‘Field’s…Macy’s…Um No…Field’s’

Discussion
Jan 31, 2006
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Having announced that it would change the banner of its Marshall Field’s stores to Macy’s, Federated Department Stores has evidently taken a pause to reconsider its decision.


According to a story on the Crain’s Chicago web site, the strong holiday sales registered at Field’s State Street flagship has caused Federated to look for ways to keep the venerated department store name alive.


How exactly Federated CEO Terry Lundgren and company would do that is a subject of discussion within the retailer’s corporate offices. Crain’s reports possible scenarios would involved selling Field’s branded goods, creating in-store Field’s shops inside other banners or perhaps keeping the State Street location operating under the Marshall Field’s name.


The most likely course of action, say retail experts who spoke to Crain’s, would involve keeping the flagship store open in Chicago.


Don Barliant, owner of Barbara’s Bookstore, runs one of his shops inside the Field’s store on State Street.


“The rebel part of me wants to single-handedly save Field’s,” he said. “You can’t pick a book about Chicago without Marshall Field’s being prominently mentioned. It’s not just a retailer, it’s an institution. Why would you throw that away?”


Evidently Federated’s CEO Terry Lundgren is wondering the same thing.


Moderator’s Comment: Will Field’s be able to replicate the type of performance it had during the past holiday season if consumers do not believe it is
the banner’s last Christmas? What do you think Federated is likely to do should it decide the Marshall Field’s brand is worth saving?


According to Crain’s, Terry Lundgren was impressed as “shoppers snapped up Field’s green clock Christmas ornaments and stood in line for up to five
hours to lunch under the Christmas tree in the Walnut Room.”

George Anderson – Moderator

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15 Comments on "‘Field’s…Macy’s…Um No…Field’s’"


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Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 1 month ago
Anyone who admits a mistake should be praised. If Macy’s keeps the Marshall Field’s name on the main store, Chicagoans will love them for it. The main store’s sales would be higher than before if the suburban stores are converted to Macy’s, since there’d be less cannibalization. The main Marshall Field’s could have the Macy’s assortment plus its own expanded assortment which would keep it locally distinctive. Ironically, it could use the expanded assortment from the main Macy’s in Manhattan, since both buildings have similar size. The enormous size of both locations demands a larger assortment anyway. When I’ve been behind the scenes at both places, before the merger, I was disturbed by the huge amount of surplus unused space in the nonpublic areas. The same strategy could be used in Minneapolis for the main Dayton’s (now call Marshall Field’s) location. They also has huge unused floors. And Minneapolis customers still love the Dayton’s name. Advertising cost is the complication. National advertising is cheaper than local advertising and local advertising for multiple locations is cheaper… Read more »
Mark Hutchinson
Guest
Mark Hutchinson
15 years 1 month ago

Field’s is a Chicago Institution. What would happen if you changed Macy’s Herald Square to Field’s Herald Square. If Federated goes with the Macy’s name in Chicago the sales will fall. The added risk is the the Field’s name is regarded to be of better quality than Macy’s. If Federated goes through with the Macy’s brand on the Fields location, very soon after there will be another Trump Condo property coming to Chicago. It’s a crime.

Eliott Olson
Guest
Eliott Olson
15 years 1 month ago

Field’s is often referred to as a institution but that term is not strong enough to define how interwoven the brand is with the lives of the Chicago residents. It is a superbrand and if Federated is sucessful in transitioning the name to Macy’s, they can walk on water and could be sucessful changing the name of da Bears to the Pansy Ass Jets and da Cubs to the Red Roses. You can bet on that one.

Ben Ball
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

It is too late.

The genie is out of the bottle. All of those “Field’s loyalists” know that Federated INTENDED to change the name, even if they don’t. So it will never truly be “Field’s” again.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

The linked story at Crain’s was somewhat less hope-giving than was presented here: a Field’s branded “boutique” – perhaps selling souvenir “clock” paraphernalia in green bags – seems more like a salt-rubbed-in-the-wound insult than a tribute… kind of the retail equivalent of Vichy France.

Michael Tesler
Guest
Michael Tesler
15 years 1 month ago

I believe these are all short term issues. The store has lost local ownership and the city loses in a lot of respects when this happens. The store, irregardless of the banner, will have Macy’s merchandise and the “back office” will be run by Macy’s. Some token local items and labels will be just that…token. Over time whether the sign say’s Macy’s or Marshall Field’s the store will succeed or fail based on whether or not it has the right merchandise at the right time and at the right price. If there are clear competitive advantages that are well communicated to target customers they will come in and buy…political and loyalty issues will quickly be forgotten if the merchandise is right.

Joseph Peter
Guest
Joseph Peter
15 years 1 month ago

I disagree with the comment above about short term anger by Chicagoans. Are you remembering the Safeway Dominick’s debacle? I wouldn’t call poor service and bad products a short term issue at Dominick’s! We are looking at the same type of brand loyalty at Field’s as we are with Dominick’s. The Dominick’s situation is in no way a short term debacle…it’s been running since 1998!

