taste all of the benefits of living a
digital lifestyle
that you’re going to say you know i just
want the inconsistencies of experiences
the struggles the you know the hassles
that i’ve had before i’m going to go
back to that you don’t you don’t go back
to that at all
i’ll give you one example before the
pandemic i had studied
the rise of click and collect bopus
whatever you want to call it
curbside and
i had partnered with the company where
we sent out secret shoppers all around
the country to some of the top brands
in retail uh food space
we wanted to sort of have equal
representation across the board and
the number one standard that customers
equated to a great experience look there
was a lot of them but i just want to
kind of demonstrate the impatience of to
where impatience is a virtue is that the
magic marker for a good experience was a
two minute mark
once i parked my car i was back in it
within two minutes all right
if you if you were to talk to somebody
who’s in the late market majority about
you know how what are your standards for
customer experience you’re not going to
hear like when i get my phone and i
order and i get out of my car i need to
be backing it in two minutes
that’s like what why what’s what’s the
rush where’s the fire
but it gives you sort of this this idea
that once you become a digital customer
you are this digital customer and you
get much more entrenched it so you have
a different set of expectations for what
is a good experience
this is why d to c was exceptionally
uh brilliant or that where they were
exceptionally brilliant in reimagining
new types of products services
and then also digital and physical
experiences because they nailed
this impatience as a virtue
personalization convenience etc
so my point is is that
one of these customer segments is going
to grow
the other one is either going to remain
a parody or become
part of this this this gen engine and c
etc so this means that moving forward
to your point of what are executives
thinking about
do they need to do anything about it and
if so what do they do about it
that means you have to break out your
strategy now twofold
one is one team is dedicated to the
digital transformation and modernization
of the iterative model
operations processes systems
technologies etc
to deliver just better more efficient
experiences as people start to want
new better things for example you see
with checkouts we see this apple stores
we see this at amazon go
where now walmart is really starting to
experiment very well here
we see shopping carts that are now
starting to become self-checkout stands
that are mobile so what you put in there
you’re checking out in real time
and then you have another track
dedicated to whatever extent
you feel comfortable for innovation
so what does the future of retail look
now that there’s been disruption what is
our e-commerce
uh look like what’s our journey look
like for this gen and this much more
impatient this much more demanding
uh what are they looking for what do
they value what is our brand
for these these consumers so that you
have a parallel track that’s kind of
moving in this fronts
and then lastly uh what what are we not
you know what’s the ip around
what makes us who we are that we can do
new and great things so one example of
that is lego
so lego uh wasn’t just a retailer and
wasn’t just a consumer good product it
now is a it’s it’s now in the
entertainment business right so it it
an entirely new uh value uh
creation opportunity that i think all
retailers and brands need to consider
so it’s now a choice so i i turn your
question back
onto executives this is just the reality
this is what’s happening and you have a
choice you answer the question
what do you want to be in 18 months from
yeah no i think it’s a great point for
teams to ponder and kind of think
through and i do want to dig a little
bit deeper into that
innovation piece a little bit more um
because i know one of the things that
i’ve been hearing over and over again is
that um
you know we’ve talked about using data
to drive innovation um using that
and like i mentioned earlier the
aren’t there right because it happened
so rapidly i mean we’re still we’re in a
five month period so i guess
there’s a little bit to work with at
this point but still a lot
up in the air so do you have any
tips or or recommendations to
help teams you know really peel back the
layers of what’s possible what those
innovation opportunities are
when we’re still very much
forming the picture of what this
is ultimately going to be or may
to be evolving as you know again it’s
so up in the air so any any practical
advice there to help them make that
process a little bit more
seamless it’s funny i i
my research is so big and deep that um
even i struggle to you know make make a
lot of this practical
but yeah no i have to think about things
this way so it’s a great question
we don’t know what we don’t know and i
think that’s been always the problem
uh with even data data-driven insights
right so if you
