Saturday, May 28, 2005

Retail Success: American Girl to Open Third Store

Mattel is going to open another American Girl Place store. The new store will be in the Grove shopping center in Los Angeles. The first two stores in Chicago and New York are runaway successes and standard-bearers for "experience retailing". American Girl caters to customers for whom cachet trumps price, selling them dolls, books and a bimonthly magazine. Sales ($379.1 million in 2004) come primarily from its catalog, website and two flagship stores.
Rick Caruso, developer of the Grove, said he expected the store to be "a huge driver of retail sales" at the complex. He said he had been lobbying for an American Girl store well before the Grove opened in 2002, believing it would attract pilgrimages from other states and overseas.

That's because American Girl stores are seen as a girls' theme park of sorts, minus the rides.

"There are so many revenue-generating experiences within the store," said Jim Silver, publisher of industry magazines Toy Wishes and the Toy Book.

At 40,000 square feet, the Los Angeles store will be twice the size of a typical chain drugstore.

It will have a 150-seat live theater for the Broadway-style "American Girl Revue," a doll hairstyling salon, a bookstore and a cafe, where girls can take their dolls to tea or pick one to have lunch with — and possibly buy.

The average American Girl shopping trip takes two hours, compared with the 20 minutes a customer spends in a typical retail store, said Ellen Brothers, president of the Mattel division. Brothers won't say exactly how much her customers spend, but she says it is in the hundreds of dollars.

American Girl's Chicago store was the first to open in 1998, the same year that Mattel bought the brand from Pleasant Co. for $700 million. Five years later, Mattel opened a store on Fifth Avenue in New York. That store attracted 1.3 million visitors last year, the company said — and many of them probably had no idea their dolls were sold by Mattel.
1.3 million visitors! And shoppers spend 2 hours in the store. Think about experience retailing ... could you create in-store experiences that would draw shoppers from far away?

Friday, May 27, 2005

Sexy Advertising: Asian Ads Swap Gender Roles

The new face of cosmetics ads in Asia is soft, delicate -- and male. From the Wall Street Journal via the Pittsburg Post-Gazette:
Lounging in a pink apartment in a television commercial for Able C&C Inc.'s South Korean makeup brand Missha, actor Won Bin leans in as if to kiss a woman sitting next to him -- but he does her bidding instead, taking her dusky-colored lipstick and carefully applying it to her lips.

In an ad for skin-care chain The Face Shop, ruby-lipped film star Kwon Sang Woo nuzzles a berry tree, then dons a crown of leaves. Mr. Kwon, famous for six-pack abs and a slight lisp, "has a kind of neutral gender," says Scott Han, the company's public-relations director. "Our customers think he is healthy and adorable."

Marketers aren't out to poke fun at the lipstick lads of Asia. Instead, they are pushing shampoos and makeup by tapping into a powerful shift in gender images taking place in a number of developed East Asian countries. The conservative, macho male stereotypes that have long dominated society in countries like Japan and South Korea are falling out of fashion. Women are gaining power and independence and expressing a preference for different kinds of men.

"A pretty face with big eyes and fair skin, and a moderately masculine body, are what Korean women want in men these days," says Rhie Hye Young, a spokeswoman for Missha.
Obviously there are a lot of ways to do sexy advertising. If you're brave, you could put this unusual ad theme to use for your store. It would certainly get attention, but it would probably also tag your store as a "gay" place ... which might be too small a niche market.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Retail Success Story: Alligator Purse

The Alligator Purse in Hyde Park is a high-end women's wear boutique with five years of success. The three relatives who started the business with no previous retail experience did three smart things: they chose a high-end niche, found a good location, and were patient. They make quarterly buying trips to New York and Los Angeles to find exclusive goods and they limit the inventory to select sizes.

The owners no longer staff the store -- which might be another advantage. It's hard to work "on the business" when you're spending all your time working "in the business".

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Retail Marketing: Playboy mates with brand store trend

Playboy Enterprises, Inc. has opened its first freestanding Playboy Concept Boutique in the United States at The Forum Shops at Caesars in Las Vegas. The 2,000 square-foot store offers a collection of Playboy apparel, accessories and lingerie. The Las Vegas location also will offer one-of-a-kind Playboy memorabilia items, select artwork, and vintage product from Playboy's vast archives. The store will be a template for Playboy's future stores, as well as retail concessions and lingerie areas.

"Playboy strategically selected the Forum Shops at Caesars in Las Vegas to debut our first U. S. store because it is one of the most successful retail shopping destinations in the world, in one of the most visited cities in the world," commented Christie Hefner, Chairman and CEO of Playboy Enterprises, Inc. "With our Playboy Boutique and the opening of our Playboy branded entertainment-destination in Las Vegas in early '06, it is clear that Playboy and Las Vegas are a powerful match, presenting the chance for consumers and visitors to experience all of the glamour, sexiness, style and fun associated with both."

The Playboy Boutique, whose concept was developed by the WalkerGroup, offers a unique shopping experience to Playboy fans. ids architects, inc. who have also developed stores for brands such as Rolex and LeSportsac was responsible for the store design. Unlike traditional retailers, the Playboy "Concept" boutique emphasizes a design-driven look, inspired by the spirit of the Playboy brand and representing concepts inherent to the iconic brand. Its fixturing was purpose-developed for Playboy, making the architectural elements "concepts" unto themselves, with furniture and fixtures inspired by Playboy iconography, such as cufflink-detailed tables and Rabbit Head chairs.

Other design details that enable shoppers to immerse themselves in the Playboy lifestyle include, a plasma-screen video wall featuring archival and contemporary footage and a customized pebble cash-point countertop inspired by rocks from the Playboy Mansion Grotto. Evoking the sexiness of the Playboy brand a stand-alone lingerie area sells Playboy's "Pink Label" and will house Playboy's sophisticated "White Label" lingerie collections, showcased on the mirrored tile walls and complimented with satin quilted upper walls. The memorabilia area of the boutique offers one-of-a-kind artifacts for sale from Playboy archives and Hugh Hefner's personal memorabilia collection, including his pipe and slippers, vintage Bunny Costumes, and paintings and sketches from Alberto Vargas and LeRoy Neiman, respectively all showcased in museum-style cases.

The first U.S. retail location follows Playboy's successful 2002 launch of its freestanding Playboy Tokyo fashion boutique, which in was recognized as one of 40 top stores in the world by the Retail Leaders Association. The Las Vegas opening also leverages Playboy's expansion at retail in specialty stores and leading department stores throughout the United States, Asia and Europe. Retail stores that have carried Playboy fashion merchandise include Henri Bendel in New York, Colette in Paris, Selfridges in London, and Seibu in Hong Kong. The next freestanding Playboy store, a 2,300 square-foot store on Chapel Street, Melbourne, one of Australia's premier fashion areas, will open in fall 2005.

Playboy's branded line of licensed fashion and consumer products has experienced growth at retail since its repositioning in 1999, with a product offering that includes men's and women's fashion apparel and accessories, underwear, legwear, outerwear and footwear, as well as home furnishings and lifestyle and entertainment products. Playboy's licensed products business as a whole now generates in excess of $500 million in global retail sales in more than 130 countries and territories.

Branded merchandise sells. Sexy sells. What more can we say?