Guest Blog By Michael Plummer

In today’s world, local businesses have more marketing tools at their fingertips than ever before. The explosion of online marketing concepts has made a big impact on the way consumers think about and react to campaigns. In fact, the emergence of social media gives consumers the power to influence and shape the brands they know. This has fundamentally changed the game because marketing is now as much, if not more, about controlling the message than shaping it.

Guest Blog by Thomas Cohn

Last year, the California Supreme Court held that collecting a customer’s ZIP code during a credit card transaction violates the state’s Song-Beverly Credit Card Act (“Song-Beverly”). Thanks to this case (Pineda v. Williams-Sonoma Stores Inc.), California retailers have effectively been prohibited from requesting and recording customers’ ZIP codes during credit card transactions. Meanwhile, more than 100 consumer class-action lawsuits have been filed against California retailers. In Pineda, the plaintiff alleged that Williams-Sonoma requested her ZIP code as part of a store credit card purchase and recorded it for marketing purposes.

By Cliff Courtney

Why are we still doing the same research we've done for the last 50 years?

Eight strangers face each other around a table. The room is bland, except for a two-way mirror in the back that spans the entire wall. A pleasant enough moderator asks about a brand. Let the post-rationalization begin! The consumers struggle to give intelligent responses to unanswerable questions. Why did you choose the Prego over the Ragu? How do you pick out a pair of pants? Is Chili’s salad healthier than Applebee’s salad? How do you feel about radial tires?

Guest Blog by David Seiden

Why do some online retailers collect sales tax and others don’t? Why do some online retailers collect sales tax in certain states and not in others? Why are some states requiring online retailers to collect sales tax despite not having a physical presence in the state? Over the last 10 years as online shopping has gone mainstream, the issue of when an online retailer is required to collect sales tax has grown increasingly murky.In the “good old days,” sales tax collection on retail sales was straightforward. A consumer would go into his or her local store, buy merchandise and pay sales tax at the register.

Guest Blog By Carrie Shea

Shoppers are in control. Retailers face this reality daily. What shoppers decide to spend their hard-earned cash on and how they make those decisions ultimately determine how retail merchandisers and marketers operate. So how are shoppers adapting to the recovering economy — and what does that mean for retailers? According to our biannual “The Why? Behind The Buy” report, in today’s sluggish economy, shoppers are still holding on to the budget-conscious behaviors they developed during the prolonged recession.

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