J Curve-update

I first blogged about the J Curve back in 2012. I talked about how any time there is a change in the eyes of the customer (a new store, a remodel, new items, etc.) that a customer can react opposite from desired results.

The change from the customer’s perspective can cause a feeling of uneasiness, complexity or confusion. As a result, the customer may flee and search for more familiar shopping conditions.

Customer flight causes a sales decline for the retailer, even though they may have “improved” the shopping experience. The eventual success of a retailer is to not give up and continue to show constant improvement every day. Eventually the relentless pursuit of perfection will result in improved sales.

But it does takes time, sometimes months and years, to break out of the J Curve. There are no get-rich-quick schemes in retail.

Look at the graphs below. These are two real examples of stores I owned. See the similar progression of how sales started out high, retreated and then slowly climbed back as we eventually won the customers back.

This J Curve can be applied to businesses and processes other than retail. New cars, technology products and fashion items are not immune to the J Curve. I would even suggest that there is a J Curve when a sports team fires a coach and replaces him with a big named celebrity. It takes time for fans to buy into the new system.

The key is not to give up when you are at the bottom of the J Curve.


John Marklin



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