In this episode, we caught up with Reality Interactive’s Creative Director Jeremy Brazeal to learn how in-store touch technology thrived during a global pandemic.

We also spoke about the ways consumers are changing, what retailers can do now to prepare them for the next 3-5 years, and what he thinks the ideal post-pandemic retailer will look like. 

Episode 132 of the RETHINK Retail Podcast was recorded on March 02, 2021. 

 

Hosted by Julia Raymond
Researched, written and produced by Gabriella Bock
Edited by Trenton Waller

TRANSCRIPTION

Julia Raymond Hare:
Hi. Today we’re kicking off another episode of RETHINK Retail with my guest, Jeremy Brazeal. Jeremy is the executive creative director and head of marketing at Reality Interactive. Reality Interactive is a multi-award-winning retail technology and design agency. The firm specializes in creating and managing innovative retail experiences using touchscreen displays, digital signage, digital media, and a full suite of interactive and creative technologies. Jeremy, welcome to the show. It’s great to have you on today.

Jeremy Brazeal:
Thanks Julia. It’s nice to be here.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Well, I’d like to kick it off, I dug around your profile a little bit and I saw on LinkedIn that you spent quite some time serving as creative director at LEGO and Coca-Cola, two iconic brands, and it’s quite a leap. You went from toys to beverage to tech, and I wanted to hear from you a little bit about what that journey’s been like to now at Reality Interactive.

Jeremy Brazeal:
Sure. I’ve definitely diversified. That is the truth. I wouldn’t necessarily call that a leap though. I think there’s a leap from a customer consumer point, because it’s one thing about, when you’re talking to children, versus somebody who’s going to be into a Coca-Cola product, but at LEGO we were also talking to parents, so I’ve always been involved in building very progressive digital experiences at LEGO, such as LEGO Club or shop.lego.com, so the digital has always really been a part of what I do, and then the shop team over at LEGO worked on projects within the brand retail space and collaborated with that team, so there’s always an overlap between tech and retail within that group of creatives. And then Coke was more traditional marketing or content development, but I still collaborated with their digital team, so their digital platform and technology and innovation team, and I worked with them quite a bit as well there. So there’s always been I would say a tether within technology for me.

Jeremy Brazeal:
So, after I left Coke, the career had been pretty long in working with these big companies and I was really just set to do things on my own, and I came across this job posting at Reality, and it said in it that they had the most talented team in the state. I was like all right. Well, I’m going to have to check this out and make that opinion for myself, and you know what? They were right, and I like to build things that are awesome, and so do they, and it was just like all right. Well, I guess I’m going to go on to the agency side, which is insane because it’s usually the other way around.

Jeremy Brazeal:
So what I bring in addition to what the team is already doing, and it was amazing, is that what I bring to that scenario is I spent a long time on the other side of the fence, so I know what our clients are dealing with.

Jeremy Brazeal:
I know what it means when somebody says all right. Well, this global company. for example, they have the global versus local markets. I know what that means and I know what they’re trying to navigate by just saying that type of stuff, so it’s the little things, and then at the end of it, I would like to say that they were wrong about being the best team in the state. They’re the best team in the country, hands down. Super talented.

Julia Raymond Hare:
And I would say you have the awards to back that up because when I was looking at Reality Interactive’s website I was pretty blown away. You see a lot of agencies, they don’t have many awards listed, and there were many, many, many, so that was exciting to see.

Jeremy Brazeal:
Yeah. We do have a lot of awards. When we enter them we generally win an award. I’m being very, very strategic now about what awards we want to go for, but yeah we are recognized and we continue to be recognized for the work that the team’s doing, so it’s awesome.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Coming from, you have the perspective of working with large corporations and now you’re in this role that is much more on the agency side like you said. A little bit of dealing with clients’ craziness, I’m sure. Can you tell me how the pandemic has affected this side of the business for you guys? Adapting to contactless technology. I know you guys do a lot with touchscreens. What has that been like?

