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The Collapse of Retail

Every few months there is an article about the end of the brick-and-mortar retail era.  Chain after chain disappear, often citing Amazon as the primary driver.  This article from the USA Today lists 15 retailers that declared bankruptcy in 2017.  Is brick-and-mortar retail truly doomed?

Ask your students what they would do if they were responsible for marketing for a brick-and-mortar chain.  Can Target, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart survive in the Amazon age?  How?  This can lead to a good discussion on differentiation and competitive advantage.  Capture those ideas on the board and then ask them to design promotions that can effectively communicate those ideas.  What type of promotion?  Where would it be seen?  What is the message?

If you have time, ask them if there’s anyone that could displace Amazon and force them into bankruptcy.  It may sound like an absurd idea but remind them that many strong brands like Blockbuster, Barnes & Noble, Kodak, Macy’s, and Sears were once considered icons that would last forever.  How can you beat Amazon?  Can Amazon undermine their own success and open the door for competitors?

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