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July 2004


Fred Whitaker

I wouldn't be so sure if I were you. Wal-Mart will become the leader in the fashion industry. WATCH OUT TARGET!!

Jason Carruthers

RayBan Eyeglasses - An Oxymoron?

Am I seeing things or is RayBan making a big mistake? RayBan is not just a sunglass brand, it's the best-selling sunglass in the world. Essentially, RayBan means sunglasses. RayBans ban rays. By contrast, eyeglasses invite rays to enter the eye and become focused. RayBans are strong and cool, like Will Smith and Tom Cruise. Eyeglasses are week and nerdy. (You wouldn't hit a guy with glasses would you?) The term 'RayBan Eyeglasses' is an oxymoron.

I think it's completely absurd to launch RayBan eyeglass frames but a Luxottica rep told me the line is one of his top sellers. How can this be? Couldn't this hurt the brand?

Jen Uner

Target itself is one of my favorite examples of a brand turnaround.(Remember how "K-Mart" it was 10 years ago? Hideous Sunday circulars? Horrible merchandising? Messy stores? Boring. Boring. Boring.) When it truly decided to make "fashion" part of its identity it did it with gusto: Liberal use of trend forecasters; ads in the most fashionista of magazines that required WORK to identify the advertiser; better attention to product presentation; partnership with accomplished designers who could be "bought off" easily. Now their TV ads cleverly celebrate both their basics (still the stuff of the Sunday circular) and fashion goods, and do so with style and energy. This whole shift started stealthily and built momentum to the point where it's becoming chic to "go downscale" and partner with Target, stepping right past stores like Kohl's and JC Penney who are famous for unsuccessfully courting designers. Now we're even seeing Todd Oldham working for La-Z-Boy! I'm all for the democratization of design, and I agree that Target holds the "chic" spot at mass. But Wal-Mart fashionable? I just can't see it. And K-Mart already died trying. (OK maybe they're not completely dead yet.)

Anurag Phadke

How can anyone make statements like " It’s never going to happen." It is like saying, "We are always going to remain at top." History has given us great examples of huge brands becoming invisible over a passage of time and lesser brands whom we never imagined to even buy have become a part of our life.

Laura Ries

There is a brand focused on cool food cheap. The brand is Costco. Costco has done a wonderful job and is beating Wal-Mart in the warehouse club category. It carries higher-end stuff and is known as the cool place to go for bargins.

But believe me, overall Wal-Mart has nothing to worry about. They are the world's largest retailer. But they should understand what they can and cannot do with the brand.

Thanks for the comments!!!


I'd have to take the side of the fact that in no way can Wal-Mart become "cool" or "trendy" or "fashionable". They're a discounter. Sure, people shop there for food, but for whatever psychological reason, it's the cheap place to go. It always will be. My wife actually would prefer shopping elsewhere simply because there are other places that create an environment that caters more towards upscale shopping for food (i.e., Whole Foods). However, there are many who do so without offering natural or organic foods. People still pay more because of the emotional attachment of being "upscale".

The difficult thing with offering gourmet brands is convincing those brands that being offered at Wal-Mart won't kill their "gourmet" status.

Wal-Mart has in-store McDonald's and offers everyday low prices. How they can turn that into fashionable is beyond me. They have already carved out their niche and have settled into the mind of the consumer as cheap. To change that would be tough. Very tough.

Rich Westerfield

I market event, not consumer goods, so take this with a grain of salt. But I am a consumer.

Here's where Wal-Mart could become 'cool'. Food. The middle and upper-middle class that wouldn't dream of buying clothes or sheets or home furnishings at Wal-Mart do sneak away to shop there regardless. For meat.

In smaller cities and suburbs, Wal-Mart's meat is a bargain when compared to most supermarkets. If Wal-Mart wanted to, it could use its vaunted purchasing power to bring a huge number of 'gourmet' brands into its stores at prices much less than botique grocers like Dean & Deluca, HayMarket, etc.

They could build on that to offer in-store tastings, take-home entrees, private branded cafe a la Starbucks, etc. Some of that might go against their mass-merchadise/low-cost core competencies, but it's doable and I'm sure they could figure out how to get a nice margin from it.

And I don't know who calls Target 'chic'. I consider them about as chic as Korvette's was before they folded.

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