Issue 34

What’s on your list this holiday season?

24% To never step foot in a mall
4% Less time with family
24% To eat all the cookies
48% More time with family

With almost 50% of the vote, family was deemed the winner this past holiday season. Despite the hustle & bustle, almost too-long school break, dreaded elf on the shelf and in-laws that overstay their welcome, the majority of those who voted wanted more time their family over the holidays. Coming in tied for second place was eating all the cookies (our waistline is still feeling that too) and to never step foot in a mall. Our recent research on what would drive people back to the mall revealed that 78% of respondents would visit a mall more often if there was a farmer’s market there followed by 71% who would like to see a food hall at the mall. Cookie store anyone?

Lee Peterson
EVP, Thought Leadership & Marketing
WD Partners

Issue 33

What Do You Want to See in Your Local Mall?

31% Farmer’s Market
15% BOPIS Center
15% Green Space/Park
15% Showroom Pop-up Valley
8% Coworking Space
8% Grocery Store
8% None

Farmers markets and, more generally, food-related places are the winner when it comes to what people want in the mall of the future. This is consistent with our recent research, which was the focus of our Apocalypse to Relevance white paper. People want experiences at retail. It doesn’t get much more old school ‘experience’ than food. Whether it’s a restaurant where a variety of foods and drinks are served or a farmer’s market where consumers can use all of their senses to immerse themselves in flavor, those are experiences people are craving. Retailers are starting to catch on, by adding food experiences within their existing stores. Retail and food will be working in tandem for a long time.

Kenny Dieglio
Sr. Manager, Marketing
WD Partners

Issue 32

If local retailers adopted same-day shipping, would you buy less from Amazon?

72% Yes
28% No

Consumer’s delivery expectations have changed thanks to Amazon. The online retail giant offers free two-day shipping to its Prime members, and no minimum order is required. Additionally, all Amazon orders over $25 are free, Prime or not. This has conditioned consumers to expect expedited, free delivery. And is why we aren’t surprised that 72% of our poll respondents said they would buy less from Amazon if local retailers adopted same-day delivery.

Speed of delivery is an area in which retailers are trying to compete with Amazon’s two-day guarantee. If big-box stores and third-wave, specialty retailers could execute same day delivery, and do it for free, it could be game over for Amazon.

Elaine Kleinschmidt
Executive Vice President, Strategy & Experience Design
WD Partners

Issue 31

Choose One: Amazon or Walmart?

77% Amazon
23% Walmart

Over 75% of respondents chose Amazon over Walmart. Not that we’re surprised. This follows suit with our latest research study where we spoke with 3,000 people about what brands were their favorite & why. Eight out of ten people surveyed ranked Amazon as “good” (this retailer gets me, takes care of me and has a great future) and 22% of those surveyed names Amazon as the best retailer (unaided). Some of the most used words to describe Amazon were service, variety, selection, easy, anything and prime. Learn more about the Good, Bad & Ugly research study here.

Lee Peterson
Executive Vice President, Thought Leadership & Marketing
WD Partners

Issue 30

Retail in 2017: Good, Bad or Ugly

10% Good
60% Bad
30% Ugly

Retail in 2017 can be described in one word: “meh.” Brands like Macy’s and Toys R Us struggled to find their footing while big box stores like Walmart and Target are innovating and acquiring digitally-born startups like Bonobos and Shipt. It was a learning and rebuilding year and set the stage for big changes to come. Though retail struggled in 2017, it’s not dead and it’s only going to continue to evolve in 2018. We know from Shoptalk 2018 that more emphasis than ever will be put on the physical-digital connection, customer service and innovation. Let’s see what 2018 has in store!

Tara Yavorsky
Director, Marketing
WD Partners

Issue 29

How Did 2017 Stack Up for You?

27% Amaze-balls
27% I can’t Complain
37% Meh
9% When is it going to be 2021?

