In The Metail Economy, Joel Bines illustrates the radical power shift that has occurred between businesses and their customers. Customers today are like no other customers in history. In short, they understand the old marketing game, and they’ve rewritten the rules. They’re the ones creating the stories about your products, they’re the ones setting the trends, they’re the ones deciding where to buy and how much they’re willing to pay. Success now requires developing a whole new kind of relationship with your customers and Bines shows you how to accomplish this through implementing one or more of the Metail strategies he calls the “6 C’s”: Cost, Convenience, Category Expertise, Customization, Curation, Community.

Whether you’re the CEO of a global organization or starting your own clothing boutique, you must become a Metailer―and this groundbreaking book will show you how.

The Metail Economy Book by Joel Bines


Joel Bines is managing director and co-head of the global Retail practice at the business consulting firm AlixPartners. He is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading operational strategists with a 30-year track record of improving performance at retailers, brands and consumer companies. Among the media that look to him for analysis are The New York Times, Business Insider, CNBC and the Wall Street Journal, among others.

Shoppers who read the book will recognize their own evolution as consumers… Retailers will see that knowing the demographics of their buyers and marketing to them is not enough… Bines knows his customer…

For operators of companies of all sizes, from startups to the largest retailers in the world, the book serves as both a powerful reminder and a very helpful guidebook and toolkit.

This groundbreaking book will show you how to develop a deep self-awareness about how your organization is viewed and valued by your customers and focus your efforts accordingly.

Evolving consumer needs are creating a new set of rules for companies. The Metail Economy does a brilliant job of highlighting what consumers expect, using powerful case studies of companies that have successfully addressed the heightened needs and wants of the most empowered generation of consumers yet. Joel Bines gives companies, big and small, key tools to succeed in this new environment.

As consumers, we each experience the shift in consumer power at retail, and Joel outlines clearly what companies must do to get ahead of the curve… not an option anymore.

As an executive and board member, I have benefited from Joel’s direct and to-the-point personality. His ‘voice’ comes through loud and clear in this book. A must-read for every executive to understand the implications of what customer-centric truly means. Joel leverages his no-nonsense style to help make clear what companies must do to change their strategies before it is too late. A great action-oriented read!

What Bines identifies in The Metail Economy transcends commerce. The Me-centric mindset spills over into every aspect of business, from hiring and retaining talent to establishing authentic connections with all stakeholders.

The power inversion Bines identifies is real. Companies that do not understand the lessons in The Metail Economy risk falling short with their customers and behind their competition.

The consumer revolution is upon us. The Metail Economy’s prescription is just what the doctor ordered.

The Metail Economy identifies an important paradigm shift affecting all companies that hope to develop long-term, profitable relationships with customers.

The Metail Economy identifies a critical consumer change that executives ignore at their peril.

An important and engaging book full of powerful insights and guidance. The Metail paradigm shift affects every business. Bines tells you what to do about it.

As an expert in leadership, CEO succession, and executive success, I recognize how important it is for a leader to be able to look beyond the horizon. In this book, Joel Bines provides a map to do just that, identifying a critical and largely overlooked change in the relationship between consumers and the companies that hope to serve them, explaining the change in a direct and digestible way and providing a set of ideas to help adapt legacy thinking. This book is essential reading for any executive who aspires to the C-suite and hopes to remain relevant to today’s demanding consumer.

Too often, men and women in business forget they are consumers. This leads them to speak about customers—and employees—as ‘they’ and ‘them,’ not as real people. By reminding us that we are all ‘Mes’—and that ‘Mes’ are a constantly moving target that can’t be taken for granted, even for a moment—Joel Bines has fired a warning shot over the bow of complacent companies and executives as well as providing a blueprint for success today and tomorrow.

Every strategic or operational decision must start with your customer, so understanding consumers is critical to business success. Bines lays out a clear and compelling case for a new consumer dynamic and therefore the need for a new operating model. His prescriptions are fresh and direct, and if you hope to stay ahead of the competition, The Metail Economy is required reading.

If you know Joel, you know he’s a no-nonsense expert with a broad and deep understanding of retail and the consumer. His ‘voice’ is  loud and clear throughout this book that should be required reading for anyone interested in understanding today’s consumer landscape. If you don’t know Joel, after reading this book, you will want to.

As a designer, it is imperative that I stay ahead of my customers. The Metail Economy is by far the best articulation of today’s dynamic consumer and the challenges facing every company that serves them. This the most intuitive and relevant book I’ve ever read on the challenges and, more importantly, the opportunities in retail today. A must-read!

