Jim Kebbell and Marion Wood, founders Commonsense Organics
Probably the biggest change has been in the role of advertising. In early days of retailing there was a great emphasis on the actual use of a product with few extravagant claims. It is now often difficult to separate reality from hype.
When we started Commonsense Organics small specialty stores eg butchers, greengrocers were disappearing. There is now a resurgence in specialty stores, particularly those with strong values and personalised customer service. People want to be able to trust their retailers.
Jim: If you had to merge your role at Commonsense Organics with the profession you wanted when you were five years old, what would your new title be?
Marion: If you had to define your business in five words, none of which are allowed to be business-related or jargon, what would they be?
Connecting people with shopping they can trust.
Antoinette Laird, Retail NZ board member and head of external relations Foodstuffs NZ
Growing up on a Waikato farm in the 1980s, for us “retail” meant the local servo or farming supplies store – or if we were lucky a trip to the city. I remember the streets of central Hamilton still had a lot of your smaller stores – butchers, books, clothes, shoes, toys – and that’s perhaps the biggest change I’ve seen since I left uni and kicked off my career: supermarkets and other big box retailers have largely centralised those product offerings into bigger, brighter, more customer-focussed locations. Since then, too, we’ve seen the rise of contactless payments, which have made paying easier; not to mention the technological leap that is the Internet, which means consumers can not only find out about what they’re eating but also shop around. In essence, I think retail has changed in a way that has empowered the customer.
What is the strangest question you’ve ever received in relation to your business, and what do you think that query indicated about perceptions of retail as a whole?
We get asked about a wide range of aspects of our business on a daily basis, but increasingly we’re fielding queries about how many of our stores stock some of the more unusual foods Kiwis are eating; from edible insects to chicken feet and pigs’ heads. And while the journalists’ are typically looking for the ‘weird and wonderful’, from my perspective the fact such foods are being asked about at all shows how much we’ve moved away from the traditional ‘meat and three veg’ diet that dominated FMCG retail for so long. We’ve moved towards a more multicultural experience that celebrates the many different food preferences and delicacies we have on offer in New Zealand today.