So what is this emerging “new middle” and what does it mean? Starting with the retail context, it is clear that it no longer has anything to do with the typical income range of the declining middle class. Rather, the “retail new middle” is about “shared values around value” that span socio-economic groups. This includes both customers reaching up from the big box and customers reaching down from the boutique in pursuit of such value.
Value, in the retail new middle, is all about the optimal balance between price and customer experience. Returning to the department store example, it has the promise of combining competitive prices with excellent customer service, the quality assurances of a major brand, and the time efficiencies of “one stop shopping” in a carefully curated collection of name and house brands. Or by way of example, the Bay is addressing the retail new middle by offering competitively priced products in an environment that fosters trust.
At the risk of oversimplification, let me suggest, in closing, the following definition of value for the retail new middle:
Value = price + trust