Mark Burr
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

If under the name of Macy’s or Marshall Field’s consumers find a great place to shop – it’s a non-story. The consumers will decide either way. (Now, ‘omni’ might argue that..:-)

Marshall Field’s got some of our Christmas dollars this year. Why? Because they continue to provide a near Nordstrom’s level of service (at least at our store). They had the variety and selection we were looking for in our gifts. They had wonderful staff that were helpful and informative about specials and opportunities. As commented on another subject today, they created an experience worthy of our dollars. That, I believe will be the key.

I do have to admit though, the name Macy’s and the associated experience I have had in other cities at their stores doesn’t excite me much. Marshall Field’s has made great improvement, at least locally. They seem to get it – at least at our store. I’d hate to see that change – name or not.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

This decision should not be based upon managers strategizing about what to do. Talking to consumers with well designed questions focused on determining the depth of sentiment about the name and the loyalty of consumers is critical for success. Guessing what the consumers will do or assuming that managers know what consumers will do is a recipe for disaster. Conducting the research without well designed questions is also a recipe for disaster, as Coca-Cola found out when conducting their research about New Coke.

Joseph Peter
Guest
Joseph Peter
15 years 1 month ago
One website speaks for them all — http://www.keepitfields.org — over 50,000 signatures of people vowing to never shop Field’s again if the name changes. Secondly, I am a Chicagoan. When the news broke from Crain’s, all the news stations rode an emotional “high” of reprieve praising the idea that Field’s might survive. It made top story news on each of the respective network newscasts on Friday night! Federated would be wise to keep the Field’s name. Federated can only WIN if they choose to preserve the Field’s name one way or another and LOSE big time if they don’t give in to the Chicagoans needs. For anyone on here that wants to argue with me about shareholder value or say that consumers really don’t care where they shop, please revisit the Dominick’s Safeway debacle and how Chicagoans are affected by brand names. Revisit the boycotting of Field’s when the bags changed from green to brown in 1992. Chicago is probably the MOST brand loyal city in the USA, and Marshall Field’s is a large institution… Read more »
Michael L. Howatt
Guest
Michael L. Howatt
15 years 1 month ago

The strong showing during the Holidays were partly as a result of consumer’s looking to purchase Field’s memorabilia but also to make a statement as the the power the store has in the community. Just yesterday I was directed to a web-site called keepitfields.org and signed a petition to keep the name. There were over 53,000 signatures. A strong statement that I hope will change Federated’s mind. Hell, we’re losing the Berghoff and can’t do anything about that. Let’s hope this strategy works for Field’s.

Jim Wisuri
Guest
Jim Wisuri
15 years 1 month ago

Lost in all of this, of course, is the need to rename the pre-eminent mall in northwest suburban Schaumburg — to Woodmacy.

Or, for the non-State Street locations, perhaps the new imprint could be Marshall Field’s, a collaborative afterthought by Macy’s and Federated.

As an occasional shopper at Field’s, I just wish that Federated was spending half as much time and effort on improving customer service as it has on the name game.

James Tenser
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

It’s rare that a retailer can build loyalty like that shown by Chicago’s Marshall Field’s customers. Mr. Lundgren and his brain trust would do well to balance the value of that equity against the presumed “managerial” efficiencies gained by simplifying its brand portfolio.

Even if the other Marshall Field’s locations are converted and unified with Macy’s infrastructure, a “Marshall Field’s Macy’s” unique location on State Street might be a winning idea. Good for Federated for listening to its shoppers and reconsidering. Special opportunities deserve special attention.

Kai Clarke
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

Federated is considering something which should never have been started in the first place. Their acquisition of Marshall Field’s includes a value for the Field’s name. Despite the large amount of goodwill that this name has accrued, they were deciding to dispose of all of this and use the Macy’s name. Now that customers have shown them the value of this name, it would benefit Federated to look at each location to determine whether it should remain a Marshall Field’s or change to a Macy’s name. Obviously, the flagship store should remain a Field’s store, but Federated should also consider keeping the Field’s name on clothing, branded products, etc. They could easily put store within a store locations to cross-brand Macy’s products (in Field’s stores) and vice-versa. Anything less than a thorough examination of each store’s potential under the Macy’s vs. the Field’s name would give Federated less than the maximum value which they paid for during this acquisition.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
15 years 1 month ago

Last Christmas season’s sales were unusually high because Marshall Field’s is a iconic Chicago institution and nostalgic Chicagoans wanted to become a small part of Marshall Field’s great “past.” To duplicate the same crowd level at Christmas time in 2006, Federated could again announce plans to change the name to Macy’s in 2007. It might work two years in a row then Federated should desist with that ploy.

Capitalizing on consumer chauvinism is a retail challenge. The Marshall Field’s name should be kept. It’s a great equity in the U.S. middle west, greater than Macy’s in mid-America.

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