By David Gill
NEW YORK–A look inside locations of three major midmarket department-store chains—J.C. Penney, Kohl’s and Sears—shows that all three are making an effort to emphasize their offerings in bagged bed ensembles.
In March, HFN visited nine J.C. Penney, Kohl’s and Sears locations, three for each chain, in northern New Jersey. All nine stores featured their bagged ensembles along walls that were prominently placed to draw customers into the section. At the same time, the idea appeared to be to present these products in a commodity setting; all three retailers had display beds in their departments presenting ensembles from their higher-end branded collections.
Beyond that, the presentations varied, with some inconsistencies even between stores in the same chain. Two of the J.C. Penney stores augmented their bagged-ensembles walls with large photographs of the ensembles made up on beds, covering two shelf levels on the wall; but a third store featured simply the wall. The number of shelves with merchandise varied from three to five.
The inconsistencies between stores don’t end there. J.C. Penney offers two bagged-ensembles brands in its bedding departments, both under the major brand of J.C. Penney Home Collection: Bed in a Bag and The Bigger Bed in a Bag. Two of three stores, in Wayne, N.J., and Rockaway, N.J., offered both brands, although one had a small amount of products under The Bigger Bed in a Bag.
The adjacencies in the three J.C. Penneys are more consistent. Facing the bagged-ensembles walls in all three stores are floor fixtures offering top-of-the-bed products such as comforters, bedspreads and coverlets; sheets; pillow shams; and clearance bedding items all lumped onto one fixture shelf. In Paramus, the store places Seventeen-branded comforter sets in wall shelves alongside the bagged ensembles. In all three locations, Chris Madden comforter sets are placed in wall shelves and on the shelves of fixtures facing the walls.
The objective of the Kohl’s layout is to pull customers toward the bagged-ensembles walls as soon as they walk in the door. In all three Kohl’s locations, the wall is clearly visible from the entrance, and an aisle leads customers in that direction.
Kohl’s packages its bagged bedding under three names: The Big One Complete Bed Set, 8 Piece Bed Set and 16 Piece Bed Set. Two of the stores, in West Paterson N.J., and in Wayne, N.J., had their wall fixtures made of wood; the third, Morris Plains, N.J., had plastic shelves similar to those in J.C. Penney and Sears. The two stores with the wood shelves made an effort to present their bagged ensembles in a shop atmosphere; the store in Wayne displayed the words “Bed Shop” along the top of the wall. Kohl’s mixed merchandise from all three of these brands in the shelves, and offered some of the products on floor fixtures as well.
As with the J.C. Penney stores, the adjacencies in the Kohl’s department offered ensembles under other brand names (Chaps Home, Laura Ashley, Daisy Fuentes). In addition, The Big One branded bed pillows (and pillow packs), reversible comforters and blankets are nearby the ensembles wall in each store—either on wall shelves or in the shelves of fixtures facing the wall—in an effort to promote The Big One as a brand with merchandise for the entire bedroom.
Sears offers two labels of bagged ensembles, All You Need and The Whole Bed. In all three Sears stores, these brands enjoy their separate spaces on the bagged-ensembles walls, but the emphasis is clearly on The Whole Bed versus All You Need in all three locations.
The adjacencies in the Sears stores include floor fixtures containing decorative pillows, comforters (including reversible comforters), Colormate branded sheets and bed skirts. On wall shelves next to the ensembles are basic-bedding products such as mattress pads and sleep warmers.
Also nearby in all three stores were display beds presenting Sears’ Ty Pennington Style, Everyday Luxe and Grace Designs collections. In addition, all three Sears stores placed their bagged bedding adjacent to non-textile items—including housewares such as kitchen electrics and tableware, and children’s apparel.