EnsembleIQ acquires media brands from Lebhar-Friedman
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EnsembleIQ acquires media brands from Lebhar-Friedman

BY CSA Staff

EnsembleIQ announced Thursday that it has purchased substantially all of the media, digital and event assets from New York City-based Lebhar-Friedman. Launched in 1925, the third-generation family business produces several leading retail brands, including Drug Store News, Chain Store Age, and Hardware and Building Supply Dealer.

The transaction also includes Chain Store Age’s SPECS and X/SPECS, two strategic events focused on physical retail that bring together the nation’s top retailers and suppliers to learn, share ideas, develop business partnerships and solve problems.

The Lebhar-Friedman brands will operate under the EnsembleIQ umbrella, and will continue to be led by senior VP John Kenlon and his management team including Gary Esposito, Eric Savitch and Seth Mendelson. President and CEO, Randall Friedman will serve in an advisory role during the transition, and chairman Roger Friedman will devote his time to new ventures.

“We’re thrilled to have these iconic brands and talented employees join the EnsembleIQ family,” said David Shanker, CEO of EnsembleIQ. “Adding chain drug, hardware and store operations reach and expertise provides our collective subscribers and customers with a comprehensive view of retail insights and information throughout the United States and Canada.”

“The company that my grandfather Arnold founded and my father Roger ran for many years has always been focused on the retail industry,” said Randall Friedman. “The fact that EIQ also has great brands and deep expertise in retail makes me very optimistic that the LF roots will continue to grow and bear fruit in the years to come under EIQ’s stewardship.”

EnsembleIQ is a premier business intelligence resource that exists   to help people and their organizations succeed. It is structured to serve the business-to-business needs of retailers, consumer goods manufacturers, technology providers, hospitality and healthcare professionals, marketing agencies and retail service providers by using its integrated network of media and information resources designed to inform, connect and provide actionable marketplace intelligence.

EnsembleIQ is a portfolio company of RFE Investment Partners, a private equity investor with more than 30 years of experience investing in growth companies in partnership with strong management teams. Information on RFE can be found at http://rfeip.com/.

Berkery Noyes served as the exclusive financial advisor to Lebhar-Friedman.

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The most beloved brands are…

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Eight retailers ranked among the top 100 most loved global brands, but only three cracked the top 10.

Amazon, Apple and Disney are the only three retailers that ranked among the 10 most loved global brands, according to the fourth annual “NetBase Brand Passion Report: Top 100 Global Brand Love List.” The study is based on brand conversations across the social web, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and millions of other sources between May 2017 and May 2018. Brands evaluated include social media, technology, consumer goods, automotive, food and beverage and telecommunications.

According to data, Amazon claimed the No. 4 spot, followed by Apple (sixth) and Disney (seventh). Drilling down further, Apple also ranked as the most popular technology brand, along with Google (5).

Target (17) and Ikea (46) were named the most popular retail brands. Louis Vuitton (33) and Nikon were recognized as the most popular consumer goods brands.

McDonald’s (18) and Starbucks (20) took the honor of top food and beverage brands. McDonald’s only narrowly beat Starbucks as the most loved food and beverage brand, accounting for 22% of all mentions for food and beverage brands. Fries and all-day breakfast are among the most discussed items.

While Burger King trailed its competitors at No. 59, the brand did move up 28 spots from 2017. This movement earned the company a place among the five companies that showed the greatest change, according to the study.

“Brands that know how their customers feel can cultivate strong relationships to set a foundation for future brand growth. This insight is invaluable as the more passion for the brand, the less the consumer relies on price as the deciding factor,” they study revealed.

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Channeling Millennials: How to capture America’s largest spending demographic

BY Erika Donigan

We all know that Millennials have been one of 2018’s largest areas of focus. But who are they? How do they shop? What do they buy? As a Millennial myself, I know that we can be complex and almost hypocritical at times with our shopping behavior. We spend our hard-earned money on avocado toast, but we also rent our living space instead of owning it; we shop a high-low strategy, etc.

But as the largest shopper segment, it is critical that retailers adapt their strategies to meet Millennials’ needs, rather than expecting us to change our shopping behavior to meet theirs. In order to adapt, retailers must begin to understand who we are as individuals so they can begin to understand who we are as shoppers.

