Kmart's Ten Deadly Sins: How Incompetence Tainted An American Icon

By Marcia Layton Turner | Go to book overview

8
Loss of Focus

“If Kmart had stuck to what it was good at, instead of trying to be like JCPenney, or whomever they were trying to be like, it would have been fine, claims Dartmouth Professor Paul Argenti, who worked with Kmart in the early 1990s. Instead, the company diversified through acquisitions, significantly increased its number of stores, and made a move toward the upscale segment of the consumer market, bringing in brand names like Martha Stewart to improve the company's prestige factor and attract higher-income consumers. It was that effort to expand its market, broaden its product lines, and increase its influence that ultimately led to Kmart's loss of focus, says Al Ries of Ries and Ries. Kmart's efforts of late to consolidate, contract, and change are a natural reaction to its earlier decades of expansion, he says. Branching out achieves growth, but it also can move a company further from its mission. “The urge to grow has caused companies to become unfocused, he has found. 1

But what is focus, and why is it critical to Kmart's success? Because it is a vision for the future that drives the company's operations, it is the possibility of dominating a market, says Ries, 2 and it is what makes that company different and special. Many years ago, Kmart had focus. Today it does not. Today its

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