Here’s Mud in Your Eye, Nordstrom
Social media pantsed Nordstrom, and jacketed the retailer with criticism for its $900 mud-splattered denim duo of jacket and jeans. This, despite the brand’s Teflon-coated ability to deflect presidential ire after pulling First Daughter Ivanka Trump’s clothing line from its shelves a few months ago.
Why could Nordstrom thrive in one environment and end up muddied in another? And what does this mean for marketers, in general?
Nordstrom's fake muddy jeans for $425. Finally! Jeans that look like they've been worn by people who work hard...made for people who don’t. pic.twitter.com/1JfXb1wjrH
— Fred Rewey (@GodFadr) April 28, 2017
In his take on the situation, Joe Keenan, executive editor of Total Retail — a sister publication of Target Marketing, theorized that Nordstrom may need the money that could result from a publicity storm. (I’d theorized back in March that bad publicity may be exactly what some brands seek to bump up profits, as Nordstrom did after dumping Trump’s products. Muddy jeans, though, are far less divisive than anti-Semitism borne of Zara and national tragedy-mocking Urban Outfitters products.)
“I can’t tell if Nordstrom actually thought this was a good idea or it’s simply just looking for some buzz (it could use some based on its latest financials). My inclination is that it’s the latter. There are too many smart people working at the Seattle-based retailer to think that consumers would be willing spend $425 for jeans that look like they need to be immediately thrown in the washing machine. And if Nordstrom was looking for buzz from the unique product offering, it succeeded. The internet exploded with feedback, with the vast majority of it critical and mocking of Nordstrom. You know what they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Whether that’s true is a whole other story.”
Target Marketing’s take is that this may be a one-off for Nordstrom. It takes awhile to find these products on the site and neither have comments from online customers. (Zero reviews each, as of Friday afternoon.)
So it appears as though the social media outrage originated from one main source who, chances are, doesn’t have many Nordstrom customers as followers.
On Wednesday, the New York Times writes:
“On Monday, Mike Rowe, the former host of Discovery Channel’s television show ‘Dirty Jobs,’ posted a stinging rebuke of the product to his Facebook page, which has more than 4.7 million followers. ‘The Barracuda Straight Leg Jeans aren’t pants,’ he wrote. ‘They’re not even fashion. They’re a costume for wealthy people who see work as ironic — not iconic.’ Mr. Rowe’s post has been shared more than 14,000 times.”
As of Friday afternoon, the post had more than 34,000 reactions, 16,000 shares and 5,000 comments.
The main takeaway here for marketers is to pay attention to customers, not necessarily outraged consumers. But if even those customers don’t care so much about this oddball product and don’t buy it, maybe remove it as quickly as the non-selling Trump garments.
What do you think, marketers?
Please respond in the comments section below.
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