T.J. Maxx/Marshalls Urges Consumers to ‘Re-Think Retail’

Discussion
May 11, 2009
Tom Ryan

By Tom Ryan

For the first time ever,
T.J. Maxx and Marshalls will be featured together in television spots to
educate consumers on the merits of off-price retailing. The “Re-Think
Retail” campaign explains that major savings on in-season fashions
are available without needing to wait for product to go on sale, clip coupons
or wake up for 6 a.m. door-busting specials.

“We created this
campaign with the intention of rallying consumers across the country to
spread the word that you don’t have to pay a lot for great quality, current
season designer fashions,” said Laura McDowell, spokesperson for T.J.
Maxx and Marshalls, in a statement. “Also, you don’t need to ‘trade
down’ to discount stores and sacrifice quality, just for a low price. In
this economy, we feel especially compelled to get the word out to consumers
everywhere to stop them from overpaying “

In the TV ads, a group
of girlfriends stage an intervention on their
friend who spends too much on her fashion buys, and show her that there
is a better way to shop and save.

Working with AOR Ogilvy
PR, the campaign will also feature a guerilla marketing tour with live
street theatre performing one-minute
“spending interventions.” Across nine U.S. cities, actors will
play friends educating other friends about the value of off-price shopping.

A roving
billboard across cities will display two ads showing comparison examples
of the same current season designer merchandise found at department
stores and off-price retailers.

According to PR Week,
style experts Robert Verdi, Alison Deyette, and Lawrence Zarian, and financial
expert Farnoosh Torabi will serve as the campaign’s “style interventionists.”
Each expert provided spending tips, which appear in an
electronic press release
. The campaign will
be pushed to fashion retail press and consumer, as well as key fashion,
parenting and budget bloggers.

“We want media to…
understand there’s another category of retail, and that T.J. Maxx is really
a leader in the category,” Denise Vitola, SVP at Ogilvy PR, told PR
Week
.

Discussion Question:
Will the T.J. Maxx and Marshalls’
“Re-Think Retail” campaign resonate with consumers? What else can
off-pricers be doing – either in marketing or at the store level –
to make their model more appealing to consumers versus department stores?

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20 Comments on "T.J. Maxx/Marshalls Urges Consumers to ‘Re-Think Retail’"


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Justin Time
Guest
11 years 11 months ago

TJX’s T.J.Maxx and Marshalls and to a smaller extent, A.J. Wright, are targeting middle- and upper-end consumers who are in search for the “bargain” on brand-name fashions.

Teaming T.J. and Marshalls in a joint nationwide ad campaign, is a very smart move.

We all know that the department store they are referring to is Macy’s, since there aren’t a whole lot of department store chains remaining.

Correctly executed, especially during the late summer shopping weeks heading to the “back to school” promotions, this should score big with consumers seeking to stretch their buying power without sacrificing style and fashion.

Marc Gordon
Guest
Marc Gordon
11 years 11 months ago

When you strip away all the marketing [speak], what these stores are saying is that they have the lowest prices every day and never have sales.

And this is supposed to get the public beating down a path to their door?

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
11 years 11 months ago
I love this campaign (the interventions are priceless) and TJM is right to make hay while the sun is shining on its sector. I do see some obstacles moving forward. Much like H&M and Zara have changed the game on price and speed-to-shelf, TJM has exposed the markup/markdown games that department stores play. However, as the shopper becomes more educated and accustomed to the pricing structure, more must be done to hold her interest. Off-pricers are going to have to get more vigilant about store environment, the one factor that keeps folks like me out of their stores. It also would be interesting to see a few of the midling brands that have hit the market end up at TJM as exclusives, particularly as the missy sector undergoes such a much-needed transformation in department stores and specialty retailers such as Talbots and Chico’s lose their luster. TJM has a real opportunity to not only make the best of a tough retail environment but to gain market share that will keep the momentum going post pull-out.
Anne Howe
Guest
11 years 11 months ago

Seems like a viable strategy, but as a regular shopper in the off-price retail channel, I wonder if they made a decision to not address some of the shopping experience issues?

