Peas in a Pod?

All Retail Partnerships Are Not Created Equal

We have been following several retail partnerships between stores and brands that have been receiving media attention. There is lots of discussion on whether it makes sense for these brands to work together or if one partner is getting more out of it than the other. Let us know what you think…are these partnerships that are made to last or destined to bring each other down?

Harry’s and Target

While Harry’s had been available in other retailers (Nordstrom’s, J. Crew, and Barney’s), the primary purpose of these relationships was to get men to try the product and then buy the refills online direct from Harry’s. The refills are where the money is (think Gillette: you buy the razor but constantly have to restock the blades). Plus these high-end retailers were more likely than most to merchandise and display the product how Harry’s would want it to look.

Target is a whole new arena. Not only is it more difficult to control the set-up, re-stocking, and displays, it is also less likely that an employee will be knowledgeable about the product. Also, in Target they will be offering a refill program. While it opens the door to a whole new customer base, it also creates an opportunity for an entirely different brand experience which could be positive or negative.

For Target this is another great way to offer unique products that their customers may not have seen elsewhere. For Harry’s it offers access to a potentially new customer base that fits their demographic. But by offering the refill program through Target will it cannibalize sales that normally would be direct from Harry’s?

American Girl and Toys ‘R Us

The upscale doll company goes mass market with this partnership. One of the appeals of the American Girl doll was the experience of going to the store, bringing your doll to the salon, and having tea or seeing a show (with your doll of course). What mother didn’t want to dress up in matching clothing with her daughter and doll (ok…maybe that part was a bit much)?

Many people may not have realized that American Girl has been owned by Mattel since 1998. That was purposeful as Mattel allowed the brand to remain true to its original personality without the stigma of being owned by a big corporation. This is the first major break from that heritage.

While sales for American Girl may have been slumping, it is a move many question given that they also have launched a less expensive line of dolls to be carried in Toys ‘R Us alongside their regular priced dolls. While there will be several lines that will remain exclusive to the American Girl store, catalog, and website the question will be if that is enough to maintain the brand and not dilute it…

They will be creating an American Girl doll store-within-a-store inside Toys ‘R Us to help bring some of the experience from their branded stores to the retailer. Can the experience from the American Girl store be replicated in a store owned by someone else? Will the employees be able to sell the American Girl products in the same way as the company owned stores?


Do you think these partnerships are bringing together two peas in a pod? Or are they destined to crash and burn? Let us know your thoughts.