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137: Professor Jan-Benedict Steenkamp on the impact of hard discounters

JB Steenkamp author of Retail Disruptors

This week on “Marketing Today,” Alan talks with Jan-Benedict Steenkamp, who is the C. Knox Massey Distinguished Professor of Marketing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he has taught for 13 years. This is an encore performance on “Marketing Today” for Steenkamp. In Episode 40, he provided a master class in global branding.

This time on the show, Steenkamp discusses his latest book, “Retail Disruptors: The Spectacular Rise and Impact of Hard Discounters,” which he co-authored with Laurens Sloot. Steenkamp describes the retail war taking place on the U.S. grocery landscape, where we’re seeing insurgents like German chains Aldi and Lidl, as well as Trader Joe’s, swooping in to take share from established U.S. grocers, particularly regional players. During the podcast, Steenkamp also touches on such topics as private labels, corporate social responsibility, and the future of Tesla.

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today” podcast include:

  • Steenkamp discusses his motivation in writing “Retail Disruptors: The Spectacular Rise and Impact of Hard Discounters.” (1:58)
  • Steenkamp talks about hard discounters among grocery retailers and how, while it might be counterintuitive, their smaller size and smaller selection actually leads to increased purchases and greater satisfaction for customers. (3:43)
  • Steenkamp defines the threat for U.S. grocery retailers from formidable hard discounters like Aldi and Lidl. Examples of those at risk: regional supermarket chains such as Food Lion and Harris Teeter. (9:54)
  • Squeezing the soupy middle: Steenkamp points out how U.S. grocery retailers are facing competition from above and below. (14:43)
  • As the retail landscape shakes out, Steenkamp weighs the impact of Amazon on national brands. (17:19)
  • A conversation while working as a consultant two decades ago sparked Steenkamp’s interest in private labels and hard discounters. (22:55)
  • Steenkamp reveals why he wishes he had studied French, Spanish, and Mandarin. (25:24)
  • Steenkamp describes how the continuing focus on corporate social responsibility has been spurred on by a new generation of consumers. (27:36)
  • Steenkamp’s take on the future of Tesla. (32:56)