we tend to bring cognitive biases into
how we see
change and it’s just a human way of
rationalizing things
but that also means that we really don’t
for example gen n and how the consumers
change so radically in five months
so what what that means is that we have
to form
a group of unbiased
cross-functional stakeholders maybe it’s
a steering committee
maybe it’s a center of excellence
whatever it is to come together
and start asking different questions i
i put a list and i hope i open the right
before our call here uh you know
sort of like let’s let’s get to the root
of this to say all right
what what are we don’t even have to talk
about jen and gen c and get all geeky we
could just talk about customers
what are the daily habits and behaviors
what are they feeling what are they
worried about how in control do they
feel what really matters
uh to customers right now you know
essentially coming up with a question
that’s going to help us arrive at
answers that are different than the
answers that we’re arriving at today
and then cross-functionally we can say
well look i don’t have
answers to that question so could i get
it with my existing data inputs today
or do we need to make investments in
getting those those inputs
so that we can answer these questions
and then cross-functionally how does
that affect
you in sales you and marketing you and
service you and product development or
product marketing
uh so that we can get the answers answer
the questions together
and then come up with the roadmap moving
forward what are we going to tackle and
mean like what’s urgent
what’s longer term you know and and then
continually reassess that in real time
because things are changing so
dynamically but essentially what that
means is we need a little micro
operational model change
leadership needs to support the fact
one we don’t have the answers but two we
need to apply resources here that are so
and it’s it’s counterintuitive because
we want to cut
costs and cut resources but
this is our way forward and then three
a decision-making mechanism that allows
us to test and learn
rapidly in some small places
and then also where we can roll that out
in bigger places
and then ultimately uh we have to then
of course it has a seat at that table uh
and say all right now let’s divide and
what do we need to improve operationally
to iterate
forward and where do we want to innovate
and then dedicate those teams and
to those tracks it’s the only way
forward essentially what you’re doing is
you’re creating
a data culture that supports decision
that supports transformation and
in real time and that i mean it’s a
simple model and we could get
we could get geekier about it over time
but that is the model forward
yeah that’s extremely helpful thank you
for getting a bit tactical with me
especially because my next question for
is we’re getting into a very important
in retail now um back to school and
holiday whether we like it or not it’s
coming um
and i know there have been a lot of um
you know coverage around what back to
school is going to look like for
actual consumers households um and it
does vary depending on
you know where you are and i’m sure it
will evolve over time but there has been
a very
fascinating pivot in terms of consumer
um a lot more emphasis on um setting
children up for success you know
homes for that learning experience um
more in technology learning tools um
so very very interesting shift from that
standpoint but as we start to think
um you know the context of the consumer
um their mindsets how they’re feeling
their fears
um what’s your take on what’s going to
happen as we get into
holiday season which is always like
about magic and engagement and
entertainment i mean
there’s going to be a very different
on the season i feel like but would love
your take on you know any closing tips
takeaways or just observations um
because i i definitely don’t expect you
to have all the answers right now but um
love your your take on what you’re
seeing alicia
the questions that you’re asking sorry i
wanna i wanna
watch this back and take notes because i
think this essentially what we’re
you’re asking are are the answers become
the playbook
right for moving forward in times of
uncertainty and volatility
there’s a strong desire
for that like come kind of full circle
that return to normal
and normal is largely a function of
and retail is
is is certainly an industry based on
back to school halloween thanksgiving
holidays etc
but we have to remember that
the question you’re asking right now is
probably the same question we’re going
to have to ask
for back to school holiday 2021
as well not coming out of this anytime
soon it comes back to customers
right there’s nothing wrong with magic
we need magic in our lives
the human race is resilient that that
much we’ve learned over time
but it has to mean much more than
i think the companies that add value and
to these uh difficult times
to help people feel like someone is
looking out for them and thinking about
that’s i think that’s what we really
