A thought-provoking and engaging event, that challenged the viewpoint that many people have been subjected to in recent times, through the media.
Are high streets really dying, or are they just evolving? This was an extremely powerful discussion led by Fiona Davis, Managing Director of The Brand Inspiration Company, who used current business examples to bring across relevant insight about what companies are getting right, and why many companies, such as Mothercare, are struggling. Lidl and Selfridges are just some of the companies that are engaging with their customers and are in touch with their needs, and thus are being successful, going against the reported trend about the failing high street. Customers have more information and thereby higher expectations, so businesses have to be more interactive, both physically and digitally.
This was a useful talk that relates directly to the assignment for 'Professional Business and Customer Management', helping students to ensure they have various avenues of information to allow additional relevancy to arguments that they bring up in their assignments.
Fiona ended by stating that "retail is resilient", an optimistic angle on an otherwise pessimistic topic. Yet when it is considered that businesses need to be brave and visionary, then there still is a strong purpose for the high street, it is just that this role is always evolving.
The meaning behind Fiona's talk was further emphasised by Jason Brandt, Experience Director of Demodern Global Digital Agency. Jason specialises in digital customer experience and has worked with Nike, Germany, helping to increase customer engagement and interaction for the specific reason of evolving the role of Nike stores. Jason explored the idea that this evolving role of the high street will not only benefit the customer, but also businesses and their employees, as resources such as staff can be used more productively, a fascinating outlook.
Following such interesting, exploratory talks, it was inevitable that there would be plenty of discussion in the panel that followed - which also featured Darko Atijas of Okran Commerce who was able to give an American insight into the discussion to uncover comparisons between the two markets, leading to detailed analysis. Each panelist delivered answers that gave both dynamics of the issue, with the underlying theme that customers have to understand - 'what does a business stand for?' - in order for the business to have a role in the high street. There is no set framework for every environment, so businesses have to keep on trying new things to gain the most out of their customers and employees, and this is achieved through strong communication with other stakeholders.
A networking lunch followed the panel discussion, where Fiona, Jason and Darko engaged fully with the attendees about any further points they wished to address. This informal approach was of further benefit for the students.
The day ended with a captivating branding challenge from Arnold, someone who has featured in front of Pearson students before and has since become a personal favourite due to his relaxed, appealing interaction. Arnold was seeking help for the rebranding of his company, Drive Daddy - a name that brought laughs from the audience - and set the students an '8th Day Challenge'. The students were extremely fascinated by Arnold's company and ideas were instantly flowing. We were organised into groups to test our communication, active listening, creativity and time management skills. This was a highly valuable task, that replicated a real business environment.
With the winning team having the fantastic opportunity to take the project further by accompanying Arnold to the company's design team and seeing the operation in full, a lot of effort and thought was put in by the students. So much so, that Arnold was unable to choose a winner, stating that all groups had intriguing, positive concepts.
Overall the whole day was well organised, productive and engaging, showcasing the hard work put in by Frances Thought and her team to ensure students are able to have the best possible opportunities to gain business insight and experience.
I would highly recommend attending events such as these.
- Fiona Davis, Managing Director - The Brand Inspiration Co. https://thebrandinspirationco.com/
- Jason Brandt, Experience Director - Demodern Global Digital Agency https://demodern.com/
- Darko Atijas - Okran Commerce
- Arnold Du Toit - Last Mile Delivery
For more information visit the Pearson College London website. https://www.pearsoncollegelondon.ac.uk/