It is good to be a Walton. In the annual Forbes 400, a ranking of the 400 richest Americans, four of the top 10 finishers were members of the iconic retail family. The family that founded Walmart sits atop the list with the likes of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett as the most affluent and powerful in the country.
Joining the Waltons, among the first 25 retail executives to crack the top 400, are executives from Amazon, Nike, Sears, Home Depot and others.
The minimum amount of wealth an individual needed to possess to make the 400-billionaire-strong list was $1.55 billion, up from $1.3 billion last year. Bullish stock performance over the past year is credited with the significant rise in total aggregate wealth among the 400 tycoons on the list — $2.29 trillion, up $270 billion from a year ago. The average net worth of list members is $5.7 billion.
The entire list is available here, but a quick glimpse of the top 25 retail executives that made the list and their corresponding wealth follows.
#1 Christy Walton & Family, Walmart, $38 billion
#2 Jim Walton, Walmart, $36.6 billion
#3 Alice Walton, Walmart $35.2 billion
#4 S. Robson Walton, Walmart, $35.2 billion
#5 Jeff Bezos, Amazon, $30.5 billion
#6 Phil Knight, Nike, $21.5 billion
#7 Charles Butt & Family, HE Butt Supermarkets, $9.9 billion
#8 John Menard Jr., Menards Hardware, $8.4 billion
#9 Leonard Lauder, Estee Lauder, $8.2 billion
#10 Hank & Doug Meijer, Meijer Supermarkets, $8.1 billion
#11 Ralph Lauren, Ralph Lauren, $7.6 billion
#12 Pierre Omidyar, eBay, $7.6 billion
#13 Leslie Wexner, Victoria's Secret, $6.5 billion
#14 Richard DeVos, Amway, $6.2 billion
#15 Jin Sook & Do Won Chang, Fashion 21, $5.2 billion
#16 Ann Walton Kroenke, Walmart, $5 billion
#17 David Green, Hobby Lobby, $5 billion
#18 Bruce Halle, Discount Tire Company, $4.8 billion
#19 John Morris, Bass Pro Shops, $4.5 billion
#20 Nancy Walton Laurie, Walmart, $4.2 billion
#21 Ronald Lauder, Estee Lauder, $3.8 billion
#22 Jeffrey Skoll, eBay, $3.8 billion
#23 Edward Lampert, Sears, $3.5 billion
#24 Tom & Judy Love, Love's Travel Shops & County Stores, $3.3 billion
#25 Bernard Marcus, Home Depot, $3.2 billion
This is the 33rd year of the Forbes 400. Forbes interviewed executive's employees, handlers, rivals, peers and attorneys and read thousands of SEC documents, court records, probate records, federal financial disclosures, and web and print stories to come up with the final numbers. All types of assets were taken into account: stakes in public and private companies, real estate, art, yachts, planes, ranches, vineyards, jewelry, car collections and more.
Survey Reveals 66 Percent of Shoppers Concerned About Rise of Credit Card Breaches
As the big-spending holiday season approaches, shoppers are apprehensive about the rise in credit card breaches at major retailers and adjusting their shopping behavior accordingly. According to a new survey from TheStreet conducted by GfK1, two thirds of them are concerned that their credit card and personal information will be stolen whether they shop online or in stores.
TheStreet asked consumers about their feelings regarding recent breaches as well as how they have adapted their shopping behavior and found that:
66% of consumers are concerned that their information will be stolen.
Men are more apprehensive than women with 71% of men versus 61% of women saying that they were concerned.
Age groups revealed a trend in how consumers are dealing with those concerns: 61% of 18- to 24-year-olds versus 49% of those 65 and older said that they would continue to shop in stores that have had security breaches but that they would use cash instead.
58% of men versus 47% of women would continue shopping in stores with data breaches but would use cash instead.
The survey also asked if people would feel more comfortable paying for items with their phone using "digital wallets" instead of a credit card and found that:
20% of consumers would feel more comfortable.
23% of women versus 17% of men would feel more comfortable.
Those ages 18-24 were more comfortable with the idea with 28% saying that they would feel more comfortable using digital wallets versus only 9% of those 65 and older.
The full story from TheStreet is available online.
The Path to Loyalty Is Through A Shopper's Heart
Loyal customers are the most coveted assets of any marketer. But what exactly is a loyal customer? More importantly, how are they cultivated in an increasingly crowded marketplace filled with distractions? How do e-commerce retailers need to think differently to put customers on the path to loyalty?
Like any emotional state, loyalty is a personal condition that varies broadly within populations and individuals. Retailers are primarily concerned with brand loyalty -- a composite of attitudes and perceptions that drive product purchasing behavior and merchant patronage.
