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Death From Duplication

Published March 3, 2011

I’ve heard it said that no two snowflakes that land on planet Earth are alike. There’s also a theory that if one atom in the universe were to occupy the same space/time the whole cosmos would implode.  The same goes for your retail store, which is your brand! It’s what the alien nation calls DFD or ‘Death From Duplication’ for those of us that are acronym challenged.

Simply put, if your retail brand is just like somebody else’s it could possibly be game over.  What, you don’t believe me? Remember Linens N’ Things and Bed, Bath & Beyond?  Or how about Best Buy and Circuit City?

Before 2007 (in the good old days) you could have probably opened a S**t Sandwich Shop and plenty of people would have stopped by for a try. Expendable income was the new whore’n of plenty and credit was easy.  That’s when the U.S. auto industry could sell 17mm rolling coffins a year. BTW, now they’re getting all giddy hitting 12mm units/year.

Of course this land is your land and this land is my land and it’s so large that geographics can be your friend by delineating some of the clones.  If your retail clone is a far enough drive away you might pull it off but when you’re across the street from each other, someone is not going to be long for your world.  Still skeptical? Please refer to the most recent example of Barnes & Noble and Borders, who will soon be heading south of the border never to return.

Due to my almost fatal addiction to earthly pie I believe it’s now time for a pie example.  To tee this example up, did you know there are two sizes of pie sold commercially? There’s the standard 9” pie tin and there’s the jumbo 12” pie. With that said, the US economy has abruptly shifted from gorging herself on a 12” pie down to a standard 9” pie.  Everyone still gets a piece it’s just smaller. Things have changed and this fact has further exacerbated the DFD theory.  

Because there’s less to go around, your bricks and mortar retail environment better be unique, well differentiated and far enough away from a duplicate or one of you will go the way of the 600 Starbucks stores that have already closed. That’s right, DFD is so powerful it can cause a major brand to chew their own caffeinated arm off to survive.

The moral of the story? Consumers don’t want similarity through duplication they want what’s new, interesting and unique. Now more than ever. 

P.S. A personal prediction that has not played out yet?  Who will it be….Home Depot, Lowes or a similar regional retailer like midwest based Menards? This one might take a while but please feel free to comment and let me know what you think? 

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