Sears is partnering with LL Cool J? Are you kidding me? While I haven’t shopped at Sears in years, I’m not finding this partnership incredibly enticing.
The article in Chain Store Age states, “Irv Neger, senior VP, apparel, Sears Holdings Corp. said the move is part of “an ongoing commitment to increase our relevance in the apparel industry, and bring fashions to our customers that are both on-trend and affordable.”
My perception of Sears: A Main Street USA kind of general store that is past its prime. A store that caters to a discount shopper who demands value. A store that has lost its way and is still trying to figure out its relevance in an increasingly diverse retail environment.
My perception of LL Cool J: A mainstream rap artist who has broad cross over appeal with all audiences. A likeable family guy. A guy who has made it big.
The problem: LL Cool J is too cool for Sears. I think that this partnership actually tarnishes his brand. As for increasing Sears’ relevance as the senior VP of apparel states, this is going to increase its relevance as much as those celebrity brands that sold in Kmart increased Kmart’s relevance. It didn’t.
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
You have to be relevant in order to be successful.
Irrelevance occurs across a wide spectrum of retail initiatives:
- Partnerships that don’t make sense. Movie tie-ins. Celebrity endorsements. While most of us don’t have the opportunity to employ marketing vehicles such as these, there are plenty of other areas we fall down.
- Merchandise that doesn’t make sense for the overall concept. Who is going to buy a tunic when you’re selling shampoo? Who is going to buy a furniture cube when all you’re selling is vases and other accessories? Who is going to buy a baby book when you’re selling authentic merchandise from Mexico and South and Central America? These are just a few examples of merchandise I’ve seen in stores in the past couple of weeks.
- Advertising in the wrong vehicle. Why are you advertising in Penny Saver or Val-Pack when your clients are reading InStyle or your local magazine? I’ve seen way too many retailers get suckered into advertising in these vehicles which only degrade brands and lop them into a bucket with teeth whitening facilities, gutter installers, tanning salons and the like.
- Opening in the wrong location. The granddaddy of them all, too many store owners open in a space that they think is perfect because of the space. While the space may be great, the foot traffic isn’t. Or the area of town doesn’t have clients who are going to buy a $300 skirt. Or the block that you’re in has a Ritz Camera, a cell phone store, a GNC, and a Walgreens while two blocks away is where all the nameplate retailers have their locations (and your customers).
Think about your relevance across all avenues of your business. If you’re not constantly asking the relevance question of yourself, chances are that at least one of aspect of your business is irrelevant.