I’ve watched Joel deliver remarkable results with companies in every conceivable type of situation with equal parts intelligence, passion, insight, objectivity, and honesty for two decades. He brings the same refreshing clarity and candor to these pages. The insights here will inform and entertain. You don’t want to read this book… you need to read this book.

I dedicated my professional career to understanding and serving the consumer and can say with certainty that the paradigm shift Bines identifies in The Metail Economy is real, urgent, and misunderstood. For those reasons it is essential reading, whether you are just starting your career or leading global firms. The lessons are clear and direct and will absolutely change your thinking.

Joel Bines is inspired and inspiring with his book The Metail Economy. Joel and his book are helping us to reinvent the world our world needs. Based on his vast experience and pertinent intuitions, Joel Bines helps us to intelligently and significantly upgrade our offers and services.

If I was ever in need of a 4 a.m. emergency call in retail, it would be to Joel Bines. The Metail Economy brilliantly, wittily—and engrossingly—describes the current state of emergency our beloved retail sector is in. Everyone should be making the 4 a.m. call right now, but read this first!

The Metail Economy In The News

Article about The Metail Economy from TotalRetail

September 14, 2022 | TotalRetail

6 Strategies for Transforming Your Business

Let’s face it: Today’s consumers have revolted against the marketplace status quo. They’re now in charge, and retailers must recognize and embrace this fact in order to survive in the new “Metail” economy. In this important and entertaining keynote, Joel Bines, one of today’s top retail brand thought leaders and author of the bestselling book, “The Metail Economy,” will offer innovative methods for connecting with the me-centric consumer and show you how to thrive in this new consumer revolution.

Excerpt from The Metail Economy

Whether you are the CEO of a global company or the sole proprietor of a neighborhood store, this book will help you adjust your vision and achieve the clarity necessary to succeed in this Metail economy—an economy made up of highly fragmented, individualized, empowered, and fluid clusters of consumers, or Me’s, and explained in greater detail later in the book. Nothing like this consumer power shift has ever happened before. But once you see it, you cannot unsee it. You will rethink every aspect of your business strategy. You will have a greater sense of urgency about things you are not even thinking about right now, and less urgency on the issues you think are paramount. In short, I am going to give you the clarity you need to correct course before your ship runs aground.

You’ve felt something has been off for a while now. Profits are not where they should be; market share is tougher than ever to gain; investments are not paying off. You’ve been embracing digital, omnichannel, influencer marketing, customer segmentation models and every other buzzword under the sun. But you still are not making meaningful connections with your customers, and you can’t seem to put your finger on why.

Until now, company executives have thought of themselves as the anointed ones who get to decide what goods, services, and experiences to provide on what platforms and for what price. Hubris was almost a job requirement for the “merchant princes” of old. Again, I don’t blame them because that’s how it worked for millennia. But as this book will show, in this new world, the game has changed completely and forever.

So how did we get here? What caused this change? Most people would say, “It’s the internet, silly.” Yes, it is because of technology. But it’s not technology the way most people think about it. Not the technology that allows us to buy things from our phone while we’re lounging in bed. It’s not because of Amazon, or Instagram, or TikTok. It’s not because of buy online, pick up in store, or one-hour delivery, or digital stylists, or live shopping. It’s not what the technology enables us to do so much as what the technology has given to the consumer: information and access.

This book grows out of my alarm at seeing executives missing the change. My hope is that the following chapters will remove the blinders and let everyone see how companies will never again be the arbiters of choice the way they once were. They will have to adjust every preconceived notion of how they do business to this reality if they wish to succeed. Consumers are the ones setting the agenda. And they now operate outside of the carefully controlled customer experience zones where companies have felt most comfortable.

On these next pages, I will make the case for Metail. Part I provides a brief history and current examples of companies that have struggled to address the new Metail paradigm and some that are on the right path. The three chapters in Part I will show you exactly what Metail means and why it matters.

Then in Part II, I will show you what to do about it by breaking Metail down into a set of six models that can be used to cultivate and serve the consumer in the new Metail reality. Inspired by the four Cs of a diamond—cut, clarity, carat, and color—I call these models the six Cs for success: cost, convenience, category expertise, curation, customization, and community.

Part III will help you to develop self-awareness through the lens of the six Cs and give you the tools and insights to understand how your organization is viewed and valued by your customers so you can focus your investment, resources, and energies into the right areas in order to maximize your customer relationships in the Metail economy.

Excerpt from The Metail Economy: 6 Strategies for Transforming Your Business to Thrive in the Me-Centric Consumer Revolution by Joel Bines, pp. xii-xv (McGraw Hill, January 2022).

Published by McGraw Hill Education.

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