Macy's Redux, Brand Splits and Trendwatching

May 04 2012

The more I think about it, the more I feel that Macy's is having a real brand split. When I'm doing a branding presentation, I always talk about the split between where you are now, where your audiences perceive you to be, and where you would like to be.  This is the point where most companies are when they are ripe for repositioning.

Some time ago, Macys' installed the more high-end and individualistic Impulse! Shop, featuring designers like Anna Sui, Rachel Roy, Walter Baker, BCBG, and a small bunch of small fashion-forward designers. Now it appears that Macy's is having problems moving this higher end merchandise, and it has moved the Impulse! department into a much smaller selling area in the Herald Square store. It's a little depressing, frankly. Curious, I then stopped in at the store in the Fulton Mall, which is a badly merchandised ghost town. There is definitely no impulse buying here! There is almost no buying at all. I talked this over with the gals on the selling floor at the Herald Square store, and they said that the Fulton Mall store has bad buyers and is completely out of touch.

So, what does this mean from a branding perspective? I've been talking about the renaissance of the Fulton Mall, in which Macy's is the anchor tenant. The mall is getting cooler and more fun and attracting a more stylish shopper who is there to spend. It's no longer just cell phone and dollar stores, it's becoming a shopping destination. Meanwhile, Macy's is wavering in their merchandising, and it's hard to know what they stand for. Just the basics? Mom clothes? Decent handbags and cheap jewelry? I can't tell. What I do observe, though, is that the Fulton Mall store is falling far, far behind the neighboring retailers. The flagship store is also crowding out the more stylish consumer. The association with Fashion Star is not working very well on the retail level, as the clothes sell quickly and then just as quickly go into the markdown rack. Macy's, what's up? You are getting left behind in a world where it's easier and easier to be stylish!



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