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    Meijer’s Fashionable Makeover

    Retailer spruces up its one-stop shopping experience

    Best known for its food retailing prowess, Meijer is sprucing up its shopping experience with a fashion-focused initiative to expand and upgrade its apparel offerings.

    A pioneer of the one-stop shopping concept, Meijer stores have evolved through the years to include expanded fresh produce and meat departments, as well as pharmacies, electronics and garden centers. And while it’s long sold apparel, the stylish new direction Meijer is taking aims to recharge the category in a big way.

    "Restyling our fashion offerings is not only great for our customers, who are searching for on-trend fashion items at the right price, but it also enhances the Meijer promise of a one-stop shopping experience," says Peter Whitsett, EVP of merchandising and marketing at the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer. "We knew our investment was sound over the holiday season, when apparel realized a nearly 20 percent increase in sales."

    Guided by a “style team” led by Lynn Hempe, group VP of softlines, Meijer cranked up its avant-garde apparel approach last fall with a Fashion Look Book, social media and a new website, to showcase its offerings and help inspire customers to create up-to-the-minute, affordable looks. Hempe and her Style Team also confer with fashion advisor Mariana Keros, who has tracked the nation's hottest fashion trends for more than 20 years.

    "We want our customers to know that we are serious about offering the most up-to-date fashion in our stores," Hempe notes. "Our goal is to find that just-right mix where affordability and on-trend fashion inspire our customers to recognize opportunities to update their day-to-day style."

    The splash Meijer is making to elevate its fashionable mix-and-match apparel is effectively poising the regional retailer to elevate its competitive cred with national retailers in the apparel space, namely Target.

    Citing the variety of on-trend merchandise on parade at Meijer, Birmingham, Mich.-based independent retail consultant Edward Nakfoor says, “The creation of its dedicated fashion website and social media activities can greatly enhance these in-store efforts.” However, the key will be the abilities of “Meijer merchants and marketers to solidify its presence in the seasons ahead, allowing it to become a true challenger to the well-entrenched competitors."

    To further tout its fashion-forward focus, Meijer – which operates 204 supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky – is running regional ads in national fashion magazines like Marie Claire, Harper's Bazaar, InStyle, Cosmopolitan and Elle, as well as the distribution of another Look Book that will feature spring trends.

    For its part, Meijer says the steady drumbeat of positive customer feedback, style spotters on Instagram and word of mouth has created strong results:

    • Improved sales in women's wovens, sweater dresses and leggings have highlighted the retailer's focus on trend-right product at a great price;
    • Fleece and yoga pants drove women's active wear up 56 percent over last year;
    • A 19 percent increase in accessories. with cold-weather accessories and sterling silver the biggest hits;
    • Double-digit increases in all men's department categories, with active and work wear as the drivers, supported by on-trend national brands like Carhartt, Dickies, Wolverine, Caterpillar and Asics.

     

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