Ritson labels Aussie retail brands ‘vanilla’

Australian retail brands are vanilla, all the same and devoid of innovation.

These are the words of marketing guru, Mark Ritson, who spoke at the last night’s retail marketing seminar, ‘Ritson on Retail’, at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Sydney.

A professor of marketing at Melbourne Business School, columnist and consultant to leading brands in the Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy stable, Ritson had few kind words for Australian retail brands.

“Aussie brands are mostly vanilla. Now vanilla’s a nice flavour, but you’d better be careful when rocky road or mint choc-chip arrives on the scene,” Ritson told attendees of the seminar.

He observed that Australian retail has been dominated by a small number of large brands and as a result has lacked customer focus and innovation. “International brands view the Australian retail oligopoly as fertile ground for growth and they’re coming in their droves.  It’s bonkers to suggest that foreign owned brands like Zara or Costco don’t understand the Australian consumer’s psyche and can’t beat local brands at their own game.”

Not one to hold back, Ritson went on to criticise marketers: “We have weak brands, even weaker brand management and we don’t know how to compete,” he said. “The consumer is still spending the same amount of money, just not on Australian brands anymore, not in retail. We are on the brink of what will be an incredibly painful time for Australian retail.”