Are the sacred cows of retail slowly dropping dead?

The term sacred cows refers to initiatives or propositions that are immune from tampering with.

But AlixPartners director Dan Murphy says that in a highly competitive market it is unwise to be unwilling to re-evaluate any part of your offer.

“The perfect example is Marks & Spencer saying it would never take credit cards or sell Marmite in its stores,” he says, pointing out two of the sacred cows the retailer has done U-turns on in recent years.

“You can’t fight against the tide of consumer demand.”

In particular, he says some retailers that have continued to resist moving online, or selling their whole range online, could well find that they slip down the field.

The exception to this is retailers who push their prices lower than that of all their peers, pulling customers into store with a price message and no other.

Murphy believes that it doesn’t take a huge amount of customer research to see when retailers should re-evaluate aspects of their proposition that are no longer adding value.

“Look out the window and see what the weather is like. Go to your competitors’ stores on a Saturday, and go to their websites. Have people in your organisation keep their finger on the pulse of customers, and then listen to what they have to say.”

He concludes: “There is no such thing as brand loyalty any more. Everyone else is only a click away. It’s about responsiveness in the market, not brand loyalty.”