Out With The Old, In With The New: Technology Decides It All

Everyday you as a consumer are exposed to hundreds of thousands of brands. Over the decades the shopping industry has exploded with most brands disappearing at the same rate new ones appear, yet some brands have stood the cluttered test of time – one of those is Macy’s.

Created in 1858 by Rowland Hussy Macy the Macy’s store was originally a dry goods store. Macy’s started to gain notable recognition in the 1900s with its holiday window displays and the hiring of Santa Claus for the stores. In 1924 the store moved to its current NYC location, on the corner of Broadway and 34th Street. This year was also the first Macy’s Day Parade, which was organized to celebrate immigrant employees new American Heritage.


In 1944, Macy’s became apart of the Federated Department Stores, Inc., renamed Macy’s Inc. creating the world’s largest department store. Today, Macy’s has 800 stores in the United States and sells merchandise online.

Macy’s isn’t the only iconic retailer – Sears Roebuck ring a bell? Starting in 1886, the mail order company prospered as it was able to provide low cost alternative to farmers. As mail order plants transitioned into stores, Sears found their place in city life and the retailer soon became a retailer giant. Today the store owns 863 mall-based operations and 1200 other locations including hardware, outlet, tire, and battery stores.

sears catalogue

Nowadays Macy’s and Sears are direct competitors, but it seems Sears, the company who invented mail order, can’t quite figure out online order.

Holiday sales account for a large indicator of profit margins and often depict the health of a company. Sears seems to be in critical condition – US stores suffered a 9.2 percent drop. In decline for some time now, and with little to no improvement, some speculate the store could be gone by 2017.

The history of an iconic brand is something that should be cultivated in your identity – it induces credibility, shows longevity, and prompts nostalgia. Yet being historic isn’t merely enough to remain vibrant. Iconic companies remain iconic because they are able to cultivate lasting relationships with consumers – at all time periods – and that means evolving.

Looking at each retailers attempt to reach customers during the holiday seasons could explain Sears 9.2 percent drop in sales. Both have social media accounts, yet social media presence is widely disproportionate. Macy’s Instagram account has 150,00 followers while Sears has two Instagram accounts – “Sears” and “Sears Style” – yet both of the followers combined don’t even reach 8,000. A huge missed opportunity for Sears – Instagram is leading the way in social media, growing faster than Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest combined.

According to Gary Vaynerchuk’s article “The Road to Black Friday: Macy’s vs. Sears”, the use of social media by Sears is lazy. Choosing to ignore the social media culture they have posted irrelevant and uninteresting content such as a link to one of their commercials and an original YouTube video. While Macy’s post content that is culturally relevant, trendy, and formed around pop culture.

Our culture today has switched, as James Twitchell describes it, “In the last generation we have almost completely reversed the poles of shame so that where we were once ashamed of consuming too much (religious shame), we are now often ashamed of consuming the wrong brands (shoppers’ shame)”. In this day in age a brand establishes and remains relevance by relationship cultivation, reinforcement, and engagement forged through technology – the Internet and social media. It seems Sear’s inability to adapt to technology has prevented them being able to participate in the younger crowds culture leading in profit and brand influence. As an American brand we hope Sears can get back into the groove but as they stand now they are the weakest link.

In what other ways do old brands stay new? Can you think of any others that have had a hard time capturing new generations of shoppers? Or others that have done well?

Caroline Robinson, Savannah Valade, Elizabeth Harrington

2 thoughts on “Out With The Old, In With The New: Technology Decides It All

  1. This post is a very good example of brands having to compete and having to come up with ways to attract newer generations. I agree that Instagram is a very good, and one of the most popular ways for brands to relate to their consumers. When brands who have been around for a very long time are trying to compete with newer brands, they need to come up with advertising techniques to please the trends of the newer generations of today. Sears and Macy’s is a very good example of this. As mentioned, Macy’s has many more followers on Instagram than Sears does. Due to this, they are winning over younger generations because they are relating to them in a way that Sears is not. I think that older brands try to stay new by updating their stores with new trends, in hopes of drawing customers in. They also need to bring these trends into their advertising techniques. One other example that is similar to the Sears and Macy’s example is two gas stations from my hometown in Pennsylvania. One gas station, 7-Eleven has been around for a while and was the most popular gas station in our town. Then, since a Wawa was put in town, 7-Eleven has had a hard time competing with them. Wawa advertises in many ways that 7-Eleven does not, and therefore, wins over younger generations, as well as older generations.

    • Ashlan,

      Thanks for the comment! I remember they were everywhere too, now its Kangaroo, BP and Sheetz. Coca-Cola just rolled out a new Diet Coke Cherry slurpee and it is only available at 7-Eleven. It seems to me that 7-Eleven is trying to connect with a younger female audience by caring this product. Especially since the celebrity face of Diet Coke is Taylor Swift. It would be interesting to explore the type of mobile, online, and social media marketing 7-Eleven and Coca-Cola are doing to promote the frozen treat.

      -Caroline R.

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