Turn a lemon into a lemonade (Francesca Hotchin on Unsplash)

TURN A LEMON INTO LEMONADE_Confront the crisis in the “let’s go shopping” industries


Filling the shopping trolley is one thing. However, when it comes to “going shopping”, it is not only a question of having the money but also of the future expectations we have.

Projecting an image of leadership that is in tune with the customers’ life experiences and conveys a positive message despite the adverse circumstances is a path that has been taken by some industry leaders. Companies that have been able to look beyond the here and now.


My grandfather William taught me how to ride a bike when I was young. With infinite patience he held the seat while I tried to pedal for the first time.

I can still remember him telling me “Look ahead, further ahead” and me replying, “I look down to avoid the patches better!”

Since I was ignoring him, he looked into my eyes…. and then I obeyed.

I started looking ahead as I pedalled along and he ran beside me holding the saddle. After a while I heard his voice in the distance, “You’re doing it really well, well done”. I’d learnt to ride a bike.


Lessons in times of crisis

We are experiencing times of uncertain demand but consumers’ behaviour varies depending on the type of purchase.

It’s not the same “doing the (grocery) shopping” than “going shopping” for pleasure. Inflation and the money available are far more important in the first case. However, things are different in the second case: here we purchase not so much depending on what we have in our pockets but on how we believe we will do in the future.

Retail companies that sell “going-shopping” items dispose of several options to face the current market situation: The first is to cut and re-cut expenses, the second to postpone projects and investments, and the third is to manage the brand in a way that conveys the right message, reflecting the time we live in: the message of a leader who remains cool, who shows empathy for its customers, and offers a positive way out of this situation.

In times of crisis, people need more than ever clues or signs telling them that they are buying in the right place; that they are betting on the winning horse.

This route of solid leadership has been taken by some companies that know how to ride a bike. Companies that look ahead like Desigual or Valentine. For years now, these two firms have been achieving above-average growth rates in their respective industries.


Desigual: the anti-crisis stand


Desigual was the star at the Bread&Butter show because of its terrific advertisement at the airport: a stand similar to a theatre stage covering more than 1,200 m2 and offering a filter for visitors (to attend them in the most personal way possible), four fashion shows a day, and much more. Excellent business results and a winner tone.


Valentine: paintings-jewellery in Casadecor


Valentine takes part in each edition of Casadecor, an event where different well-known professionals decorate a house.

This time, their paintings were displayed like jewellery on their stand.

This conveyed a subtle message to the market, showing who is setting the trends.


What do they have in common?

First of all, both companies present the product from the standpoint of a customer’s life experience; in other words: they are customer-oriented rather than product-oriented. Secondly, they use a multi-sensorial approach to transmit a positive feeling and a leadership tone (nothing reminds of the crisis). And thirdly, they avoid the expected and their messages contain elements that surprise the customers.

In times of crisis it’s easier to do branding – and make the most it – simply because there are less companies thinking of it.


Lluis Martinez-Ribes

Source: Distribución Actualidad, the spanish magazine of retailing

(nº 395, October 2008)