Create unexpected synergies
It all starts with the product. Steve Jobs gave inspirational credit to Henry Ford by reiterating his quote “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” The dare to be great opportunity is providing merchandise and experiences that the customer doesn’t realize he or she wants, but upon seeing it, must have it. This means pushing product and lifestyle synergies that deliver value and something unexpected. We’re not just talking bags next to dresses—go further. With their tremendous purchasing power, department stores have the power to force brand collaborations and product development to create new markets and needs. The one thing you can’t do is play it safe, but that’s what a lot of stores are doing—that’s why you walk from store to store and all you see is the same products over and over again.
The recently-announced collaboration between Target and Neiman Marcus is one example in which an unexpected (and unprecedented) partnership between a luxury and a mass-market retailer is creating a huge buzz in the industry. This partnership maximizes the strengths of both retailers: strong designer relationships and a trend rooted merchant team coupled with mass production manufacturing capabilities with high levels of quality control. What this partnership recognizes is the high-low shopping habits of today’s consumer, which manifests in two ways:
the woman who shops Neiman Marcus for her own wardrobe also shops Target for children’s clothes and dog supplies, and
she has no problem pairing $90 Banana Republic pants and a $40 blouse from Uniqlo with a $500 pair of Jimmy Choo shoes, and a $1,500 Michael Kors bag.