Constantly, I hear shoppers complain about shoppability issues relating to sizes in wrong places, causing willing shoppers to abandon trips. We truly do not have all day to overcome basic merchandising errors your staff can easily correct.

I also hear a lot about dirty store conditions, signaling a real lack of attention to the details that make shoppers feel comfortable. It’s NOT just about price. I think their campaign is perhaps a little too narrow in its focus.

Bob Phibbs
Guest
11 years 11 months ago

Wasn’t the point of off-price that the values were so good because the money was saved in advertising? This new campaign sounds a lot like features and benefits marketing.

I’d have thought this would have been done by the full price stores which says one of three things–the discounters are hurting, making too much money or not paying attention to the bottom line; only time will tell.

David Biernbaum
Guest
11 years 11 months ago

Other than allowing for more efficient advertising by running the ads together for T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, I’m not too sure that the ads will be any more or less effective than the strength and believability of the message itself, which in my opinion is still too vague to be a home run. Nonetheless, almost any advertising right now is valuable because it serves as a reminder in itself of the brand(s) in this case, two of them.

Joan Treistman
Guest
11 years 11 months ago

I’m immediately reminded of the advertising Syms has designed for the “educated consumer.” And that’s a good thing. Consumers will think favorably of the retailers who are trying to help them become more financially savvy.

Effective advertising is more than a good message. The execution will make a difference in how the effort is perceived for T.J. Maxx and Marshalls. One has to wonder as to how they will differentiate their stores within the overall theme of financial intervention. Certainly it appears that the consumer will win in this initiative.

Will it be a win, win, win? If consumers are directed to the stores and the shopping experience meets the expectations set by the advertising, there will be long terms gains for all the constituencies. However, T.J. Maxx and Marshalls could become one (for consumers) in the long run; not just philosophically.

Phil Rubin
Guest
11 years 11 months ago

This campaign is smart and timely in the way it reinforces the value prop of off-price. As consumers re-think spending, both now and even as we emerge from this recession, if TJM is capable of retaining customers gained they will be very tough to compete with.

Of course the key in off-price is being able to buy goods and we can assume that they can back up the claims they are marking, not just now but in the future.

Macy’s and others are vulnerable but companies like Nordstrom have Rack and other leading fashion chains have similar off-price cousins so will be more of a challenge.

Susan Rider
Guest
Susan Rider
11 years 11 months ago

Off-price retailers can perfect the total shopping experience. Both T.J. Maxx and Marshalls are going after the upper to middle class, especially the female shopper. They all love the bargains but won’t sacrifice the shopping experience, meaning customer service and an organized and easy-to-shop store.

Recently, in doing a shopping survey it revealed in some cities that the TJM experience was great and in others it was a mess. All the advertising in the world won’t fix that experience!

Dick Seesel
Guest
11 years 11 months ago

The commercials are clever and make their point effectively about the off-pricers’ reason for being. I do question whether combining the two brands (Marshalls and T.J. Maxx) into one spot is smart. Most consumers don’t realize that these two nameplates are part of the same company…isn’t it worthwhile to establish a clear brand identity for one store or the other?

Ted Hurlbut
Guest
Ted Hurlbut
11 years 11 months ago

Obviously, in this environment, off-price has earned a larger share of the pie, and I see this initiative as an attempt to consolidate those gains and lock them in as much as possible. That said, this is a moment when off-price assortments are at their most attractive, and with inventories being slashed so dramatically, it’s an open question as to what will happen to off-price assortments going forward. I also agree that both T.J. Maxx and Marshalls have significant merchandising and operational challenges to address if they are to retain their share of the market once business starts to turn around.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
11 years 11 months ago

To Richard’s point, where are the economies of scale found by promoting two brands many consumers may think of us competitors? And, to other points, while it may make sense to advertise through the downturn, do these brands really stand for “the right clothes for troubled economic times”? It seems that nobody has thought through the longer implications of the campaign for the brands.

