• About Tom Dougherty

    Tom Dougherty CEO, Stealing Share

    Tom Dougherty is the President and CEO of Stealing Share, Inc., and has helped national and global brands such as Lexus, IKEA and Tide steal market share over his 25-year career.

    An often-quoted source on business and brands, he has been featured recently by the New York Times and CNN, discussing topics ranging from television to Apple to airlines.

    Tom also regularly speaks at conferences as a keynote and break-out speaker. To find out more on inviting him to your speaking engagement and view a video of him speaking, click here.

    You can also reach him via email attomd@stealingshare.com.

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Positioning yourself for trouble ahead

Last week’s remarks from Family Dollar CEO Howard Levine make sense. He said that the government shutdown is hurting those on government assistance – which make up more than half of Family Dollar’s customers. (And, logically, those of Dollar General and Dollar Tree as well.)

FamilyDollarSignThis was, of course, a plea from a businessman to stop the madness that results in fewer customers going through his chain’s doors.

What interested me was his statement later, saying, “We have repositioned the company for the tough sales environment.”

That sounds good on paper. Business must always look ahead to trends and make adjustment. But that isn’t what has happened here, at least from the point of view of the customer. The chain is still “my family. my family dollar.”

First of all, that’s not new positioning and it’s redundant. (The name already says that.) But Family Dollar must believe its positioning works in this government crisis.

Would this positioning stave off lost market share in a long-term crisis? I don’t think so, which is why I suspect Mr. Levine is worried. You must position your brand so that it is so emotionally intensive that it succeeds regardless of the nation’s economic situation.

Recently, dollar stores have increased market share because of the general economic climate, and they do share a position that is different than the retail market. But they are not emotional brands, which means they are easily discarded.

Even Apple, with its expensive products, always succeeds no matter the economic climate because its brand is emotional.

My point is that, to “reposition the company for the tough sales environment,” you should do it before that environment comes to fruition by being about something bigger than something so literal. Be about something emotional. Then you are resistant to bad economic times.

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