What Boots Can Teach Macy’s

Target now sells the U.K.’s Boots-branded health and beauty products in their U.S. discount stores. CVS is now selling out of Boots No7 Restore & Renew Beauty Serum. Why is this of interest to BrandlandUSA, which is usually concerned with reviving dead brands?

Because the success of the Boots products in the U.S. is proof that retailing brands can be easily converted into product brands. Boots becomes stronger because its store brand is now seen as a retailing brand and a beauty brand. (Oh, and how do we know these products are good? The trend watching website Budget Fashionista likes them.)

For instance, this would mean that Macy’s, when it purchased regional department stores like Burdine’s, Rich’s and Marshall Field’s, should think of these names not only as retailing brands, but as store brands that might have value if they are licensed or exported. Macy’s should also consider the value these names might have across the world as fashion brands. In Asia, Europe and the Middle East, Saks is loved.

And in the U.S., when CVS was launched, it killed off the venerable brand People’s Drug. People’s was known and loved in the mid-Atlantic, and was probably closer to Boots in size and market leadership. What if CVS had used People’s as a store brand, instead of discarding it?

Brands like Burdine’s and Marshall Field are known too, as generations of foreigners have traveled and visited these stores. They could easily be licensed to foreign companies as store brands, or as independent fashion lines. Brand extensions can not only help your brand, they can save it if times change.

Another example. Stouffer’s started as a dairy stand, then restaurant. It expanded into frozen foods. It then expanded into hotels. While the restaurant and the hotels have closed, the frozen foods brand of Stouffer’s is a persistent moneymaker.

Both Dillard’s and Target have gained strength with their private labels. Any company with retail “name” assets would do well to look at them and capitalize on them, and not throw these brands away.

BrandlandUSA Rules:

Retailing brands can become store brands. If you have a popular retail name, put it on some of your products.

Look to overseas markets for licensing opportunities. Buick came very close to dying in the U.S. market, but has thrived in China, because of pre-World War II nostalgia. Your brand also might be loved in a foreign land. If your home market is having a hard time sustaining your brand, look abroad for export or licensing possibilities.


  • Garland Pollard

    J. Garland Pollard IV is editor/publisher of BrandlandUSA. Since 2006, the website BrandlandUSA.com has chronicled the history and business of America’s great brands.


  1. I bouhgt a Karen Scott “Denelle” Boot from Macy’s store & saved 25%..!!

  2. I found the Boots section at our local Target…and wow…an old Anglophile like me felt happy thoughts about trips across the pond, etc…so I bought about 3 or 4 items I hadn’t thought Id wanted when I went in looking for a new computer screen. You are right about all of this. Brand names are important and they sell products.

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