Jeremy Brazeal:
Well, look, we just … It’s crazy that it’s been a year.

Julia Raymond Hare:
It really has.

Jeremy Brazeal:
Honestly, but we were just at the same point as everybody else, as our clients, what’s next? Because it was a light switch. The warning signs were there, but it was a light switch. All of a sudden, we have clients coming to us like, “All right, what are we going to do? We can even open our retail, let alone, and then what’s going to happen when we’re allowed to have customers come in the store again? Are they going to be freaked out, because of all our touchscreens and things of that nature?”

Jeremy Brazeal:
We really did, we explored a lot of opportunities. We looked at, all right, well, if it’s a giant touchscreen and it’s got an app that we build on it, how can we then mirror that onto somebody’s phone, if somebody doesn’t want to touch it? How can we use UV? Or what can we put on the screens? We went through these exercises, these design thinking exercises on how we can either partner with other companies or build solutions that address it, right?

Julia Raymond Hare:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jeremy Brazeal:
Honestly, that is one of the first shifts back to normal that we’ve seen, is the touch side of it. People aren’t as freaked out about touching a screen as initially thought, so that’s actually just one example of how we see things return to normal pretty quickly, but then the other side of it really is, all right, well, so how do you build something once that can be everywhere?

Jeremy Brazeal:
Traditionally, a company that’s a digital retail technology company, such as ourselves, have a bit, and this is not us, but other ones might be a little bit more siloed in their thinking. All right. Well, I’m building an app for this touchscreen within retail and it’s going to be based in Android, and then I’m going to sell it in, and it’s going to be awesome and everybody’s going to be happy. We don’t take that approach and we had already started talking about, all right, well, how do we build something that isn’t limited by say a retail kiosk?

Jeremy Brazeal:
Something that can also be on the website, something that can also be on an app or on somebody’s phone, so we were already starting to go that way, and then this hit and we’re like all right. Thank God we’ve started thinking this way already. Let’s make this happen, and that’s how we are actually approaching most of our projects now.

Jeremy Brazeal:
We have this product access for example, which started as a digital screen that takes temperatures, but now it’s an entire platform that supports door lock integrations to break rooms or time clock integrations. Takes temperature. You can use it to do health check quizzes or wellness quizzes, so it’s not just about contact tracing. It’s also about the general mood of your employees. You can do these quizzes, and then it activates and scans QR codes, so-

Julia Raymond Hare:
Oh, that’s cool.

Jeremy Brazeal:
Yeah, so you can build a custom quiz, for example, but on the top of the quizzes, and send that to somebody through email, and when they’re at their home, and they can take it. And then it generates a QR code, and then when they come into work they scan the QR code, get the temperature read, and you find out all their contact tracing information, or whether they’re in a good mood, or whether they’re motivated, or whether they’re engaged, whether they’re excited about your customers.

Jeremy Brazeal:
Whatever you want to ask them, and that’s just one aspect of it, so we did pivot our business model a bit to be able to build out solutions like that, which was huge. It’s not only, all right, how else can we help you? How else can we help our partners? And, by the way, here’s something that would actually get more partners in if you need a product like this, and then, hey, maybe down the road we start talking a little bit about how we can help you with your other digital solutions or whatever. So there’s that side of what we’re doing, which has been a focus for us.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Yeah, I like that pivot for two reasons. One, because it just seems like the right thing to do. Let’s focus on your employees, who a year ago were very scared. Am I going to go to work and die? That’s something retailers had to step up and handle, but then it also touches on the flip side, which is there were a lot of retailers who got bad press, that people were saying they weren’t taking care of their employees, so that covers both angles.

Julia Raymond Hare:
You spoke earlier about being where the customer is, and I think when people hear that their brains, and I’m not speaking for everyone, but a lot of people go straight to okay, yeah. That means the retailer is on all the channels that I shop on, but it’s more than that, because now we’re entering this new era that you’re heading up where the digital experience that they expect in store is also on their phone, is also on desktop, is also on any channel that they’re interacting with, so it’s not just the ability to have a transaction. It’s actually digital experiences are everywhere.

