What’s the story behind Macy’s partnership with Dick’s Sporting Goods?
Macy’s has a new merchandising tale to tell and this time it is all about bringing brands and products connected to the outdoors inside the chain’s STORY experiential retail store-within-a-store concept.
Outdoor STORY, as it is being called, includes partnerships with Dick’s Sporting Goods, the largest sporting goods retailer in the U.S., and Miracle-Gro, the leading gardening category brand. The goal is to introduce Macy’s customers to a curated range of items that will help them fully enjoy the outdoors while also bringing that warmth inside their homes with plants, indoor gardens and related products.
Jeff Gennette, chairman and CEO of Macy’s, Inc., said he was skeptical when first approached by Macy’s brand experience officer and STORY founder Rachel Shechtman about the plan to partner with Dick’s to sell its private brand merchandise.
“I wouldn’t have thought about partnering with another retailer to sell outdoor products at Macy’s. However, as she [Ms. Shechtman] presented her ideas and the merchandise her team was envisioning, it made a lot of sense,” said Mr. Gennette. “I reached out to Ed Stack, chairman & CEO of Dick’s, knowing that this would be a first for them as well — to share their exclusive private brand assortment in another major retailer — but he also saw the creative vision and we had the deal done and partnership launched in less than two months.”
“Collaboration is the new competition; bringing together brands as storytellers to add authority and authenticity to a subject matter, like we are doing with Dick’s and Miracle-Gro, benefits both the customer and the business,” said Ms. Shechtman.
Outdoor STORY will feature both apparel and hard goods from Dick’s Alpine Design and Field & Stream private brands. Macy’s shoppers will also be exposed to Miracle-Gro’s new hydroponic Twelve Indoor Growing System that enables customers to grow and harvest vegetables and herbs year-round inside their homes.
Macy’s will run 250 events in 36 stores across 15 states over the course of two months beginning on Saturday, July 13. The events will include outdoor activities and workshops on related topics. The department store chain has highlighted “herb garden planting, planter customization workshops, terrarium making classes, tie-dye t-shirt making tutorials, cornhole tournaments and barbecue cooking classes” among the events planned.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you subscribe to Rachel Schechtman’s “collaboration is the new competition” philosophy? What are your expectations for Outdoor STORY and its impact on Macy’s, Dick Sporting Goods and Miracle-Gro?
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17 Comments on "What’s the story behind Macy’s partnership with Dick’s Sporting Goods?"
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Chief Customer Officer, Incisiv
I love the “Outdoor Story” theme. Perfect for summer and I believe the tie in with Dick’s and Miracle-Gro makes sense. In terms of impact on any of the three brands, it will be minimal. It could generate some traffic for Macy’s, some sales and brand value for the Dick’s private label stuff and Miracle-Gro products which is all positive – But it won’t likely move the revenue needle considerably.
Strategy & Operations Transformation Leader
The STORY value proposition is all about experimentation, innovation and bringing new ideas to a tired department store format. Just as retailers and brands are both competitors and collaborators with Amazon, the partnership between STORY/Macy’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Miracle-Gro is the kind of risk-taking the company needs.
Clearly the core Macy’s customer may or may not actually shop in Dick’s Sporting Goods, however, there are ways for all three brands to benefit by having a physical media presence. While the ultimate goal is for Macy’s to drive incremental sales and increase their margins/comps, as Doug Stephens called out recently, media impressions will become a significant KPI and change our perspective on how we track brand awareness across channels.
Very interested to see how this plays out.
President, Spieckerman Retail
Frenemy forays continue to be all the rage in retail. As the playing field continues to narrow, retailer-to-retailer partnerships can make a lot of sense. Even though shoppers may well be delighted by the curated collections and experiential elements of the Macy’s/Dick’s hookup as shoppers happen upon them, I don’t see it as a destination driver initially. Shoppers just aren’t going to clamor to see what Macy’s and Dick’s have cooked up. That’s not to say that the concept won’t have time to gain traction over the two month run as social media and word-of-mouth kick in.
Director, Retail Market Insights, Aptos
I am a huge fan of cross-brand collaboration. Jointly-branded programs like the Macy’s/Dick’s/Miracle-Gro program take maximum advantage of each brand’s reach to generate exposure and bring inspiration to consumers in ways that matter most to them: how to enhance my life rather than how to maximize my spend with one brand. Just yesterday, I was impressed by a radio spot that was a joint collaboration between Carl’s Jr. (advertising their charbroiled burgers), Kingsford charcoal (putting the “char” in “charbroiled”) and Lowe’s (the place to get your Kingsford products). Clearly, brands are taking notice as Ms. Shechtman brings her cross-brand magic to a scale unattainable at STORY, and shoppers everywhere are better for it.
Managing Director, GlobalData
Personally, I like this theme: it is vibrant and resonates with the “natural world” and “wellness” which are important consumer themes.
I also like the fact Macy’s has partnered with Dick’s, even though it was initially skeptical of the move. It shows a willingness to be open and experimental, which is what Macy’s needs.
I agree that collaboration is playing a much bigger role in retail than it used to. And for short term pop-ups such as STORY, that’s a good thing. However, Macy’s still needs to develop more proprietary labels, products, and lines that it can own and use to differentiate.
