Monetize your Brands?

Check out this excerpt from a great post written by Garland Pollard at Seeking Alpha: his idea to monetize the department store brands that Macy’s acquired is groundbreaking. This gives a somewhat stale retail brand the ability to build private brands that have years of equity built into them. And they have already acquired the names.

A Tasso Elba Private Brand Sports Coat from Macy's. Why not Marshall Fields?

“Macy’s needs to reassert its former store names as in-house product brands, and use that equity. Before the changeover, Marshall Field’s, for instance, was not only a store brand, but the Marshall Field name appeared on a number of goods, including towels. Because Macy’s was so keen to brand the store, it over-reacted and obliterated most mentions of the Field’s name, including those that made sense. Reviving these names won’t confuse consumers; Target Stores (TGT) still sells towels under the Fieldcrest brand, a legacy from the time when Marshall Field’s and Target were sister companies.

Chains routinely use store brands as product brands. For instance, Delhaize Group’s (DEG) Sweetbay, a Florida grocer, sells Hannaford brand products, which are actually the name of their sister Northeast grocery stores. Montvale, N.J.-based Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. (GAP) sells its A&P branded food in Germany at its sister supermarket, Tengelmann. And Target sells Boots-branded cosmetics exported from that U.K. drugstore chain.

These former department store brands have national profiles and centuries of brand equity. Some brands like Burdines, associated with Florida, would work well on resort wear across much of the U.S. Marshall Field’s could be used for store-branded housewares, linens and the like. Rich’s, with its Gone With the Wind Atlanta mystique, might be used for wedding wear. And even the more forgotten store names that have been shelved for more than five years could be utilized on simple promotional goods.

At minimum, Macy’s should immediately order a really short run of T-shirts, with different versions of each of the store logos. The shirts could be sold in former stores associated with the brand, and even given to employees who worked for the store under its past name. Macy’s former John Wanamaker flagship store ought to sell John Wanamaker merchandise to Philly tourists. These sort of cheap store-based programs could make the financial risk low, but create internal and external goodwill. Macy’s has the added overhead of its remaining downtown stores; promotional items can help promote these monsters to consumers.

There is no prescription for a single right way to monetize this goodwill, which has certainly already been written off. But Macy’s has an opportunity to utilize this intellectual property, not only to develop sales for the future, but to protect these great names from use by others, which could happen if they are not used.”


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Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.