Jeremy Brazeal:
Yes, so we’re seeing the dawn of definitely a new age in that, and I think this happened a long time ago, to be honest, but I think there are some companies or businesses that were a bit in denial about it, and there are some huge challenges within, it’s a lot.

Jeremy Brazeal:
For example, it’s easier for a smaller mom-and-pop type business. Maybe they have two or three stores to build digital experiences where they can meet somebody in their house, but then they don’t tend to have the budgets to maybe do that type of thing. Maybe they do, but it’s the bigger companies that are then like all right. Well, how do I, what will be the reason for that retail, the more brick-and-mortar, if you want to call it that, location, if everybody’s just not going to leave their house, so let’s get people to the brick and mortar location because they want, there’s a localization need, right?

Jeremy Brazeal:
If you’re a big brand and you have say a bunch of brand stores, you need that brand store to really get credit for the sales, to keep the sales associates involved in the process. All that type of stuff, so if you build a digital solution that is more of say not global in the sense of global world, but global as in one solution for all your retailers, right? And it doesn’t localize that connection to your sales associates, that’s a problem, so you have to think that path too.

Jeremy Brazeal:
Building a solution that sits anywhere, retail everywhere. I don’t want to coin another phrase. Let’s just call it retail, all right? So retail, whether it’s retail on someone’s phone or retail on a website or retail in a store needs to be able to localize, right? So connect into that local business, so you can have maybe some one-to-one dialogue still with your local salesperson or sales associate, or expert, right?

Jeremy Brazeal:
On whatever it is you’re buying, but then also have that right handoff, so if you’re, so it’s all really about that too. The solution and then the handoff, so be able to either then figure out what you want and have it tie into the eCom sale, and then you get it at home, or if it’s something you need to try on to make sure that it shows up at your local retailer or brand store, and then you go there and you have this curated experience.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Would you categorize that as design thinking – the localization aspect?

Jeremy Brazeal:
Well, that comes up in design thinking, right? We happen to be a company that uses design thinking, and a lot of times design thinking is centered around product development, but we do follow the process, right? If we’re working with a client, we’re asking all those questions, every single question.

Jeremy Brazeal:
Let’s look at all the demographics. How many percentages of people are now converted to digital-only? And aren’t going to go back to retail or not going to go back to their local restaurants, or not going to go back to this, that or whatever, right? And then how many are? How many of them are in between?

Jeremy Brazeal:
We always look at that, and then you map those journeys for each one of those people, so it’s a pretty long process, but then it’s definitely you come up with solutions that are more long-term and effective.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Definitely. Long-term is a tough nut to crack, and because you’ve been on the retail side and now on the agency side, what’s your take on demos? I’m just curious because I know a lot of operations, when it comes to a new experience, they’re demoed and in the flagship store first, and then rolled out later.

Jeremy Brazeal:
Yeah, we do that. Yeah, we love doing that, because you can’t, back when it was just digital, you used to call that QA. Right, so having a retail location where you’re doing the same thing, smaller roll-outs, is key, and we do that with a lot of our bigger clients.

Jeremy Brazeal:
We have these massive endless aisle solutions, for example, or these big CX experiences. So, we have these big opportunities. We always test them first and we monitor them because part of what we do is we have a support team, so we’re not just a company that creates some solution that blows peoples’ minds, sells it in and builds it, and then walks away.

Jeremy Brazeal:
We tend to work with them in some sort of a support contract if they need it, and we monitor them, right? So we make sure that it’s always up and running. Our uptime for our screens at retail is 95%, and I’m not exaggerating.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Wow.