The results were pretty even, with 27% agreeing it was “amaze-balls” and another 27% responding with “can’t complain.” However, 37% agreed when it came to 2017, they just felt “meh.” The year was filled with a lot of highs and a lot of lows, resulting in a year landing somewhere right in the middle. Let’s see what 2018 has in store!

Tara Yavorsky
Director, Marketing
WD Partners

Issue 28

Do you ever avoid going to the doctor because of the overall experience?

86% Yes
14% Not Sure

An overwhelming majority of respondents would rather tough out a sickness or not get medical questions answered over visiting their healthcare provider. In other words, people would rather feel sick than feel the frustration and impatience caused by going to the doctor. To back this up, research shows 81% of consumers are dissatisfied with their healthcare experience. That frustration is a result of traditional medical practices designed for efficiency and ease internally, rather than focusing on the customer’s needs. Retail clinics are popping up all over the country to solve this problem by providing customer-centric healthcare — making it more accessible and convenient. Consumers, specifically young consumers, are embracing this new model and retailers have an opportunity to fully integrate these services into their holistic physical and digital shopping experience to become an even greater force.

Dan Stanek
Executive Vice President
WD Partners

Issue 27

Will the Amazon & Whole Foods merger work?

72% Yes
6% No
22% Not Sure

Amazon has already started showing us how they plan to make the merger work – have you heard they lowered the price on avocados?! In all seriousness, the day the deal closed, Amazon rolled out lower prices on some of their best selling staples across the store including bananas, local grass-fed beef and organic baby kale. Amazon also announced that 365 branded products (Whole Foods’ private label) will be available to purchase on and that Amazon Prime members will automatically be enrolled in the Whole Foods rewards program. They have already shown a commitment to an integrated experience across the two brands as well as upholding the values and mission behind each brand.

Lee Peterson
Executive Vice President, Brand, Strategy & Design
WD Partners

Issue 26

Would you Shop at a Store or Restaurant that had no Visible Associates?

49% Yes
51% No

The responses were nearly split on the idea of shopping at a store or restaurant with no visible associates. Yet with the testing of Amazon Go’s associate-less convenience store and the recent announcement from McDonald’s to replaces associates with ordering kiosks in 2,500 restaurants, it seems that we’re not far from a world with fewer associates. Yet we know from proprietary research completed in 2014 and 2017, that customers crave knowledgeable, empowered and compassionate associates when engaging with brands and stores. Associates can’t simply disappear and leave customers to wander, wonder and question, especially when it comes to bigger ticket items and specialty stores. As the store and brand experience continues to evolve, associates will likely be the one thing that a brand can leverage in order to differentiate themselves.

John Bajorek
Executive Vice President, Brand, Strategy & Design
WD Partners

Issue 25

Would you use Amazon Go (a checkout free grocery store)?

72% Yes
28% No

Our latest research study on checkout methods and consumer preferences verifies the result of this poll. In 2016 we talked to over 1,500 people about their thoughts on 12 different checkout scenarios and found that the top ranked technologies all prioritize ease & speed. Especially with the younger more technologically savvy consumers (digital natives) who want a checkout experience that is engaging, easy, efficient, personalized but most of all, respectful of their time. As Amazon Go is still in the test phase, time will tell on how well a checkout free grocery store will work but it appears that this model is positioned to meet and even exceed shopper expectations.

Lee Peterson
Executive Vice President, Brand, Strategy & Design
WD Partners

Issue 24

Would you ride in a driverless car?

52% Yes
48% No

With just over half of respondents saying they would ride in a driverless car, it’s clear that the population is undecided when it comes to this new approach to transportation. We know from our latest proprietary research that digital natives are more receptive to digital thinking like automated transportation. This younger audience is willing to experiment and is open to change if it provides them with great service. Nothing says service like sitting in your car texting, snapping, reading and tweeting while a ‘robot’ chauffeurs you around.

