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Retail Speaker Douglas Stephens: The End Of Marketing
Marketing | November 16, 2012

Retail Speaker Douglas Stephens: The End Of Marketing

"Imagine a world without marketing," retail speaker Douglas Stephens writes in a blog entry on his Retail Prophet site. "No really…imagine a world where no one tries to sell you anything." As Stephens predicts, this marketing-free world is closer to reality than we might think. Marketing, in the traditional sense, may soon become completely ineffective thanks to the advent of digital technologies that allow consumers to evaluate products and services solely on their merit. Projects like GoogleNow and Kimera are bringing us closer to a world where "businesses [succeed] because they [are] excellent, not because they [can] buy more advertising than anyone else or secure a more creative agency," Stephens explains.

These technologies rate businesses on the quality of their services, not on how catchy their jingle is or how many AdWords they have purchased to drive traffic to their website. If "Joe's Sandwich Shop" has better sandwiches at a better price than its competitor, for example, then Joe's gets a better rating and is referred to more customers. Simple as that. While this certainly seems like good news for customers who may not have to weed through "marketing spin, smoke and mirrors pricing games or superfluous retailer claims," for much longer, Stephens explains that the CEOs of major companies are going to be hit hardest when this shift takes place. Success will be based on real performance where companies will have to do what they say they will—and then, do it well. They will no longer be able to pay someone to make their brand appear more attractive to consumers; rather, they'll have to ensure that their product actually is the most attractive choice.

As a retail futurist, Stephens offers insightful predictions about the future of consumerism and business. At his consulting firm Retail Prophet, and in his keynote talks, he has advised some of the world's most notable companies on upcoming trends. He uses his 20 years of experience to help clients prepare for—and benefit from—the retail changes he forecasts for the future.
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