Sears, Mappin, Mesbla, Ducal, Arapuã, Casas Buri, Casa José Silva, G. Aronson, Lojas Brasileiras, Peg Pag and Ultralar. For many people, especially the younger ones, some of these names are unknown, but all of them were big, well-known retail brands that marked an era. Several were leaders in their sector, innovated at the time, and became icons. And all of them went bankrupt or were absorbed by new emerging businesses.
There is a saying attributed to Tolstoy that says that all happy families are alike, but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. It cannot be said that all these companies went bankrupt for the same reason. But it is undeniable that all of them, when they were at their peak, certainly believed, each in their own way, that that situation would naturally continue, the old sports maxim that in a winning team, you don’t move.
The problem is that opponents are not standing still, and when the team starts to lose, it may be too late for a reaction. Anyone who wants to stay at the top of the table needs to be aware not only of their team, but also of the movement of competitors or even the rules of the game.
New developments arise all the time and it is essential to be aware of them. This does not mean that everything new is wonderful, that it should be adopted immediately, but we cannot ignore possible trends. And it’s not just technological changes.
On Netflix there is an interesting documentary about the fashion retailer Abercrombie & Fitch, which in the late 1980s became the most desired clothing brand by young Americans. Focused on the concept of aesthetic beauty of thin, white and Caucasian young people, it almost broke after the advent of social media, because it did not notice the growth of a strong trend among young people and an important social change: the appreciation of human diversity. In little more than ten years, what was a “standard” aesthetic yearning has become an unattainable, unrealistic goal and a reason for repulsion. The company was boycotted. Today the brand tries to rebuild itself based on the concept of diversity.
This shows what can happen to strongly established brands when they lose touch with what’s going on around them. The price to be paid for inattention can be very high. The natural selection of the market is implacable for those who are not willing to be in constant adaptation.
Beware of thoughts like “change for what? we always make money this way”, “everything changes, but deep down it remains the same”, “we are unbeatable”, “customers love us”, “this is how we grew up”, “this is just a fad, it will soon pass”, “things they always worked well” and many others that lead us to complacency, to inertia, to a lack of appetite for innovation. Always be aware of changes. Innovations, new trends and technologies appear all the time. They must not be ignored. When we settle down, we don’t innovate, we stop growing, and we start dying.
Retail Specialist, Technology Solutions Curator and Head of Engagement & Business Development at Onebeat.