20 Good Work Habits to Develop

20 Good Habits

Congratulations! You’ve got a job. The new environment may be a little overwhelming at the beginning, but it is important to start right so you can establish a satisfying career with the company.

Here are the basic skills all newcomers need to have on any job, and qualities which the company will be looking for during your performance evaluation:

1) Punctual. Be punctual for work. Even better, be early. Start the day feeling relaxed and settled.

2) Initiative. Take the initiative to get things done, even if that means you have to fill up the kettle and boil the water — just do it.

3) Neat, tidy and clean. Make sure your desk or workstation is neat, clean and pleasant. Clear perishable rubbish immediately and wash your mug at the end of the workday. The same attitude applies to the general office area and restrooms — use them considerately for others to enjoy as well.

4) Organised. The best indicator is to see if your tray, desk, drawers and cabinets are cluttered and messy or well-labelled and orderly.

5) Systematic. A good system smoothens work processes. Generally, established companies have a standard operating procedure (SOP) manual as a guideline. If all you have are verbal instructions, develop your own checklist of how a task should be done.

6) Efficient. Some people are naturally efficient. You can develop this skill by thinking things through. By doing so, you will know how processes can be done in a faster, smarter and more convenient way.

7) Problem solving. Understand what you are doing and improvise on existing work processes. Give feedback, ideas and suggestions to colleagues and clients to help them come up with solutions.

8) Follow-up. This does not mean chasing people after a day’s notice. Give them a gentle reminder after a space of three days. Most people understand urgency and will help you expedite matters if you underline the importance of the deadline.

Always exercise diligence in matters of finance and when forwarding documents to a third party. Have a tracking system on your calendar.

9) Fast. Learn to work fast on routine jobs. But this does not mean rushing to get things done.

10) Accuracy. Learn to pay attention to details especially if you are dealing with numbers and dates.

11) Fewer mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes, but you should aim to make fewer mistakes on routine jobs. Always be mindful that some mistakes come with a cost.

12) Paperwork. Be good in your paperwork. Clear paperwork as soon as possible and keep all your files updated so that you have important details at your fingertips.

13) Interpersonal. Be friendly, pleasant and have a positive attitude towards your colleagues and your boss. Don’t show your temper, keep a long face or be sarcastic as it is totally unacceptable.

Maintain a pleasant and upbeat telephone-voice when you make or take calls as this reflects the image of the company.

14) Teamwork. Be a team player. Be willing to share ideas, work experience, information, templates and so on, so other colleagues won’t have to re-invent the wheel. This is how you build trust with each other.

15) Office etiquette. Don’t spend too much time on personal calls, e-mails, text messages or tea breaks. Respect others’ personal space and desk. Avoid using office paper and stationery for personal reasons.

16) Writing. Work on your letter writing and report writing skills. The only way to do this is to write more.

17) Reading. Equally important is the ability to read, comprehend and grasp the essentials — concepts, facts, figures and instructions.

18) Priority. Know what is important and what can be shelved. Stay focused, keep to your deadlines, plan your work for the day and the week and allow some flexibility for last-minute projects.

19) Filing. This is important as you may need to retrieve documents or answer questions by your superiors immediately, and they cannot be kept waiting. This applies to both physical files in the cabinet as well as files on your computer.

20) Responsibility. Know your level of responsibility with the company and take ownership for your job scope and inventory.

The sooner you acquire or boost these skills, the faster you will shine in your new job and impress the people you work with.

-Source: Singapore Straits Times/Asia News Network



27 Tips for Mastering Anything



What does it take to become a master at your craft? Is genius innate, or can it be learned?

In his book, “Mastery,” Robert Greene draws from the latest research, interviews modern masters, and examines the lives of former greats like Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, and Mozart to discover what it takes to achieve excellence.

He argues that success is within anyone’s reach, if they have discipline, patience, and follow a number of important steps.

With permission from Greene, we’ve excerpted the following tips for mastering anything from his book:

1. Find your life’s task.
Many people have an intense feeling about what they’re best at. Too often, they’re driven away from it by other people. The first step is to trust yourself and aim your career path at what’s unique about you.

Leonardo da Vinci didn’t come into his own as an artist alone, but when he followed his childhood curiosity about everything, he became an advisor and expert in subjects from architecture to anatomy for his patrons.
2. Rather than compete in a crowded field, find a niche where you can dominate.
Legendary neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran was at once a restless and dissatisfied professor of psychology. What was supposed to be a calling felt like a job. When he began the study of phantom limbs and anomalous brain disorders, he found questions about the brain and consciousness that fascinate him to this day.

Find your perfect niche, and stand out.

3. Rebel against the wrong path, and use that anger as motivation.
Mozart was a child prodigy on the piano. At a very young age, his domineering father toured Europe with him. When he discovered a talent for unique composition, his father suppressed it. It wasn’t until he rejected his father entirely that he became a master.

We are often attracted to the wrong things, whether it be money, fame, or approval.

4. Love your subject at a very basic level.
The things that transfixed you as a child, that you found most exciting was not a passing fancy, but a message about what you’re supposed to do. For Marie Curie, it was wandering into her father’s laboratory and being fascinated by his instruments.
5. Find the ideal apprenticeship.
Charles Darwin was a mediocre student. He scraped by in school, more interested in specimens than classes. When the chance to join an expedition to the Americas came, he almost didn’t go. What he saw on that boat lead to his life’s work, and one of the most influential theories of all time.

We are often raised as dependents then given over to teachers. It’s experience and exploration that can transform us and lead to mastery.

6. Engage in deep observation, practice incessantly, and experiment.
Deep observation
You don’t need to impress people. You need to watch them. By learning the rules, you can dominate.

Practice, practice, practice
Our brains are set up to master skills. By repeating one thing over and over again, neurons are recruited, hardwired, and mirrored. That’s one of the reasons you never forget how to ride a bike.

You don’t know if you’re a master until you test it. Do it before you’re ready so you actually learn.

7. Value learning over money so you’re not a slave to everyone’s opinion.
Instead of a more lucrative, time-consuming commercial job, Martha Graham took a poorly paying teaching job that allowed her time to train and develop the innovations in dance that made her as revolutionary as Picasso was for painting.

Training, learning, and mentorship don’t come from the highest-paying, highest-pressure jobs. Those lead you down a conservative path of pleasing others.

8. Revert to a feeling of inferiority in order to truly learn.
Daniel Everett, a gifted linguist, was failing to learn the language of the Paraha tribe in the Amazon, which stumped researchers for years. He failed because he approached it as a linguist and Christian missionary, from a position of superiority.

He didn’t master the language until he learned it like one of the Paraha’s children, dependent on the tribe, and subject to the same restraints, inferiority, and need for support that they were.
Entering a new place or path you need to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible. Lingering prejudices and feelings of superiority hamper that.

9. Engage in intense practice and lean toward resistance and pain.
Hall of Famer Bill Bradley was suited for basketball only in height. He was slow, couldn’t jump, and had no feel for the game. He practiced three or more hours after school, on weekends, put weights in his shoes, and taped cardboard to the bottom of his glasses so he could dribble without seeing the ball. That was just the beginning of his regimen.

Intense practice with resistance can be twice as effective as what’s easy.

10. Rely on trial and error more than anything.
Paul Graham was always fascinated by computers. He eventually found that he learned by tackling problems, failing, and trying again, not by being taught. That experience eventually lead to the creation of YCombinator, which gives entrepreneurs the support to do what he did.

Now, apprenticeships are less likely to be formal. You have to make your own based on your unique style of learning.

11. Absorb a master’s power.
The right mentor-protege relationship is the most efficient and fastest way to learn; you focus on one excellent source of knowledge instead of casting about for many. You can learn a masterful way of thinking that takes a lifetime to develop in a fraction of the time.

But the goal must always be to surpass them.

12. Choose a mentor who will intensely challenge you.
Carl Jung worshiped Freud as a pioneer in his field, but was ambivalent about certain parts of his theory. By using him as a mentor, even though they eventually split, he better understood where he disagreed with Freud, learned a great deal, and sharpened his own core ideas and identity.

The more your mentor challenges others, the more they’ll challenge you.

13. Absorb your master’s knowledge completely — and then transform it.
Glenn Gould was his legendary teacher Alberto Guerrero’s most promising piano student. Gould would take what Guerrero taught him and quickly move it in an entirely different direction. At 19 he went out on his own, but years later, Guerrero could still see the things he taught Gould, totally absorbed, but utterly transformed by his genius.
It is almost a curse to learn form somebody brilliant; it can be very intimidating. But overcome this by absorbing everything, and then going beyond.

14. Create a back-and-forth dynamic with all of your relationships.
Freddie Roach, one of boxing’s most legendary trainers, found his greatest student in future 8 division world champion Manny Pacquiao. He was Roach’s most intense, teachable student, and over time, he learned to take Roach’s strategies and instructions a step beyond what he ever could have alone.

The best relationships are interactive.

Learning someone else’s dogma is never as effective as adapting and improving it.

15. Master social intelligence.
One of the biggest barriers to becoming a master is dealing with others. It’s far too easy to live life as a series of battles and skirmishes over power that turn out to be minor.

The idea that people can be so brilliant they don’t need to deal with society is a misleading one. Masters use social intelligence to amplify their skills, rather than turning others into an obstacle.

16. Accept criticism and adapt to power structures and society.
Ignaz Semmelweis was one of the earliest pioneers of using antiseptic techniques, something that could have and since has saved millions of lives. It was never fully adopted in his time because of the high handed, arrogant way he dealt with his superiors, and his refusal to actually prove his ideas. He died penniless and abandoned at 47.

Use those in power, don’t alienate them. Otherwise, genius goes to waste.

17. Meticulously craft your persona.
Teresita Fernandez, a sculptor and winner of a MacArthur “Genius Fellowship” could have let others define her. Sculpture, and working in metal in particular was a largely male medium, and she could have easily been perceived as as a fleeting novelty. By spending time on her persona, as well as on her art, she added to her success.

We all wear masks in society. Being aware of that rather than self conscious about it allows you to be more effective in any situation.
18. Suffer fools, and learn to exploit them.
The German poet and novelist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe spent a period of his youth in the court of a prominent Duke. Upon accepting it, he found himself in a claustrophobic and petty court culture. Rather than engaging, he used their behavior as the basis for later plays and novels.

There are simply too many fools to avoid. Don’t engage or sink to their level.

19. Awaken the dimensional mind, and be bold.
After emerging from an apprenticeship, the inclination is to be conservative, to work firmly within a field and established, familiar rules.

The key to mastery is rejecting conservatism and becoming increasingly bold.

20. Absorb everything, and then let your brain make connections for you.
The brain is designed to make connections. When we focus too intently on a given task, we can grow tense, and our brain closes off. Masters read and absorb everything that could be related to stimulate the brain into making a leap.

That’s how Louis Pasteur made the leap that lead to vaccines. He spent years developing germ theory, which enabled him to see the importance of a group of chickens that survived injection with an old culture of disease. As he said, “Chance favors only the prepared mind.”