need right now more than anything
so for example with back to school it
isn’t just
here’s paper pencils laptops
etc here are uh it’s it’s the narrative
it’s the it’s the it’s the products that
we source and the products that we
we we bundle that help people understand
hey there’s some of you who are gonna be
remote here’s your
here’s your uh back to school message
there’s those who are going back to
and are freaked out about it because
they have to
so here’s your here’s your back to
uh engagement uh and so we have to think
much more empathetically
about how people are making decisions
and and and and
choose which customers we want and we
don’t want but the same is going to be
true for halloween
some are not going to go out some will
because they’re
just got to go out uh you know and then
what’s that message for those people and
what they’re feeling and what they’re
doing so it comes it comes back to those
questions that we were asking earlier uh
to get tactical
is that we really have to be empathetic
as an organization and i call it data
driven empathy is that the data
we have to humanize the data in order to
deliver these routines in ways that
aren’t just okay back to school check
check check check check
it’s i get you i understand you’re
dealing with this remote working
or sorry remote learning it’s got to be
stressful parents you’re taking time
away from work you’re doing all these
i get you here’s your here’s your here’s
your thing and
that really demonstrates and
communicates the consumer that we’re
thinking differently about these times
and it isn’t just about pushing you into
the trap of consumerism for the this
time frame it’s helping you to do things
uh in in these times yeah love that
well i don’t know how we did it but
we’re already like pushing an hour
on the record so um thank you as always
brian for
taking the time out to chat with me like
you said i feel like we can continue to
peel back the layers and geek out for
hours and hours but
to close things out um calls to action
that’s next steps that folks
watching now can take um you know to
continue to
learn about generation n the novel
economy what they can do
to support innovation or any closing
we’ll kind of let people choose their
journey there there’s a
there’s plenty there’s plenty to learn
from on in these regards if you have any
questions you can
connect with me on any of the socials
out there at brian solis
my email is brian.solis at if you want to just reach
out to me directly but ultimately i’ll
just leave you with this this is uh this
is a time for
great transformation uh and not to get
all philosophical but i think philosophy
is actually missing quite a bit in the
c-suite these days which is
if you think about stoic philosophy it’s
that you
you can’t control the events that happen
we couldn’t we can’t control the
pandemic we can’t control politics and
we can technically but there’s just a
lot of things out of our control but we
can control how we respond
and i think this is that moment where we
have to define what that response is
and it starts with you
it starts there’s a there’s a there’s a
quote about uh you know i always
wondered why somebody didn’t do
something and then i realized i was
change has to start somewhere innovation
isn’t as in
isn’t a waterfall it innovation isn’t
something that we’re
innately born with it’s it’s something
that we have to fight for and work for
and believe in so that means it can come
from anywhere
and if if you watch this far
then that i am a hundred percent certain
that innovation can
and should start with you uh and that is
an incredible place to be
because now the future is in your hands
perfect tagline to close out our
conversation brian um you should just
start putting that on stickers on swag
i’m calling it i’m putting in an email
to salesforce um
again always a pleasure to uh catch up
with you and hear about all the
the amazing work you’re doing now i
think especially
now there’s such an opportunity to dig a
little bit deeper into
the behavioral side of things the
why we do what we do right um because
that that’s also
changing so thank you again so much for
taking the time out to join me today
oh it’s always a pleasure it’s always a
pleasure and i look forward to the next
time as well
yep absolutely and thanks everyone out
there for watching hopefully we’ll see
you next time
take care



Retail Remix

The rules of retail are constantly changing. Today, we're in an exciting new era where brands can differentiate through experience and use technology to connect with customers in new and exciting ways. Retail Remix is a new podcast series brought to you by Retail TouchPoints, the industry's leading source for news, insights and research for all things customer experience. Bi-monthly, we sit down with someone who is helping put a new spin on the retail experience. Hear from the top practitioners, analysts and innovators in retail, and see what new engagement opportunities await.

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