Since it first opened in 1886, Sears has been one of the most famous department stores in the United States. The store is known for its overwhelming selection of products, a range evidenced by the size of its specialty catalogues. In fact, the sheer breadth of products at Sears makes it difficult to determine Sears’ target market, which can pose challenges for marketing and advertising. Overall, however, adult female homeowners seem to be the primary Sears shoppers.
Sears opened in the late 19th century, when women were still expected to be responsible for all domestic and household duties. The company initially gained a reputation as a store with a predominantly (though not entirely) female clientele. This has continued to the present day, with the result being a circular marketing tactic: ads target female consumers, who frequent the store more often than men, thus making them Sears’ best customers, which in turn makes women Sears’ target market for ad campaigns.
According to Sears’ target market research, a female head of household is responsible for nearly 70% of the overall purchases made at the department chain. This is largely due to the fact that the store itself sells practically everything that would be needed to sustain a household—from hardware to furniture to lawn mowers to toiletries to appliances. Therefore, women who respond to Sears’ ads, and who assume most of the shopping duties not only for themselves but also for their families, seize the opportunity to purchase a variety of household necessities in one convenient location.
In addition to focusing on female consumers (generally aged 25 and over), part of Sears’ target market is also the bargain or discount shopper. In the past, Sears marketed its products as “cheap,” but as the word developed negative connotations over time, Sears has begun to emphasize the value of their products. That is, the chain targets shoppers on a budget who still want to purchase items of reliable quality. Therefore, many of Sears’ ads feature “daily deals” or seasonal discounts to draw in more bargain hunting shoppers.
Ads Targeting Female Shoppers
Because of the heavy female demographic, many of Sears’ marketing campaigns—from commercials to website design—feature women at the center of the advertisements. Often, the ad’s models are female celebrities, best known for the appearances on reality TV shows whose chief demographic is women between the ages of 18-35. As of August 2011, the Sears featured members of the Kardashian family, who have designed a new discount clothing line to be sold by Sears. Also featured prominently is fellow reality TV star Audrina Partridge, who is the new face for the Bongo line.
As long as women remain the top consumers, they will continue to be Sears’ target market within commercials and print ads. They will also factor in to any decisions the company makes in terms of what new products or signature collections to carry. While men and children are also featured in the ads and marketing campaigns, they generally receive less attention, and mostly serve to model the products for the chief female consumer.