One of the funniest scenes from the 1995 Brady Bunch movie comes when the sugary-sweet brood stuck in a twisted ’70s time warp believes they’ve saved their shag-rugged home. In triumph, patriarch Mike Brady declares: “Kids, put on your Sunday best. We’re going to Sears!”
Yes, in an age before mega-malls and the Internet, perhaps double-stitch polyester suit-wearing families would dance and sing on the escalators at Sears. After all, the great American department store had everything from women’s lingerie and Buster Browns to chain saws and refrigerators.
But like Brady Bunch and the bygone happy-go-lucky era from which they came, Sears has fallen on hard times.
In the third quarter of last year, its profits plummeted 99 percent and year-over-year single store sales sharply declined. While Sears struggled with a stodgy low-class image, it was eclipsed by upstarts Target and Wal-Mart among the brick-and-mortars and a host of specialty online resellers.
No wonder that Sears is trying to do more online and through social networking. The trend going forward for online product sales and marketing is targeted advertising and promotions. The more you know about customers’ purchasing power, product preferences, personal needs, brand affinity and shopping habits, the better the chance of capturing more wallet share. The problem all resellers and marketers face is staying within the invisible line of privacy respect—something which Sears isn’t doing so well with.
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