Describe Kohl’s in one phrase

Kohls5_2 Paul over at Hee-Haw Marketing took some pretty damning photos at his local Kohl’s.  He raises some great issues about advertising and saying one thing and living another.

Then, Mack Collier picked up the ball and posted this very interesting question:  If the CMO of Kohl’s saw Paul’s post…what should he/she do?

I started to add my comment to Mack’s post and then I could hear Mike Sansone whispering in my ear “long comments should be posts on your own site.”  So here we have it.

So….Kohl’s has a significant problem.  There were lots of good comments on Mack’s site, suggesting what the CMO should do.  I didn’t disagree with any of them.

But they all started at stage two — at the store level.

I believe the CMO needs to start at the beginning.  The Kohl’s brand.  That’s why I asked you how you’d describe the store.  Most of us would use words like “cheap, knock offs, second runs, last year’s styles, shoddy production, disinterested employees.”

Every choice the store makes — the stock, the short-handed staff, the under trained staff, the crowded junked up retail ads…tells us that the employees who allowed that Dallas store to look like that were simply behaving as they have been taught to behave.  They don’t show the store or the customers any respect because no one has taught them to respect the brand.

Punishing a store manager or answering a blog post isn’t going to fix that.  That’s treating the symptom, not the cause.  If an organization’s leaders are not willing to explore and uncover what their brand is all about — why they exist (and I do not believe any store exists to offer crap in a shoddy  store  staffed by disgruntled, short-handed staffers)  then really, there is little hope.   They will go down the path of K-Mart and others who thought “low prices” was enough.

If Kohl’s management could change the way they look at the chain by seeing it through a brand lens, they would change the way the employees see it.  When the employees see if differently, they begin to take pride in their work and their environment.  No matter how inexpensive the merchandise is.  And when that happens — they change our perception.

Until then…let me recommend Target.  By the way….Kohl’s tagline on their website…”expect great things.”

Yikes.  They even bolded great.

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