Nike / Sears / Kmart

The Sears-Kmart merger hopes to fabricate some sort of silver lining for both retailers but instead seems to embody the inevitable philosophy of "going down together." Kmart, an already sinking ship, certainly worsens conditions for Sears, and Sears does not have a strong enough current to keep Kmart afloat when there are enterprises like Wal*Mart and Target constantly blasting holes in the stern with brand messages of "smart and classy."

On the opposite end of the branding spectrum, Nike sits at the top of the todem and watches the plethora of other brands struggling beneath. Nike is the only brand of shoe for which people are willing to pay two to three times more just to bear the swoosh emblem in the gym. Nike is the only athletic brand creating new and original advertising (i.e. the Nike Pro Apparel "Warriors" campaign) while Adidas, Reebok, Puma, New Balance, and countless others attempt to "be like Mike" and copycat concepts to boost their market share. In reality, Nike only becomes more powerful and valued despite the efforts of brand emulation.

Before Sears merged with Kmart, Sears carried several Nike products, shoes, clothing, a few sporting goods...etc. However, when Sears announced the agreement with Kmart, Nike announced to Sears that they would no longer be needing their shelves. If Sears was opening up to Kmart, Nike was closing off to Sears. There is a simple equation and contingency of Nike's brand conservation.

Kmart is known for "lower quality, but dirt cheap," and Nike is a premium, high quality brand that can inflate prices based on brand equity and reputation.

What can brands like Sears and Kmart learn from brands like Nike?

Unfortunately not much can be accomplished at this point because when it comes to brand, this market does not allow much time and space for second chances let alone acts of desperation. Nike "got it" from the beginning, and continues to grow their market share by being the father ship. Consumers can see themselves inside the Nike brand and feel a sense of pride and confidence. Sears and Kmart cannot even even make consumers feel like consumers. Being loyal to these brands feels more like a public service.

Molly Sunderdick
Brand Strategist
Stealing Share, Inc.

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