Sears Looks for Broader Appeal With Latinas

Discussion
Apr 20, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson


When it first launched its Lucy Pereda line of clothes targeted to Latinas back in September 2003, Sears’ Mindy Meads said, “Lucy is in touch with millions of women in the U.S. and Latin America, and she has used those insights to design a clothing line that is modern, feminine and elegant.”


Less than two years later, Sears has decided to discontinue the Pereda line because, as Gwen Manto, executive vice president and general merchandise manager, softlines for the company, said, “Lucy [Pereda] had a limited appeal. It was barer, more sexy, more clubby-type looks.”


“Its sales results were not great,” Ms. Manto told the Chicago Sun-Times.


In an effort to capture the market it was unable to claim with Pereda, Sears announced the introduction of a new clothing line called Latina Life. The product line, with items priced between $36 and $79, will be available in 425 Sears stores in August.


Latina Life is unique in that it involves a joint marketing and branding effort between Sears and Latina magazine.


“This partnership combines a trusted, value-focused retailer with a magazine that has established itself as a leader by providing its readers with the latest news on Latina fashion and beauty,” said Ms. Manto. “We expect Latina Life apparel, footwear and handbags to appeal to a diverse population of fashionable women who are looking for fresh, beautifully-designed and well-fitted pieces that can take them affordably from work to weekend.”


Moderator’s Comment: Does Sears understand Latina consumers enough to succeed in this market? Will Latina Life succeed where the Lucy Pereda line did
not?

George Anderson – Moderator

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6 Comments on "Sears Looks for Broader Appeal With Latinas"


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Rochelle Newman-Carrasco
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Rochelle Newman-Carrasco
15 years 10 months ago
There are two questions being posed…one is whether Sears understands the Latina shopper and the other is whether this venture with Latina magazine will generate results (and please note that the word is LatinA NOT LatinO and the publication is Latina NOT Latino Lifestyle). Sears has been engaged in US Hispanic marketing initiatives for close to 25 years and has certainly explored the evolving Latina consumer from different vantage points (advertising, merchandising, signage, credit, etc.). In addition to their US knowledge of the consumer, Sears is one of the leading department stores in much of Latin America where it is not considered a “moderate” store but is more aligned with what we might think of as a Macy’s or Nordstrom here. There is plenty of consumer knowledge to draw upon. That said, as with any retailer, there is the desire to explore consumer connections and relevance by tailoring programs and even clothes. Since we have to remember that Latinas are not homogeneous and do not all like the same things (like any other consumer), this… Read more »
Rick Moss
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

I applaud the effort, but this seems off the mark. Trying to appeal to Latinas with a “Latina Life” brand name…? Isn’t that just a tad obvious? (I’m trying to imagine if I would buy a “White, Eastern European Man” label.)

Although I’m sure most Hispanic women are very proud of their heritage, when it comes to fashion, I’d assume they’d be more likely to buy into a more mainstream American image of who they are and/or want to be. And, depending on their specific family heritage, fashion sense, age, marriage status, etc… that image is going to be about as diverse as the general population. How do you begin to design for such a wide variety of tastes under one label?

Marketing successfully to Latinas will require great insight and subtlety. I’m not quite seeing it in these plans, I’m sorry to say.

Terry Soto
Guest
Terry Soto
15 years 10 months ago
It’s hard to agree that aligning with a Latina publication will in itself be a driver of fashion appeal for Sears – there is so much more to consider. Our work with apparel has indicated that fashion appeal is driven by lifestage, lifestyle, trends, and pop culture, even among Hispanics. That said, research does indicate that clothing design, colors, sizes and the way Hispanic women wear their clothes can differ based on country of origin and socio-economic strata there and here. For instance, among women of Caribbean origin, clothing is worn with greater flare; brighter colors, curve hugging pants, and dresses and low cut blouses regardless of body type…in fact, the curvier the better. Showing off the body, no matter how plump, is considered sexy. Mexicans and Central American women (and here we’re talking foreign born) tend to be a bit more conservative, sticking to basics, while South American women, especially those from the southern cone — Argentina, Chile, Uruguay — tend to be a bit more sophisticated around fashion and favor European influenced design… Read more »
Santiago Vega
Guest
Santiago Vega
15 years 10 months ago

Sears’ attempt to create a broader appeal with Latinas by naming a brand “Latina Life” is counterproductive and alienating in nature, and may drive those customers away to competitors that are more acute to Latino sensibilities and common sense.

Latinas, as any other minority, WANT to feel like they belong and are being treated equally. By offering a “Latina” label, Sears is giving the message that it is segmenting its customers by race.

Partnering with Latina magazine to promote a brand targeted to Latinas shows that Sears is on the right track, but if their marketing approach is all but inclusive (and you can have inclusive yet distinctive in the equation) in a community that seeks reassurance of its status, all efforts will fail no matter how good or right the merchandise.

Sears should take a step back and study the expectations and desires of consumers, and then apply that to the perspective of a Latino customer.

David Livingston
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

I thought Sears already understood the Latina market. When I was in college in the late 1970s, all my Latina girlfriends from Central America had a Sears credit card. They seemed to be quite happy to find that we had Sears stores in Indiana and it helped them feel like they were home.

Don Delzell
Guest
Don Delzell
15 years 10 months ago
Let’s applaud Sears for its understanding of the fashion differences existing in ethnic niches. Although American society continues to move inexorably toward a homogenous melting pot, we are far from that point today. Latinos, as a generality, clearly demonstrate a distinct fashion style from other ethnic groups (again, as generalities). The problem is the approach taken. Sears is attempting to “borrow” the equity inherent in Latino Life. But in reality, the name means nothing…and, in fashion, it never really has. What is meaningful is the way the clothes connect emotionally with the customer. If this line is designed with the flair, emotional vibrancy and distinction demanded by the target customer, it will succeed. If it is not, the “borrowed” equity of the Latino Life name will mean absolutely nothing. Brands persist and succeed because of their ability to create or align with prevalent lifestyle desires. Having read only one issue of Latino Life, I wonder if the magazine represents a focused lifestyle identification. Would a brand of apparel called Cosmopolitan automatically give someone a lifestyle… Read more »
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