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Am I really “the most powerful man in retail” as The Grocer magazine says?

Am I really "the most powerful man in retail" as The Grocer magazine says?

Am I really "the most powerful man in retail" as The Grocer magazine says?

It’s a strange thing to read about yourself. The Grocer magazine’s ‘Power 100′ list is just out and has "No. 1 Martin Lewis, founder of" ahead of the new boss of Tesco at No. 2. Yet, as I tweeted when I first officially heard…how come I still have to queue for 15 minutes at Morrisons?

When I first got a tip off about this on Friday, I was sceptical, thinking it frankly rather bizarre. Yet, having read the nomination this lessened somewhat. The ranking is far less about me and much more about the specific power of the users of and the general power of consumers across the UK.

Here’s a short extract from The Grocer list, (to see it online you need to be a subscriber).

I still find it strange to be described as an ex-stand up comic – that’s slightly over-egging the pudding of a post-uni hobby.

"His following is biblical," said Tesco UK CEO Richard Brasher of the former stand-up comedian and his hugely popular moneysavingexpert website in March. And with five million subscribers to his free weekly emails, a weekly News of the World column, and regular appearances on ITV’s Daybreak, we believe Lewis currently tops even Tesco in terms of power.

In truth, this top spot finish is as much about the burgeoning power of the consumer as it is about the man himself. In the age of the internet, a shopper can now compare prices instantly, online, or even in-store via their mobile phones. But Lewis is the man at the front who waves the consumer flag, rallies the troops and shows them the way. In the process, his website (tagline: ‘Cutting your costs, fighting your corner’) has pioneered not only rival sites such as; it has superseded Which?, Watchdog and the nationals as the consumer’s ultimate champion.

Lewis is happy to acknowledge he is very much part of a movement. To Brasher’s comments, Lewis responded modestly: "While the comment is attributed to me, it is of course about the site and the weekly email rather than me as an individual. I suppose if the boss of Tesco is sitting up and taking note, we’re certainly mainstream now."

This type of accolade for the power of consumers from a (or perhaps the) key trade publication of the retail industry is crucial. For years we’ve heard the phrase "the customer is always right", but it’s been a flaccid mantra rarely met, or at best met at a superficial customer service level rather than any deeper level.

Yet, with the growth of the internet the power of collective consumerism has blown the face off this. While there is still a long way to go, the soft end of consumer activism – finding the best deals, working together to try to find the best solutions and not be mis-sold to – has seen the agglomeration of information speedily redress the power balance between companies and consumers.

These days if companies get it wrong, it’s not just a case of them losing out on sales, but they may be swamped with hoards of complaints or people taking advantage of lax terms and conditions of promotional deals, in much the same way as the companies have taken advantage of consumers for years.

With consumers at number one in the power list, albeit with my boat race as a symbol, it’s a realisation that the game is changing and if they want to be successful, retailers need to understand that it’s consumers who can make or break them. As the editor of the magazine says in his editorial comment, "The consumer is no longer king. She is an empress."


6 Responses to “Am I really “the most powerful man in retail” as The Grocer magazine says?”

  1. Jason Twigg says:

    Yes I consider that statement is accurate.  I routinely make my shopping decisions based on the advice of MSE.
    You have saved my £100s of pounds with your advice and I’m sure there are may others!
    I believe you should be on the Queens List for a Knighthood for the services you offer especially in these
    trying times, we need more Martin Lewis’s!! 

  2.  Martin is to consumers what Jamie Olivier was to school dinners. I trust his advice and use it regularly.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I totally agree, it’s about time the Retailers were forced to take note of the consumer who they love to give a raw deal too, we punish them for crappy behaviour and we have all sorts of instruments at our disposal to make their life difficult- but not the frontline staff who frequently bear the brunt of the Supply and Demand Curve rationale of Free Market Economists.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I have to say I wouldn’t miss my MSE weekly email – it saved us almost £700 when ZoomAirlines went bust in 2008. We had paid by Visa debit and if it hadn’t been for Martin’s timely notification of Visa debit cashback, we would have lost the lot! Keep up the good work!

  5. Alison Green says:

    power to the people, and about time too :)

  6. Ebin Ephrem says:

    Martin is a true star and genius. I agree the statement is true reflection of what he does do for us.I mean for the 5 million regular fiollowers.

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