Principal, Your Retail Authority, LLC
Yes, Neil, what I did not hear mention of was what of Macys would be showcased. I love the “Story” concept and think it is a great way to get people into the store. A nice day’s outing to go check out the new “Story.” Hopefully they will buy something or learn something that will lead to buys. It is much about the experience these days, but sales are still the target. I haven’t seen any numbers thus far, but my fingers are crossed. And that’s my 2 cents.
Principal, Retail Technology Group
Collaboration may be the new competition but its success will depend very much on the symbiotic relationship between participants. In the particular case of Macy’s with Dick’s Sporting Goods and Miracle-Gro, I don’t see these “organisms” coexisting in a mutually-beneficiary relation.
Principal, Anne Howe Associates
What I love about this idea and execution is that both CEOs were willing to act on a creative vision that really lines up with how shoppers think. It’s unexpected and inspirational.
Founding Partner, Merchandising Metrics
This new STORY floor set just executed has delivered exactly what I was hoping for — the unexpected; an eyebrow-raising moment. I’m not yet sure what it says about competition and collaboration, but I do think it’s terrific storytelling. It gives both big retailers an opportunity to put a new twist on what they say to the customer and how they say it. STORY really can be the umbrella for an ongoing series of delightful surprises that Macy’s can serve up to the customer.
Principal, Retailing In Focus LLC
I’ll be curious to see if this leads to a longer-term relationship between Macy’s and Dick’s, not just a pop-up seasonal collaboration. Is there an opportunity inside Macy’s to present a curated assortment from Dick’s, similar to the Finish Line and Sunglass Hut shops-in-store? Better yet, as Macy’s expands its activewear footprint (at the expense of its overspaced women’s apparel area), is there a co-branding opportunity? That would be a big step, but the STORY results may point both stores in that direction.
Founding Partner, Merchandising Metrics
Well said. This kind of experimentation changes the boundaries of the possible. Does Dick’s have a shop-in-shop opportunity in markets where they don’t already have a store? Or simply, Dick’s as “outdoor” 12 months a year inside Macy’s makes perfect sense. This is not unlike the Apple/Best Buy partnership. Win/win/win.
Retail Transformation Thought Leader, Advisor, & Strategist
This is certainly an unexpected STORY – and isn’t that the point? Macy’s does something unexpected to bring shoppers into the store! This is the promise of the STORY concept being fulfilled at Macy’s. I hope they continue to expand this to more stores and go beyond just an experiment. It’s an experiment until you start to see a sales impact. Will this move the sales needle for any of these three brands? Probably not in the short-term, but if Macy’s continues to surprise us with STORY then there could be a long-term impact for Macy’s and any of the brands they collaborate with – and that’s the point to the experiment. I expect we’ll see more and more collaboration between brands as consumers will see this as a great discovery opportunity wrapped around a delightful surprise.
Principal, KIZER & BENDER Speaking
I admit I did a double take when I read about the partnership with Dick’s, and particularly Miracle-Gro. But I like the idea of Macy’s doing something that’s unexpected and, frankly, kind of out there. Collaboration as the new competition makes sense, but that isn’t really new. Retailers have been doing partnership promotions with other retailers for a very long time.
I was underwhelmed with STORY’s inaugural outing, but I am looking forward to seeing how Outdoor STORY is presented in our local Macy’s stores.
Principal, Mark Heckman Consulting
The strategy of cross pollination with non-competing retailers has yielded both very successful collaborations, such as Starbucks and grocery retailers, and some mixed results, (Lands’ End and Sears comes to mind). In every case however, the key to the longevity and viability of these partnerships is how they are structured. If the involved retailers agree up front on the definition of success, are able to freely share data, engage the sales associates with incentives and provide them product knowledge of the other retailer’s product line, etc., then the likelihood for shoppers to recognize the synergy and value of the partnering retailers being connected is greatly increased.
Outdoor STORY and perhaps other ensuing themes are a great way to communicate the value the partnership to the shopper and if the infrastructure of the relationship is done correctly, these three brands have a really good chance to grow each of their businesses in the process.
Consultant, Strategist, Tech Innovator, UX Evangelist
Sure as a foray and exploration of new concepts, the partnership is great. Beyond that, there’s nothing substantial there for Macy’s to hang its future on.
Macy’s has a real problem in staying relevant and competitive as society moves away from the large format department stores of days gone by. They still have a massive real estate overhead to deal with and lackluster stores, not to mention an average at best digital presence. This partnership sounds progressive, attracts some PR/press, and creates a blip of interest, but unless Macy’s really focuses on and improves their core focus, so what, they are still headed for the troubled future Terry Lundgren positioned them for.
Contributing Editor, RetailWire; Founder and CEO, Vision First
I have been unimpressed with STORY — retail/brand partnerships are nothing new. I’m still waiting for Macy’s to deliver tangible changes in their merchandise and customer engagement strategies that will drive long-term growth.
CFO, Weisner Steel
I’m having trouble deciphering exactly what she meant: retailers have always collaborated when as in this case, it meant two companies with basically zero overlap in their product offerings getting together. (I believe the term was and remains “cross-promotion.”) So I don’t have trouble accepting the idea as much as there being anything “new” in it. (Maybe we should append this to yesterday’s discussion about misleading marketing?)
As for this particular pairing, I don’t really know. The pic shown would make a nice, attention grabbing window display, but I’m not sure how effective it will be on the actual sales floor. And I cringe every time I hear “curated.” It implies a level of personal involvement that few retailers — beyond some exclusive boutiques — are able to offer.