21. Avoid putting things into familiar categories.
The most creative minds resist one of the brain’s signature tendencies, to put things in easy categories, to use a mental shorthand to simplify everything. With an effort to alter perspective, that can change.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin came up with the insight that made Google by seeing what seemed to be a trivial flaw, bad results in search engines that ranked pages by how often something was mentioned. One anomaly led them to a vastly more effective path.

22. Don’t let impatience derail your plans.
John Coltrane’s greatest strength, improvisation, was once a weakness. He would resort to imitation rather than innovation. After years of absorbing other’s styles and learning a vast technical vocabulary, he learned how to bend it into something intensely personal and different from everybody else.

One of the greatest impediments to creativity is impatience. Stay the course and develop your authentic voice.
23. Value mechanical and abstract intelligence equally.
The most brilliant engineers in the world failed to create a working flying machine. Orville and Wilbur Wright were bicycle mechanics. A simple insight, that a flying machine needed to be able to bank like a bicycle rather than moving in straight horizontal lines like a ship, helped them beat men who had attacked the problem for years.

Mechanical intelligence, the focus on functionality, can be equally as vital and creative as the abstract.

24. Avoid “technical lock,” or getting wrapped up in technical artistry instead of the real problem.
Honeybee Robotics
“Neurobotics” pioneer Yoky Matsuoka had an impossible goal, to build a robotic hand that was lifelike. To her, it wasn’t a series of mechanical puzzles, but a learning process to understand the human hand. Seemingly irrelevant anatomical details turned out to be extremely important for function.

Technical lock makes people lose sight of larger questions. By looking at the human hand, already weirdly perfect, Matsuoka surpassed people who had been absorbed in technical issues for years.

25. Fuse the intuitive and the rational.
This is the final step. Deep immersion in a particular field, experience in an apprenticeship, time under a mentor, and unlocking creative potential create an extraordinary depth of knowledge and an ability to quickly and instinctively respond to any situation.

Combining that instinct with rational processes allows people to achieve their greatest potential, to become masters.

26. Shape your world around your strengths.
Albert Einstein was a bad scientist. He hated the way physics was taught and didn’t like experiments. His greatest insights came from elsewhere. His theory of simple relativity, came partially from thinking about an image in his head of trains, beams of light, men and women.

By deciding at 20 to stray away from conventional, experimental science, and to use his distaste for authority to remove conventions that held him back, Einstein did something that felt intuitive, looked illogical, but was intensely rational.

27. Know that practice is just as important as innate skill.
Cesar Rodriguez, nicknamed “America’s Last Ace” wasn’t a naturally gifted pilot. He fell behind at first. He caught up, then passed everyone through endless practice. He knew every control in his bones, and reacted better than those who relied on talent. That helped him make three aerial kills and earn his nickname.

Achievement through thousands of hours of practice seems so ordinary somehow. But it’s how most people become masters.


Macy’s CEO: New Concept Good Fit For Kenwood Collection



Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren said Bluemercury, the retailer’s newly-acquired, beauty and spa concept might be a good fit for Kenwood Collection.

To help Macy’s grow sales, the retailer plans to open 14 new stores by the end of the year. Macy’s bought the 63-store chain in February for $200 million as a potential growth vehicle.

Lundgren said outdoor venues like the mixed-use development in Sycamore Township are the type retail spaces Macy’s has in mind for Bluemercury.

“That’s a good possibility,” Lundgren said, adding Bluemercury’s expansion strategy is to avoid malls but open in outdoor lifestyle centers and upscale neighborhood shopping areas.

Kenwood Collection’s owner Phillips Edison & Co. has signed High-end furniture seller Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams as its first retail tenant for the development that will have 260,000 square feet for retail use. Phillips Edison officials were not immediately available for comment Friday.

Bluemercury will be rolled out in major metropolitan areas – possibly including Cincinnati, Lundgren said. Bluemercury will also add mini departments at its regular department stores and its merchandize will also be added to Macy’s online offerings.

Lundgren expressed great enthusiasm for Bluemercury’s potential, noting cosmetics rival Sephora has more than 1,600 specialty stores nationwide.

Based in Washington, D.C., most Bluemercury locations include in-house spas, while the stores carry well-known, high-end luxury beauty brands, as well as M-61, a proprietary skincare brand. The stores offer personalized assistance from a team of beauty experts with a high level of technical product knowledge.

Lundgren stressed Macy’s is nurturing the Bluemercury concept even as it begins to ramp it up. He noted co-founders Marla and Barry Beck remain in charge of the division and report directly to him.

Lundgren’s comments were during a Friday press conference following Macy’s annual shareholder meeting where he outlined the company’s success and future growth plans.

Macy’s executives have talked more about growing the company’s sales in 2015 after years of steady sales growth that came as the retailer strengthened profitability.

Bluemercury was Macy’s first acquisition in a decade. Early this month, Macy’s also announced it will open four Macy’s Backstage – an off-price concept aimed at competing with Nordstrom Rack and TJ Maxx.

Lundgren said Macy’s will study and fine-tune its off-price stores before expanding the concept elsewhere.


Macy’s CEO Clues Us In To What’s Coming Out of a Cool New San Francisco Office


Cincinnati-based retail giant Macy’s Inc. recently opened a new tech-friendly office space in Silicon Valley, and it’s already producing new technology for the company.

Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren highlighted the new office location during the company’s annual meeting in Cincinnati on Friday.

“You have to do that if you want to attract the new technology guys and gals who are doing this so well for us,” Lundgren told investors.

The Courier’s sister paper in San Francisco has more details about the office, but Lundgren highlighted a piece of new technology that’s already been produced from it: an app that allows consumers to take photos of products they see out in the world and be directed to that very product, or something similar that Macy’s sells online.

That app was born from what the company calls the Macy’s Idea Lab. Ordinary employees in the San Francisco office will get together in small groups to brainstorm ideas or solve a problem. Those ideas will be pitched to a management “shark tank” and the winners will be sent to a tech team to develop a prototype and then send out to consumers to get feedback.

The image search app was developed based on a question posed to employees: if you had another way of finding a product, what would it be?

“It’s not always perfect either, but it’s out there. It’s done,” Lundgren told reporters after the annual meeting. “We think a lot is going to come out of (that office) in the future.”

Lundgren spent the meeting catching investors up on the company’s recent progress, much of which was discussed during the company’s first quarter earnings call on May 13. The Courier outlined seven initiatives presented during that call that Macy’s Chief Financial Officer Karen Hoguet said will drive much of the company’s growth in the future.

Those include initiatives like the recently announced off-price Macy’s Backstage stores, four of which are being piloted in New York. Lundgren told reporters that he expects rapid expansion of the concept once they get the specifics right at the piloted stores. Macy’s Backstage stores will open in the spring, but any expansion will likely halt around Nov. 1 as the retailer prepares for the holiday season, he said.

“There’s really no limitation to how fast we can grow it, other than the available real estate and the talent,” Lundgren said.

The expansion of the recently acquired high end beauty products and spa services retailer Bluemercury was also on Lundgren’s mind. There are currently 63 Bluemercury stores, with plans on adding an additional 14 this year. Macy’s will add Bluemercury counters at some of its own stores, but Lundgren wouldn’t say which, or when a freestanding Bluemercury would come to Cincinnati.

“We have a lot of excitement at our company and we’re moving very fast and were very focused on multiple efforts and we think we can juggle these balls at the same time,” he said.


Why Don’t Millennials Want to Shop at Macy’s?


Macy’s has a couple of real problems. It is trying to figure out who its customer is and why they shop in such different ways. The other problem is that they do not understand the millennials, who are now coming of age and have significant spending power. These young people are the future of retailing – and they clearly do not want to shop in department stores.

Millennials feel that shopping in department stores is a chore. It is dull and unexciting. Sadly the stores do not help themselves – the theatre is gone, replaced by sale signs, and there is little encouragement to linger. I think there should be coffee bars in every store – it does not have to be Starbucks, it could be Illy or Senor Valdez—there has to be a place to linger and meet friends. When shopping for apparel, the millennials shop by consensus, and they have to have a place to rest.

While shopping in department stores is boring, cool brands like Nike have found ways to create an engaging experience for young people in their stores. For example, Nike introduced the NAC Club (Nike Athletic Club) in its stores, where actual exercises are done in the store. It may be disruptive, but it is also fun. At one time, Home Depot had kids build a bird feeding station in their stores. It bought teen-agers and their parents into the store–everybody had fun and the proud feeling of building something themselves. Department stores have to challenge themselves to create experiences young people enjoy. Maybe stores should devote an evening to honor a singer, dancer or musician that would encourage more visitors the stores. I am excited to see the development of Macy’s Backstage this coming fall. I believe it is patterned after Nordstrom’s Rack, a successful off-price chain that is rapidly expanding throughout the United States. However, this doesn’t solve the problems the full line store is experiencing.

We are dealing with a period of deflation of apparel – which I think will get worse when Primark enters the US. H&M and Forever 21 are already driving down prices and making life difficult for the teen retailers such as Abercrombie and Aeropostale. This downward price pressure will on get worse as these fast fashion retailers continue their aggressive expansion by taking space in empty stores with their attractive and cheap wares. The constant promotion of apparel in department stores masks the fact that most merchandise is overpriced and has to be on sale to be priced properly. Recently handbags, shoes and accessories were an easy substitute for purchases of dresses and separates. But now those reliable categories are saturated. Too many closets now have too many handbags and shoes.

On Macy’s first quarter earnings conference call, CFO Karen Hoguet, gave a litany of reasons why the company missed their sales targets. They reported a drop of 0.7%; including lease departments the drop was 0.1%. The first reason was the strong dollar, which discouraged foreign visitors to shop aggressively in cities like New York, Chicago, Las Vegas and San Francisco. It appears the Russians are not traveling to the US because of internal political problems, and the Chinese are feeling the impact of an economic slowdown. The European, Japanese Brazilian and other countries already slowed over the last two years. The strength of the US dollar has made it more expensive to visit America for many foreign travelers.

The second reason cited for the sales slowdown was that the company is on a learning curve regarding how to handle the omnichannel environment. That may be tough to explain, but the company announced that some of their better stores will have an assortment of better merchandise – they are trading up. That should be interesting, since it will again require reorientation and infusion of selling staff in order to make the quality customer feel more welcome among the heavily promoted mostly private labels at Macy’s. On the selling floor, Macy’s has been squeezing the lemon dry, now management has to be realistic and retrain their associates to give better, more caring, service.

The third reason given for the missed sales targets was the slowdown of the ports on the West Coast. This affected all retailers. Probably Macy’s a little more, because of the Bloomingdale stores. Mrs. Hoguet said that customers missed the deep discounts on merchandise that came from the Western ports. Bloomingdale’s extended their friends and family off-price event in order to capture these missed sales. I can’t help thinking that maybe less merchandise headed for the markdown racks would be a good thing, but Mrs. Hoguet indicated otherwise blaming less inventory for lower sales.

