department stores

Carol Spieckerman's Right Brain On: Martha Stewart's Omni-everything Advantage

How can you tell when a brand is overextended? In her latest contribution as a Retail Wire panelist, Carol comments on the lack of true lifestyle brands in retail and why Martha Stewart's brand stretches may only be scratching the surface.

Here's what she had to say...

The proof is in the sales and in many categories, Martha remains a top seller. Macy's fight for Martha isn't just a grudge match and Martha was the one major brand acquisition announcement that J.C. Penney saw fit to include in its transformation strategy under Ron Johnson (even as Penney hints at rationalizing its overall brand portfolio). The fact is, there is a dearth of true lifestyle brands in retail; there are Ralph, Martha, then all the rest. I've said many times that "Omnimedia" is one of the more prescient names for a lifestyle branding company. Martha got it from the get-go that each channel and touch point would build brand equity that supports all of the others. Martha coined the name years before omni-channel was cool and the brand is now living up to its promise: omnimedia, omni-channel, omnipresent.

Read the full discussion.

Is your brand living up to its full potential? Have you really plateaued or are you leaving opportunities on the table? Contact Carol directly to discuss your 2012 retail and brand expansion goals or to book Carol for your sales, marketing or strategy summit.

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Carol Spieckerman's Brain On...Barneys' Benign Neglect

Today, Retail Wire asked whether Barneys should survive. In her latest contribution as a Retail Wire panelist, Carol wonders how they could.

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Here's what she had to say...One of Barneys' weaknesses is that it has been passed around to companies that couldn't help but treat it as an afterthought. Jones Group's history as a wholesale powerhouse made it a dubious choice for a parent back in 2004. Jones is still trying to figure out its future and was certainly not equipped to drive Barneys' upscale brand destiny at acquisition time. Dubai-based Istithmar World's diverse portfolio of holdings and inherently at-a-distance perspective isn't doing Barneys any favors either.

Barneys is a limited-location boutique concept that has been treated as a scalable commodity.

Carol Spieckerman's Brain On...Does J.C. Penney's Plan Forget the Rank and File?

In her latest contribution as a Retail Wire panelist, Carol posits that Ron Johnson may not have left people out his plan for J.C. Penney (or perhaps they will be beside the point).

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Here's what she had to say...It remains to be seen whether Mr. Johnson's strategies left out the seventh "P" (people) as the article suggests, or if the other six (Price, Promotion, Personality, Product, Presentation and Place) intentionally obviate the need for a talent topgrading plan. On the surface, Penney's new scheme would seem to simplify rather than further complicate in-store execution and customer interaction.

Nikki Baird's original article is a terrific read, by the way, and a spot-on depiction of J.C. Penney's previous pricing and promotion "strategy."