Amid Slumping Profits, Kohl’s Turns to Print

kohls-hit-the-refreshThe retailer plans to test more print marketing and back off their digital spend after surprisingly low sales and profits in Q1.

“The hammering of big-name retailers continued Thursday as Kohl’s reported sales and profit declines, and pinpointed marketing as an area under scrutiny,” writes Adrianne Pasquarelli in Advertising Age.

“The 1,167-unit chain surprised analysts by posting first-quarter sales of $4 billion, a 3.7% drop over the year-earlier period. Same-store sales were down 3.9% for the period, while earnings fell a whopping 87% to $17 million,” she continues.

This comes at a time when the retailer assumed sponsorship of the Academy Awards for the first time (replacing J.C. Penney), a move that “may not have been as fruitful as anticipated.” Pasquarelli notes. “The award show, for example, suffered an eight-year low in audience numbers, with only 34.4 million tuning in to the 88-year-old event.”

So, what’s their plan to turn things around, in the wake of the departure of Will Setliff, one of their top marketing execs?

“The company plans to test a plan of focusing more on print and direct mail and pulling back from digital,” Pasquarelli notes. “Mr. Mansell also mentioned that Kohl’s plans to continue promoting its buy online, pick-up in store and ship from store options for consumers as the company views both as a sales opportunity.”

“There are definitely some company-specific issues from a marketing perspective that we’re working on rectifying, so we know that affected our first quarter,” said Wesley McDonald, chief financial officer, on a conference call. McDonald noted that “Kohl’s needs to be more aggressive on its marketing to gain market share,” Pasquarelli adds.

Given that statement, print makes a lot of sense for the retail giant, and the idea certainly has solid industry precedent. Rival J.C. Penney saw sales goes up after reintroducing their print catalog last spring. In light of the plummeting value of digital ads and the renewed effectiveness of print ads it sounds like they are on track to turn this train around.

I’d bet my Kohl’s Cash on it.