Retailers Sign Celebrity Lines to Attract Customers

February 15, 2011  |  

(New York Times) — To find Miley Cyrus’s line of clothes, shoppers head to Wal-Mart. For Selena Gomez’s, they go to Kmart. Jennifer Lopez’s line is at Kohl’s, and Demi Lovato’s at Target. Rachel Bilson dinnerware can only be found at Macy’s, while for the Kardashian Kollection, fans must go to Sears.  Department store shopping is getting more and more complicated, driven by the growing popularity of exclusive lines, often backed by celebrities.

In an effort to stave off rounds of price-slashing with competitors over the same brands, stores are increasingly relying on merchandise that can be found nowhere else. Retailers can mark these exclusive lines down at their own pace, with a far more profitable outcome than with a national brand.  Though such lines have existed for years, the recession made them more prevalent as the designers became willing to cut exclusive deals rather than risk being cut from store floors altogether.

“One of the biggest challenges within, especially the department store realm, but probably throughout most of retail, is the lack of differentiation, the me-too-ness and the sameness that has plagued retailing for years,” said Robert Drbul, an analyst with Barclays Capital. “This push on exclusive brands has really helped separate many retailers from their competition.”  Yet while exclusive lines can attract a shopper, they can also be dizzyingly hard to keep track of — was it Selena at Sears and Miley at Macy’s?

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