“The issue is, who is Kmart?” stated former CEO Jim Adamson in early 2002 shortly after taking the helm, bluntly stating the question Kmart has been trying to answer for more than a decade, 1 and admitted that “we're not at our best right now.” 2
Or, as Wally O'Brien of the International Advertising Association put it, “Kmart is a brand that lost its way.” 3 Consumers became confused when the store with cheap prices began selling upscale goods like Ralph Lauren paints and Martha Stewartbranded merchandise.
In the meantime, as it was negotiating high-profile exclusive licensing deals, Kmart ignored most of the other aspects of its brand image. Stores were messy, products were often out of stock, checkout lines were long, and no one seemed to care—or notice. Only too late did management realize that its inattention was costing the company in sales.
Kmart broke the “golden rule of retailing, ” as Tony Camilletti explains it. Camilletti is senior vice president of JGA, a brand strategy and design firm headquartered in Kmart's neighborhood, in Southfield, Michigan. “The golden rule is that you don't wait until something is broken to fix it. Kmart never believed this. They thought they could get by just with maintaining