Asda chief executive Andy Bond has heralded a “new era of democracy” as consumers now shape the way retailers do business.
Bond said the popularity of US President Barack Obama stems from him being a symbol of giving power back to the people. “The phrase: ‘Yes we can’ reverberates across the world as a symbol of a new era of consumer power,” he said.
Bond said the recession has accelerated this trend. “The consumer may be ready to shop again but the recession has led to long-term, permanent behaviour change. And the change in behaviour is being led by the consumer, not us. We are following consumers, not leading, and as an industry we need to get ahead in order to stay in the game.”
Speaking at the British Retail Consortium’s Annual Retail Lecture on Tuesday, Bond said retailers need to be more transparent in order to build trust, and added that it is “no good trying to hide”.
He said social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are enablers to transparency as consumers speak to each other and share information. After exiting the “era of abundance” Bond said consumers are moving from DIY to CIY – create it yourself.
He said the retail industry will adopt more transparent strategies, citing Carphone Warehouse’s decision to publish its customer complaints on its website and outdoor retailer Patagonia’s strategy of putting webcams in its factories.
Asda last week revealed it will test a home shopping centre designed to extend retail capacity in its busiest locations. Grocery home shopping sales climbed 50 per cent year on year in the first quarter, when Asda notched up underlying like-for-like growth of 8.4 per cent, excluding petrol. The retailer said it beat its sales and profit targets.