Raj B. Shroff
Vice President, Brand, Strategy & Design
WD Partners

Issue 23

Would you rent apparel? (i.e. Rent the Runway)

60% Yes
40% No

With 60% of respondents saying they would consider renting apparel form various sites like Rent the Runway, it could be confirming what many retailers have known for some time, people want experiences vs “stuff”. By renting apparel for a specific occasion (i.e. a wedding or vacation), people can save the money they would have used buying the apparel and use it towards those experiences instead. Only time will tell if this trend will continue and it physical retailers will develop similar programs of their own to compete.

Lee Peterson
Executive Vice President, Brand, Strategy & Design
WD Partners

Issue 22

Do you like using the new chipped credit cards in store?

51% No
33% Yes
16% Don’t Care

Over 50% of poll respondents said they didn’t like using the new chip enabled credit cards in stores (at least stores that are currently using the technology). Who can blame them, it isn’t faster, hasn’t been proven to be more secure and who wants to have an annoying little machine beep at you to remember to take your card. Not to mention that most of the cashiers at these retailers—that I have spoken with at least—don’t like the new card reader either. Consumer expectation is that the experience is both secure and efficient – there is still significant progress needed on the latter. Time will tell if consumers get on board with this new technology or if the industry develops something better that proves useful for both parties.

John Bajorek
Sr. Vice President, Brand, Strategy & Design
WD Partners

Issue 21

What percentage of your holiday shopping was done online?


With the 2015 Holiday foot traffic and in-store sales both down 11% and 3% respectively, but overall Holiday sales up 3% it is obvious that more and more purchase are being made online during the holiday season. The proof—online holiday sales were up 20% (source NRF). With Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales starting at the beginning of November and stretching well past those days, why would anyone go to the store, especially with all the hassles of actually going to a store (time, terrible weather, finding a parking spot, dealing with people, boring/poor in-store experiences, long lines at check out, etc…). While many of those things stores can’t change, the in-store experience and problems with checkout are two where if vast improvements are made, might just change the numbers in the next few holiday shopping seasons.

Raj B. Shroff
Vice President, Brand, Strategy & Design
WD Partners

Issue 20

Would you rather go to a store on Black Friday or shop at home in your PJs?

10% Go to a store
70% Stay at home in PJs
20% Neither

The results are in, and are right on par with what took place over the holiday season. Only 10% of our poll respondents said that they would go to the store to shop on Black Friday, while 70% said they would stay home and shop in their PJs. (Twenty percent or respondents said they weren’t going to do either). With holiday foot traffic down 11% from last year and holiday online sales up 20%, more and more people are choosing to stay home and order online—whether it is for convenience, or not having to “deal with people”, it looks like stores have a lot of work to do if they want to get people back to the store during the holidays (and year round).

Lee Peterson
Executive Vice President, Brand, Strategy & Design
WD Partners

Issue 19

Do you feel retailers are violating shopper privacy by tracking them in their stores?

41% Yes
52% No
7% Don’t Care

It seems some people care while others do not (some not at all). Maybe some of us have just conceded and realize that retailers want to know everything about their shoppers and will find a way to get it—one way or another. Let’s just hope that whatever they find out from this information is used to create a better shopping experience for all.

Lee Peterson
Executive Vice President, Brand, Strategy & Design
WD Partners

Issue 18

If it were legal, would you shop in a high-end retail cannabis dispensary?

57% Yes
43% No

It might be hard to determine this one as a clear winner, as the reason for voting one way or another may have more to do with a person’s moral compass or personal belief structure around the use of marijuana. Needless to say, these high-end dispensaries have come a long way from the ones show on TV shows in the seedy part of town. These newer shops take to experience to a whole new level.

Lee Peterson
Executive Vice President, Brand, Strategy & Design
WD Partners

Issue 17

Do Amazon’s nonexistent stores make them vulnerable to brick-and-mortar retailers?

