The power of retail: Dick’s kicks out the big guns

March 2, 2018

This week Dick’s Sporting Goods made many headlines by taking a moral stand: They will no longer sell assault style rifles in their stores, and have raised the age to buy a firearm to 21. While they didn’t sell the exact gun to the Parkland shooter, they did sell a shotgun to him in November of 2017.

The statement from the CEO and Chairman Ed Stack said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims and their loved ones… But thoughts and prayers are not enough.” In the full statement found here, Cook closed by imploring others to join their effort.

Not long after, Walmart and Kroger’s Fred Meyer stores followed suit by raising the minimum age to 21.

It’s incredible to see a big box retailers taking a stand.

Socially conscious consumer spending has taken center stage

I saw Simon Mainwaring speak five years ago and his talk was focused on his book We First: How Brands and Consumers Use Social Media to Build a Better World. It’s about the rising importance of ethical alignment between consumers and brands/retailers as a way to change the world. Essentially as companies do good deeds, and share those socially, consumers become increasingly loyal to those brands for being party to sustainability and other forms of social reform. In turn, they spend their money with “good companies” and get to align consumer spending with social change. Everybody wins!

Fast forward 8 years after the books publish date, and Simon was right, particularly where millennials are concerned. Sara Landrum from Forbes did a great article on Millennials driving brands to practice social responsibility. I don’t know any retailers who aren’t trying to better tap that $30 trillion spending pool.

While we’ve yet to see a positive impact on Dicks’ stock, Sprout Social monitored a 12000% increase in brand mentions on Twitter, 79% of which had a positive sentiment.

As a marketer, I slow clap. As a human, I feel like shopping at Dick’s again. That’s amazing marketing.

It’s time to really think about where we spend our dollars

The most important thing I said there was, “I feel like shopping at Dick’s again.” I’ve had bad experiences recently with their in-store and online assortment, and wasn’t planning on going back soon. Too often retailers are being bested by Amazon’s endless aisle and amazing prices. I’m as guilty as the next busy working parent who needs convenience and cost effectiveness just as much as they need a good night’s sleep.

But we need to think about our consumer spending dollars as yet another way to vote. The famous saying “Vote with your feet” is typically tied to political choices – and voting by whether you show up for a cause or not, but it can easily be tied to consumer spending. I vote with my feet by spending money every day. Sadly, most of it is with Amazon.

I’d like to say that Dick’s has successfully converted me to wanting to buy from their brand. But, They also need to have the assortment I want and need. And I need more.

Retailers need to offer more than ethical decisions and great marketing

I write about this often. Retailers are stuck in their old business model and flailing. It’s why Dick’s couldn’t get me the Adidas shoes I wanted - their assortment is limited. They’ve made a choice this week to further limit their assortment which was likely highly profitable for them.

As a consumer, I will always resort to what I need. I need many things for this family of 5 (plus a dog!), but most of all I need convenience and great prices. I need one-stop shopping, wherever I can get it.

If retailers don’t quickly address how to offer their customers more assortment, major opportunities like this to win customers back fall flat when the consumers can’t find what they want at the right price, and vote for Amazon.



Jess Iandiorio

Written by Jess Iandiorio

Jess joins the Mirakl team as the SVP, Marketing after 13+ years in sales & marketing in the Boston tech ecosystem. Prior to Mirakl, Jess helped Acquia grow from $30M to $100M+ by building the digital experience market and Acquia's position in it. Jess was also previously in product marketing at Endeca, a commerce site search vendor sold to Oracle in 2011 for $1B+. Early in her career, Jess spent 5 years at Forrester Research focused on researching enterprise software.