Jeremy Brazeal:
We tend to know when a screen goes blank before our partners do, so we have this full monitoring system and we roll these things out, and we keep an eye on them and we tweak them. We update the software if needed, we roll things out very quickly. It’s really about the way that we work. We’re end to end and anywhere in between, so if a client doesn’t want that, if they want to support it themselves, that’s fine. That’ll be part of our agreement or we keep an eye on it for them, so I hear your question with test, do I like testing? Yes, absolutely.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Yeah, so you’re still onboard.

Jeremy Brazeal:
Yeah, test early, test often, because here’s the deal: Let’s be honest. A lot of your sales associates are busy, because of the pandemic and how, what retail might look in the future. You might be keeping more stuff in back, opening up your stores a little bit. You might have less sales associates, and depending on who the brand is partnered with, if you’re not owning your own retail environment, if you’re selling in to another retailer like a big-box or something like that, you don’t really have control of whether that customer experience is working, or whether somebody’s staying on top of it and all these things. So it’s really beneficial to work with partners that keep an eye on that for you, and then also actually address those situations. I’ve been to some retail establishments, some bigger ones.

Jeremy Brazeal:
When I want to buy something and I can’t find anybody to ask a question, there’s nobody there and I’m like all right. Well, here’s seven versions of product X from seven different companies, which one? What am I going to buy? Am I going to lift it up? Is it the color? What’s the differentiator? So everything I guess for us is test early, test often. How do you help? How do you create an environment where somebody can find a product that’s right for them, can compare it with other products, can then have an effective handoff? Because I’m going to go back to that.

Jeremy Brazeal:
It’s all about the handoff on that experience, so say they’re at retail. They have a handoff of, all right, this is what I want. Now, here. Just go get this for me. Bring it up to the cash wrap, scan this barcode or QR code, or whatever ended up on the phone, and go find it for me, so I can leave and get home to the things that I like to do.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Truly a service, and I think your point is correct. We just had Mina Fader from the Wharton School on the podcast and she was saying similar things. Retail at the core is still about people wanting to go experience the products, try them on, and also get that expertise from store associates, so it’s so important.

Jeremy Brazeal:
Yeah, that is true. It is true, but I think retail is the future, and once again I think retail is retail. People look at it as retail. I’m going to buy something. I’m going to buy it here, I’m going to buy it here, I’m going to buy it here. They’re not like, well, I’m going to go to the locals. It’s they don’t look at it that way, unless you’re a company like LEGO for example, or Nintendo, or one of these companies that have, can I even say them? Their names?

Jeremy Brazeal:
We said LEGO a bunch of times, but that have these brand stores that you can go to and it’s immersive, and quite honestly you can bring your kids to and they’re like, “Yes, I’m fine with sitting in the car for an hour, because I’m going to go to this place like those companies.”

Jeremy Brazeal:
It’s about now the properties of your channel or the properties of all your channels, and ensuring that yes, people are going to go back. Retail is far from dead. We need retail. Everybody loves retail. You can go to a country, say like China, and look at all the brand stores that are in Shanghai, and know that retail is here to stay and you just have to find a different way for the transaction side of it.

Jeremy Brazeal:
So people want that experience, but hey, you might as well retool your retail if necessary, so it makes sense. So it makes sense that, all right, somebody’s going to go there for more. Maybe it’s more of a curated, more of it’s a white glove more premium experience.

Julia Raymond Hare:
I like how you mentioned China because that’s one of the things I also echo on this podcast, speaking with a lot of people in retail, because they are doing a lot of really innovative things and it’s interesting to see how the numbers are doing there. Sometimes you have to take them with a grain of salt, but I see a lot of new store openings. Just on LinkedIn this morning I saw that there was a new retail experience rollout within one of their malls, so it’s going to come back.

Jeremy Brazeal:
Yeah, and China is an interesting dynamic that we’re probably going to see here, that’s been going on there a long time, so you have these big brands that are putting in, there are massive malls there. The malls there are like 10 stories tall-

Julia Raymond Hare:
Crazy.

