Is Smart Optimism a Thing?

Growing up my mom always told me I could make a choice each day to have a good day or a bad day. That it’s our choice to stay positive. In my role as a strategic marketing consultant, that advice is more relevant now than ever as I see a daily barrage of negative headlines such as “The Internet is Broken” and “Retail is Dying.” The NY Times wrote this week: “People are using Facebook to showcase suicides, beatings and murder, in real time. Twitter is a hive of trolling and abuse that it seems unable to stop. Fake news, whether created for ideology or profit, runs rampant.”

Encouraging? Hardly.  At our recent annual client summit in Napa I opened with a message challenging all this negativity about our industry. Specialty retailing is booming, especially for new brands with unique product and/or a unique position. Furthermore, online retailers are investing heavily in brick-and-mortar because consumers still value the traditional store experience. And, as clients’ Spring results are starting to be reported, we see strength across categories and price-points. We can question whether this is truly due to rising consumer confidence or just retail therapy! Regardless, the evolution and growth is real.

To be sure, we all face challenges every day. Our CEO, Andy Ostroy, recently told me, “Without optimism we have nothing. It’s the difference between success and failure. Happiness and misery.” We have used the term “cautiouslyoptimistic many times in the past when asked about consumer confidence or sales forecasts. But the challenge is in balancing all this bad news with the good. In providing you with meaningful data, we’ve partnered with peers like Epsilon to provide annual sales curves for major categories, and we are proactively researching topics including differences in shopping preferences for each generation and key learning points from holiday ‘16. But I agree with Andy…if we are not optimistic, we have nothing. So, let’s be optimistic, create positive energy and harness it all into our future successes together!

Polly Wong