Jul 26, 2008

Coldwater Creek Left Me in the Cold

There's a business lesson here so stay with me. I used to drop more money than I care to admit at Coldwater Creek. Their clothes were classic and modest - things I am willing to spend money on. My husband used to claim he was going to intercept the catalogs before I could get them to stop me from buying. Actually, he never minded because the clothes fit and looked great. I am STILL wearing skirts and jackets I bought 10 years ago and STILL getting compliments on them.

At one point Mark looked at investing in the company because they were opening stores and the stock was going up and his wife was already a major "shareholder" (in my closet anyway - LOL!). Then it all started to head south.

Suddenly, I was having a hard time finding anything in their catalogs. An outlet store and a retail store both opened near me and the only things I ever found at the outlet store were things I already owned. I would nearly always come out of the retail store empty handed. And, about the same time, their stock started falling.

Today, I pretty much just flip through their catalogs quick and toss them. I DID buy some things on their clearance last week, but I wasn't excited about much. It's taken me some time to figure out what happened. Essentially, they are trying too hard. They have subtly changed their clothing line to be pretty much what I would consider "cruise wear" for the over 60-set. It's bright garish colors in the summer and sequins in the winter. They went from modest clothing that flatters every body type to sleeveless low-cut and short dresses. So, if I'm not going on a cruise or wanting to show off skin, I'm pretty much out. I think in trying to "tune up" their line (and change it more often to reflect the trends), they actually alienated their customer base (me). I don't want bright green floral jackets with sequins; I want a tastefully tailored jacket I can wear with jeans or a skirt.

I bet they are sitting around in the creek wondering what the heck happened. Ask me, I’ll tell you. You abandoned your bread and butter (and I provided them with a LOT of bread and butter the past 10-12 years).

So, the business lesson here is to listen to your customers. So many times we (scrapbook business owners) try to buy what WE like and then wonder why it doesn’t sell. But, your customers might have completely different tastes. Of course, you can’t please everyone. If you are too “themed” then the artsy scrappers will complain. If you’re too artsy, then the basic scrappers will be overwhelmed. But, a good customer survey will help you assess what the MAJORITY of your customers want. No one from Coldwater Creek ever asked but they certainly have gotten their answer when it comes to what their customers want (or don’t want). Perhaps it’s time to ditch the day-glo and get back to basics.

1 comment:

Mellan :) said...

Thank you! Well said!

Mellan :)