The fact that General Merchandise, Apparel and Footwear (GAF) sales were lower than expected was cited as a fourth reason for the shortfall. That is a fact, millennials are not buying as much apparel – in fact, this group in general disdains ownership.

Finally, as a fifth factor Mrs. Hoguet cited the weather. Sadly, the year before we also had brutal weather and while I hope, 2015/16 will be better, I am pessimistic that the cycle will turn that quickly. It was a terrible winter, but customers shopped for what they needed – especially mattresses and furniture, and they also purchased active wear. They bought what they needed, having a strong weather driven disincentive to just go shopping.

Macy’s management has excellent merchants. They must open their eyes to the possibilities and opportunities that only a dominant retailer like Macy’s has. They must find new ways to make the customer comfortable and welcome.  In my opinion, going upscale is not the answer for Macy’s. Taking a realistic look at the number of sale events and recognizing that a) most customers no longer believe the sale signs; b) everybody is now invited to every “friend and family” event; and c) couponing will not build a healthy business well positioned for long term growth.  This is what Macy’s really needs to do.

For the record, Macy’s had a disappointing quarter. As a result of the below plan sales, the company exited the quarter with too much inventory (+2.7%).  This makes for a difficult road ahead. Macy’s management believes that it can achieve its earnings projection of $4.70 to $4.80.  I hope so. The trick will be to do so without squeezing the lemon even harder by cutting more staff.


J.C. Penney Looks Like It’s Winning Back Market Share From Macy’s



The department store reported strong first-quarter results, besting its bigger rival Macy’s and suggesting it is clawing back some of the market share it lost in the last few years.

For the past two years, conventional wisdom was that J.C. Penney’s JCP -7.35% brief and disastrous flirtation with hipness under former Apple executive Ron Johnson had set it back irreversibly against rivals like Macy’s M -0.67% .

But on Wednesday, the department store reported a 3.4% increase in comparable sales for the quarter ending May 2. It easily outperformed Macy’s, which earlier in the day, reported a small quarterly decline.

J.C. Penney’s results suggest that it is winning back some of the business it lost to Macy’s, it bigger and more successful challenger. Macy’s blamed some its problems on the cold winter, although that excuse rang follow because Penney had to deal with the same weather and the two companies co-anchor 400 U.S. malls together.

What’s more, Penney felt so good about its first-quarter numbers that it raised its full year sales outlook. Comparable sales, which exclude newly opened or closed stores, are now expected to be up 4% to 5% rather than an earlier 3-4% range.

Since its failed effort to go upmarket under ex-CEO Johnson in 2012 and 2013, Penney has been fixing its business by bringing back popular in-house brands like St. John’s Bay that offer higher profit margins, fixing its e-commerce business, and tweaking its homes goods selection. In March, Penney sent out a home goods catalog, its first such mailing in years, to promote its new approach to good effect, and said it would send another this fall.

Penney also said it would soon start selling Sephora cosmetics products on its website. The 500 Sephora shops located in Penney stores have been a hit.

The result of the company’s efforts has been a gross profit margin that is on the mend, rising 3.3 points to 36.4 % of sales last quarter. That’s still short of the 39.3% three years ago, before its failed reinvention, but good enough to prompt Penney to also raise its profit margin forecast this year.

“We are focused on taking back market share and restoring the profitability of our business,” Penney CEO Mike Ullman told analysts. “We are switching gears, going on the offensive to gain back share and grow our business profitably.”

Ullman, who was CEO from 2004 to 2011 before being replaced by Johnson, Apple’s retail guru, returned two years ago to put out one of the biggest corporate infernos in retail history. Penney president Marvin Ellison, a former Home Depot executive HD 0.75%, will assume the CEO job in August.

Penney said that comparable sales grew in each region of the country, and that apparel led the charge. In contrast, Macy’s reported its clothing business was challenging.

In the last few years, Macy’s has downplayed the benefit of Penney’s woes, preferring to focus on its various initiatives. Lately, Macy’s has decided to launch a discount store chain this year and is looking at building some retail stores abroad.

But if Macy’s got some lift from Penney’s problems, it follows that it would also feel the effects of Penney’s resurgence.



Lower Spending From International Tourists Hurts Macy’s 1Q Sales and Profit

Macy's 1Q

CINCINNATI (AP) — Macy’s is feeling a big chill from international tourists because their money isn’t going as far as it used to.

The strong dollar has crimped spending by overseas visitors at Macy’s stores in big cities like New York, Las Vegas and Chicago. That contributed to a 13 percent decline in profit in the first quarter, the company said Wednesday.

The company said bad winter weather and a slowdown at West Coast ports also hurt sales.

Shares of Macy’s fell 2.5 percent Wednesday even as the company raised its quarterly dividend.

Sales from international tourists account for 5 percent of Macy’s business and fell by a double-digit percentage in the latest quarter, Macy’s Chief Financial Officer Karen Hoguet said on a conference call with analysts. The stronger U.S. dollar made handbags, clothing and other goods more expensive for tourists who were exchanging foreign currency.

“Unfortunately, this impact will likely stay with us at least through the summer vacation period,” Hoguet said.

Macy’s huge flagship stores, such as the iconic store on New York’s 34th Street and the former Marshall Field’s flagship on Chicago’s State Street, attract many tourists. Macy’s also operates luxury seller Bloomingdale’s, which draws wealthy out-of-towners.

The company, which has been a standout in retailing throughout the economic recovery, is the first of the major retailers to report first-quarter results. But the results show the challenges Macy’s and other retailers are facing.

Some factors are temporary. The West Coast port dispute cost Macy’s and other retailers sales when merchandise didn’t arrive on time. Macy’s also said unusually cold weather hurt sales of early spring merchandise.

Macy’s also noted its reorganization of merchandising, planning and marketing caused some temporary disruption as executives in those areas learned new roles.

Macy’s is also still dealing with a slow economic recovery and changing consumer behavior. While gas prices are low and unemployment has dropped, stagnant wages have kept a lid on shopping sprees.

Shoppers also are spending money on other things, like health care, and stores are also dealing with a shift toward online shopping.

But Macy’s says it has many reasons to be encouraged. The company is looking to expand to new areas. It announced earlier in the year that it was buying Blue Mercury, a Washington, D.C.-based beauty retailer.

Macy’s also is getting into the outlet business. Last week, it announced the first four test stores will open this fall in New York City and the surrounding area. The new stores will be called Macy’s Backstage.

“We are moving fast to test, learn and bring the most successful ideas to scale quickly,” said Terry Lundgren, chairman and CEO of Macy’s in a statement.

But Macy’s first-quarter results show it has its work cut out for it.

The company reported first-quarter net income of $193 million, or 56 cents per share.

The results missed Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 12 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 61 cents per share.

Macy’s said revenue at stores open at least a year slipped 0.1 percent in the first quarter. Hoguet told investors the drop in spending from international tourists depressed the figure by a full percentage point.

Macy’s posted revenue of $6.23 billion in the period, also below Wall Street forecasts. Eight analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $6.3 billion.

Macy’s is raising its quarterly dividend to 36 cents from the current 31.25 cents. The new dividend will be payable July 1 to shareholders of record at the close of business on June 15.

The company’s shares fell $1.50, or a little more than 2 percent, to $63.83 Wednesday morning.


Eccles School of Business


About Eccles School of Business

Founded in 1917 in Salt Lake City, the David Eccles School of Business educates nearly 3,500 students a year and boasts more than 31,000 alumni. Students manage a university venture fund of $18.3 million, the largest of its kind in the nation. In January 2012, the school opened its new $72 million Spencer F. Eccles Business Building, offering students a cutting-edge learning environment packed with state-of-the-art technology. Its entrepreneurship program is consistently ranked as among the best in the nation by the Princeton Review, and its Full-Time MBA program made the biggest jump up the rankings of U.S. News & World Report’s 2014 rankings of graduate schools. For more information, visit www.business.utah.edu.


5 Skills to Speed Up The Sales Process

Sales People

I’d say with my hand on my heart that pretty much anyone I’ve ever met who works in sales has had that moment when a deal just doesn’t want to close. Obviously you don’t want the customer to know that you are desperate, but sometimes it’s really tough to hide that complete and utter frustration you’re feeling inside.

So what can we do in sales to minimise the risk of the long and drawn out sales process that leaves us tearing our hair out in anger?

  1. Ask the Right Questions From the Very Beginning

It’s amazing how sloppy some sales people can be when it comes to qualifying the customer with the right opening questions. The main reason for such poor quality questioning comes down to the same old error of insufficient planning that I often complain about. It’s impossible to improvise when it comes to questioning, without at least forgetting some part of the jigsaw along the way. Even a sales person with experience still needs a guideline of standard questions to be used with new prospects.

  1. Don’t Just Paint the Pretty Picture

Sales people are not all liars and cheats in the way some people would like to think of them. I know some people have had a bad experience with a sales person that they often find hard to forget. I’ve been there too, but despite this, I still think that the majority of professional sales people are pretty honest people. We are really no different from anyone else and have to live with our conscience at the end of each working day. Nobody is perfect however and if there is one tiny blemish on the soul of many sales people, it would probably be that ability to accidentally forget to mention the less wonderful aspects of a product or a service. The problem with this approach is that sooner or later the ugly beast will raise its head and show the sales person to be a bit on the sneaky side.

So you’re probably asking yourself, “How does this affect the actual length of the sales process?” Well, it certainly does because the best way to avoid such issues arising is to leave no stone unturned, right from the outset. Be absolutely open with the customer and they will appreciate and trust you more for it. Okay it may cost you the odd sale but I find that a lot of those clients who drop out at the early stages would more than likely have dropped out anyway.

  1. Guide the Customer at Every Stage

Great sales people are always in touch with their customer’s needs and expectations throughout the selling process, as they are acutely aware that this significantly reduces the risk of losing them along the way. It’s also really important to provide all the available resources and expertise to help the customer understand the benefits and to associate excellent value with the offering. The customer will need educating throughout the process to keep them from faltering and potentially changing their mind

  1. Trial Close When the Opportunity Arises

I don’t advise anyone to trial close a customer until they feel confident that he or she has fully understood what they are being offered. The prospect needs to be given time to ask questions and to dispel any doubts they may have about buying. It’s good to be cautious when it comes to closing but on the other end of the spectrum there are also a certain amount of sales people who just don’t know when to ask for the sale. Most customers will at the very least drop some hints when they are interested in purchasing, but the majority will not make it obvious. We first of all must ask ourselves the simple question as to why the prospect behaves this way. Well, I feel it’s for two reasons:

  1. The fear of being ripped off
  2. The fear of making the wrong decision and looking stupid
  3. Always Align Yourself To The Customer’s Needs

Sales people sometimes get carried away with all the lovely features and benefits of their product or service forgetting that the customer is only interested in the outcome or the result. If you stick to the relevant questions and answers throughout the sales process, things will happen quicker. One simple example could be a printer you are selling to a small marketing company. They are looking for something that will be very durable because they want to print large quantities of brochures. If you as the sales person start talking about the wireless bluetooth printing capabilities and the memory card support etc, you are talking about features and not results. Instead if you show them case studies of how the printer had surpassed the million copy mark without needing maintenance and you show them the photo of the big smiling customer who experienced this, you are aligned to the customer’s needs.


