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    Tom Dougherty CEO, Stealing Share

    Tom Dougherty is the President and CEO of Stealing Share, Inc., and has helped national and global brands such as Lexus, IKEA and Tide steal market share over his 25-year career.

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Kohl’s does better at Christmas

Halloween is over and the holiday season is upon us. That means, while we just toiled through a period of non-stop political ads, we’re now about to get deluged by holiday ones.

The key to winning the holiday season is to stand out from the crowd, an especially hard accomplishment in the retail industry. That’s because most default to promoting sales or building on brands sold at the store.

As we said in a recent retail study, retail stores are mired in similar messaging and business models, which leaves choosing mostly up to location and price.

Because of that, I was interested in Kohl’s reaction to a report from Stifel Analysts that recommended the retailer do better to promote its low prices.

At least it's now about low prices.
At least it’s now about low prices.

For its part, Kohl’s took the right approach. It ignored the advice and, in the words of Nancy Carruth, Senior VP of Brand Creative at Kohl’s, “The portion of that we express emotionally, when done well, actually has much greater impact.”

Agreed, although I thought last year’s attempt was overly cloying. Ms. Carruth said the spot increased customer feedback, social media interaction and awareness. (But said nothing about sales.) Those three things are nice, but how many true shoppers don’t know Kohl’s? Awareness is not Kohl’s problem. Gaining preference is.

This year’s spot is better. It’s not as cloying and has a little spark to it, and it basically says Kohl’s is in the holiday spirit. Is it enough to increase preference? Probably not, but it has a little of the Budweiser Clydesdales magic to it and I’m always glad when a retailer goes the emotional route instead of promoting price that the so-called experts recommend.

Now, Kohl’s will need to improve on its brand so it means something emotional. Right now, it doesn’t. But if it can claim the highest emotional intensity in the market, it can win. Judging by its Christmas spots, it is at least open to the idea.

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