The Three Minds of Retail as Foretold by Glen Terbeek in 1999
August 3, 2021 Ray Sorensen, author Herb Sorensen, advisor
I am a strong believer in the adage, "A picture is worth 1,000 words". That's why, when I am describing the three minds of retail, I often refer to a cartoon which appears in Glen Terbeek's book, The Agentry Agenda: Selling Food in a Frictionless Marketplace.
I get pushback over this cartoon. Some say it is insulting to retailers and manufacturers. But it succinctly and accurately communicates the state of modern retail. With a few crudely drawn figures, Terbeek shows us the relationship between retailers and brands. Notice where the shopper fits into this picture.
I certainly do not intend any offense to retailers or brands when I reference this cartoon. I do not believe Terbeek intended to offend when he put it in his book.
My intention is to communicate how retail actually functions. Let's drop the pretense that the wants and needs of shoppers are a priority for retailers. They are focused on the manufacturers and brands who pay them for access to the shoppers. It is the brands who are concerned with understanding and meeting the wants and needs of the shoppers.
There is no offense to be had here. This is simply how our retail industry has evolved over 150 years to meet the needs of an ever-expanding consumer society. By understanding these three minds of retail, how they think, their goals and objectives, and how they relate to each other, we can better meet the retail challenges of the future.
Terbeek cleverly uses cartoons to communicate complex issues in retail. This one describes the evolution of the relationship between retailer and shopper.
Here, Terbeek shows that before 1945 retailers had a very different relationship with the shopper. They sold a limited selection of products to their shoppers based on an intimate knowledge of their shoppers' needs and wants.
As the supermarket entered the picture, that relationship had to change. As more products filled more shelves, retailers could not maintain an understanding of their shoppers wants and needs. They had their hands full managing 40,000 items in 40,000 square feet. They stopped selling to their shoppers. They evolved into the merchant warehousemen we know today, stocking products that shoppers sell to themselves.
Terbeek published The Agentry Agenda in 1999, but he demonstrates a prescient understanding to today's retail landscape.
Terbeek foresaw the impact of ecommerce and the problems of managing the Long Tail in bricks retail. While he could not have predicted every development of the past 20 years, Terbeek knew that the brand-retailer and retailer-shopper relationships would continue to evolve.
Our upcoming book, Ending the War in the Store, takes many of Terbeek's observations to their next level and applies them to current retail realities. We seek to end the war that has been raging for decades between retailers, brands, and the shoppers resulting in frustrated shoppers and lost sales. Through observational and neuroscience research we advocate for the deployment of new technologies that enable retailers and brands to work together to reach and assist shoppers buy more.
Here's to GREAT "Shopping" for YOU!!!
Your friend, Herb Sorensen