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[8 comments]

Nordstrom's first give-back brand combines fashion and philanthropy

August 13, 2014

Nordstrom is serious about driving its sales. It's also serious about giving back. Earlier this week, the upscale retailer announced the launch of its Treasure&Bond private label brand, which will offer women's wardrobe staples such as washed denim and soft plaid shirts with an "updated, lived-in and vintage feel, at a great price." Five percent of net profits from Treasure&Bond will go to nonprofit groups that promote the empowerment of girls and women.

Girls Inc. is the first group that will benefit from Nordstrom's program. According to the organization's website, its mission is to inspire "all girls to be strong, smart, and bold, providing more than 138,000 girls across the U.S. and Canada with life-changing experiences and real solutions to the unique issues girls face."

"When we created Treasure&Bond and decided it would be a brand that gives back, we wanted to support organizations that would really mean something to the young women who will be the majority of our Treasure&Bond customers," said Mark Tritton, president of Nordstrom Product Group, in a statement. "Partnering with nonprofits that empower girls and young women just seemed like such a natural fit and we're so glad to launch this line with a fantastic organization like Girls Inc."

Girls Inc., which was started during the Industrial Revolution to help young women who moved from farming communities to work in factories and textile mills, is focused on providing girls with the tools they need to succeed in life. According to the group's site, "girls learn to set and achieve goals, boldly confront challenges, resist peer pressure, see college as attainable, and explore nontraditional fields such as STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)."

Treasure&Bond will be available in standalone departments in 86 Nordstrom stores as well as on nordstrom.com. Nordstrom first introduced the Treasure&Bond name in New York's SoHo neighborhood in 2011. Then, it was an 11,000 square-foot store operated as a test nonprofit concept with all proceeds going to charity.

"Providing our customers the latest trends in fashion and giving back to the communities that support us are both long-standing commitments for us at Nordstrom," said Mr. Tritton. "Treasure&Bond is the perfect way for us to bring the two together for our customers — we're giving them an opportunity to look great while also helping support organizations that are really making a difference in our communities."

FINANCIALS:     [NYSE:JWN] [ ]

Discussion Questions:

Do you see Nordstrom's target consumers being drawn to the retailer's first give-back private label brand? How important is the chain's list of beneficiaries to the ultimate success or failure of the brand?

While we value unfettered opinion, we urge you to show respect and courtesy for people or companies about whom you comment. Keep in mind that this is a public, professional business discussion. RetailWire reserves the right to edit or refuse the publication of remarks that we deem unsuitable. We may also correct for unintended spelling and grammatical errors.

Instant Poll:

How important will the give-back aspect of Treasure&Bond be to the private brand's sales?

Comments:

Absolutely! The success of give-back brands in its own stores (e.g., Toms) suggests there is an audience for this type of cause marketing. Additionally, the launch aligns with the desire to get more Millennials shopping Nordstrom's store. Millennials have proved to be more conscious of and willing to support brands/retailers whose values align with their own. That being said, the success will ultimately come down to how good the product is and how authentic shoppers perceive Nordstrom to be in its philanthropic efforts. The fact that the Treasure&Bond moniker pre-dates the product launch imparts some heritage and authenticity on its own.

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Kelly Tackett, Research Director, Planet Retail

As long as product quality and price point are on target, this could be a win-win strategy for Nordstrom. Nordstrom was smart to test the concept first before expanding the investment.

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Debbie Hauss, Editor-in-Chief, Retail TouchPoints

If the clothing is fashionable and competitively priced, tying sales to causes would seem to be a strong selling point. Consumers like to give something back to their communities, especially when that giving is automatically tied to purchases. This is particularly true of Millennial shoppers.

By educating consumers about the participating organizations and the Treasure&Bond brand, Nordstrom could build a new powerhouse line and drive their own profits.

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Max Goldberg, President, Max Goldberg & Associates

Women generally want to assist other women. Many in Nordstrom's female customer base will actively consider embracing its give-back private-label brand. But the products must be of an upscale style with a lesser emphasis on being a noble-minded private-label brand.

This possibly applies, "We're Nordstrom customers and we want their give-back program to work but not if it means I must adjust to being known as being a private label fashion-ist."

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Gene Hoffman, President/CEO, Corporate Strategies International

Yes. Nordstrom gets it right, again and again. They're doing the right thing, for the right audience, for the right reasons, at the right time.

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Naomi K. Shapiro, Strategic Market Communications, Upstream Commerce

Only if they spend a ton on marketing to make people aware of the program. How many people really know about these programs while they are shopping in the store or looking at a thumbnail online? I like the sentiment, but it's harder to pull off in reality. Now if the clothing is also gluten free, from a fair-trade supplier, that's the ticket!

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Peter J. Charness, SVP America, Global CMO, TXT Group

The concept of giving back is an important strategy to companies. Be it giving back to the community or a charity, it endears the company to its customers, especially those that are "cause-minded." By itself, giving back will not have much impact in the overall success or failure of the brand. It is just a piece of the larger effort to connect and create customer loyalty.

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Shep Hyken, Chief Amazement Officer, Shepard Presentations, LLC

Nordstrom's customers will likely embrace the brand in part because of the cause. It's a great way to gain traction with a new private label. And clearly identifying beneficiary groups will be important, as will showcasing content and messaging on the program in action with real results.

Very cool.

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Matt Schmitt, President, Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer, Reflect

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