Young Entrepreneurs Strut Their Stuff in Bid For $40,000 Grand Prize

40,000 dollars grand prize


SALT LAKE CITY — Tired of the stodgy tie collection from the department store rack?

Accidental Gentleman can hook you up with the most daring or unique of screen printed tie designs limited only by your imagination.

Heck, if you’re really that fond of yourself, you can put your own mug on that tie you drape around your neck.

If you’re hungry, The Menu lets you punch in the specific food you’ve got a hankering for and presto, a list of the best customer-rated ham sandwiches or burgers will pop up on your smart phone.

Twenty teams of young, bright-eyed, well-dressed entrepreneurs trotted out their sales pitches, demonstrations and business cards in a fierce competition called the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge.

The final round of the 2015 competition was held Saturday at the University of Utah’s Spencer Fox Eccles Building, where the public had a chance to pick their favorites.

The spoils for the top finisher was $40,000 — a tidy little jumpstart to get a budding business off the ground.

Jeremy Garcia is co-founder and chief executive officer of Accidental Gentleman.

The Dixie State University student said his twin brother, Garrett Garcia, is the “original gentleman” helping to inspire the business, which he described as a “no brainer” for them.

“I must have 60 ties in my collection and I have been screen printing since I was 16.”

Screen printing allows those with the most discerning eye for detail the ability to put one’s brand, logo, photo or even drawing to fabric.

“We just need some more backing,” Jeremy Garcia said.

Across the way, Urban Yield wants to become Utah’s first vertical hydroponic farm. The practice has not yet widely caught on in the United States, but Japan has the world’s largest indoor hydroponic farm that produces lettuce nearly three times as quickly with just 1 percent of the water.

Zeppelin Zeerip from Westminster College wants to demonstrate and prove the practice in Salt Lake City, growing lettuce, mint and basil in a state he says produces just 2 percent of the vegetables its residents consume. With drought a challenge and most of the nation’s food produce supply coming from Mexico or California, Zeerip said he believes it is well past time for the efficiencies of year-round vertical farming.

Hosted by the Lassonde Institute, a division of the David Eccles School of Business, the challenge attracted 180 teams from colleges and universities from throughout the state.

Institute director Tony D’Ambrosio said each year, the challenge becomes tougher.

“The level of sophistication continues to go up every year.”

Ultimately, a student startup providing an online service to help people secure green cards won first place and the $40,000 grand prize.

Sam Stoddard, a team member of SimpleCitizen and a student at Brigham Young University, said the money will help his team launch its website by this summer.

The University of Utah is ranked the No. 2 school in the nation for cash awarded to student entrepreneurs, according to the Princeton Review and Entrepreneur Magazine. Last year, the university awarded $744,550 to students.

In fall 2016, the university will launch Lassonde Studios, designed to house the nation’s top 400 entrepreneurial students from any field of study who want to “live, create and launch.”


Domo CFO: How to Go Public


Bruce Felt Jr. was the finance chief during the initial public offerings of SuccessFactors Inc. and Qualix Group Inc. [both since acquired]. Last August, he was named CFO of Domo Inc., which offers cloud-based tools to help companies likeeBay Inc.EBAY -0.31% and National Geographic keep tabs on their finances and supply chains. Mr. Felt spoke with CFO Journal’s John Kester about the pitfalls of IPOs. Here is an excerpt:

Q: How do you bring a company public the right way?

A: First, you have to have a business model that works. It just is working. And that means, with confidence, you can tell investors, ‘This is what’s going to happen,’ and you make it happen.

You have to be able to close books quickly. They need to be correct. You need to be able to file [Securities and Exchange Commission] reports on time. All your systems need to be in place and buttoned up. The whole era of [Sarbanes-Oxley] is here where internal controls matter a lot and the accountants have gained an incredible amount of power over companies, the public accounting firms in particular.

Q: What are some of the pitfalls of bringing a company public?

A: One of the worst things you can do coming out of an [initial public offering] is miss your numbers…If you went public and the expectation [for growth] was 85% and you came in at 75%, you’re going to get hammered and the whole company’s credibility, the CEO and the CFO, and the prospects of the company will be severely diminished. And the cost of capital will go up and the amount of time spent with investors will go up…

When the business is doing very well, it’s very easy to oversell what you’re going to deliver…To be able to bite your tongue and hold back: very hard to do. And the fear of screwing up, I think you can only learn through experience…Your fear overcomes that optimism and you do the right thing.

You’ve got to get your revenue accounting correct. There’s no playing around with the numbers. You have to be iron-clad on when a deal’s a deal, when you start recognizing revenue and know exactly how to do it. And no monkeying around with dates, effective dates, when a deal came in or didn’t come in – all kinds of temptations, that’s in the world that we work in. You just have to have the discipline to say, ‘No, we’re doing it by the book.’

Q: How much was your IPO history a factor in Domo hiring you?

A: As a CFO, as a résumé-enhancer, you really need to check that box. I’m able to get a higher salary, which is nice to have…Back in the good old days, you didn’t even think in terms of multiples of revenue…So valuations are up there and the stakes are really high. And so boards and CEOs get a lot of comfort in somebody that’s done it before.

Q: What advice would you give CFOs?

A: You have a boss. Realize that. Be the boss’s partner. That means you don’t work for the board; you work for the CEO. You want to make yourself a very trusted advisor to the CEO at the same time.

Come to work every day with a service-oriented attitude, with the whole concept of ‘What can I do for the company?,’ and I contrast that against those that come to work every day and say, ‘What can the company do for me?’

Know your trade. Be on top of everything that’s going on in the finance world where a CFO ought to know. That can cover technology, strategy, systems, vendors, talent.

You’re only as good as the people under you, at the end of the day…[and] whether or not you like the numbers, you better know them.

Q: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

A: I’ve always put myself in a situation of hyper-growth. And it’s just a different beast…Hyper is like 100% growth. You’re doubling your workforce every year. You’re doubling the top-line every year. So we’re four years old going on five. When you’re doubling, that means in the year you’re in you’re doing as much business, and have as much activity as you did in the whole history of the company before that.

It’s just harder to manage in that environment. It’s hard to get enough talent. It’s hard to control the business. It’s extremely difficult to put together 100% growth year after year after year.

http://blogs.wsj.com/cfo/2015/02/20/domo-cfo-how-to-go-public/ dysig_tid=9c20e20a9cec4c42b0b843f6b0fadf06

5 Reasons Why You Should ‘Think Colossal’ When It Comes to Your Dreams

Think Colossal


Most of us have seen the question, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” That simple yet insightful query aims to get to the core of what really motivates us, past any fears or self-limiting beliefs that are holding us back. It’s a phrase that can act as a catalyst in our pursuit of our true potential.

People too often talk themselves out of going for it before they’ve even seriously considered their dreams. Thoughts such as “It’s not realistic,” “I’m too old,” “I’m not talented enough,” or “That’s pie-in-the-sky thinking” can cause even the best and brightest among us to stop dead in our tracks before even taking our first step.

That need not be the case. Here are five ways the simple process of “thinking colossal” can change your life:

1. Get energized!

The mere process of jotting down on paper a mammoth target should be enough to get your spine tingling with excitement. An average goal elicits average motivation, but a goal that resonates passionately with you can change your outlook on everything. Suddenly you have a mission and purpose that wasn’t there before.

2. To do big things requires big thinking.

You wouldn’t be reading an article such as this if you had mediocre thoughts and desires in life. And the people who accomplish things out of the ordinary in this world are the individuals who’ve out-dreamed, out-thought, out-planned and out-executed the rest of us. Remember: Big thinking always starts with a dream.

3. Big thinking sets the wheels in motion.

A colossal goal should energize you to your very core. Use this inspiration as fuel to take action and develop a step-by-step plan to make it happen. And if your goal is truly inspirational and monumental, you’ll be inspired to get started now . . . which is half the battle.

4. Inspire others around you.

Big dreamers who walk the talk have a knack for bringing everyone around them up a notch or two. To accomplish your goals, it’s likely you’ll need lots of help along the way. When others witness you taking massive action to turn your biggest ideas into reality, they can’t help but want to be a part of something special, too.

5. Strive for your maximum potential.

Without a vision that stretches and truly inspires you, it’s unlikely you’ll ever know or reach your true maximum potential. Great, worthwhile accomplishments rarely happen as a result of luck. They are a result of chasing dreams that some believed impossible, but you took a different tack. You willed them to become real.



How Macy’s Quietly Created One of America’s Most Diverse Boards

Macy's CEO


Less than 1% of the corporate boards of Fortune 500 companies have achieved or surpassed gender parity. Last month, Macy’s became one of them. Here’s how.

Macy’s CEO and Chairman Terry Lundgren likes to fill his board with members who have diverse perspectives. As the head of a major U.S. retailer, he’s adamant that the board reflects his customer base so he can stay attuned to trends in how different people shop.

What Lundgren looks for in board members hardly sounds radical, but the results have been: Half of Macy’s M 0.34% 12 board directors are women. Last month, when he appointed Leslie Hale from RLJ Lodging Trust to the board, Macy’s reached this milestone. Less than 1% of companies in the Fortune 500 have achieved or surpassed gender parity on their boards, according to a recent Fortuneanalysis in collaboration with S&P Capital IQ.

Reaching the 50% mark brings Macy’s into a elite group that includes three other companies as of Fortune’s January analysis: Avon AVP 0.12% , Xerox XRX 2.17% andTravelCenters of America TA -0.06% (which only has four board members in total). These companies have each demonstrated a serious commitment to changing the male-heavy gender dynamics on corporate boards.

It’s worth noting that Macy’s board diversity extends beyond gender as well — two members are African-American, one is Asian-American and another is Hispanic.

Nearly 30% of Fortune 500 firms have just one female director and 23 have none at all.

“We talk a lot about diversity, but the first criteria is that each and every board member has a unique skill set and experience that they can bring to the board,” said Lundgren in an interview with Fortune. “The women have a lot of choices. They could go on any board because they have lots of demand for their skills.”

The women Lundgren is referring to are powerhouse executives like Deirdre Connelly, the former North American president of pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, Marna Whittington, the former CEO of Allianz Global Investors Capital, and Joyce Roché, the former CEO and president of Girls Incorporated. Yet a common sentiment among executives with fewer women on their boards is that there are just not enough qualified candidates like Connelly, Whittington and Roché out there.

After all, in the Fortune 500, just 25 CEOs and roughly 18% of directors are women. A lot of boards strongly prefer candidates with prior board or CEO experience, making the pool of female candidates appear very small.

