DSES Keynote Speaker

DSES Keynote: “The Power of Your Physical Location in a Digital World” with David R. Bell

6 min read

The last Keynote speaker of the day was Professor David R. Bell; an expert in consumer shopping behavior. In his presentation, David introduces us to the BOSS model — essentially a series of principles or characteristics that define consumer behavior online and offline. Even though consumers spend a good portion of their time online, it’s the consumer’s experience that defines how they respond to your marketing.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the BOSS model:

B. Bonding (Not Branding)

Although branding is certainly an important component of your marketing in terms of being distinguishable, its bonds that draw consumers in. One great example David brought up was the “Dollar Shave Club.”


In an TV ad from 2012 (when the “Dollar Shave Club” was first introduced), it showed comedian (now entrepreneur) Michael Dubin, in a warehouse talking about how comedically simple and “meh” his razors are.


Here, Dubin highlights the fact that guys just want razors. Dubin’s message is transparent and resonates with other men who, no doubt, feel the same way he does. Bonding is what made their BRAND distinguishable.

O. Orators (Not Customers)

Again, “relatability” appears to be the key factor in how consumer experiences operate. Orators are basically the folks who spread things via “word-of-mouth.”

Their passion for a product or service adds a level of depth to their friends and colleagues, and this is what makes what they’re “selling” so enticing. As David so aptly puts it, “Customers are delivered a “sharable story” and a compelling reason to retell it.


“Again, “relatability” appears to be the key factor in how consumer experiences operate.”


Brands that do this well will often leverage incentives as a way to get consumers to do something they want. For example: Warby Parker’s “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” program allows consumers the opportunity to do a lot of good. When consumes buy a pair of glasses from Warby Parker, they give a pair to someone in need.

S. Showrooms (Not Stores)

At the beginning of the presentation, David harped on the importance of offline experiences and how they aren’t going away anytime soon. Online isn’t eliminating offline retail and offline retail is here to stay. While it’s true that malls are experiencing issues in regards to closures, it’s the stores, or “showrooms” rather, that are thriving in this age of technology.


According to David, “Showrooms” (unlike stores — spaces that just “sell stuff”) are “physical spaces where customers are given an elevated and in-depth experience.” Locations don’t necessarily have to hold inventory, but they’ll typically leverage some types of technology in order to promote themselves.


“It’s the stores, or “showrooms” rather, that are thriving in this age of technology.”


A primary example David used was Bonobos’ Guide Shops. Even though these are physical locations with clothes to explore and try on, consumers don’t actually leave with a physical purchase. They can make a purchase there, but in the end, their order gets shipped to them. The stores don’t have any actual inventory. What draws consumers into the stores is the exploratory experiences.

S. Science

The title hard (in the presentation) for this last step in the BOSS model really says it all: “Systematic knowledge of the world gained through observation and experimentation.”


With science (or data as we typically call it in the marketing world) is something we leverage in order to make informed decisions on our consumers. Although every decision you make can’t be entirely made based on precise calculations (sometimes it really does take a “gut” feeling), consumer demographics, preferences and location can tell you a lot about a consumer and how they’ll react to your marketing campaigns. And if you don’t have any previous data to work off of, you can make educated guesses and use that benchmark data in the future.

Key Takeaway (Conclusion)

Digital isn’t overtaking offline stores and offline stores aren’t going anywhere. What matters most to consumers are relatable, shareable and convenient experiences.

Photos from the Session