“They need to get customers back into the store.” Goldman Sachs analyst Kate McShane
It’s a little bit of a “Big Duh,” but it really does sum up the biggest problem Bed Bath & Beyond finds itself in. Sure, it has to get enough financing to get it through the next several quarters, it has to stabilize its management, it needs to cut costs and it needs to keep its suppliers on its side long enough so they continue to ship it merchandise.
But unless BBB can reverse its very ugly slide in sales and get customers to start shopping there again, none of the rest of it matters. That’s why its upcoming marketing and advertising campaign slated to begin this fall is so critical. While few details have been announced so far, the theme it’s chosen is “Welcome Home, Welcome Back.”
It’s catchy, has some warm-and-fuzzy undertones and relates back to the retailer’s last promotional theme. It is also completely wrong for what BBB needs.
This is no time for subtlety. Bed Bath needs to be much more aggressive, much more in-your-face and much more assertive on giving people a reason to become customers…again or for the first time.
To that end, here are some suggestions from this long-time observer and follower of the company over the course of both its glory days and its more recent slide into catastrophe.
- The Best Prices in Town – GUARANTEED
Taking a page from the late, great – and incredibly crooked – legendary Crazy Eddie, the lowest-prices-in-town strategy is usually quite effective, particularly when times are tough. BBB already has decent prices when you factor in the coupons so this is not a stretch to do this legit. Competitive pricing was always a foundation of the original, this gets them back to one of their OG foundations.
Let’s face it, those damned coupons are perhaps the single most identifiable element of the entire BBB operation. Rather than try to wean itself from them – as the former Tritton-led management was working on – they should double-down and flood America with coupons and more coupons. Who doesn’t love a deal? Certainly not American shoppers.
3. BBB: Business Busting Bonanza
Even non-Wall Street Journal readers are getting some of the terrible headlines, so BBB needs to go to the mattresses and do some serious product promotion. Have a new one every day that’s an incredible value, do two on Tuesdays and blow out the bargains in the best traditions of Blue Light Specials. Stack ‘em high by the front door and web landing page and drive traffic as only true bargains can. Even the private brand non-brands would fly off the shelves if they were really priced to move…and they truly said it loud enough.
4. Your House Isn’t a Home Without BBB
OK, this one is borderline mushy and doesn’t really play to hard-hitting deals but maybe as part of one of the more price-oriented messages it could work. Again, this brand continues to have a great connection with shoppers who haven’t gotten bogged down in the financial bad news blizzard. Talk to anytime long-time BBB shopper and they will tell you the store is the first place they went when they were setting up their households. That’s changed…but not enough to not continue to play this card.
5. The Store You Love is Better Than Ever
There’s no question shoppers have had an ongoing love affair with BBB for decades. It’s been a cultural icon as both a place to get whatever you needed for your home but also a place to go with a first date, some friends or even by yourself if you just needed to get out of the house. That affinity is irreplaceable and playing off of that is an emotional hook that could be incredibly productive with hard-hitting and specific promotional elements such as some of the ones above. And this needs to be backed up with an outstanding in-store experience harkening back to the good old days.
These are desperate times for Bed Bath & Beyond and they call for desperate measures. Image advertising is for retailers that have long time frames to get their shit together.
BBB does not.