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retail

Kmart, Others Seen as Crossing the Line as Holiday Promos Encroach on Celebrations

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 6, 2013 04:55 PM

What happens when commerce trumps tradition? A lot of angry consumers (and employees).

That's what major retailers Kmart, Macy's, Walmart, Kohl's and others are finding out as they continue to blur the line between the Thanksgiving holiday and the major shopping event that is Black Friday. Kmart has put itself in the line of fire as it recently announced that it will open at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving and remain open for 41 straight hours through 11 p.m. Friday. Sears, too, will open up at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving and remain open through Friday, while Macy's bowed under pressure and for the first time, will open its US stores on Thanksgiving evening. Last year, Target fielded a steady stream of backlash after announcing it would open at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving night. 

The trend is no doubt a reaction to the sluggish retail market as brands fear the lack of spending will continue through the 2013 holiday season. Brands are so worried, in fact, that they are not only launching their holiday campaigns early, but also their special holiday deals. Walmart kicked off its online promotion last week—one month earlier than usual. 

But their concerns aren't unfounded. A National Foundation for Credit Counseling poll found that 53 percent of shoppers plan to spend less on holiday gift giving this year than they did in 2012, with one-third planning to spend nothing and only 3 percent intending to spend more.Continue reading...

ad watch

Instagram, Careful to Keep Community Feel, Previews Potential Ads

Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 25, 2013 02:56 PM

Popular photo-sharing app Instagram is easing its way into monetization with the introduction of its first ads, slated to begin running next week. And the Facebook-owned company couldn't be any more careful in its efforts to protect and preserve the Instagram community.

After announcing that ads would become a reality on the platform about three weeks ago, it posted a blog post with a sampling of potential ads from brands such as W Hotels, Michael Kors, Macy's, Lexus, PayPal, Ben & Jerry’s and Levis—the latter of which is using the app to track its novel station-to-station campaign. 

The ads will function much like those seen on Twitter and Facebook; clearly marked with a "sponsored" tag in the upper right corner that users can tap to find out more about advertising. Users can also tap the "..." to enable ad settings and feedback.Continue reading...

brand revival

JCPenney Shreds Most of Martha Stewart Deal that Prompted Macy's to Sue

Posted by Dale Buss on October 21, 2013 07:16 PM

Ever since JCPenney CEO Myron Ullman said a few weeks ago that he didn't think the chain's Martha Stewart housewares were all that great, it's been obvious that he wanted to end tensions with Macy's over the rivals' litigation involving home goods designed by Stewart's company.

On Monday, JCPenney and Martha Stewart Living announced a revised agreement that eliminates Stewart's products in home-goods categories to which Macy's claims exclusive rights. In other words, JCPenney has completely backed down over Macy's central complaint in the litigation. And now the only big thing to be determined is whether Macy's will receive a damage award when the judge's final ruling in the case comes, probably later this week.

JCPenney and Stewart also are walking back other aspects of their two-year-old agreement, by swapping the 11 million shares in Stewart's company that JCPenney purchased; JCPenney also will give up its two seats on the board of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. The only remnant of the deal is that the retailer still will sell a small batch of Stewart products, including window treatments and party supplies.Continue reading...

social media watch

Pinterest May Look Sweet and Innocent, but It's a Serious Traffic Driver

Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 16, 2013 08:11 PM

Pinterest—the visual-heavy darling of social media now drives more traffic to publishers than Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit and Google+ combined.   

The data just released from Shareaholic, a social plugin service that mines data from 200,000 publishers and reaches 250 million monthly unique visitors collectively, shows Facebook in the lead driving 10 percent of overall traffic to publishers in September, far exceeding all other social networks, with Pinterest second at 3.68 percent—three times more than Twitter.

The four-year-old ‘virtual pinboard’ is aggressively pursuing a path of global expansion with a 66 percent year-over-year traffic increase as evidenced by a new partnership with international broadband provider Telefónica ensuring a new Pinterest widget will be pre-loaded on Android phones sold by the telecom company in Europe and Latin America to the provider’s 316 million-strong customer base.Continue reading...

retail

Macy's, Walmart Up the Ante for Black Friday Even As Its Relevance Wanes

Posted by Dale Buss on October 15, 2013 06:42 PM

Even as Black Friday is fading as the most frenetic custom of post-industrial American materialism, retailers find new ways of trying to keep it relevant. So now Macy's will open on Thanksgiving evening for the first time in the chain's 155-year history.

Macy's plans to open most of its stores at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, four hours earlier than the previously accelerated 12-midnight opening. "Black Friday is the biggest shopping event of the year and brings with it a level of fun and excitement to our customers around the nation," Peter Sachse, Macy's chief stores officer, said in a news release explaining the move.

Likewise, Walmart is trying to get an even bigger share of the Black Friday trade with its strategy for advertising heavily on TV during the highly watched trio of NFL games on Thanksgiving, something the chain historically hasn't done.Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: Apple, Macy's, New York Times and more

Posted by Dale Buss on October 15, 2013 09:33 AM

In the News

Apple taps Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts as retail head.

Macy's plans to open most stores on Thanksgiving at 8 p.m., breaking a 155-year tradition of being closed on the holiday. 

New York Times officially rebrands International Herald Tribune as the International New York Times

Alcatel-Lucent chief warns company may collapse. 

Allstate gives Mayhem the silent treatment on Twitter.

Amazon begins shipping goods from inside suppliers such as P&G.

Argos, a high-street brand, launches its own budget tablet. 

BlackBerry moves to reassure customers with open letter.

Chevy models get support for Siri's eyes-free mode. 

Coca-Cola profits rise on higher sales in North America.Continue reading...

china

The Week in China: Tourism's Death Trap, Auction House Tussle and more

Posted by Abe Sauer on October 11, 2013 01:42 PM

China is the second largest economy in the world and every significant brand's future is impacted by its growth (or collapse)—but who's got the time?! Here's the week's reads that will make you look like a keen China observer in case you find yourself immersed in a cultural conversation.

This week: Chinese tourism boom has a downside… auction house war in the making…  Starbucks struggling… Apple in Hong Kong… dumpling billionaire… Crayola charges into China… Alibaba-Tencent fight over mobile payments… Moët & Chandon on a boat… Maison Birks… and more.Continue reading...

logo-a-gogo

JCPenney's Comeback Strategy Includes Wiping the Brand Clean of Any Trace of Johnson Era

Posted by Dale Buss on October 10, 2013 11:36 AM

If Ron Johnson were dead, he'd be spinning in his grave. Instead, the ousted CEO of JCPenney can simply watch from afar as his predecessor-turned-successor Myron Ullman dismantles the former Apple retail head's failed ambitious plan to transform the venerable retailer, piece by piece.

The latest back-to-the-future moves by Ullman? Scrapping the simple new logo that Johnson instituted as well as some of the ad-agency help that he hired. Such gambits are part of Ullman's efforts to ensure that Penney has bottomed out as the crucial 2013 holiday shopping season gets underway.

Johnson introduced the red-framed logo last year to great fanfare, "updating" the marque to simply "jcp" in a blue box in the upper-left corner of a square that was intended to invoke an American flag with its patriotic colors.

Instead, it became just another reminder to JCPenney's traditional customers that Johnson didn't really care about their business. So the old "JCPenney" logo in a simple red font is back—albeit slightly updated—marking the fourth logo in as many years for the embattled department store brand.Continue reading...

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