Jeremy Brazeal:
With all these high-end brand stores and things of that nature, and people go there and they don’t buy anything there, right? A lot of times they’re not buying the things at retail. It’s tourists, it’s visitors. It’s people that then go, they find what they want, and then they’re getting it somewhere else. That’s been a dynamic there for quite a while. That’s why you can go around in three different malls within maybe 10 miles of each other and see the same big brand stores, right?

Jeremy Brazeal:
So is that going to happen here? Probably.

Jeremy Brazeal:
The pandemic has forced people to buy a lot more clothes online and things of that nature, but they’re still going to want to maybe be able to exchange them easy, or maybe they’ll order them to get delivered to a local store and then just try it on, so they don’t have to make some kind of financial commitment.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Absolutely, apparel is one of those wild cards a little bit. I don’t think we’re totally there yet, in terms of digital try on, but not to say that won’t be in a reality in five to 10 years from now, I could totally see it, and speaking of that, and trends and where things are headed, I know digital signage is a big part of what you work on at Reality Interactive. Do you see any trends that are notable with your clients, that other retailers might want to be looking into?

Jeremy Brazeal:
Yeah, so I had mentioned product comparison, stuff like that, so endless aisle. That’s a big one, so we do have clients where there’s a diversification of products that they’re offering and their sales associates can’t necessarily be experts on all of it, right? So you needed, there’s two scenarios there.

Jeremy Brazeal:
One, maybe there is an available sales associate and you got the younger generation with high levels of spending power, are more digital natives, so they’re going to go in and be like, “I’ll just find it myself. I don’t need a sales associate and, actually, please don’t bother me.” So we build these solutions where you can go up to a digital screen and you can, either the salesperson can do it for you or you can say, “All right. I want this product. All right, so here’s a couple. Now let’s compare them,” and that’s all tied in to say the eCOm API or product API and their product databases, so that’s a big thing that we do.

Jeremy Brazeal:
And then we also have created tools that allow localization to that, so you might have a store that’s in one location, that has a certain set of pricing, but then in another location they have some different pricing. Maybe they’re running a sale, so you can do more realtime price changing within that, so there’s that integration. So that’s what I’m talking about, some localization needs, right?

Julia Raymond Hare:
Sure, and that came up in luxury, how important that is in the different markets.

Jeremy Brazeal:
Yeah, so right. You need these flexible tools that can do that, so that’s one trend that I’m seeing, and then the other thing is customizers or product recommendations, so product recommendations, quizzes, all that stuff has been around for years. We developed stuff at LEGO that we’re doing in 2012, but now it’s become such a part of daily behavior with social media doing quizzes all the time.

Jeremy Brazeal:
You want an effective quiz that’s five questions to give you a product recommendation. What’s right for you, who you are, what’s right for you, right? Then having that time to say endless aisle, to pull the right product, so you’re not having to navigate this sea of overwhelming things, so that type of stuff. So we’re seeing a lot of that and we’re working on a lot of that type of thing.

Jeremy Brazeal:
AR, obviously AR’s tried to figure out the right way to use AR. That doesn’t really work very well in retail right now, so to build a customizer that’s an AR on a phone, right? So if you have a product and you want to choose the color of it, or you want to choose textures or these things, and then you want to see what it looks like in your house.

Jeremy Brazeal:
Well, you can do that on a kiosk too, but you’re going to just put in more of a generic background, so it’s really about the tool and that it’s more of a 3D based product tool, that if you’re working with the right partner they’re going to develop that way.

Jeremy Brazeal:
All right. Well, on a phone it’s AR. Boom. That is amazing and that’s going to look incredible, and that’s going to get somebody to buy it and they’re going to be able to buy it directly from your eCom platform, or it’s in a digital screen within retail, and they can build it and customize it and see what it looks like in a generic house or something. I don’t know, but these are tools that I think are powerful and they’re going to be a big part of retail moving forward.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Absolutely, and you named four, so to recap quickly, you said product comparisons, endless aisle, personalization, especially with quizzes, and then AR. And I want to just ask a little bit more about the personalization, because you said it’s been around forever and it has, but now we’re seeing this resurgence, and I see it whether I’m on Instagram or any other social media, and people are really drawn towards these quizzes, so why is that? What do you think is the reason?

