Persuading Consumers to “Think Outlet”

Outlet Perspectives

In the early days of outlet retailing, marketers were itching to launch a nationwide initiative like the dairy industry’s “Got Milk?” campaign. That campaign, which featured dozens of celebrities with milk mustaches, was enormously influential. So why not a “Think Outlet,” campaign?

Before the idea gained traction, Chelsea Property Group launched the first Thanksgiving night outlet-shopping extravaganza, dubbed Midnight Madness. Within two years, thousands of shoppers were pouring into outlet centers on Thanksgiving night and backing up interstates across the country. There was little question that the outlet industry owned Midnight Madness.

Ten years later, Midnight Madness and its cousin Moonlight Madness, are sharing Thanksgiving with many other retail venues. Thus we ask, “Does the outlet industry need a fresh national campaign?

No longer does the outlet industry own Midnight Madness, which is now part of the consumers’ lexicon. As Midnight Madness has evolved recently to include the entire retail industry, we need a strategic edge to capture a greater share of the pre-holiday market. That said, without the holistic effort of all outlet developers, including Simon Premium Outlets and Tanger Outlets, our success as an industry will be limited by our ability to create a program on a national scale that is meaningful to the consumer.
— Karen Fluharty | President | Strategy + Style Marketing

Karen Fluharty Talks Outlet Shopping in The Cheap Chica's Guide to Style

Lilliana Vazquez, author of The Cheap Chica’s Guide to Style, recently interviewed Strategy+Style Marketing Group’s Karen Fluharty about how to make the most out of outlet shopping.  Check out the excerpt below.

The Ins and Outs of Outlets

I asked Karen E. Fluharty – the president of New York-based Strategy+Style Marketing Group, who over the last twenty years has helped open nearly twenty outlet centers in the United States, Japan, Korea and Malaysia – to share some of her industry knowledge.  She explains how the business has changed and how to make outlets work for you.

Q: What led to the change in the way some outlets do business, transitioning from selling only overrun goods to manufacturing goods for their factory stores?

A: The manufacturers found that you need to be able to offer consumers full-size runs, more than just size fourteens, and you need to offer a depth of product.  Each brand manages their outlet business differently, so there are stores such as Brooks Brothers Factory Store and Polo Ralph Lauren Factory Store that do manufacture for outlet, but they so this because it allows them to offer value.

Q: How does the quality compare in overrun stores and manufactured-for-outlet stores?

A: You may see different buttons or different closures or some different stitching, but whether it’s made for outlet or it’s overrun, the retailer will still provide a quality product because they’re not willing to give their brand a lower-quality reputation.

Q: What tips do you have for outlet shoppers?

A: Shop the brands that you know and love, because you know what they cost at full price so you’ll understand that the savings are there.  Start from the back of the store and work your way forward, because the back of the store is where all the really great deals are.  And shop the sale weekends.  Whether it’s Labor Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Presidents’ Day – all of those three-day weekends are historically sale periods within the outlets, and there are even more amazing savings during those times.