business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

CNBC reports that department store chain Kohl’s plans to team with WW - the company formerly known as Weight Watchers International - to experiment with a number of wellness initiatives, including an 1,800 square-foot WW studio in one of its Chicago stores.

Kohl’s also “will start selling certain WW kitchen products in stores and online in June. The retailer also said Tuesday its employees will receive access to subsidized WW memberships.”

This is smart, especially since it fits with Kohl’s established desire to become a destination for health and wellness merchandise; it has recently said that Nike, Under Armour and FitBit are among its best-selling brands. Plus, it gives Kohl’s an easily understood differential advantage compared to competitors like Macy’s and JC Penney, which have been struggling in an environment that already has pretty much taken down the likes of Sears and Kmart.

And, it fits with what appears to be Kohl’s desire to create partnerships and synergies where they make sense. CNBC writes that Kohl’s “signed a deal in 2017 with Amazon in which it’s been accepting Amazon returns and selling some of the e-commerce giant’s Alexa-enabled devices at some of its stores. It’s also been looking for new uses to take up space at some of its bigger stores and has started to divide certain locations for tenants like Aldi to move next door. It has also hinted at working with fitness gyms.”

(The story also notes that WW “has weathered threats over the decades from the likes of Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem and fad diets like Atkins. More recently, it’s faced pressure from free apps like MyFitnessPal. Following its recent rebranding, though, WW is now trying to become more of a lifestyle platform.”)

Retailers have choices. They can do business the way they’ve always done business, or they can try to break the mold in innovative ways that will differentiate them in the marketplace.

It fits with a favorite, Eye-Opening axiom around here - that companies have to recognize that there no such thing as an unassailable business model.
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