So, what’s your story?

It used to be that a retailer (or a brand) could provide a decent value, be open for business, and consumers would buy whatever was sold. It was enough to be a value. It is no longer enough. In fact, that method of creating a value proposition has been thoroughly washed away by a new method: storytelling, otherwise known as narrative.

I’m not suggesting that providing a dollar value isn’t important, it is – in fact it, in many categories of consumer goods, it’s as ubiquitous as the good itself. There are a few other attributes which are rapidly moving from distinctions to consumer expectations as well: integrity, human rights, and safety. None of those do much to stimulate sales any longer, but their absence could create consumer backlash or even destroy a company as consumers will create and control the narrative in social media: Nestle has been targeted due to the words of its Chairman of the Board. Uber has been targeted multiple times with the #DeleteUber campaigns.

So, what’s your story? Have you taken the time to create the connection with your customers? Have you created a brand that stands for something? Do you offer your customers a brand that they can trust and count on? Will you have just another something-or-other on the shelf in a row of many look-alikes, or will you create a connection?

Today, nearly anyone can create a plant-based milk alternative. These types of beverages are being made out of new ingredients constantly. What will set one apart from the next? I invite you to consider, it will always be the quality, and next could be the narrative:

We are convinced the beat of a butterfly wing can produce a wave of change and we love to flap our wings!
We see the world where everything is connected. That’s why we’re inspired not by grand plans or heroic gestures, but by simple choices each of us will make every day. Like what’s for breakfast.
We don’t claim that making plant-based foods will save the world…but we think it can help. And we know it makes us happier and healthier.
We believe it’s the simple things that mean the most. We floss. We recycle. We take the stairs. And we tell our loved ones that we love them. Because the little things add up.
When it comes to our food, we reject sacrifice. Tasty & good for you? Nutritious and creamy deliciousness? NOT mutually exclusive.
We are as playfully ambitious and bashfully confident now as we were when we were toddlers.

–Ripple Foods

Retailers have a unique opportunity. Retailers have a vast range of stories to tell: the story of the founders and the history of the company; the various stories of the products sold and how they were selected; the stories of the individuals working there, what’s important to them, and what makes those people special; and the retailer’s community: the people and organizations within the community or the support the retailer gives the community. Retailers: we were all taught to provide a clean, safe place to shop with organized signage. Consider that you can set the stage to inspire tastemakers:

Zupan’s Markets is a local and family-owned specialty market focusing on the best fresh, quality ingredients. Step into our stores and be inspired for your next great meal. Our stores cater to tastemakers. From farm fresh produce and high-quality meat to aged cheese and wine, our departments are filled with the best-curated selection in Portland.


The narrative exists; it always exists. If you aren’t telling the one you want your customers to know and embrace, perhaps it’s time to begin crafting that story now. Don’t be afraid to tell the story of providing a dollar value; just don’t rely on that to be the story that drives consumers. Include your values. Let customers know what’s in it for them: why supporting your business means they have a tangible benefit for themselves or a community. Or, if the brownies you are offering are expensive because you’re providing the best damned brownies, ever: then get really detailed and explain why those are the best ever: in colorful, evocative language that not only paints a picture but stimulates hunger and desire. Tell their story.

If you’re unsure where to start, create a brand promise and never waiver. Deliver on it on it in everything you do. Keep your brand promise authentic. Teach it to all who are employed in your company. Then broadcast it out. Now you’re telling your story.

Be consistent in your approach, but be broad in your methods: create your voice and use it in print ads, consider radio, store signage, billboards, along the sides of busses, on Facebook, on Twitter, in your blogs. Yes – your blogs. Not ready for all of that? Hire help, but don’t leave this as a void.

So: what’s your story?

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