50% Yes
50% No

Lee Peterson
Executive Vice President, Brand, Strategy & Design
WD Partners

Issue 16

Which generation does your brand put the most emphasis on currently?

42% Boomers
42% Millennials / Gen-Y
17% Gen-X
0% Gen-Z / iGen

It looks like Gen-X is once again “getting the proverbial shaft” when it comes to getting any love and attention from retailers. It could be due to the fact that this generation is split between Boomers and Millennials in terms of ideals and mindset.

As for Gen-Z… they don’t seem to even be on the radar for retailers. Looks like they need to wake up to this generation before they miss the Z boat.

Lee Peterson
Executive Vice President, Brand, Strategy & Design
WD Partners

Issue 15

Will you purchase Amazon’s Fire Phone when it’s released?

6% Yes
94% No

I don’t think these results would shock anyone, considering that the Fire Phone hasn’t received the greatest ratings by reviewers, they have $83 million in unsold Fire phones sitting around that they can’t sell, and it is only available on AT&T (if the iPhone didn’t get people to switch from their providers to AT&T then nothing will). Amazon’s biggest problem with its phone seems to be that they relied on all the hype it was getting and that it comes with a year of Amazon Prime. With most people living on their phones these days, they’ll have to make some major improvements including the design if they want to compete with the big boys like Apple, Motorola and Samsung.

John Bajorek
Senior Vice President, Brand, Strategy & Design
WD Partners

Issue 14

Who in the middle is most at risk of becoming irrelevant?

58% Radio Shack
8% Best Buy
8% Toys-R-Us
4% PetSmart
19% J.C. Penny
4% Walmart

Can you even remember the last time you thought about going to Radio Shack, let alone that last time you went into one? They even made fun of themselves in this past year’s Super Bowl Commercial (The 80’s called and want their store back). At least they have recognized that there is an issue and that is the first step to recovery, but will redesigning the store be enough? Have they evolved enough to be relevant to today’s consumers? You can find everything they sell at Wal-Mart, Best Buy, or Amazon, and as much as we may want to root for the underdog, they need to give consumers something to cheer for in order to be meaningful to consumers.

Lee Peterson
Executive Vice President, Brand, Strategy & Design
WD Partners

Issue 13

Who is most likely to get crushed by Amazon next?

9% Kroger
9% Sports Authority
28% Best Buy
13% Radio Shack
3% Lowe’s
23% GNC
9% Target
6% Petco

If you treat your store like a warehouse—have no brand presence and just use it to hold stock—then what do you really have to offer that Amazon doesn’t? Other than being able to touch the product and get it right then and there, not much. Amazon will beat you on price 9 times out of 10 and who wants to deal with your sales staff when they can have the item shipped right to their door?

Lee Peterson
Executive Vice President, Brand, Strategy & Design
WD Partners

Issue 12

Would you buy Google glass?

90% No
10% Yes

Google Glass as an experience is still in it’s infancy. However, the ease to which shopping could evolve from one-click-to-buy to no clicks is approaching quickly. Brands such as Amazon, Fidelity and the retailer Fancy have already released glassware to connect shopping and Google Glass.

John Bajorek
Senior Vice President, Brand, Strategy & Design
WD Partners

Issue 11

Are you comfortable with mobile checkout?

73% Yes
27% No

Consumers grow more comfortable with mobile checkout as availability grows. Retailers like Nordstrom, Best Buy, and JCPenney are successfully implementing mobile checkout solutions, which lead to increases in customer satisfaction and throughput during peak buying periods.

John Bajorek
Senior Vice President, Brand, Strategy & Design
WD Partners

Issue 10

Would you shop for non-perishable groceries on Amazon?

58% No
42% Yes

The result of this poll indicates just how important it is for brick and mortar grocers to reconsider their in-store experience. As Amazon continues to provide (and improve upon) direct-to-door convenience, grocery stores must rethink their center-of-store strategy so they can create not only greater convenience, but also a better experience for their customers; via inspiration, ideas, and community.

