The Retail World Is Flatter Than Ever

July 21, 2010

I love to people-watch and walk a city observing the culture. After recently visiting Madrid, what I see has become much more similar to what I see in the U.S. The phones, fashions and cosmetics and even the size of cars are becoming more and more similar. Sue Whitely, U.K. managing director of Louis Vuitton, was quoted in LS:N in a trend report saying, “You have to be global in reach yet quintessentially local in terms of communications, image, service — everything.” 
However, I see retail stores and marketing campaigns looking more and more similar in varied countries. Women are carrying the same new checked Louis Vuitton bag in New York as they are in Madrid, it’s just that New Yorkers have dark checks while in Spain the lighter colors are more prevalent. To find unique gifts and fashion to bring home, you have to search much harder. 
With an H&M and Zara on local corners and as many T-shirts with English sayings in Europe as in the U.S., I have to wonder if the melting pot has gone too far. I did discover a few new products and designers, but it took a bit more walking on the side streets. I hope we do not become overly homogeneous over time. I think it takes some of the fun of discovery out of travel.


As President and CEO of Ketchum, a top-five, global communications consultancy, Barri Rafferty oversees Ketchum’s offices and affiliates in more than 70 countries.

Outside of Ketchum, she participates in a number of groups including the sustainability task-force for the World Economic Forum and is a member of Arthur W. Page Society Page Up program. Rafferty sits on the board of StepUp, an organization with the mission of empowering girls from under-resourced communities to become confident, college-bound, and career focused and she is also a member of the governing body of OmniWomen, Omnicom’s Leading Women’s Network, for which she holds quarterly panel discussions featuring prominent women. She is the recipient of the Plank Center Milestones in Mentoring Award.

Barri is a graduate of Boston University (M.A) and Tulane University and enjoys watching soccer, volleyball, and dance – especially when her son and daughter are involved! Connect with her on Twitter: @barrirafferty