Jeremy Brazeal:
Well, I am not a sociologist, but I’ve been around for a while and part of what we do is study, we observe human behavior, of course, because that’s you get better solutions when you do that, and I think it’s there’s so much out there. There is so much out there. There are so many products. There are so many trends to follow. There are so many people knocking on your door, your digital door, trying to sell you something. It helps. It helps focus, right?

Julia Raymond Hare:
Mm-hmm (affirmative), so we’ve become a little analysis paralysis with all of the choices out there.

Jeremy Brazeal:
Yeah. The world is overwhelming. It’s busy, it’s loud, it’s vying for your attention. Now, you’re in your house and you think that helps tone it out, but you’re spending more time on the computer. You’re shopping more. There might be a little retail therapy in there. I don’t know. Once again, that’s not my line of work, but I think it just helps.

Jeremy Brazeal:
It helps, and it helps retailers and businesses, companies know who they’re talking to, and that’s the biggest thing, right? The most you asked me earlier about projects that I’d been involved in and I was mostly excited about, and it was always like all right. Well, we’ve pulled all this information. We might not know this person’s actual born name or where they live, but we kind of know where they live, geolocation on where some of these demographics are sitting. What their household income might be, their age, and then we can use that information to, and then how they fill out quizzes or how they, where they navigate on a site.

Jeremy Brazeal:
You can figure out what they’re into, and then you can then use that to find like-minded people and that’s a really powerful tool, so any digital team, or retail technology company or technology company that is selling you something that is worth a grain of salt is putting the tools in place to pull analytics and data, so you can see who the people are that are interested in. That’s something that’s a part of their culture.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). It should be in their toolbox. Right.

Jeremy Brazeal:
It’s part of our culture. Gosh, dating apps do it. Everything does it, right?

Julia Raymond Hare:
Yeah, I think you’re right, and there’s that comes back to the exchange. Okay, I’ll tell you my age range and I’ll tell you more information that’s personally identifying if you can tell me which sofa is best for me, or whatever the product is.

Jeremy Brazeal:
Yeah, it’s symbiotic and as long as a company is being responsible what data they’re asking for, right? It’s all good.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jeremy Brazeal:
It’s all good. It helps everybody, and people are like, “Look, our job, it is to do two things. Make customers’ lives easier and sell businesses’ products,” so that’s what a digital company such as us, Reality, does. That’s our purpose.

Julia Raymond Hare:
And are there any clients that you can chat a little bit about? Because I saw a lot of big names on the website, really cool videos describing the work you guys did, so is there anyone that comes to mind, that you’re allowed to speak about?

Jeremy Brazeal:
I love all our partners. I’ve got to be honest. They’re really amazing companies to work for and to create solutions for, and the people that we work with are just really great, so I don’t, on that. I would say, based on magnitude or what we’ve done for them, our biggest right now would be Spectrum, which is part of Charter.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I have Spectrum.

Jeremy Brazeal:
Yeah, and BMW. They’re a big one for us. We have just 17 or 15 year relationship with them. They’re one of our first clients and that was one that’s mostly digital now, because were very involved with digital catalog originally, when that was a thing, so that’s how far we’re going back here, and then build their eCom platform for North America. Not their global one, but North, and then we just recently rebuilt that, redesigned and relaunched it, and it’s gone gangbusters.

Jeremy Brazeal:
It’s doing really well, and we launched that at the beginning of last year, so we not only build that for them, but we manage it as well, so we support it and that’s a big one, and so we always have fun projects with them. We just did a visualizer, where you can choose your car and see what different wheels look like and all that kind of stuff, so that was a cool project, but Spectrum.

