A few weeks back, I wrote about Sears developing a partnership with LL Cool J and questioned the relevance of it. Now, in Chain Store Age, Sears has announced that they are partnering with MTV on a back-to-school movie that’s filmed in a Sears store and features the actors wearing Sears clothing and appearing in Sears advertising.
This is a gutsy, but necessary move as the retailer most likely has lost its relevance to the younger audience.
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
Go with what you know.
Shifting your merchandise to attract a new audience is tough. While I applaud Sears’ attempt to become more relevant, they should have done this 10 years ago. At a time when Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle and similar stores are the go to merchants for the teen and young adult segment, Sears is going to have a tough time competing from a coolness factor perspective.
As you may know, Sears is part of the Sears Holdings Corporation, a massive retail company consisting mainly of Sears, Kmart and Lands’ End. Here’s what their press release boilerplate says about the company:
“…Sears Holdings is the leading home appliance retailer as well as a leader in tools, lawn and garden, home electronics and automotive repair and maintenance. Key proprietary brands include Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard, and a broad apparel offering, including such well-known labels as Lands’ End, Jaclyn Smith and Joe Boxer, as well as the Apostrophe and Covington brands. It also has Martha Stewart Everyday products, which are offered exclusively in the U.S. by Kmart and in Canada by Sears Canada. The Company is the nation’s largest provider of home services, with more than 13 million service calls made annually.”
I have to say that I’m not really sure this MTV tie in and LL Cool J clothing line make the most sense, especially given Sears’ positioning as a leader in tools, lawn and garden, home electronics and automotive repair.
But Sears has lost its relevance to this audience and I’m guessing they feel they have nowhere to go but up. Creating loyal customers at a young age can pay huge rewards down the line as the kids grow into adults, then bring their own kids to shop at Sears (not to mention buy some lawn and garden supplies, get their car fixed and grab a few tools).
So do you change your target to attract new customers? This is a desperation move and one to be undertaken only if your concept is broken.
Why alienate all those customers you already have? Stick with what you know and what you do best and go after more customers that are relevant to your concept. They’re the easiest ones to attract.
How are you staying true to your concept while attracting new customers?