To TJ Maxx, with love:
To those who know me, this love letter to the retailer TJ Maxx will come as no surprise. I have been a loyal shopper of TJ Maxx & Marshall’s (TJX) since I was 16. No need to belabor exactly how many years that means I’ve loved The Maxx — let’s just focus on why.
What TJ Maxx meant to me as a teen with babysitting money to burn was a place I could count on to get something special, different from my friends, that didn’t cost a fortune.
Today, TJ Maxx provides me something between retail blood sport (you have to compete to walk out with the treasure of a Stella McCartney!) and what our industry calls retail-tainment. Walking into a TJ Maxx is recreation and, frequently, reward.
As CEO Carol Meyrowitz points out, TJ Maxx shopper demos run the income gamut from $40K a year to several millions; we are the 100%. Under the TJ Maxx roof, we are ONE – united by our love of fashion, brands and, perhaps principally, value.
As a retail marketer, I admire TJX for continuing to meet shopper demands year after year. (Sales were down only once in the last 34 years — 1995.) And not with seconds or last season’s merchandise. According to Meyrowitz, 85% of what TJ Maxx stores sell is from the same season and year it was designed for, and less than 5% is irregular.
TJX is winning on retail basics: Maintaining strong, mutually beneficial relationships with their suppliers; an on-going understanding of shopper needs; and rewarding loyalists with a unique TJX shopping experience.
So I applaud my old friend TJX for its continued success. You’ve never disappointed this discount diva when she walks through the door of your store. Thanks!

Today is TPN’s Day of Service

It’s an annual day of giving back to those less fortunate in the communities we live. We chose to give our time to Food Banks– a logical extension of our understanding and respect for retail and shopping.
A lot of the food that is donated comes from great retailers like Walmart & Safeway, and is repacked by volunteers (like us) and sent to shelters that are set up like stores (with shopping carts, aisles, merchandising) so the people who need the food can come in and shop for things they need and want vs being given a pre-packed handout. A dignified way to lend assistance that leaves everyone whole.
$1 donation to the North Texas Food Bank equals 3 meals, so little goes so far.
And in our offices in NYC, Chicago, Richmond, Hershey, LA and San Francisco, TPN’ers participated on behalf of other local charities. A great day all around.

Over the top about our new underwear

HOT new business news. Jockey International, one of the world’s leading apparel companies, has named TPN Agency-of-Record.

This is obviously hot news for us, but should also be of interest to other retail agencies who are finding, like we are, that clients are hungry for the shopper mentality to be integrated into every marketing channel. Retail is now the hub of marketing communications, not another spoke on the wheel. For a giant like Jockey (sold in 120 countries!) to dominate its category, they are demanding a shopper-focused strategy to drive all efforts.
Read the full PR release.

Smarter Retail

How vital is Point of Sale to retailers? Important enough to strategically re-image even the most basic of tools.

Case in point, clothing retailers are now creating more and more remarkable mannequins. (See Stores Demand Mannequins with Personality in the NY Times for more interesting reading on this topic.)
Once glorified clothes hangers, mannequins are now gorgeous pieces of commissioned artwork, molded from the forms of professional athletes and famous runway models. Why? Because they sell more clothing.
That’s smart retail.
These evolved mannequins are great merchandising – you can see the clothes, get a better idea of fit, even imagine accessories (assuming they have fingers, ears and feet). The more fun and unusual the mannequin, the more customers stop and admire the clothes.
Bottom line – proactive POS is alive – and now more engaging than ever.

Gap and Goodwill

Smart retailers know the necessity of seeking more local market connectivity. (Our client Bank of America is a leader in encouraging local associates to help in their hometown communities.)
So congratulations to Gap for their current promotional effort with Goodwill Industries ~ bring your old clothes into your local Goodwill location and get a coupon good for 30% off Gap purchases.
Interesting to note: Google “Gap Goodwill,” and the Gap homepage doesn’t show up. Instead, you find a list bloggers and news from around the country. Search Twitter and Facebook, and you’ll see lots of local posts, as well.
Key learnings:
  • Social media’s power is getting other people to talk about your retail program.
  • Give them something to talk about, and they’ll spread the word and drive traffic for you.
  • Providing your customers a chance to simultaneously help their local communities AND save on purchases of your brand is a powerful behavior driver for retail.

Reimagine 2011 Retail Predictions

My friends at Omnicom’s Interbrand recently published 2011 Retail Predictions. Their always-reliable crystal ball foretells:
• Consumers’ digital domination
• More targeted “deals” driven by Groupon-like models 
• Brick and mortar reinvents itself
These predictions inspired this musing on creative and practical implications for clients.
Consumers’ digital domination
At TPN, we know that digital integration is now price of retail admission. But tablets and digital signage are just novelties if they’re not bringing your shoppers more value. Reimagine these technologies to offer your shoppers more value.  
For instance, why do I have to hike to the hammers in Home Depot, then back to stand in a front-of-store line to checkout? That’s SOOO 2010. Give those great orange-aproned employees a card-swiper and let them check me out on the spot!
The art of the deal
We counsel our TPN clients that the vast majority of American consumers are living the “New Frugality.” They’re spending, but cautiously, and they’re demanding more value.  And this is something that is not likely to change anytime soon.
But value doesn’t have to mean only discounts. Maybe it’s access to a Flash Event open only to your best customers, or localizing your already-scheduled sales with Groupons. The key is consistently presenting value in new and engaging ways. That’s what will help you drive more sales in 2011.
Brick and mortar transcends itself
I believe that customer expectations for positive retail experience will continue to rise. Let’s face it, our shopping standards have now largely been set by online retailing . There, we get instant, personalized information targeted to our tastes and even previous buying habits.
With consumer spending starting to rebound, albeit slowly, smart retailers will focus on customer service in a much more heightened way. The will invest in ROI improvements like more specialized service, shortened purchase paths, more bundled offers and simply more inviting, customer-centric environments.
Final thought
The coming year will produce abundant opportunity for imaginative retailers. I’m excited about the prospects and truly thrilled to be in shopper marketing at such a transformational time. Happy New Year!