Craig Weatherup, a member of Macy’s board and the former CEO of PepsiCo, said Lundgren has fought hard against the notion that every board candidate must fall into this narrow category. As a member of the nominating and corporate governance committee, Weatherup also has worked tirelessly to ensure Macy’s isn’t solely considering candidates whom he refers to as a part of the “old boys club.”

“Boards that aren’t looking for younger, digitally savvy female and ethnic board members are really going to fall behind. It’s a key part of staying relevant in today’s market,” Weatherup said. “I agree that if you’re just looking for a sitting CEO or a recently retired CEO it is almost impossible. But there is no reason why that stat hold be a limiting criteria.”

Annie Young-Scrivner, an EVP at Starbucks and the president of Teavana, is the epitome of the type of appointment Weatherup is talking about. She joined Macy’s board in 2014, and is a 46-year-old Asian American without any prior public board experience. She is mentored by Weatherup, and identifies personally with the roughly 70% of Macy’s customers that are women. As all retailers react to the shift of shoppers who our now shopping online or researching online before heading into stores, Weatherup said it is important to have young, tech-smart board members like Young-Scrivner to advise the board. “I use my iPad and my iPhone, but I am hardly a digital board member,” said Weatherup, who is 69.

“I don’t feel like I am there because I am a woman,” said Young-Scrivner. “I add a point of view that is different than some of the other board members and that strengthens Macy’s as a company.”

The result of Macy’s push to bring on fresh talent is a board of directors that is high-functioning and robust with talent, said several board members. Lundgren, who has been chairman of the board since 2004, has watched four women get elected by the board and re-elected by shareholders.

Having more diverse voices on his board has “without a doubt become a tremendous advantage” as he tries to navigate a rapidly changing retail model, he said. And for now, the company’s financial performance seems to be responding well to its diverse leadership: the retailer announced raised annual profit outlooks just as several of its main competitors are struggling to lure shoppers to its stores.

Macy’s latest appointment of Leslie Hale represents another example of the retailer looking beyond the traditional experiences of board directors to bring in a diverse perspective. Hale, a 42-year-old African American, is the youngest member of Macy’s board and had no prior board experience. Yet Lundgren is interested in Hale because of her financial acumen: At RLJ Lodging, she serves as chief financial officer.

“I was drawn to Macy’s because I could add value both from my professional experience as a public company CFO in the hospitality industry and from my personal experience as a Macy’s shopper with a young family,” said Hale on the recent appointment. “I felt an immediate fit with the board members I met, all of whom had different backgrounds and experiences.”

While Young-Scrivner acknowledged that Lundgren has led by example when searching for diverse board candidates, she added that quality recruiting firms are also essential. Most executive search firms would only speak on background regarding how they recruit for diverse talent, but it’s clear that it takes an increased attention on the issue to bring candidates from different background to light. While companies like Macy’s have made diversity a concrete criteria in their last few board searches, not all companies outline to recruiters that difference is a priority.

“By sitting in the board meetings, it becomes very clear that the Macy’s board is comprised of extraordinary leaders with really diverse backgrounds,” said Deirdre Connelly. “It’s important to highlight that so that other companies can take the same chances on people that perhaps are not CEOs today, but will be CEOs tomorrow.”



5 Things J.C. Penney Seems to Be Doing Wrong Despite Strong Sales


NEW YORK ( Real Money) — During the last few weeks I have warned on how J.C. Penney’s (JCP – Get Report) holiday quarter was likely to be received by the market — harshly.

With the stock plummeting post-earnings on Thursday, let me provide some deeper insight.

In the retail sector, Jim Cramer’s charitable trust Action Alerts PLUS owns TGT. Read his thoughts on the company’s recent earnings here.

A couple weeks ago, I reached out to J.C. Penney to schedule some time with either: (1) CEO-Designee Marvin Ellison or (2) CFO Ed Record. CEO Mike Ullman never gives interviews.

I figured that after hyping the start of the holiday season immediately following Black Friday, the company would deliver a decent quarter. I believed they would want to get the word out on its strengthening turnaround story.

I also believed that after months of getting to know the inner workings of J.C. Penney — and likely having a business plan in hand — Ellison would be paraded around to media to trumpet the holiday quarter and perhaps share parts of his long-term vision for the department store retailer.

I was politely rebuffed, however, by J.C. Penney (who has always been incredibly helpful with data), with the company simply saying it was “not planning any media interviews” post earnings. “Hmm, isn’t this the same company that gave me a free throw blanket and set forth ambitious long-term guidance at a New York City analyst day in October last year?” I thought.

I then had an inkling the quarter didn’t go exactly as well as J.C. Penney planned from a bottom-line standpoint (picked-up discounts in the stores in January were also a red flag).

But, the executives at the company have nobody to blame for themselves for the market’s swift, corrective action — they set the bullish expectations in the market via a barrage of upbeat commentary. For J.C . Penney to not produce a profit on a strong 4.4% same-store sales increase in its largest volume quarter of the year is mildly disturbing.

I believe it sheds light on a host of fundamental issues that are likely to pressure the stock even more in the near term. They include:

  1. The J.C. Penney of the future laid out on analyst day, one chock full of redesigned fixtures and signage, is not going to be chain-wide anytime soon. That leaves the retailer still in outdated formats in key departments like footwear and women’s handbags. I believe market goers bought into the notion the retailer had the ability to aggressively push forward J.C. Penney 2.0, but those expectations have to be tempered (as they never should have been made in the first place).
  2. J.C. Penney’s debt load is stifling any operating profit the company could eke out. That has me concerned about the bottom line potential in non-holiday periods, at least until J.C. Penney develops the financial firepower to begin bringing down its debt load.
  3. J.C. Penney may not return to its peak profit margins from Mike Ullman’s prior tenure amid investment needs to upgrade online infrastructure and the level of discounting required to sell apparel and home goods in the mall.
  4. J.C. Penney simply needs more product departments selling well, other than home and men’s apparel, to thrive.
  5. The store base has to be reduced further, in spite of the exec team’s assertion that most of its locations are not profit drags. Time to spend the cash and buy out of leases early.

J.C. Penney’s holiday quarter says this: Its long-term profit forecast will have to be reduced and some form of capital raise in 2016 could be realistic. Neither of these things is what investors were prepared to hear.

Dunkin Donuts

I always enjoy talking with Dunkin Donuts (DNKN – Get Report) execs. Doing so gives me a ton of street cred at a family dinner table full of Dunkin Donuts coffee loyalists. But I have been lukewarm on the stock for a while now due to competitive concerns and possible store oversaturation.

In chatting with Dunkin’s CEO on Thursday, however, I left with a greater appreciation on the potential impact of its new K-Cup rollout at grocery stores and retailers beginning mid-year. Keep in mind that Dunkin Donuts in the past just sold K-Cups for Keurig machines in its own restaurants — Starbucks (SBUX) sold 100 million K-Cups alone in December of last year!

Barring a macro disaster, or McDonald’s (MCD) giving away free iced coffee for a month, analysts will be forced to raise their 2015 earnings per share numbers significantly on Dunkin due to the K-Cup rollout. I think you could get a few more points on the stock from here.



A Department Store No One Talks About is Beating Wal-Mart, Amazon, and TJ Maxx


Department store chain Kohl’s is women’s favorite place to shop for clothes, according to a new Piper Jaffray report on female shoppers’ spending habits.

Coming in second place behind Kohl’s was Macy’s, followed by JCPenney, Wal-Mart, Amazon, Target, TJ Maxx, Old Navy, Sears, and Levi’s.

Piper Jaffray surveyed more than 1,000 women for the report.

Piper Jaffray survey

Kohl’s has been the first choice among women for the last four surveys.

It was also cited among the top stores where women are beginning to shop, as shown in the chart below.

Piper JaffrayPiper Jaffray

So why is Kohl’s so popular?

The midmarket department store offers deep discounts on national clothing brands such as Nike, Vera Wang, and Izod.

The thrill of finding good deals keeps bargain hunters coming back, according to Pam Goodfellow, an analyst for Prosper Insights & Analytics.

That has hurt competitors such as Wal-Mart, which offers low prices every day.

Nearly 12% of people who buy groceries at Wal-Mart shop most frequently for women’s apparel at Kohl’s, according to a Prosper survey.

“That’s a potential $7 billion walking out of Walmart’s doors and into the open arms of Kohl’s,” Goodfellow writes on Forbes.

Kohl’s reported a profit of $369 million, or $1.83 a share, in the most recent quarter ending January 31, while revenue climbed 3.9%, to $6.34 billion.

The company’s shares have risen more than 33% over the last year. By comparison, Macy’s and Wal-Mart shares have grown by 6% and 10%, respectively, while Sears and JC Penney’s shares have fallen by more than 14%.

Kohl's stock price



Gap Inc. Recognized by the Ethisphere Institute as a 2015 World’s Most Ethical Company

Gap Inc

2015 Marks The Ninth Consecutive Year Gap Inc. Is Honored By Ethisphere

SAN FRANCISCO, 2015-3-11 — /EPR Retail News/ — Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) today announced it has been recognized by the Ethisphere® Institute, a leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices, as a 2015 World’s Most Ethical Company®. The annual designation recognizes organizations that foster a culture of ethics and transparency at every level of the company.

The company is one of only fifteen to have been honored every year since the list’s inception, underscoring Gap Inc.’s ongoing commitment to leading ethical business standards and practices, and driving long-term value for customers, employees, suppliers, and investors.

“We value and strive for ethical behavior and responsible practice in every role and function at Gap Inc.,” said Michelle Banks, executive vice president, global sustainability and chief compliance officer, Gap Inc. “We’re honored to be recognized again this year and remain committed to doing business with integrity.”

Gap Inc. received qualifying scores across five categories including ethics and compliance; corporate citizenship and responsibility; culture of ethics, governance, and leadership; innovation; and reputation.

“Earning this recognition involves the collective action of a global workforce from the top down” said Ethisphere Chief Executive Officer Timothy Erblich. “We congratulate everyone at Gap Inc. for this extraordinary achievement.”

The full list of the 2015 World’s Most Ethical Companies can be found here.

About Gap Inc.
Gap Inc. is a leading global retailer offering clothing, accessories, and personal care products for men, women, and children under the Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime, Athleta, and Intermix brands. Fiscal year 2014 net sales were $16.4 billion. Gap Inc. products are available for purchase in more than 90 countries worldwide through about 3,300 company-operated stores, over 400 franchise stores, and e-commerce sites. For more information, please visit www.gapinc.com.

About the Ethisphere Institute
The Ethisphere® Institute is the global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices that fuel corporate character, marketplace trust and business success. Ethisphere has deep expertise in measuring and defining core ethics standards using data-driven insights that help companies enhance corporate character. Ethisphere honors superior achievement through its World’s Most Ethical Companies® recognition program, provides a community of industry experts with the Business Ethics Leadership Alliance (BELA) and showcases trends and best practices in ethics with the Ethisphere Magazine. Ethisphere is also the leading provider of independent verification of corporate ethics and compliance programs that include: Ethics Inside® Certification, Compliance Leader Verification™ and Anti-Corruption Program Verification™. More information about Ethisphere can be found at: http://www.ethisphere.com.


