Remember the Sears Holiday Wish Book? Oh, when that ingenious piece of pure consumerism propaganda arrived in the mail, usually around mid-September, I perused the pages for days on end, like a man in solitary being offered a peek of the Playmate of the Year issue. My youth, and maybe yours, is full of memories of Sears, Roebuck and Co. Our dad's workbench was full of Sears tools. Our mom's kitchen was full of Sears appliances. And, more likely than not, our closets and toy boxes were filled with Sears brands as well.
Traditionally, while marketers might have talked about empathizing with customers, it was a stretch for brands to display humanity. Then, people became less responsive to un-human brands. No group better encapsulates the appeal of flawed, human heroes than the characters of "Friday Night Lights." On the current season, we've seen two brands embrace vulnerability: Sears and Under Armour.
A record 11 companies made the "nice" list—nearly four times the number that made the list in 2006. With that track record, we can expect at least some of the "naughty" companies to fess up to their catalog crimes next year.
Earlier this week I reported that Sears seemed to have won the book price wars started by Wal-Mart by giving away books essentially for free. At the time, I speculated that the move might actually have positive ramifications for smaller booksellers and for publishing companies. But if that's the case, the American Booksellers Association (ABA) isn't waiting around to find out.
Last week, Wal-Mart cut the price of some popular new books to just $10, a slice of over 60%. Not willing to be out-done, Amazon matched them. Wal-Mart went down to $9. Amazon went to $8.99. Target jumped in at ...