Sears Multicultural Makeover Ready for Holidays

Nov 16, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

The first 97 units in Sears’ test of its multicultural store layout targeting specific ethnic groups (African-American, Hispanic and Asian) will be ready for the holiday shopping season, reports USA Today.

The store interiors will boost more colorful designs and include product assortments tailored to the shoppers who frequent individual locations. Sears will sell exclusive brands from designers including Jones Apparel, Liz Claiborne, Azucar Bella and Russell Kemp.

Brenda Sternquist, professor of Merchandising Management at Michigan State University said, “This is good merchandising. It’s a fabulous idea. The worst thing that Sears could do is stay undifferentiated, be so bland that people don’t have an image of what Sears offers in apparel.”

While the concept is valid, Sears’ watchers are wondering whether the chain will actually deliver on its niche marketing strategy.

Art Turock, sales growth strategist at Art Turock & Associates said, “If Sears goes far enough, it’ll get the emotional connection, which increases trips to the store, and the shopper spends more. If it doesn’t go far enough, what it may get is a slight hump in sales that might peter out as people are ‘underwhelmed.’ “

Sears executives say the chain has already learned lessons that will make it more successful this time around.

Jessica Priego, manager of multicultural marketing at Sears said, “We found there were things we could be doing to offer a deeper and more meaningful customer experience. There were no size 4s, for example, in the Apostrophe brand, but the multicultural consumer (Hispanic women) was asking for it. We knew we had a clientele already, and we wanted to enhance the offering.”

Moderator’s Comment: Most retailers talk about having store-specific assortments, which companies do you think are
making strides to achieve a product selection that matches what local shoppers want?

George Anderson – Moderator

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