Cold Weather Chills U.S. Retail Sales; Jobs Market Firming

Cold Retail

(Reuters) – U.S. retail sales unexpectedly fell in February as harsh weather kept consumers from auto showrooms and shopping malls, tempering the outlook for first-quarter growth and a June interest rate increase by the Federal Reserve.

Even accounting for the snowy and cold weather, which blanketed much of the country in late February, there is little doubt that consumer spending has slowed significantly after robust growth in the fourth quarter. Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.

“This report points to a surprisingly bigger weather impact on spending activity than previously thought. The weakness in spending could potentially complicate the case for a mid-year hike by the hawkish members of the Fed,” said Millan Mulraine, deputy chief economist at TD Securities in the New York

The Commerce Department said on Thursday retail sales dropped 0.6 percent as receipts fell in almost all categories, marking the third straight month of declines.

Sales fell 0.8 percent in January. February was the first time since 2012 that retail sales had dropped for three consecutive months. Economists had forecast retail sales increasing 0.3 percent last month.

The Fed had been widely expected to remove a reference to being “patient” in deciding when to raise rates at next week’s two-day meeting, putting a June rate increase in play.

Some economists and traders think the U.S. central bank may want to wait longer to be certain any weakness early in the year was temporary. The cool-off in economic activity has been blamed on the bad weather and the now-settled labor dispute at the country’s West Coast ports, which disrupted the supply chain.

Stocks on Wall Street were trading higher as traders bet against a June rate lift-off, while the dollar fell against a basket of currencies. Prices for U.S. Treasury debt rose.


Retail sales excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services were flat after a downwardly revised 0.1 percent dip in January. The so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product.

Core retail sale have been downbeat since December. February’s weak reading and January’s revision prompted economists to cut their first-quarter GDP growth estimates by as much as six-tenths of a percentage point to as low as a 1.2 percent annual rate.

The economy grew at a 2.2 percent pace in the fourth quarter. With the labor market rapidly firming, the moderation in growth is likely to be temporary.

A separate report from the Labor Department showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 36,000 to a seasonally adjusted 289,000 for the week ended March 7.

That was well below economists’ expectations for a drop to only 305,000 and unwound much of the prior two weeks’ increases, which had pushed claims well above the 300,000 mark.

Economists are confident economic activity will accelerate in the second quarter of the year, also as consumer spending gets a tailwind from the massive savings from the lower gasoline prices in late 2014 and early this year.

Most believe consumers saved the bulk of the windfall from cheaper prices at the pump and expect the money to be spent starting in March as temperatures warm up.

Prospects for a pick-up in spending were also brightened by a report from the Fed showing household net worth posted its biggest rise in a year, rising $1.52 trillion to $82.91 trillion in the fourth quarter.

“Consumers may have throttled back spending, but they maintain the ability and means to spend,” said Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at the National Retail Federation. “With the onset of warmer, spring-like temperatures and an earlier Easter, consumers will likely shake off the winter chills.”

The weakness in sales last month was fairly broad-based, underscoring the impact of the weather.

Automobile sales tumbled 2.5 percent, the largest drop in a year. Sales at clothing stores were flat. Receipts at building material and garden equipment stores fell 2.3 percent, the biggest decline since May 2012.

Sales at restaurants and bars slipped 0.6 percent, the largest fall in a year. There were also declines in furniture and electronic and appliances sales.

Receipts at online stores, however, rose as did sales at sporting goods and hobby shops.

A recent rise in gasoline prices lifted receipts at service stations, where sales rose 1.5 percent, the first increase since May. Gasoline prices rose about 9 cents in February.

Prices at the pump had been dropping since July last year in tandem with falling crude oil prices.


The Bon-Ton Stores Announces 2014 Financial Results

the bon ton

The Bon-Ton Stores announced their financial results for the fourth quarter and full year 2014. The company saw an increase in store and ecommerce sales and an overall increase in net income.

In fourth quarter 2014, Bon-Ton Stores saw an increase in total sales from $914.9 million to $942.6 million. Income in the quarter increased by $1.1 million.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Kathryn Bufano said, “We were pleased with our sales performance in the fourth quarter in both stores and eCommerce. However, increased promotional activity in support of our initiative to drive incremental traffic as well as higher delivery expenses associated with our omnichannel operations resulted in a reduced gross margin rate in the fourth quarter. We managed our inventory such that we ended the period in line with our sales trend and well-positioned for spring selling.”

Sales for the full year were relatively stagnant, decreasing overall from $2.770 billion to $2.756 billion and increasing in ecommerce by 25 percent. Income also increased for the full year by $2.7 million.


Malls Are Losing Their Most Lucrative Customers

Mall Are Losing Their Most Lucrative Customers

Women and teens are fleeing shopping malls.

Women are visiting the mall about eight times per year, down from 18 times annually in 2014, according to a new Piper Jaffray survey.

The share of women who visit the mall on a weekly basis has dropped from 22% to 6% over the same time period.

Piper Jaffray

Meanwhile, teen mall traffic has dropped 30% to 29 visits per year since 2007, according to Piper Jaffray’s most recent survey on teen shopping habits.

The traffic declines have coincided with dozens of mall closures across the country.

In the last four years, more than two dozen malls have shut down. Another 60 malls are on the brink of death, The New York Times reported, citing Green Street Advisors, a real-estate and real estate investments trust analytics firm.

Piper Jaffray analysts said women are choosing to shop at discount and specialty stores over malls when it comes to purchases for their homes.

“Though her visits to the mall are on the decline, we note she is increasingly choosing to shop at department stores when shopping for herself and discount and specialty stores when shopping for her home,” analysts wrote.

For teens, restaurants have replaced shopping malls as a favorite hang-out spot.

When millennials were teenagers, they were spending the majority of their budgets on clothing, according to Piper Jaffray. But today’s teens, who are members of Generation Z, spend most of their money on food and beverages, the company’s surveys found.

Starbucks is teens’ favorite restaurant brand, followed by McDonald’s, Chipotle, Olive Garden, and Taco Bell.

The chart shows the decline in teen mall traffic over the last several years.

Teen mall traffic



Macy’s, Rite Aid Part of First U.S. Multi-Brand Loyalty Program

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 26:  People wait to cross the street after shopping at Macy's department store on December 26, 2012 in New York City. Shoppers flooded Manhattan stores for post-Christmas deals throughout the day.  (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Macy’s, Rite Aid, ExxonMobil and several other brands are launched the first ever U.S.-based coalition loyalty program with American Express, in a move that promises to shake up rewards programs.

American shoppers have never been able to earn loyalty points from one retailer and then redeem them at another. That’s about to change.

In May, Macy’s M 0.34% , Rite Aid RAD 2.01% , ExxonMobil XOM 0.29% and four other brands plan to introduce the first U.S.-based loyalty program that encompasses an entire team of retailers. The program, called Plenti, will be operated by American Express AXP 0.77% .

After the program gets underway in May, a Macy’s customer will be able to use Plenti points won from, say, buying a pair of shoes at one of its stores to fill up at a Mobil gas station or to pay an AT&T T 0.32% phone bill. In the past, Macy’s shoppers could only use their points at Macy’s.

For consumers, the benefit will be the ability to earn rewards more quickly and to have far more flexibility in redeeming them. In theory, the initiative reduces “points purgatory,” an industry term for points that expire or go unused because a customer has too few to spend.

One study has found that the average American is a member of 29 loyalty programs but only uses eight actively. Those programs sitting dormant are like lost money.

For the companies, even ones like Macy’s that already have huge loyalty programs, Plenti is a way to tap into the broader customer base of its partners, save on program costs, and lift sales by offering a more appealing program to customers.

The key to success for such a coalition of retailers, experts say, is to have complementary focus and shoppers who visit frequently.

The coalition, which plans to double or even triple the number of members in the coming years, is not naming names. But it is looking at adding a national restaurant chain, a grocer and a do-it-yourself retailer (the two biggest such companies are Home Depot HD 0.47% and Lowe’s LOW 0.78% ). John Learish, Rite Aid’s senior vice president of marketing, said a national grocer would be “the most powerful” addition to the coalition because it would add more frequent shoppers.

Martine Reardon, Macy’s chief marketing officer, said the program addresses a shortcoming of Macy’s Star rewards program: insufficient frequency of shopper visits.”When you’re a fashion retailer like us, unlike a grocery store, you don’t need to come in once a week,” she said.

Rite Aid, which generates 80% of its annual sales through its mammoth Wellness + program, sees it as a way to win some business from the customers of coalition partners who may go to larger, rival drugstores like Walgreens WBA 0.80% or CVS CVS -0.30% , which operate massive loyalty programs too.

We can already tell you who won’t be part of Plenti: Nordstrom JWN -0.08% , J.C. Penney JCP -0.71% or CVS, or any direct competitor to any of the coalition members. Each participant gets the right to be sole company of its kind in the group.

It’s easy to see why: Macy’s would undoubtedly balk at the idea of a shopper using points earned at Macy’s to get a discount on something at Penney. Target TGT 0.67% and Wal-Mart Stores WMT 0.74% are seen as unlikely members given how much overlap in product assortment with other coalition members and the scale of their own programs.

The other members of the Plenti coalition are online video service Hulu, utility company Direct Energy and insurer Nationwide. Every 1,000 points will yield at least $10 in savings, and members will get additional special offers. People can use whatever debit or credit card they choose (though Amex will launch a Plenti branded credit card.).

Long time coming

Coalition loyalty programs have been a fixture of consumers’ life for eons in places like Canada, the European Union and Australia. The Air Miles program in Canada, operated by Loyalty One, is used by 75% of households, with 10 million members in a country of 35 million people. In the United Kingdom, Nectar, which includes ExxonMobil gas stations, is used by 70% of British households.

American Express bought Munich-based marketing firm Loyalty Partner in 2011 for $660 million in part to be able to tap that company’s loyalty program express and potentially bring it to the U.S. (The company could use a home run after Costco Wholesale COST 0.25% last month said it was ending its 16-year relationship with American Express, a move that affect 10% of Amex cards in circulation.)

But the phenomenon has taken years to reach American shores for a variety of reasons. An exception are airlines loyalty programs.

One big factor is that in such a large country as the U.S., there is still a lot of fragmentation in pockets of retail. A case in point are food stores: there are no truly national supermarket chains. And companies are very sensitive about how much data they share outside the company.

Even under Plenti, companies will share little data. For instance, Rite Aid will have no way of knowing how many handbags a customer may have bought at Macy’s. What’s more, the competitive culture and thin margins in the U.S. have long been a hindrance to joint efforts, said Michael Gore, global cards and loyalty executive at ExxonMobil, which participates in a number of coalition programs in Europe.

Still, the ability to share costs is compelling, as is the need to step up the attractiveness of loyalty programs at a time brands across the spectrum are picking up their game:Penney, Kohl’s, Target are just a few of the retailers making major improvements to their programs.

