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Two keys to transparent marketing (which is the main concept in my book, Don't Think Pink) are narrowing your focus and getting to know your customer community intimately. I tend to assume that this is a lot easier for smaller/closer-to-the-customer businesses to follow through on than it might be for larger companies.

So, it was a bit unexpected to read a Wall Street Journal article by Vanessa O'Connell about what Saks Fifth Avenue is up to.
According to O'Connell's piece, they have seen the light in identifying and tending to the differences in each market, from Park Avenue to Indianapolis and Portland, OR, etc. Saks' chief executive, Steve Sandove, says they have been using a 9-box grid to chart the best mix of apparel and accessories for the core customer at each store.
It may be no surprise that the mix is different from New York to Indianapolis, in general, but this caught me making some wrong assumptions: Birmingham, AL customers skew younger than New York's flagship store, but still seem willing to pay for the high-end designer names. It may also be of interest, for instance, that even closely situated Saks stores, like Greenwich and Stamford, Connecticut, attract a very different customer.
Of course, this makes it difficult to present a unified national brand personality, so the store is still working on how to create more localized advertising that fits with the long-established overall brand.
Though I did read recently that department store retailers are doing better these days than they have been, it still seems that consumers have been focusing a bit more on buying local and patronizing their closer community-based boutiques for their apparel needs. So, as much as stores like Saks can know and understand their core customers, and continue fine tuning their products for their very specific local markets, that may well keep them on the radar of today's relevance-seeking woman.

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image of Andrea Learned
Andrea Learned is a noted author, blogger, and expert on gender-based consumer behavior. Her current focus is on sustainability from both the consumer and the organizational perspectives. Andrea contributes to the Huffington Post and provides sustainability-focused commentary for Vermont Public Radio.

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