Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender are consumer anthropologists, speakers, authors and consultants whose client list reads like a “Who’s Who” in business. Companies internationally depend on them for timely advice on consumers and the changing retail market place. We recently had a chance to sit down with Rich and Georganne to learn more about their partnership and how they got started.
AFCI: You’ve been active participants in the association and creative industry for the past 38 years. How did your partnership begin?
K&B: The first thing people want to know about us is if we are married. We are. Happily. Just not to each other. We met when we both worked for Ben Franklin Stores back in its heyday, and when craft stores first came on the scene. That was 29 years ago, and we’ve been business partners ever since!
AFCI: What is a consumer anthropologist?
K&B: We are probably most recognized in the creative industry as speakers, but did you ever wonder where the information we share in our keynotes and seminars comes from? That’s the consumer anthropology part. We do our own research, hosting focus groups, one-on-one interviews and onsite studies to interact with shoppers in their natural habitats. We spend a lot of time in stores, restaurants and other public areas where consumers tend to congregate. This research also helps us when we design and remodel stores as part of our consulting business.
AFCI: What is the key to your successful partnership?
K&B: Our partnership works because we’re polar opposites. Rich’s workspace is a creative mess; Georganne’s looks neat as long as you don’t open her desk drawers. Rich never stops thinking about the next big move. Georganne is deep into details, figuring out how to make that “next big thing” happen. Rich’s brain never turns off; Georganne flips hers off like a light switch the second she leaves the office. Rich devours business books like a madman. Georganne reads anything but. Rich prefers to focus on one thing at a time; Georganne is the queen of multitasking.
AFCI: What are some of your biggest accomplishments over the past 29 years?
K&B: Our Retail Adventures have grown to include titles of contributor to MSNBC’s “Your Business” and two of Retailing’s Most Influential People. We are listed among the Top 40 Omnichannel Retail Influencers, Top 11 Retail Industry Experts to Follow on Social Media, and the Top 100 Retail Influencers. We’re BrainTrust panelists for RetailWire, retailing’s premier online discussion forum, and partners in the Independent Retailer Conference, held twice a year at ASD Market Week in Las Vegas. Our Retail Adventures Blog has been consistently listed among important retail and small business blogs, and our magazine column, “Georganne & Rich on the Road,” was twice honored with the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) Award of Excellence.
AFCI: What’s next for KIZER & BENDER?
K&B: Over the years we’ve learned a lot and shared a lot, helping retailers and service providers reach their full potential. We look forward to connecting with everyone in the creative industry and other industries that we serve. Each day brings new emails, telephone calls and texts from retailers who ask for advice, tell us a victory story or share a wacky sign for our KIZER & BENDER Facebook page. Connecting with you is the best part of our day. Cheers to 29 more years!