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January 2008


Geoff Dillon

Laura is bang on here.

I would add that losing their focus had another side effect for Sears - they've become addicted to discounting.

When the Sears flyer arrives every week, it seems the soft goods are all 50% off.

This is hurting their once healthy hard goods brands. If Sears is all about discounting, I'm not inclined to pay full price for a Kenmore dishwasher or a Crafstman tool set. Sears is destroying the value in these brands by perpetually discounting everything else in the store.

A focus on these successful, hard goods brands would go a long way towards re-establishing their value, and moving away from the perception that everything at Sears is at least 50% overpriced.

Scott Miller

Growing up in the 70's and early 80's, my parents and I did a LOT of shopping at Sears. But nowadays, the idea of shopping at Sears doesn't even occur to me. Reading Laura's post makes me think, "Oh yea, is Sears still around?!" And the reason is clear: Sears stands for nothing in my mind. They've been entirely supplanted by stronger brands in every category.

Is Monkey Wards still around, too?

Jay Godse

I used to like Sears because you could buy your appliance there and get an assurance package where they checked your appliances, fixed them and just made sure they ran. Then they changed the terms of the plan for my lawnmower, and started nickel-and-diming the repair and maintenance line items to the point where it didn't make sense for me to stick with Sears. I found a place in a small town near by that did the same job for a fraction of the price of Sears.

Sears used to mean quality and assurance for appliances. Without a good assurance plan, I might as well go to Home Depot, Canadian Tire, Wal-Mart, Rona or Home Hardware.

Geoff Livingston

I wish you blogged more often, laura. You are always very insightful.

Martin Calle


Pulling from studies under-taken to turnaround Sears pre and post Eddie.

At any average Costco, on any average day, 400 people per hour enter the store. During holiday peaks, that number hovers around 1,100. Average ticket is over $200.

Directly across the parking lot the average Sears store is lucky to break 1,800 visitors a day with average tickets far below half Costco's.

Strong brands sure. But Costco carries far fewer SKUs and moves entire pallets of strong brands in a tenth the time Sear's takes to move dozens.

For a while and to this day the only brands that keep Sears afloat are Craftsman and Kenmore. Were I the CMO at Sears I'd prune the tree and I'd be looking for ways to out Costco Costco and put more pressure on Vendors to be unique to the extent that Costco now tells P&G what to make, lest P&G get the [distribution] axe. That's the [re]tail wagging the dog. And it happened on AGL's watch.

Scott Howard

A couple weeks ago, I visited my local Sears store hoping to update my wardrobe, and walked out shaking my head. Prices were too high, for the selection and I was able to go to Steve & Barry's and spend 1/2 as much and get double the number of items.

Even the tool selection was skimpy. Sad.

Ben Bacon

My father purchased ONE brand of tools while I was growing up: Craftsman. He has drawers and chests and rolling, red cabinets full of Sears' flagship brand. This loyalty comes from a man who buys Kirkland jeans from Costco (because they're cheap) and his American automobiles from his brother (because he's his brother). He has little brand loyalty to any product outside of his Craftsman tools.

Sadly (for Sears), he stopped buying them once Sears stopped making such a quality tool (during their outsourcing fiasco).

It takes a brilliant bafoon—or series of bafoons—to blow a brand like Sears. It takes elegance and humility to admit a wrongdoing, turn an about face, and return to one's original marching pattern.

And yet, sadly, (once great) brands like Sears will slowly become the ends to sentences beginning with "Do you remember..."

I actually can't stand Sears. I go to Scottsdale Fashion Square; they don't have an ugly, cluttered, reminds-me-of-failure Sears (but they DO have a Lacoste. Now THERE is a brand revival story!)

Ries and Ries for President in '08. Haha. Brand America would never be so focused.

Dennis D. Balajadia

"What makes a company powerful is owning powerful brands. Powerful brands are brands that are singular, dominant and in growing categories."

Bulls Eye! Having strong brands and continuously creating new ones can shield the company from increasingly turbulent business times.

Scott White

Laura Dim Bulb wrote a great blog on this last week. Check it out:


noelle bates

i went into a sears a few weeks ago with my husband and it literally made me sad, thinking about how excited i was as a little girl to get the sears catalog in the mail and what the brand represents today.

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