December 8, 2023
Q&A with Kevin Meechan, CEO of Arran Aromatics
Welcome to our insightful series, where we delve into the minds of the leaders shaping the consumer sector. We’re excited to present a special feature with key figures from our consumer sector portfolio companies this June.
We had the privilege of sitting down with Kevin Meechan, CEO at ARRAN Sense of Scotland. With a rich background in retail and a keen eye for evolving consumer trends, Kevin brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table.
As we navigate the complex retail and consumer behaviour landscape, Kevin’s insights offer invaluable guidance for understanding and adapting to current and future market dynamics. Dive into our conversation with Kevin Meechan below.
Tell us about your background and what led you to work in the retail sector.
A qualified Chartered accountant, I have worked in senior leadership roles over the last 15 years. Over the last decade, I have worked within a growing omnichannel business’ representing strong Scotting FMCG brands, from Spirits to Health and Beauty. Online and offline retail have been significant revenue drivers in all these businesses – channels that I find extremely interesting.
UK businesses have had to deal with significant volatility in the past few years. Do you think this level of volatility and uncertainty is the ‘new normal’, and if so, what are the implications for UK retailers?
We haven’t experienced ‘normal’ arguably since Christmas 2019. I think we can safely say that operating in a climate of retained uncertainty has become the new normal for brands and retailers over the last 3 years, and so they must become comfortable working in this environment if they wish to be successful. This environment means that it has never been more important for brands and retailers to understand their consumers while demonstrating an ability to ‘pivot’ and react to a challenging environment more dynamically and strategically.
What has been your biggest learning over the past year?
The working theory over the last decade, embedded further by the pandemic, is that online retail trumps offline has emphasised the resilience of traditional bricks and mortar. The mix of retail towards online will undoubtedly continue, but brands must continue to lean into bricks and mortar and strike the right balance between online and offline retail. As traditional digital marketing becomes more and more expensive, omnichannel distribution of a brand is critical to the cost-effective recruitment of new consumers.
What are the key changes you are seeing in consumer behaviour?
Consumers have and continue to become more aware of their ‘power’ within the retail space and, as a result, more demanding. This, combined with the ‘brand saturation’ they experience through digital marketing channels, can make them less brand loyal and willing to experiment with competitor brands. It’s important, therefore, that retailers and brands become more consumer-centric, experiential & sustainable. Recruiting new customers is critical to growth, but so is protecting and servicing existing consumers to promote retention.
Looking ahead, what trends do you see shaping the retail industry?
The demand for experiential retail will continue to grow. It’s easy for physical goods to be commoditised these days. The best way to compete is to offer experiences that shoppers won’t find anywhere else, which in turn promotes brand awareness.
A bigger focus on sustainability and corporate social responsibility will continue to build and become an expectation of customers if it isn’t already. More nimble and flexible retailers will flourish, especially amidst the challenging business environment that is quickly becoming the new ‘norm’.
In wrapping up our enlightening conversation with Kevin Meechan, CEO at ARRAN Sense of Scotland, it’s clear that the retail sector is in a state of dynamic evolution. Kevin’s perspective sheds light on the importance of adaptability, consumer-centric approaches, and the balance of online and offline retail strategies in today’s market.
As we continue to explore the depths of the consumer sector, insights from leaders like Kevin are instrumental in guiding strategic decisions and understanding the shifts in consumer behaviour. We thank Kevin for his valuable contributions.
Stay tuned for more CEO insights as we continue to uncover the trends and challenges shaping the consumer sector today.