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Sears revamps marketing focus

Sears is radically changing its marketing strategy, moving from an item/price/mass position with "an inconsistent ROI, an unclear value proposition and a lack of Sears focus." David Selby, senior vp, marketing, told the home fashions suppliers at a meeting here last month that "the Sears brand will support our multiple businesses — we are both a brand owner and a retailer."

At the same time, Selby pointed out, "We will have a clear, complete emotional position with our customers, improve the promotional product, have a multi-cultural relevance — as well as have a multi-channel imperative."

For fall, "We will have a new Sears brand campaign with redesigned preprints and mailers," he said. "There will be a more focused promotional plan and more messages targeted to our best customers."

During the holiday period, "we will have powerful messages with Saturday-driven events," he said.

Among the changes, Selby pointed to the new approach for the Home Sale circular — the second edition dropped the end of July — that brings all home departments under one umbrella with the tag line "Nobody covers your home like Sears" and showing a number of different home department products on the cover.

Pointing to the results of the changes, Selby said home fashions sales have increased 12.9 percent, and have brought together Sears brand strength as well as national brand strength.

Another new endeavor for Sears is the Back to Campus mailer, a 16-page, 84-sku college-oriented product mix that will be distributed through 200 college newspapers with a circulation of 1.1 million.

As part of the promotion, Sears will feature a checklist of needed merchandise for the college set and will offer a sweepstakes. The program also will be offered on the Sears website.

Multi-cultural marketing will become a key Sears tactic, Selby noted, as he explained that the 2000 census showed a 58 percent growth in the Hispanic market.

As Sears evolves its marketing program, "we will focus on our best customers first, Sears Target Customers, and work to understand the 30 million households that are our customers."

Of these, Selby explained, "there are 5.4 million households that represent 33 percent of our sales."

As part of the strategy, Selby said, "we will boldly communicate our differentiation, celebrate the breadth of our assortments and connect with our customers lives."

One of Sears' hidden assets, he explained, "is that we have one of the largest consumer databases, which we don't use."

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