Jeremy Brazeal:
Now, that one shows our full value proposition, so we have this, I mentioned it earlier, and it’s actually registered. It’s called Retail Rugged, so that’s ’96 I think, six point checklist on everything, so we make sure connectivity is correct, it’s hardwired. How our content is distributed to all the screens, the hardware is drawn and it’s going to stand up to the tests of a retail environment.

Jeremy Brazeal:
We rolled things out across one store or hundreds of stores throughout the country, get everything up and running, monitor it, handle the content management, if they want us to, or they can use our content management tool, which is bitSHUTTLE.

Jeremy Brazeal:
And Spectrum’s that personified, so we create content for them, we build their apps, we supply all their digital within their retail locations. We’re heavily involved in their flagship stores, which have a lot of multiple screen use, we call ribbon content, so content running across multiple screens. A lot of really fun stuff like that. We’re doing a lot of animation work, so we are developing content for them.

Julia Raymond Hare:
That’s great, because there’s a lot of disruption in telecom and I think it sounds like you guys are help making Spectrum sexy in a way, right? With brand experiences. I don’t know if you would automatically assume they would have one.

Jeremy Brazeal:
It’s powerful, having digital. They’re a case study of, all right, well, effective digital helps. You can have a telecom company feel like a DMV or you can have it feel like a brand, and I’m proud to say we helped them feel like a brand.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Absolutely.

Jeremy Brazeal:
They’re great people to work with too, so yeah.

Julia Raymond Hare:
So we have a lot of retailers who tune in, and from your perspective, being on the retail side, being on the agency side, no one has a crystal ball. I like to say that, because we can’t predict the future, but what things do you think retailers should be doing now or brands to prepare for the next three years?

Jeremy Brazeal:
Well, I think I touched on it a lot throughout this discussion. I think it has to first happen on their side, right? So how they’re structured or how they’re collaborating internally. We touched on that a lot earlier. If they are separate teams handling digital retail versus traditional retail, they need to close that gap.

Jeremy Brazeal:
I’m not going to advise companies of restructuring, but close that gap, because retail is retail. If you take that customer view, if you step back and say, all right, well, I’m a customer to somebody. How do I want this to be? How do I expect this to be?

Jeremy Brazeal:
I think a lot of companies don’t do that. A lot of companies, self-included when I was on the brand side, have this picture of their customer and they forget that they’re customers themselves, and so step back and say does it really matter? Let’s go forward in a way that’s really hand in hand, and meet the customers where the customers expect you to meet them.

Jeremy Brazeal:
Don’t expect them to come to you.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Definitely, and you’re touching on some human behavior, and I know you said you’re not a sociologist, but a little bit about how it’s not cool to be associated with big brands in some circles. That’s where it’s headed. You want to be unique, right? Everyone’s trying to have their own thing, so do you think that, post-pandemic, how can a big-box not be so big-box?

Jeremy Brazeal:
All right, so another word that was flown around a lot maybe in the last five or more years was be authentic, right? You hear a lot of marketers like, “We’re going to be authentic. We’re going to be an authentic brand.” No. Be relevant. Be relevant. If you’re making something that people want, just be relevant. Don’t try to be something bigger. Talk about how you’re differentiating yourself and that’s going to resonate. I think that’s maybe a little bit easier said than done, but that’s how I see it. That’s how people are going to be drawn to something, if it feels relevant to them.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Mm-hmm (affirmative), and I think that’s probably one of the hardest parts about being a retailer, right? Is keeping up and staying relevant.

Jeremy Brazeal:
Be in reach. Be accessible, be relevant. Don’t try to pull the wool over somebody’s eyes, because quite honestly you can’t. You can’t. You can’t fake it these days, because that’s going to be a major turnoff for a lot of people.

Julia Raymond Hare:
Well, Jeremy, this was a great call. Totally enjoyed speaking with you and learning about what you’re doing now.

Jeremy Brazeal:
Yeah. It’s exciting. It’s so great talking to you.

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