Are retailers evil? That’s what Kmart wants you to think. That is, it wants you to think the other retailers are evil because they put restrictions on layaways.
In a new ad, a committee of evil people (Satan, the guy who eats the last donut, etc.) thinks of limitations to layaway, while a nun appears at the end to tell you to shop at Kmart for the forces of good.
It’s a humorous ad, nothing that by itself will reverse Kmart’s fortunes or even make a dent in the holiday shopping season. But it piqued my interest because the fall of Kmart as a brand has always fascinated me. Its continued attempts, while at times enchanting, are fruitless.
Kmart was the retailer most affected by the rise of Walmart, which promises lower prices so you can live a better life. Kmart just promised low prices without the emotional quotient, leading it to become irrelevant to most consumers.
What is Kmart to do? It must change its model. Right now, it is looked on as Walmart’s little brother. Anything Kmart does – opening up its offerings, etc. – Walmart either follows up with its own version or does it in the first place. As the market leader, Walmart is the default choice when everything is equal.
Kmart’s tagline at the end of the new spot says, “Get in. Get more.” But that just sounds likes Walmart’s “Save Money. Live Better.”
No, Kmart needs to get out of its rut by becoming something completely different. Since it was a more powerful retailer, we’ve seen the rise of online shopping, Apple Stores that are a direct reflection of its “Think Different” brand and retailers trying to beat Walmart by aping Walmart.
Kmart may not be evil, but convincing audiences that the rest are evil when Kmart is just the same (minus, apparently, more lax layaway options) isn’t going to do the trick. A whole different model, not seen before in the retail industry, is what’s called for here.