“When you look at the success at coalitions elsewhere in the world, there is a frequent destination,” said Emily Collins, a senior analyst with Forrester Research and a leading expert on loyalty programs who correctly predicted in 2013 that the first U.S. based loyalty coalition program was two years away. “They’re covering a lot of consumer spending categories, which is what a coalition needs to be relevant to consumers.”


Macy’s CFO Blames Millennials, Netflix and Lipstick Haters on Shifting Retail Landscape

CFO Macy's

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) – You lipstick-hating, tech-savvy millennials are killing Macy’s mojo.

On Tuesday, Macy’s M, +0.34%  CFO Karen Hoguet blamed Netflix Inc. NFLX, -0.25%millennials and women who like to shop without wearing makeup on weaknesses in the luxury retail market.

“We did some consumer research, and the customers said, she likes going to the off-price retailers because she doesn’t have to put lipstick on,” Hoguet said at an industry conference, according to a transcript of the event. “I’ve walked through a lot of malls. I’m not sure.”

Macy’s reported a 1.8% increase in revenue last quarter to $9.36 billion that fell short of analyst expectations. To be sure, lipstick was not mentioned once on the company fourth-quarter earnings call – neither was makeup, eye shadow, eyeliner or mascara, for that matter — though the phrase “off-price” was cited quite frequently, and prompted Macy’s to pilot its own discount retail concept.

A request to Macy’s for a copy of the consumer research report cited by Hoguet, and a comment on the lipstick quote, was not immediately returned.

Meanwhile, the growing popularity of consumer electronic devices and services, such as Netflix, as well as the millennial propensity to use mobile phones to shop, are also weighing on luxury brick-and-mortar, Hoguet said.

“I think part of that is the customers are buying other things, whether the electronics, cable services, Netflix, whatever,” she said.

To be fair, Netflix, the movie streaming service that costs $8.99 a month, has seen its popularity rise in recent years, particularly among the millennial generation as they unplug from traditionally expensive cable bills. Millennials do spend a lot on digital products and services, as the chart below shows, however, there doesn’t appear to be data linking Netflix directly to brick-and-mortar retail sales — and Macy’s didn’t immediately comment.

 Hoguet, who is not a millennial, went on to note that Macy’s internal economists accurately predicted a number of metrics last year when crafting the company’s three-year plan – such as GDP growth, inflation, employment and wages – but missed the mark on GAAP growth, and fell short on sales of general merchandise, apparel and furniture, partially because they didn’t predict how much off-price retail and consumer electronics would weigh on sales.

Macy’s is successful in the millennial demographic in terms of “impulse cosmetics,” “impulse shoes,” and “impulse apparel,” she said, but is working on getting them to its stores and e-commerce portals more frequently for other items.

One way to do that is to target millennials when they’re older, particularly as they get engaged, she said. The company’s focus on weddings will hopefully not just lure in the millennial, she said, but “keep him and her after they get married and grow up.”

Some of the overarching themes of her comments may carry some accuracy, however, this isn’t Hoguet’s first time playing the blame game. In August 2013, she blamed weak sales on increased spending on cars, housing and home improvements.

Shares of Macy’s fell 0.3% to $65.47 in recent trade. They are up about 2% over the past three months, compared with a 0.9% improvement for the broader S&P 500.


Macy’s Eyeing Expansion in China


Senior Macy’s (NYSE:M) executives have been making several trips to China recently to discuss the possibility of opening the department store chain overseas.

Although a strategy has yet to be developed, Karen Hoguet, Macy’s CFO, says the retailer is already doing business there online, reported Women’s Wear Daily.

“We did a test last year for Black Friday, which was very successful,” Hoguet toldWomen’s Wear Daily. “So 10 years ago, when we were looking at China, it was, ‘Do we want to open or partner with someone to open lots and lots of stores?’ Ten years later, as you might imagine, a lot more is focused on the internet and omnichannel because the world’s changed.”

So while Hoguet did not confirm a business deal with China, she says the demand is there. With the growing popularity of e-commerce in China, many U.S. retailers are now interested in partnering with China’s online retail giant, Alibaba, to break into the market. For example, Costco (NASDAQ:COSTCO) sells its warehouse goods on the T-Mall website, and Inditex, parent company of Zara, turned over partial control of its e-commerce site to Alibaba.

During Black Friday, Macy’s test involved offering discounts on about 100 items and partnering with Alipay ePass, which aids U.S. retailers in selling online in China.

Macy’s held out for a long time on its international expansion and will now open a department store on Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi in 2018. A second Bloomingdale’s, the first in Dubai since 2010, will open in Al Maryah Central. The stores will be operated under licenses provided by Al Tayer Group. The new locations have thus far been a success, opening up the Bloomingdale’s brand to shoppers all over the world.


Macy’s, Rite Aid Join Plenti, First Cross-Brand Loyalty Program


Loyalty programs have increased in popularity significantly through all retail categories, from grocery to clothing, but all of these programs have one thing in common: They’re good for only one company. That’s not the case anymore with Plenti, the first cross-brand loyalty program of its kind. Plenti was launched by American Express and will soon be active this spring with several noted retailers on board. Among them are Macy’s, Rite Aid and AT&T, along with ExxonMobil, Nationwide, Hulu and Direct Energy.

Macy’s and Rite Aid currently have their own loyalty programs, known as Macy’s Rewards and Wellness+, respectively, but by signing up for Plenti, they’re giving their customers more choice in rewards. Participants of Plenti earn points for spending a certain amount of money, in a structure similar to reward programs offered by other retailers, however, these points can be used as retailers other than the company where they were earned. A March 18, 2015 press release released by American Express on Plenti explains how the program will work. Each purchase a consumer makes at a participating retailer, such as AT&T, will earn points, which the consumer can use towards purchases at other companies. The press release gave an example of a consumer buying a tank of fuel at an Exxon or Mobil-branded station and redeeming the earned points towards a pair of shoes at Macy’s stores or Macys.com. Every 1,000 points will earn at least $10 in savings, and program members have the chance to get more points by participating in special offers at the program’s retailers or online at Plenti’s marketplace.

An article published by USA Today stated that there will be no brands competing with each other in the same category, and that Rite Aid will roll their existing Wellness Plus program into Plenti, providing new loyalty cards to their members, while Macy’s will have Plenti and their Macy’s Rewards program at the same time.  The Wellness Plus program will have certain purchases that will be eligible for Plenti rewards, with one reward listed as getting a year of 20% off all purchases after Plenti reward members reach a certain level of spending.

Although run by a credit card company, Plenti is not connected to a credit card, and according to the program material provided by Plenti, any individual age 13 and up is eligible for Plenti. Discounts and rewards in Plenti are applied to any purchase made by a valid form of payment, such as cash, and any debit or charge card. Whether a payment made with a retailer’s gift card is accepted as eligible for rewards is unclear at this time. However, the program is likely to be a big draw for customers who may want credit card-level rewards, but don’t like signing up for credit cards.

The program was launched after American Express commissioned a research study from Ebiquity, and found that “72% of respondents said they would prefer a rewards program that allowed them to shop at many stores versus a single brand.”

“This is a perfect time for a coalition loyalty program in the U.S., as online marketing becomes more efficient and American consumers become more accustomed to rewards programs, special offers and discounts,” says Ed Gilligan, president at American Express. “With American Express’ deep experience with the Membership Rewards® program and acquisition of Loyalty Partner in 2011, we are the right company to operate a loyalty program of this scale, involving such celebrated brands.”

American Express’s division US Loyalty will operate Plenti and manage the rewards process, as well as securing consumer data. US Loyalty will also oversee the marketing efforts for all participating brands. For now, Plenti.com only lists participating retailers and says the program will launch this spring.


How Macy’s found its fit in the Hispanic market

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 04:  Singer Thalia attends the launch of the Thalia Sodi Collection at Macy's Herald Square on March 4, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Mireya Acierto/FilmMagic)

Macy’s has promoted diversity among its own workforce, and its employees are driving the company in new directions.

If you step into a Macy’s these days, you may notice that some of the mannequins in the women’s department don’t look like most of the others. They’re a little smaller on the bottom and bigger on the top, and their legs are just a bit shorter.

How these figures took their place on the retail floor says a lot about the way in which Macy’s has promoted diversity among its own workforce—and how, in turn, its employees are driving the company in new directions. (The Drucker Institute, which I run, has consulted for Bloomingdale’s, a unit of Macy’s.)

In recent years, countless studies have touted the business benefits of diversity. Researchers from MIT and George Washington University, for instance, have discovered that moving from an all-male or all-female office to one split evenly along gender lines can increase a company’s revenue by about 40%.

The Center for Talent Innovation has found that employees at companies whose leadership is more diverse are 45% more likely than less diverse businesses to report that the firm’s market share is expanding. And McKinsey has shownthat companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% likelier to have financial returns above their industry medians.

Why is this the case? To get a sense, it’s useful to peek inside a company like Macy’s and its launch earlier this year of a new brand called Thalia Sodi. Named for the popular singer and televnovela star who serves as the collection’s model and spokeswoman, it includes clothing, jewelry, and shoes.

The genesis of the line goes backs several years when Macy’s began to mull Census data showing that the U.S. Hispanic population was growing four times faster than that of the country overall. To interpret the numbers, the company sought the advice of Laurene Gandolfo, a longtime Macy’s executive.

“We wanted to understand: Who is this customer? And what are their needs?” she says.

The Cuban-born, Miami-raised Gandolfo is no token hire. Women make up more than 75% of Macy’s total workforce, the company says, and more than 65% of those in management. About 60% of Macy’s employees are racial minorities, as is 35% of the company’s management team. (These percentages blow away the national averages.)Macy’s board is also extraordinarily diverse.

Although Gandolfo was then working in home goods, she quickly zeroed in on the idea of a fashion brand for Latinas. It was an area, she felt, that Macy’s hadn’t done enough to cultivate.

“We talk a lot about ‘white spaces’ in our company—markets that we’re not doing a good job serving,” says Molly Langenstein, Macy’s chief private brand officer. “Laurene was a key player in saying, ‘You need to look at this closer.’ She was able to see that there was a bigger opportunity here.”

From the get-go, Gandolfo envisioned tying a celebrity to the brand. “I was such a broken record,” she says. “I was trying to describe what it’s like to connect with someone who looks like you. There’s an emotional piece that’s as important as the product itself.”

After interviewing a handful of candidates, Gandolfo and her colleagues agreed that Thalia, who is well known among both younger and older consumers, was ideal. But they also recognized that creating a successful brand required much more than simply rolling out a big name.

In the past, Macy’s had courted Hispanic women mainly by offering certain colors and patterns. “What the company had missed,” Gandolfo says, “was fit.”

It’s something that, as a Latina herself, Gandolfo grasped—even though her own clothes tend to be more conservative than what the Thalia brand was shaping up to include. “I don’t dress the way our Thalia customer dresses,” she says. “But I know that customer.”

