Attention Sears’ Shoppers: This is Only a Test

Discussion
Mar 07, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson

A piece on the Chicago Daily Herald’s Web site says it’s still too early to tell if Sears 97 store test of stores targeted to local ethnic populations is working.

Begun back in October, Sears created new merchandising schemes, added targeted product and hired employees more reflective of local populations in an attempt to attract Hispanic,
Asian and African-American consumers in those communities where the test stores are located.

Apparel selections are critical to a store’s success, say multicultural marketing experts.

Kelly McDonald is president of McDonald Marketing, which specializes in marketing to Hispanic consumers.

“While everybody appreciates value,” said Ms. McDonald, “this consumer is absolutely motivated by brand and quality, not by price.”

Tom Holliday, president of the Retail Advertising & Marketing Association (RAMA), agrees. “They (Hispanic consumers) spend more money on apparel than any other ethnic group.”

Moderator’s Comment: Will the Sears’s ethnic test demonstrate the need for real differences between how stores are staffed, merchandised, etc. or will
it show that American consumers (regardless of ethnicity) are essentially the same when it comes to what they want to see in a store and what they buy?

George Anderson – Moderator

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5 Comments on "Attention Sears’ Shoppers: This is Only a Test"


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Michael L. Howatt
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Michael L. Howatt
15 years 8 months ago

I’ll be very interested to see the results of this test, as will most retailers trying to find any way to compete with Wal-Mart and the niche stores. I applaud Sears for undergoing such a task that many Retailers have talked about for years but have not had the kahunas to attempt.

Ethnic groups’ spending power is increasing at a substantial rate, so Retailers catering to their specific lifestyle needs can secure themselves a comfortable spot in ethnic consumers’ consideration set in the future by doing so now.

Marilyn Raymond
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Marilyn Raymond
15 years 8 months ago

Mass customization is not going to go away anytime soon, and I think Sears might be onto something. Even if the majority of items in an ‘ethnic targeted’ store are the same as the mainstream store, consumers want this customization and are more loyal to it. So if it takes a little customization at store level – great – perhaps they will offer the benefits of the local department stores of yesteryear!

Art Williams
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Art Williams
15 years 8 months ago

I am definitely not even close to an expert on this subject, but I have noticed that our local JC Penney store has marketed to the local ethnic groups for a long time. Outward appearances indicate that this has been quite successful as they seem to draw a larger Hispanic clientele than their in-mall competitors. The store does more business overall and is just much better run, so it is hard to tell how much the local merchandising enters into it.

Sears is trying harder lately and it should pay off for them, but they have a lot of catching up to do. Their ethnic marketing is definitely a step in the right direction if they do it right.

Gerald Collins
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Gerald Collins
15 years 8 months ago

Recognition of the need to present the store differently to its consumer base is critical in today’s marketplace. My experience has taught me that the location of a store is as important as staffing and merchandising. For instance, is the store easily accessible via the roadways? If Sears does not look beyond demographics, it will end up with an ethnic cookie-cutter store that does not work.

George Whalin
Guest
George Whalin
15 years 8 months ago

This is not about how communities are ethnically different. It is about how to make stores work in every community, locality and state. As much as some retailers and marketers would like to think that all Americans want the same merchandise, it was not true in the past and it’s not true today. In their belief or ignorance, many years ago Sears would ship snow shovels to every store in the chain in the fall. In Arizona and Florida, where it never snowed, the stores would ship the snow shovels back every spring.

Tailoring the merchandise mix, staffing, signage and marketing to individual communities and localities is simply smart business. Retailers who understand have long realized the benefits. Retailers who are just beginning to understand and explore this concept are way behind.

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