Most people want to be liked or even be loved. But a good value proposition for a firm should not attract everybody but only the ones you intend. And that means that a lot of people might even hate you.
Take the latest controversy about Abercrombie & Fitch, an American retailer for casual wear. See here (forbes.com), here (Los Angeles Times) or here (Daily Mail, UK).
Abercrombie & Fitch offers no women’s XL or XXL because they don’t want big women to wear their brand. Their value proposition is clear: They want the cool kids as customers. They do not consider big women as cool.
Mike Jeffries is the man behind A&F. In an interview with Salon Magazine in 2006 he told, when asked about the emotional experience in his shops:
“It’s almost everything. That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people.”
That is the reason why they offer nothing for big ladies. That is their choice. They discriminate big ladies, but you as customers have the choice as well. You are not forced to buy at A&F. I do not buy at A&F because I do like their attitude. However, they have a value proposition that is clearly distinguished from their competitors. And that is what I like and adore. They stick to their mantra even under severe pressure from the public.
Take other firms, Apple or Zara. They also discriminate. Apple’s Operating System is a closed system and either you take or leave it. At Zara, you also have no extra large sizes.
H&M, Dove: The opposite can be right as well
Interestingly, other firms like H&M or Dove have a different approach to big or natural ladies. H&M offers a H&M+ collection for larger women. Continue reading You do not have to be loved by everybody – a great value proposition
The value proposition is the defining moment of any business, not the product or the service you offer. But it is important to realize that it is not of importance what you write in or think up for your business plan but what customers perceive to be your value. And there can be a huge mismatch.
The classic business plan is a plan of promises. On paper the value proposition almost always sounds promising but in reality the customers have quite often a different perception of the firm, of its products or services. There is a mismatch between value proposition and value perception, the perception gap:
Why: Simply put!
- you do not get the message across to your customers since your distribution and marketing channels are too weak or
- you do not fulfill the value proposition you offer with your business model you actually have.
The Perception Gap
In most cases, managers will say that the first reason that they just don’t get their message over to the customer is the main cause why they cannot close the perception gap. So in their belief they spent more money on communication and sales and try to persuade potential customers that they offer the best value.
This is the typical behavior of the past Continue reading Business Modelling: Value Propositon vs. Value Perception
Thomas Middelhoff was the CEO of the now insolvent German retail conglomerate Arcandor formerly known as KarstadtQuelle. Thomas Middelhoff has a good sense for timing. He left Arcandor in March 2009 just 3 months before the company had to file for bankrupcy in June. What made his stint at Arcandor so remarkable was not that he turned around the business of Arcandor but his ability to benefit personally from his position at Arcandor.
I am following the Arcandor business case for a while and I have written about the failure to innovate its business model in the past. So a recent article of Süddeutsche on Arcandor grabed my attention.
The German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reports (in German) that Middelhoff is by far better of than his former employer Arcandor and its employees that have lost their jobs. Süddeutsche Zeitung cites a confidential report of the auditors from Deloitte that acted on behalf of the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin). Continue reading Thomas Middelhoff or how to earn money with a bad business model
In the discussion on business model innovation the focus is often on the innovations regarding the value proposition or on the value architecture but it is interesting to look at the revenue model as well for starting points for an innovation.
Anders Sundelin in a recent blog post reflected on net working capital and the influence of the business model on it. I can only recommend his post to anyone. He shows how this important financial figure (net working capital) is influenced by the business model. Actually, almost all innovation in the retail industry change the economics of the industry. They all start by minimizing the working capital needed in the operation. Since the traditional business model in retailing is very capital intensive due to inventory, all disruptive innovations help to reduce the capital tied to inventory. And interestingly, at the same time as the working capital is decreased or in same cases, it even becomes negative the margins on sales go down.
One example: department stores vs. discounters
In the 1960s managers in department stores were having a good time. Department stores ( marked with a 1) went well and their economics were great with gross profits of 40% on sales. Imaging you would have worked at let’s say Karstadt, a German department store. You have a great idea. You believe that the future of retailing will be different and you have the idea a discounter retail outlet with limited stocks and less choice for the clients. You do your economics and you end up with a gross profit of 23% on sales (marked with a 2).
Continue reading Changing financials, changing economics, retailing and business model innovations
The German retail and travel conglomerate Arcandor AG formerly known as KarstadtQuelle AG filed on June 9th 2009 for insolvency. It claims that the financial crisis is the reason. It had asked the German government in May for state aid but the government refused. But is the financial crisis the real reason for the dire situation? I do not think so. The business models of its retail activities (Karstadt and Quelle) are just dead. The management did not innovate on its business model and that is the reason for failure.
Most writers and bloggers take the music industry as a prime example for an industry that failed to innovate its core business model. But there are many other industries where failure to innovate its core business lead to their decline. A sad prime example of missed innovation is Karstadt, a large department store chain in Germany and Quelle, a German mail order powerhouse.
The Karstadt case is typical for a corporation that business model is dated. Instead of rejuvenating its business model or finding new business ideas the old business model is defended and by consolidating the industry even reinforced.
The next lesson is that all activities at corporate level like selling non-core assets do not solve your problems of an ailing business model. The solution must be found on the business level not on a corporate level. If you cannot fix it, than sell or close it early. Success in business is not defined on corporate level but by its business model!
In May 2009, the CEO of Arcandor, Mr. Eich asked for “a state guarantee to temporarily bridge the gap of the currently non-functioning financial markets.” [update: link no longer available] Arcandor did not want to have any handouts nor a state participation in the company. It promised that it will repay the loan “to the last penny.” It claimed that the credit crunch is the main reason for its financial stress.
But is this really true?
The only constant in retailing is business model innovation
Retail markets in general are dynamic markets where new business models destroy old ones and create new fortunes. Zara, Aldi, H&M, IKEA or Carefour all reinvented their retail category and made their owners rich. But since the whole market did not grow as fast as the newcomers, the incumbents suffered losses in market shares and sales. Continue reading Karstadt: Death of a legend (business model)