What retailers need to understand is most Millennials are just not retailer loyal. What we are, however, is brand loyal. Most of us have our favorite almond butter or type of ice cream that we just cannot live without, and we are willing to go to more than one place to ensure that we get what we want. And this doesn’t just hold true for grocery. Beauty is another prime example of a sector of business where Millennials are extremely loyal.

The truth is Millennials are about as complex of shoppers as they get, and if retailers can begin to understand us, then they will have tapped into one of the most powerful spending generations ever!

The Winning Formula
So how exactly do retailers win over this elusive set of shoppers? Is it price? Assortment? Promotions? Well, the answer is: all of the above.

The fact is Millennials want it all. We live in an age where we work outside the hours of 9 to 5, try to have an active lifestyle (which means hitting the gym as often as we can), maintain a jammed packed social life (from brunches to barre class), and have at least a little me time (hello, Netflix!). So when it comes to spending on items for ourselves, we crave an experience, with 72% of Millennials choosing an experience over a material item.

So retailers must transform their stores into the experience Millennials want. Instead of the typical grocery store, we want a place where we can buy fresh produce as well as wine and artisanal cheese. We seek a destination that allows us to make an outing out of an otherwise mundane task. Wandering the store aisles with a wine or beer in hand allows us to sip as we shop, which not only makes us happy, but keeps us in-store longer and will likely inspire a few extra items in our baskets.

Harnessing the Data
Retailers must also have the ability to curate assortments that speak to our needs. Digital-native Millennials, communicate, shop, and do just about everything online, which, in turn, creates a mass amount of data that is incredibly valuable for retailers.

Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers face the threat of digital giants like Amazon and other online pure plays that have endless online aisles for us to shop from the comfort of our couch and promise free two day shipping on almost any item. So to entice Millennials into the store, brick-and-mortar retailers need to optimize their assortments to speak to our needs to maintain store traffic and sales. Luckily, we provide all the breadcrumbs they need with our data. If a retailer can follow this path and have the right selection for the right customer and this is key — at the right time, then they may have a new millennial convert on their hands!

Playing Price is Right
So we know that assortment is critical, but what about price? Well, considering that our generation is the most debt-burdened in history, price does come into play. But not in the same way it may have for our parents.

Millennials are willing to pay for what we want (think $70 anti-aging skincare creams and $20 bottles of wine), but we do not want to pay high prices for the other necessities of life (such as private label toilet paper). If a retailer can grasp this and begin to price their products accordingly, then it can begin to build the Millennial shopper’s baskets.

The best way for a retailer to gather this type of information on how to price? Utilize the data on hand. Determine which products Millennials deem splurge-worthy and those that are simply must-haves. Follow those all-knowing breadcrumbs that we leave behind.

Getting Personal
This leads us to the elusive promotions bucket, that proverbial Pandora’s box of issues. Do mass promotions work? What about personalized? Do Millennials even use direct mail? Or are we all digital? How do retailers reach their customers, but, more importantly, us millennial shoppers?

To begin, retailers should look into the numbers. Millennials are much more comfortable sharing data than previous generations. Given this, and our complete obsession with efficiency and saving time, it is imperative that retailers use the data available to them to speak to us in a way that breaks through our daily social media clutter. This does not just mean offers but all content.

Millennials have been trained over the years to expect a barrage of promotional emails, most of which we don’t open and probably send straight to spam. Where retailers can win is in retargeting. Make it easy for us. If I was online perusing my favorite athleisure store, a promoted Instagram post “reminding” me of what I looked at may just be the ticket to have me actually hit the purchase button. This is where retailers and brands will win. Understand your customer — not just their past purchase behavior — but their entire purchasing lifecycle, and react relevantly. Those who do will get very loyal customers in return — just ask my local Bluemercury.

Millennials have already surpassed Baby Boomers as the generation with the most disposable income. We also are delaying traditional “milestones,” such as buying homes and having babies, until later in life and, thus, have different shopping behaviors than previous generations. This shift in shopping and lifestyle has left retailers scratching their heads on how to reach us. The answer is simple: Retailers still need to focus on their core elements: assortment, price, and promotion but must use the data available to them to create Millennial-centric shopping experiences. Those who will win are those who are willing to take a step back and look at what drives us and what motivates us to spend. When done well, retailers will not only gain sales but loyal, avid shoppers, too.

Erika Donigan is North American marketing manager at emnos.

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