1) Walmart reintroduces Scoop as a private label but fails to offer the curation that made the multi-brand retailer famous.

WHAT HAPPENED: In an attempt to enhance its fashion business, Walmart relaunched the contemporary fashion brand Scoop. The new clothing and accessories line, which aims to be fashion-forward, is priced between $15-$65 and is available on Walmart.com and in select Walmart stores nationwide. Before it shuttered in 2016, Scoop had 16 stores across the U.S.

WHY IT MATTERS

  • Brand discovery and exclusivity was key to Scoop’s success but is missing from the Walmart version. Fashionistas and celebrities flocked to Scoop in the early 2000s because of its unique assortment of emerging designers. The retailer had a basics-driven private label, but it was only a small part of the business. While Scoop’s name is still associated with a distant fashion memory—that memory is more associated with a portfolio of emerging designers rather than a monolithic brand.
  • The perceived value of Scoop’s name is hard to translate for a big-box retailer’s approach. Target launched a similar collaboration in 2012 with the New York City concept store Kirna Zabete—an expensive, Soho boutique with an elite following. But this brand name is not guaranteed to resonate with Middle American Target shoppers, and the same can be said of Walmart and Scoop. Even though buying Scoops’ assets was relatively cheap, it would be in the retailer’s best interest to invest in brand names that resonate with current Walmart shoppers, which is where the growth potential for Walmart’s fashion business lies.

2) Nordstrom Local accepts online returns from its rivals, a win-win for everyone involved.

WHAT HAPPENED: Nordstrom’s New York City Local stores will initiate returns from competitors like Macy’s and Kohls.

WHY IT MATTERS:

  • Nordstrom Local’s initiative helps its competitors by making returns easier and faster. Nordstrom isn’t the first retailer to offer this type of service: Kohl’s has been accepting Amazon returns since July and reports to have already seen an increase in foot-traffic. Billed as a partnership with Amazon, versus a service or tactic to compete with the online giant, the partnership has allowed Amazon to get closer to free and convenient returns for all, while Kohl’s stays in its good graces.
  • Nordstrom’s return service can help drive traffic to Local stores, but doesn’t necessarily equate to increased sales. While Nordstrom hopes superior service and convenience will inspire customers to shop at nordstrom.com, shoppers could just use Local stores as a post-office and never realize the full benefits Nordstrom is hoping for.

3) Victoria’s Secret plans to transform its advertising campaigns to be more inclusive, but the modification comes a little too late.

WHAT HAPPENED: As a response to a drop in Q2 earnings, Victoria’s Secret announced its marketing campaigns would become more inclusive going forward. The brand’s marketing will no longer feature a select group of supermodels and will use models reflecting various sizes and ethnicities.

WHY IT MATTERS

  • Change is good, but timing is everything. Victoria’s Secret’s success was built upon convenience, a lack of other options and a singular vision of aspirational marketing. With the rise of direct-to-consumer brands built on inclusivity and personalization, Victoria’s Secret’s assets have become a liability, especially among younger customers. At this point, reactively changing its marketing strategy won’t be enough to win these customers back.
  • To answer this cultural shift, Victoria’s Secret should have introduced a new brand instead of reacting to everyone else. As consumer demand for inclusivity became apparent, it was the mass-market brand’s responsibility to create a product offering that was reflective of where consumers were going, not where they had been. The brand should have revamped its product offering and marketing campaigns to appeal to shoppers who like the original Victoria’s Secret for what it was.

4) Madewell files to go public, which could help J.Crew pay down its debt, but risks being a fatal move for the struggling retailer.

WHAT HAPPENED: Madewell has been the only bright spot while its parent brand J.Crew has struggled to find its way.

WHY IT MATTERS

  • Madewell’s success was built with the same formula that put J.Crew on the map. J.Crew was designed for a specific, preppy group of consumers who valued a curated product selection through J.Crew’s lens. Madewell adopted the same model, geared toward a younger, more bohemian customer, who loved denim. Unique collaborations with niche brands and the recent introduction of Madewell Men’s, have given J.Crew a run for its money.
  • Madewell beat J.Crew at its own game, which further left J.Crew behind. Both brands are located mainly in malls, usually in close proximity to one another, which has likely caused cannibalization. Each brand claims to speak to different demographics, but Madewell’s adaptation of J.Crew’s formula, forced J.Crew to turn to promotions to compete. While Madewell’s IPO will give J.Crew the cash it needs, cash alone won’t solve the structural problems that have led J.Crew to this point.