My Martha Beats Your Martha
By Carole Sloan, Founding Editor-in-Chief -- Home Textiles Today, 11/12/2007 12:00:00 AM
No one ever accused Eddie Lampert of being a merchandising or marketing guru. Quite the opposite, he plays better in an environment where numbers rule. In fact, by his own admission at the last Sears Holdings annual meeting, he acknowledged that his prior experience with retailing was when his mother was a salesperson at Saks Fifth Avenue.
And there's no secret of the chasm that exists between the two billionaires — Eddie and Martha.
But looking at happenings over the past while, it seems that as unofficial holder of the merchandising mantle at Sears Holdings, he's pulled off quite a coup.
The gist of the coup is that the Kmart Martha Stewart Everyday in home textiles was treated to a major overhaul, aka awesome upgrading, just at the time that Macy's Home Store was set to launch its Martha Stewart Collection across all home lines.
And with some great amount of fanfare, the Kmart folks previewed the new Martha Stewart Everyday home textiles products during the summer. There was a discernible uptick to the color palette, constructions, quality and assortment in both bed and bath.
All this took place as Macy's was planning its national rollout of Martha Stewart Collection with a launch appearance by the diva herself and pop entertainer Usher at Macy's Herald Square flagship, and a national rollout of marketing power that embraced every possible outlet for coverage.
At the same time, Martha's new Everyday home textiles were appearing on a weekly basis in the Kmart circulars that are distributed in their stores as well as through local Sunday newspapers across the country, and in additional fashion advertising like the two-page ad in October's Home magazine.
The results of the dual launches were remarkable. In its report of third-quarter results last week (see page 28), Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia noted that Kmart's home textiles sales were down 21% before the relaunch. After the relaunch, the total home textiles piece was up three percent — not a shabby turnaround. But more astounding — the fashion bedding segment was up an awesome 42%. WOW!
In contrast, MSLO said it was too early to peg results at Macy's, where Martha had been available since July in many stores and the national launch was Sept. 10 — virtually the same time frame as the Kmart effort.
Considering that Kmart and Martha are contractually committed to one another through 2009, there's another whole two years for Eddie to give Terry Lundgren indigestion. Stay tuned.
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