Li McClelland
Guest
Li McClelland
11 years 11 months ago

We should view this more as a psychological than a true marketing campaign. And as such it does a really great job. These spots humorously help legitimize off price shopping to a sort of consumer who might be embarrassed to shop there and might have previously worried about running into someone they knew at a Marshalls or a T.J. Maxx.

Merchandise and price are not the whole story, though. The comments here concerning the iffy shopping experience at these two stores are well founded. Also, these chains still have the taint of past credit card security breaches on their “permanent records.”

Rochelle Newman-Carrasco
Guest
Rochelle Newman-Carrasco
11 years 11 months ago

It’s all in the execution, but if it is as intriguing as it is on paper and it speaks to the right target, it should have an impact. I don’t think the audience is the typical low price shopper. I think it’s the Macy’s shopper who thinks there is nothing between Macy’s and Target except for something like Loehmann’s. Just reading the press release has me thinking about stores like these and Ross too (who already has a similar campaign or is that Marshalls?).

It’s refreshing to see retailers using this challenging time to figure out ways to speak to consumers instead of rolling over and playing dead. People do need quality clothes even in a recession. Job hunting is just one endeavor that requires a certain image standard. And when all this is over, if you can at least build awareness now you may have started a relationship for the future.

Michael Boze
Guest
Michael Boze
11 years 11 months ago

I think consumers get it. The marketing campaign will bring focus on their stores, however, retailing is about the total experience not just a hot price.

The downside is if they succeed, there is no bottom to retailing and these two retailers are not the lowest cost purveyor of goods. What comes next is the marketing campaign to justify their position in the consumer landscape.

They need to give the consumer some credit. They invented the Internet, didn’t they?

Cathy Hotka
Guest
11 years 11 months ago

Those of us who shop in off-price stores hope that the department store shoppers stay put. We discount mavens don’t want other people competing for the $15 white wide-leg jeans and $7 cocktail dresses we’ve come to expect. And we certainly don’t need added compensation for those adorable $12 black and white flats.

Mike Romano
Guest
Mike Romano
11 years 11 months ago

Again, who doesn’t love a great deal? The key will be to create ongoing customer loyalty and continued brand engagement to drive long-term revenue in both good and bad economies.

Naturally, there’s value in using pricing as the driver for business during stressed times, however, as the stress relieves, people will leave–unless there’s a reason to stay. Psychologically, people have a proven habit of associating discount stores with bad times, and once the bad times lessen, people search for an alternative brand they deem equal to their regained status and financial level.

So, I would caution that once you gain a new customer now via a “discount” position that you develop a plan to reinforce their brand decision with attributes and messaging that does not use pricing as the sole driver.

Tim Henderson
Guest
Tim Henderson
11 years 11 months ago

I like this entire campaign. I’ve seen the TV ads–they’re funny, memorable and have a message that resonates. And I really like the idea of guerrilla spending interventions. for some time, I’ve been telling retail clients that, given consumers are keeping their wallets closed, they need to find creative ways to place the brand in front of shoppers. This kind of disruptive street performance does just that.

The whole campaign should resonate with today’s Recession Shoppers, as well as post-recession shoppers. The combo message of value and quality is on the mark, and that same message tees off another key shopping motivator: trust. This campaign positions the brand as a trust partner in helping consumers shop smarter for quality merch. Great stuff!

angiretlwire dixon
Guest
angiretlwire dixon
11 years 11 months ago

Several responders mentioned the shopping experience of T.J. Maxx/Marshalls.

I do agree that stores can be kept more tidy. However, the off-price retailers with “treasure-hunt” presentations and buying philosophies (like T.J. Maxx-Marshalls and Ross Stores) have been performing with above industry average comp store increases for at least the last 3 years.

Neaten up?–Yes! Major overhaul?–No! If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!

Mark Lilien
Guest
11 years 11 months ago

TJX is one of the best run retailers in the country. In 5 years, the stock has risen 20%, compared to the 40% decline for Macy’s and the 20% decline for the S&P 500. Don’t bet against T.J. Maxx.

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