It's a silly activity, admittedly, but when it was presented this week by Gene McNaughton, VP of Sales for OneCoach, to a group of business people who are struggling to survive, the impact was profound. What's the punchline for those in the retail industry? If you're looking at all the ways that your retail business and the retail businesses around are going into the red, then you're missing all the ways you can get some of the green. More than any other time in the past three decades, focus is everything in the retail industry.
A whole new crop of retail organizations reported lower revenues, lower profits, and lowered projections this week. Many of the people reading this blog work for one of those organizations. But if you were focused on all that "red," you probably missed the report that Coach Inc. brought in a good bit of "green," and exceeded its profit expectations last quarter. Coach made $145 million in profits off of $766 million in sales. Think about that. $766 million was spent on purses briefcases, and mini skinnies. There is still some "green" changing hands on the retailscape and it's not just for milk, bread, and toilet paper.
And what will Coach, Inc. be doing this holiday season? Will it be focusing on the "red" aspects of the economy and scaling back? Its strategy is quite the opposite, according to CEO Lew Frankfort. Instead of asking "How are we going to survive?" Coach apparently starting asking itself questions about what's going to continue to draw customers in. "It's new product that excites consumers. It's new product that brings them into stores," Frankfort said in an interview on CNBC this week.
As a result of focusing on how to continue to lure customers in, Coach asked a proactive question which produced an aggressive answer, which shifted Coach's focus this holiday season to dazzling its customers. That dazzle focus motivated Coach to create a product mix that crams about three years of innovation packed into just one holiday season. Instead of shrinking back, it is busting out. And Coach thinks its own boldness will inspire its customers to the bold action of opening their wallet and handing over the green.
People are still shopping. Look around and notice all the dollars that are still flowing. Study it. Memorize which retailers are getting the dollars and how they're getting them. Then as soon as you finish doing that, close your eyes and list every retailer who's in the red. You might still be able to remember some, but the exercise should be a little more difficult. The best thing about doing the activity in this way is that when you're done, you'll actually feel better, because all the green stuff you were focusing on will still be there when you open your eyes again.