To get to know the Hispanic female customer even better, Macy’s went deep. About 18 months ago, executives flew to Mexico City and visited 16 shopping centers in four days. They convened panels of consumers in California, Texas, and Florida. They met with developers of malls geared toward Hispanic Americans. They parsed sales statistics. And they scanned more than 20,000 bodies of potential customers, analyzing their physiques.

Along the way, Macy’s also took advantage of its own diversity; it put together, as is its regular practice, internal focus groups. “We had Latinas in the building from all ages and backgrounds saying, ‘Here’s what I like.’ ‘Here’s what my cousins would like,’” Gandolfo explains.

Gandolfo, meanwhile, drew on her Cuban roots to ensure that those designing the Thalia brand didn’t overlook another essential point: Someone with her heritage may well have different tastes than someone from, say, Puerto Rico.

“I was pushing on the product side,” she says, “influencing my peers that Hispanics don’t only like bright colors and leopard prints.” The result is that, although the bulk of the Thalia collection is aimed to appeal to Mexican Americans, Macy’s consciously added breadth to the line, with muted color choices and a variety of sleeve lengths and necklines.

Macy’s won’t break out sales or profits for Thalia Sodi, but executives say the brand is off to an excellent start. It is now being sold in 300 of the company’s 650 or so stores. By October, it will be available in 100 more, with another 50 to follow in January.

In each of those stores, you will find mannequins, decked head to toe in Thalia-brand merchandise, that have been custom-built to look like the archetype from all of those body scans. Macy’s wants the line to say to Latina customers, “You will be comfortable in this,” says Langenstein.

The Thalia line also sends another important message: When you’re trying to fill in those “white spaces” in the market, it’s crucial to have more than just white faces at your company.


39 Of The Most Interesting Facts About Generation Z


The following are facts about Generation Z:

Generation Z  represents 23 million Americans  born between 1994 and 2010. While they haven’t entered the workplace yet, they have a different set of values and beliefs than their predecessors. They were born during the financial meltdown and don’t know a world without the Internet. They will become the most entrepreneurial, conservative, diverse and educated generation in the world. Here is a collection of all research I’ve collected on Gen Z, with more to come soon. They will help you understand what they value, as well as how to hire and sell to them.

Gen Z and the economy

  • Gen Z receive $16.90 per week in allowance or $44 billion a year total. [Mintel]
  • 58% of Gen Z’s are either somewhat or very worried about the future. [JWT]
  • They have a combined buying power of $43 billion and influence an additional $600 billion of family spending. [Chamber of Commerce]

Gen Z values

  • 77% of Gen Z’s are either extremely or very interested in volunteering to gain work experience. [Millennial Branding / Internships.com]
  • 26% are currently volunteering. [Intern Sushi / CAA]
  • 76% are concerned about man’s impact on the planet. [JWT]
  • 79% of display symptoms of emotional distress when kept away from their personal electronic devices. [University of Maryland]
  • 90% would be upset if they had to give up their Internet connection while only 51% would give up eating out and 56% would give up downloading music. [JWT]
  • 84% multitask with an Internet-connected device while watching TV. [Forrester Research]
  • They have more than 10 apps on their smartphone with 10% having more than 40. [Visa]

Gen Z’s as employees

  •  60% want to have an impact on the world with their jobs (compared to 39% of millennials). [Intern Sushi / CAA]

Gen Z students

  • 55% of Gen Z students say that their parents are putting pressure on them to gain professional experience during high school. [Millennial Branding / Internships.com]
  • Nearly 50% of Gen Z students are participating in internships for the purpose of advancing themselves professionally in high school. [Millennial Branding / Internships.com]
  • 64% of Gen Z consider earning an advanced degree as one of their life goals. [Intern Sushi / CAA]
  • 80% of Gen Z’s think they are more driven than their peers. [Intern Sushi / CAA]
  • 50% of Gen Z’s will be unviersity educated compared to 33% of millennials and 25% of Gen X. [JWT]
  • 85% research online and 33% watch lessons online to educate themselves. [JWT]
  • 52% use YouTube or other social media sites for a typical school research assignment. [Pew Research]
  • 60% of Gen Zers say they like to share their knowledge with others online, a sign of collaborative skills. [Wikia]
  • 64% say they contribute to Websites because they like learning about new things. [Wikia]
  • 76% feel that their online experiences will help them reach their goals. [Wikia]
  • 66% say that technology makes them feel that anything is possible. [Wikia]

Gen Z’s as entrepreneurs

Gen Z’s as consumers

  • 55% of Gen Z would rather buy clothes online and 53% would rather buy books and electronics online. [JWT]
  • 64% are more likely than other generations to trust somewhat or completely the content on mobile apps from brands, as well as text messages from brands. [Grail Research]
  • 90% will make sure their parents feel a planned purchase is affordable before going ahead with it. [JWT]
  • 43% said their family influences their purchasing decisions the most followed by friends (35%), friends of friends (23%) and celebrities (10%). [JWT]
  • 64% said their parents pay for them with their credit/debit card. [JWT]
  • 22% of surveyed Gen-Z consumers say they trust somewhat or trust completely posts by companies or brands on social networking sites. [Forrester Research]
  • More than 50% identify themselves as deal hunters. [Cassandra Report]
  • 57%  research products more than they used to before making a purchase. [Cassandra Report]
  • Their favorite items to spend money on are food and drink (36%), going out with friends (32%) and clothes (18%). [Visa]

Gen Z as investors

  • 57% would rather save money than spend it. [The Intelligence Group]
  • 76% spend money on themselves, while 62% save it, 38% spend it on things for friends and family and 10% give it to charity. [JWT]
  • Their top financial goals are buying a car (33%), paying for education (23%) and buying a house (20%). [Visa]



74 Of The Most Interesting Facts About The Millennial Generation


Below is a list of facts about Generation Y:

Millennials and the economy

Millennial values

  • 81% have donated money, goods or services. [Walden University and Harris Interactive]
  • 75% see themselves as authentic and are not willing to compromise their family and personal values. [Bentley University’s Center For Women And Business]
  • On track to become the most educated generation in American history. [Pew Research]
  • 61% of millennials are worried about the state of the world and feel personally responsible to make a difference. [Huffington Post]
  • 65% of Millennials say losing their phone or computer would have a greater negative impact on their daily routine than losing their car. [Zipcar]
  • 44% of Millennials say that marriage is becoming obsolete, compared to 35% of Boomers who feel the same way. [Pew Researh]
  • 39% of Millennials have a tattoo. [Pew Research]
  • 33% of Millennials live in cities and 14% live in rural environments. [Pew Research]
  • More tolerant of races and groups than older generations (47% vs. 19%), with 45% agreeing with preferential treatment to improve the position of minorities. [US Chamber of Commerce]

Millennials as employees

  • By next year, millennials will account for 36% of the U.S. workforce and by 2025, they will account for 75% of the global workplace. [U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics / The Business and Professional Women’s Foundation]
  • 41% of millennials do what their managers tell them to do, which is greater than older generations. [Strategy+Business]
  • 84% say that helping to make a positive difference in the world is more important than professional recognition. [Bentley University’s Center For Women And Business]
  • Millennials say they do not deserve special treatment and are equally as committed as non-Millennials. [PwC]
  • 92% believe that business success should be measured by more than profit. [Deloitte]
  • Millennial employees have about the same level of organizational commitment as boomers and Gen Xers. [Strategy+Business]
  • 40% of Millennials think that blogging about workplace issues is acceptable. Compared to 28% of Boomers. [Iconoculture]
  • 29% of Millennial workers think work meetings to decide on a course of action are very efficient. Compared to 45% of Boomers [Iconoculture 2011]
  • 80% of Gen Y said they prefer on-the-spot recognition over formal reviews, and feel that this is imperative for their growth and understanding of a job. [Achievers and Experience Inc.]
  • 70% have “friended” their managers and/or co-workers on Facebook. [Cisco]
  • 71% don’t always obey social media policie at work. [Cisco]
  • Connected to an average of 16 co-workers on Facebook [Millennial Branding / Identified.com]
  • It costs an average of $24,000 to replace each Gen Y employee. [Millennial Branding / Beyond.com]
  • 15% of Gen Y’s are already managers. [Millennial Branding / PayScale]
  • 56% of Gen Y’s won’t work at a company if they ban social media access. [Cisco]
  • 69% believe office attendance is unecessary on a regular basis. [Cisco]
  • Average tenure for Gen Y is 2 years (5 for Gen X and 7 for Baby Boomers). [Millennial Branding / PayScale]

Millennials as entrepreneurs

Millennials as consumers

  • By 2015, their annual spending is expected to be $2.45 trillion and by 2018, they will exclipse boomers in spending power at $3.39 trillion. [Oracle]
  • 63% stay updated on brands through social networks. [Ipsos]
  • 46% count on social media when buying online, but 55% of Gen Y share bad experiences. [YouGov]
  • 41% of millennials have no landline at home and rely on their cellphones for communication. [Pew Social Trends]
  • 48% of Millennials who say word-of-mouth influences their product purchases more than TV ads. Only 17% said a TV ad prompted them to buy. [Intrepid]
  • 41% of Millennials have made a purchase using their smartphone. [Edelman Digital]
  • 32% of Millennials say they don’t like advertising in general, compared to 37% of the general population. [Experian Simmon]
  • 43% have liked more than 20 brands on Facebook. [Mr. Youth]
  • 77% participate in loyalty reward programs. [Aimia]
  • 44% are willing to promote products or services through social media in exchange for rewards. [Aimia]
  • More engaged in activies like rating products and services than older generations (60% vs 46%). [BCG]
  • 84% report that user generated content on company websites at least somewhat influences what they buy [Bazaarvoice]

Millennials as investors

  • 46% count on social media when buying online, but 55% of Gen Y share bad experiences. [YouGov
  • 43% of millennial respondents described themselves as “conservative” investor. [Accenture]
  • Gen Y is nearly 10% of all affluent investors in the U.S. [Cogent Research]
  • 84% of Gen Y are seeking advice about finance. [Merrill Lynch]
  • 57% will change financial advisors for a tech setting. [WealthManagement.com]
  • 61% want video meetings with advisors. [WealthManagement.com]

Millennials in politics

  • They elected our president – 60% voted for Obama in 2012, 66% in 2008 [Pew Research / Huffington Post]
  • Millennials will be 40% of the electorate by 2020. [The Center for American Progress]
  • 41% satisfied with the way things are going in the country. [Pew Research]
  • In 2008, 48 million millennials (those born between 1978 and 2000) were eligible to vote, and 25 million actually did. [The Atlantic]
  • Younger Americans are most progressive (56.6) on cultural and social values and the least progressive on economic and domestic policy (53.1). [American Progress]
  • 42%  believe that “our current economic problems show what happens when you rely too much on the market and reduce regulations on corporations. [American Progress]
  • 48% believe that their parents most influence their vote (aside from themselves). [Millennial Branding / Internships.com]
  • 58% said they would be following the 2012 election on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. [Millennial Branding / Internships.com]