In its purest form, loyalty compels consumers to make purchasing decisions without conducting a competitive analysis of the alternatives. But that level of devotion is difficult to achieve. There are actually three different types of loyalty, each offering progressive value to brands and requiring different methodologies to develop.
Hand loyalty is based on being in the right place at the right time. Think about a customer in line at a grocery store who sees a chocolate bar at the checkout aisle and decides to purchase it. Perhaps she actually prefers a different brand of chocolate, but the immediate availability of the product within arm's reach is more attractive than walking all the way to the candy aisle to locate a similar product.
Head loyalty comes from a deliberate and logical decision-making process that consumers engage in as they evaluate comparable products when seeking the best value. Electronics and automobile purchases are commonly driven by head loyalty as shoppers look for specific features and benefits relative to cost, comparing many competing products against each other.
Heart loyalty is the state that creates brand evangelists. Heart loyal customers connect with brands on such an emotional level that they are unwilling to consider alternatives. Lines of eager customers camping out in anticipation of a new iPhone -- or a Harley-Davidson rider who wouldn't be caught dead on any other bike -- represent heart loyalty.
Delivering that level of emotional connectedness through a website is challenging, but retailers that create a sense of place and belonging online can achieve it. Through prescriptive personalization -- where individual customer preferences are matched with the most appropriate product offerings -- internet shoppers can develop emotional responses to electronic destinations.
Successful prescriptive personalization presents customers with merchandise and other content that directly appeals to their sensibilities and values, engaging them more fully. Online furniture retailer SmartFurniture.com discovered that shoppers that use its SmartProfile personalization tool spend seven times longer on the site and convert 20 times more often than those who don't.
Truly understanding both customers and products is required to create personalized experiences that evoke the sense of belonging necessary for heart loyalty. It's also an iterative process that must be executed flawlessly on a consistent basis. The longevity and value of heart loyal customers makes the ROI from delivering engaging, emotionally connected digital shopping experiences well worth the time and cost associated with doing so.
Targeted Cyber Attacks Will Become Rampant
Cyber attacks will become rampant from more countries as hackers from the usual suspects have found success targeting victims around the world, according to a new report from Trend Micro Incorporated, titled, "Trend Micro Security Predictions for 2015 and Beyond: The Invisible Becomes Visible."
Experts predict targeted attacks campaigns will continue to multiply in 2015, after cybercriminals had noteworthy breaches via targeted attacks in the U.S. Also, hackers within countries such as Vietnam, UK and India will pursue the use of targeted attacks, and we will see attacks against non-traditional countries like we've seen recently against Malaysia and Indonesia based organizations.
"What we are seeing today is not a huge surprise but rather the velocity and brutal measures cybercriminals are using to steal information," said Raimund Genes, CTO, Trend Micro. "Following the success of targeted attacks from Chinese and Russian cybercriminals, many hackers from other countries will regard cyber-attacks as a more practical method to grab a foothold in an organization. Additionally, with the incessant barrage of data breaches emerging almost daily, it's reasonable to presume that data breaches will be essentially regarded as a common offshoot of the present threat landscape.”
Threats around banking will continue to become more severe as more unique cybercrime attacks against financial institutions also emerge and financial and banking intuitions must implement two-factor authentication for online services.
"The payment ecosystem will continue to evolve," said JD Sherry, VP of technology and solutions, Trend Micro. "Massive transformation is upon us and we will continue to see threat actors trying to manipulate Near Field Communications (NFC) as certain platforms gain momentum due to their significant following and user's penchant for adopting the latest and greatest technology."
Additional highlights include:
- More cybercriminals will turn to darknets and exclusive-access forums to share and sell crimeware.
- Increased cyber activity will translate to better, bigger and more successful hacking tools and attempts.
- Exploits kits will target Android, as mobile vulnerabilities play a bigger role in device infection.
- Targeted attacks will become as prevalent as cybercrime.
- New mobile payment methods will introduce new threats.
- We will see more attempts to exploit vulnerabilities in open source apps.
- Technological diversity will save Internet of Everything (IoT) devices from mass attacks, but the same won't be true for the data they process.
- More severe online banking and other financially motivated threats will surface.
The report also includes a continued increase in the exploitation of smart devices such as smart cameras, appliances and TV's as cybercriminals become more aggressive at targeting these platforms as well as the organizations who manage the data.
As factors like market pressure push device manufacturers to launch more smart devices without security in mind to meet the rising demand, so will attackers increasingly find vulnerabilities to exploit for their own gain.
"Smart homes and home automation will continue to proliferate across the globe, further increasing all of our attack surfaces," said Sherry. "As such, smart device manufactures must consider how to secure the data that resides in these devices not just the devices themselves."