Corey Dehus
Executive Director, Design & Brand
WD Partners

Issue 09

What will be the biggest retail trend of 2013?

14% Branded content
40% Visual expression (Pinterest, Instagram, etc.)
22% Associate empowerment
24% Mobile wallet

The sky-rocketing growth rate for social media grounded in visual expression is faster than anything yet experienced. With Instagram quickly nearing 100M users and Pinterest hitting over 50M unique visitors a month, consumer adoption of the technology is exploding. Comfort with smartphone use, as well as a more touch-oriented culture, and continued desire for technologies to facilitate expression, have really helped these new technologies influence consumer and brand behavior.

John Bajorek
Senior Vice President, Brand, Strategy & Design

Issue 07

What casual dining chain are consumers saying they crave the most?

24% Cheesecake Factory
31% P.F. Chang’s
19% Bonefish Grill
26% Olive Garden

Actually the 2012 results of our annual Consumer Picks study shows that consumers chose Cheesecake Factory as the most craveable U.S. dining chain. Their menu is so broad with many different types of cuisines and ethnic influences, the probability of Cheesecake Factory performing well in the craveability category was actually quite high.

Dennis Lombardi
Executive Vice President, Foodservice Strategies

Issue 06

What do you think is the biggest driver behind long term brand popularity?

29% Superior customer service
66% Consistent quality over time
3% Focus on health/environment
2% Celebrity endorsement

Through our latest consumer research project – The Continuum of Cool – we are finding that, in terms of brand appeal, product quality definitely supercedes customer service, health/environment and celebrity endorsement for both Millennials and Boomers.

However, these two groups certainly don’t always agree! The knowledge we are uncovering through this study is shedding a great deal of light on how these two groups think and what provokes them.

Michelle Fenstermaker
Executive Directory, Insights & Strategies

Issue 05

How much international growth is your company expecting in the next 5 years, as compared to the last 5 years?

43% More
17% Less
17% Same
23% None

It comes as no surprise that retail brands continue to show an interest towards global expansion. The investments and risks are significant as can be the rewards if executed properly.

The delivery of retail innovation into the international marketplace and how that translates across borders and cultures is always an energizing experience.

We all love to shop!

Chris Doerschlag, NCARB
Chief Executive Officer

Issue 04

Do you think small format stores will ultimately fail?

89% No
11% Yes

Small format stores will always be an engaging option for shoppers. They provide a quick hit of retail energy, focused assortment, compelling nook and cranny spaces, and are able to connect with customers on a more personal scale. For retailers, they will remain relevant concepts for urban retail growth and suburban infill. They are also a great way for retailers to experiment with new formats for a minimal investment.

Allison Westrick
Executive Director, Design & Brand

Issue 03

What is the best way to save money on energy?

34% Perform energy audit and implement recommendations
14% Alternative energy
24% Educate employees
28% Energy efficient equipment

Even if you have a great set of recommendations based on an energy audit, alternative energy options and efficient equipment people can still throw a wrench into the best-laid plans. When associates understand that the building is designed to provide greater comfort, a healthier environment, a better shopping experience, improved productivity, and potentially, a bigger paycheck through reduced expenses to their business, they want to be part of the solution.

Sam Khalilieh
Sr. Vice President, Architecture & Engineering

Issue 02

What will be the next widely adopted digital technology in the foodservice industry?

59% Mobile order and purchase apps for smart phones
32% Digital menus at your table
7% Voice recognition in the ordering process
2% Reverse calorie counting (tell the restaurant how many calories you want and they provide choices)

Many restaurants have already adopted mobile order and purchase app technology. This trend will continue to gain momentum as smart phones move from luxury items to commonplace must-haves for the masses. More sophisticated apps that incorporate GPS and predictive selling will further enrich the foodservice experience in the very near future.

Dennis Lombardi
Executive Vice President, Foodservice Strategies