Monday, May 26, 2008


Well, Capstone is over and I have now completed the first year of my full time MBA.

We had to do a business case competition and I have to admit it was pretty funny.

We had to do a some recommendations for a clothing retailer that isn't sure how to proceed in the face of increased pressure on margins and competition.

We went to the store, two of them in fact, and spent about two hours in one store and its area and about half an hour at the other. We spoke to the staff and the customers about the store. We bought 5 dollar Starbucks cards and gave them out. We gave one to the staff at the Kits store and then one to an older lady who bought a bunch of stuff and two 15 year old girls who bounced out of the store but have been many times with their moms.

The store was pretty interesting. We thought from the description given that it might have been highly fashionable. But it the end, it was fairly middle road conservative work wear. The Starbucks baristas we spoke to about it said they'd only go for something for church of a wedding. The young girls didn't find anything that they felt was for them. They said it would be a 2 on the "like me" scale to 5.

Their marketing was not the greatest. Great location but subdued signage. So the company hasn't really shown me at this point that it has the muscle in marketing to go to a new audience outside of the middle aged girl. They like the clothes, as they do shop there... and each store had good food traffic.... so they have pretty good revenue. So they have a great repeat customer who is 35-55. They have some money and a job so they spend 5 days each week in their work type clothes. So you can't move down in age appeal.

We felt you should make more of your lines of clothes, because people like your clothes and that's why they go there. Sell more of your own clothes, which you make in North America. Overseas might have been good in 2005 but shipping prices are up 100 percent in last 8 months. Starting to go there is going to take time and scale you don't have. Your main customer is a big group and you can just focus on them. The youngest of that group is only 35, she's going to work until 55 or even 60 - and people are working longer so by then, maybe even 70 and need your clothes. That's 25 years!

Unfortunately, this didn't really seem to get through. I guess sometimes you know something so well and so surely that you just can't believe somebody won't see it. They will only see that we don't have any girls in our group and that we spoke to 15 year old girls - who aren't your customers.

Oh well, I'm off to Kelowna tomorrow for a four days. Staying at the Lake Okanagan Resort, which is out in the middle of nowhere. Going to visit wineries, play some golf and relax. I guess I won't be blogging for the time that I'm there because I need some time away from a computer screen.

Have a great week!

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