Will going fur-free move the needle on Macy’s brand image?

Discussion
Source: bloomingdales.com
Oct 23, 2019
George Anderson

Macy’s, Inc. announced earlier this week that it will end the sale of garments with animal fur by the end of its 2020 fiscal year (early 2021). The retailer, which operates its namesake chain and Bloomingdale’s, announced its plans with the Humane Society of the United States.

“Over the past two years, we have been closely following consumer and brand trends, listening to our customers and researching alternatives to fur. We’ve listened to our colleagues, including direct feedback from our Go Green Employee Resource Group, and we have met regularly on this topic with the Humane Society of the United States and other NGOs. Macy’s private brands are already fur free so expanding this practice across all Macy’s, Inc. is the natural next step,” said Jeff Gennette, chairman and chief executive officer of Macy’s, Inc., in a statement. 

The decision to end the sale of merchandise with fur doesn’t appear to pose a significant downside to Macy’s top or bottom lines. The retailer, according to a New York Times report, said fur was not “material” to its business results. Macy’s businesses will continue to sell merchandise from sheep and cattle designated as being ethically sourced.

“This announcement is consistent with the views of countless consumers in the marketplace, and other retailers should follow,” said Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society. “With so many designers, major cities and now a state taking a stand against the sale of fur, we’re that much closer to ending this unnecessary and inhumane practice.” 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How will going fur-free impact the image consumers have of the Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s brands? Is changing the image of these department stores critical to their future success?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Younger consumers won’t wear fur anyway, so the business impact is likely minimal. Banning fur will bring the warm-and-fuzzies to consumers."
"I can’t remember the last time I saw someone wearing a fur; we’ve evolved."
"This move may not have much of a financial impact, but it does further define their strategic focus and target shopper."

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15 Comments on "Will going fur-free move the needle on Macy’s brand image?"


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Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

Kudos to Macy’s for a smart PR move, bringing positive press right before the holiday season. Younger consumers won’t wear fur anyway, so the business impact is likely minimal. Banning fur will bring the warm-and-fuzzies to consumers.

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

As usual, late to the game. Too late to matter and more of a “duh” now. Ever talk to a Millennial or Gen Zer about killing animals for ANY reason, let alone a frivolous outerwear piece? A Millennial I worked with made me watch a movie about it a good 15 years ago! It was like, OK, got it! Yikes.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

Macy’s does need to change the image of their department stores — but that requires a fresh view of how to curate the stores to become more meaningful to customers.

I can’t see this having impact either way. And as a PR effort, if the announcement is too visible there will be many who respond, as I did, with: “Wait, Macy’s still carried products with real fur? They are really behind the times.”

Brian Cluster
BrainTrust

Macy’s will benefit from being the first major retailer to stop selling fur. This was a well-researched decision by Macy’s based on feedback internally as well with their customers and perspective from society. It is likely that the consumers most sensitive to these issues will have a more positive view of Macy’s making the first move. Macy’s leadership in the industry will likely influence other department store retailers on this issue going forward.

Not mentioned in the story is the fact that state governments are also looking at this issue legislatively. This month, California became the first state to ban the sale of furs effective, January 2023.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust
Frankly the, “We will stop selling fur because it’s unethical … well … at least it will be unethical after 2021,” argument is absurd and will have no impact on the brands. First of all, it isn’t a “moral” position to decide one should be ethical … after the inventory is sold out that is. Next, if you oppose selling fur, you should oppose selling leather on the same grounds. And how exactly do you ethically raise animals so that you can slaughter and skin them? I’m not opposed to selling fur and/or leather, but I am opposed to poor logic, questionable ethical pronouncements, and a marketing plan based on having your cake and eating it too. If fur sales are wrong, stop them. If they aren’t keep selling fur as long as there is consumer demand. If you are listening to your consumers, hear them. And whatever you do, don’t — as Macy’s did — say you are taking a tough stand, when it really isn’t going to impact your business. That’s not a… Read more »
Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

While this is a good, ethical move that will win Macy’s some kudos, it’s not going to change brand perceptions much. There are a lot of other things that Macy’s needs to fix, starting with its merchandising and store environments. Improving those things will really move the needle.

Ed Rosenbaum
BrainTrust

Haven’t most of the elderly fur wearers retired and moved to a warmer climate where fur coats are not needed? Macy’s decision will not have much of an effect on business except adding more available floor space for merchandise people might want to purchase.

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff

Will they also stop selling leather footwear and accessories? Macy’s certainly needs to improve their image and appeal to a younger demographic, but I’m not convinced this will move the needle in a significant way.

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

Funny about that. I won’t wear fur or use down anymore — but I still quite like leather. I know it’s incongruous, but I also know I’m not the only one. Fun fact: k.d. lang sings barefoot because she’s a true vegan and won’t wear leather shoes. And plastic shoes are just no fun to wear on stage (or anywhere, really, except for my around-the-house Crocs.

Life is not always consistent.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

Yes … but …

If you want to stop selling fur, then stop selling fur. If you want to take a position based on your perception of the customers’ perception of animal rights or ethical retailing, then you have to stop selling leather, down, feathers, fur, and cosmetics and any other products that involve animal parts or testing.

Being inconsistent at a personal level is human. Being inconsistent at a brand positioning level is inauthentic and can prove terminal.

Would Macy’s have stopped selling furs if they represented 20 percent of sales and 30 percent of profits? I’m betting they wouldn’t. So their decision to “do the right thing” isn’t really ethical at all. It’s more like Kroger’s recent decision to stop selling vaping products because they might kill consumers … as soon as current inventory levels are depleted, of course.

Good merchandising. Lousy morality.

Paco Underhill
BrainTrust

How about leather shoes and jackets? We work with the ASPCA and other animal focused organizations – the issues are more complex.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
BrainTrust

The impact will be negligible on most consumers. The strong negative or positive impact will be on those consumers who either want to buy fur products or object to the purchase of fur products.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

Ah, if this was only Macy’s biggest problem! Back to the question. Like (I imagine) most everyone here, I wasn’t aware Macy’s even carried fur — and if it does, it must be a small number of stores in higher end areas, so the impact will be small. Calling attention to the fact will likely alienate people who don’t like it, but weren’t aware, so even more incentive to downplay. Bloomingdales might be slightly different, but even there it must be a small part of the business.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

I was at the Macy’s flagship store on State Street in Chicago not too long ago. I stopped to peruse the 28 Shop, a left over from Marshall Field’s, that houses designer fashions and furs. The store was busy, but this department was not. The area was elegantly merchandised, but I had to wonder how many women these days top their St. John suits with a mink coat.

The plan to stop selling furs will be well received by consumers and the medias, but I doubt that it will make a dent in sales. I can’t remember the last time I saw someone wearing a fur; we’ve evolved.

Liz Crawford
BrainTrust

Banning fur won’t negatively impact sales, but it won’t positively impact them either.

Younger shoppers and eco-conscience ones don’t wear fur. Older and higher end shoppers still don an occasional mink … those customers will head to Saks or elsewhere.

This move may not have much of a financial impact, but it does further define their strategic focus and target shopper.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Younger consumers won’t wear fur anyway, so the business impact is likely minimal. Banning fur will bring the warm-and-fuzzies to consumers."
"I can’t remember the last time I saw someone wearing a fur; we’ve evolved."
"This move may not have much of a financial impact, but it does further define their strategic focus and target shopper."

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