Sears Company’s Digital Marketing Strategies

Sears image creation using social media

Sears has been around for over 100 years. Its recent launch of social media and product placement campaign aims at appealing to a young market aged between 10 and 17 years just before they get back to school. To achieve this, Sears has collaborated with celebrities who are dominant in youth interactive marketing to emphasize their back to school message, “Don’t Just Go Back. Arrive” (Heller, 2008). This strategy aims at engaging the targeted teen and tween demographic during the back to school period. Sears has partnered with thirteen websites to develop virtual worlds, custom animations and social networking applications that will build their online portal, “Arrive Lounge”. This website has exclusive products that are targeted at the teen market, as well as, interactive content from the back to school offering (Heller, 2008).

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Part of the content includes Vanessa Hudgens, a famous character from a popular High School Musical Series who shops for her school attire from the Sears clothes line. The market also gets an opportunity to vote for a male castor who will shoot the last episode with Vanessa. Other efforts to engage the teen and tweens are the remix master, which allows users to make their own music videos and share them on social media, and VIP Access Cards, which give exclusive benefits to registered members (Heller, 2008). Other interactive efforts involve the redirection of partner websites such as Alloy Media, Disney, Nickelodeon, Zwinky, GoFish, Addicting Games, and Meez, to Sears messaging and back to school campaign by developing custom virtual stores, custom games and 3d avatar creators that feature Sears’ products, or redirecting users to the Arrival Lounge (Heller, 2008). All these social media campaigns are aimed at connecting with the tween crowd (Heller, 2008).

Clothes shopping as a family decision

One of the ways that Sears has created a family shopping experience is by introducing an exclusive shopping apparel by Todd Smith that is being promoted using LL cool J. The new line comprises a lifestyle collection that is aimed at providing family friendly and affordable clothing. The partnership intends to provide a brand that is affordable to all families through the sale of less costly items such as jeans and t-shirts. Sears attracts both male and female clients who purchase hard lines and home items respectively. The marketing efforts by sears aim at getting their customers to cross shop using Hudgens and LL Cool J to create their site content (Heller, 2008). The collaboration between Vanessa, LL Cool J and Sears is beneficial in that it appeals to their diverse customer base. This partnership represents the cross-section that Sears embodies and affordability makes the products attainable to their customers. Sears is using the celebrities to create a buzz and establish popularity to reach their audience. In addition, the online interaction of the teen and tween audience with the brand allows young girls to dress up with virtual characters. This fun shopping experience at virtual stores hopes to create a market by leading up to requests to their parents to purchase the real item (Heller, 2008).

Information search patterns

Part of the new campaign by Sears in order to increase their market share involves the establishment of a brick-and-click strategy. The marketing team for Sears understands that the success of e-commerce is dependent on product comparison whereby customers can easily compare alternative products. The design of the online store has a huge impact on attracting traffic, and subsequent sales. Sears achieves this by implementing an effective information presentation format (Nah, Lee, & Chen, 2008). The possible ways to display are vertical and horizontal disposition. While vertical disposition displays the products in columns with their descriptions in rows, horizontal disposition uses the opposite arrangement. Sears employs a vertical disposition for both its feature items and product information. According to a study conducted by Nah, Lee, and Chen (2006) on information search patterns, consumers are more likely to purchase featured items than ordinary products that are listed in a vertical disposition. The use of vertical arrangement for Sears allows its customers to sort products easily by accessing their attribute information in a similar manner as physical stores that stack similar products from various brands together for easy attribute processing. Other elements employed in the display of products include use of images to display products, and listing items in different categories based on the provision of alternatives in a matrix format (Nah, Lee, & Chen, 2008).

Effectiveness of online user communities and social networks in reaching youth demographic

The expansion of Sears’ marketing strategies to the online user communities and social networks was aimed at creating engagement and promoting brand loyalty to the teens and tweens by reaching them in their own environment. Two social networks used by Sears are “MySears” and “MyKmart”. They are well designed social networks for Sears products reviews with message boards, active blogs, and an idea feature that employs a voting system to submit ideas to Sears. Sears has managed to remain relevant in the digital space by providing both engaging and promotional content such as the Facebook Timeline brand pages where they share their history with patrons (Bawden-Davis, 2012). Sears also shares content through Twitter deals and community programs on YouTube to foster relationships. It has also sought to make the shopping experience easier through the introduction of mobile apps for various smart phones. According to Michael Murray, the chief marketing officer of ecommerce at SHC, the social marketing techniques are effective due to the increase in engagement rates, better performance of the company based on their shares, increased comments, more traffic to their online stores, better click-through rates, customer dialogue, and also higher revenues than before the introduction of such techniques (Bawden-Davis, 2012).

Alternative marketing strategies

Industries find it challenging to keep up with the trends and interests of the youth. Some of the products at Sears are targeted at the youth demographic, while others are aimed at appealing to the youth in order to expand their market and build loyalty. The marketing strategies used by Sears take into consideration various features of the tweens and teens. These include increased networking, which makes them tolerant to diversity, comfort with using technology, materially content and financially conservative, informed, and environmentally conscious (Brown, Freddie, Dhaliwal, & Kunto, 2011). It is challenging to build loyalty with them since they are easily influenced by trends. As such, it is necessary to renew their interest in the products through various forms of marketing besides social media. These include mobile marketing in order to converse with their audience, and word-of-mouth marketing, since teens are easily influenced by peers. Studies show that over 50% of the Americans aged between 8 and 18 years own mobile phones. While targeting 8 year olds through the phone is not tactical, most teens and tweens need their phones to be socially connected and informed. Hence, mobile marketing campaigns that employ text messages, mobile apps, gaming and location-based social networks can be successful in reaching the youth. Since youth trust each other more than they do advertisements, word of mouth can be complemented with social networks to influence the trends of the youth (Brown, Freddie, Dhaliwal, & Kunto, 2011).

References

Bawden-Davis, J. (2012). How Sears Is Reinvigorating Its Brand Online. Web.

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Brown, G., Freddie, B., Dhaliwal, J., & Kunto, G. (2011). Youth Marketing Handbook. MobileYouth, 1(1), 11.

Heller, L. (2008). The hip side of Sears: Sears has rediscovered its softer side and it has an edge. License Mag, 1(1), 30-34.

Nah, F. F.H., Lee, H.-H., & Chen, L. (2008). Information Search Patterns in E-Commerce Product Comparison Services. Customer Management Science, 15(4), 533-542.

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