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Kmart re-imagines Bluelight Special for digital age


Photo: Courtesy of Kmart/Wendy Williams poses during recent a Wendy Williams Show taping at Kmart where the retailer announced the Bluelight Specials are back.

Kmart is hoping that bringing back a 50-year-old marketing strategy will ignite a new sales push online and in stores.

The retailer is re-launching its iconic Bluelight Special promotion, but this time, it won't just be the energizing in-store phenomenon that many shoppers remember. The company is adapting the Bluelight Special for the Amazon age by featuring the flash deals on the Kmart website and mobile app.

First introduced in 1965, along with such classics as the "Sound of Music" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas," the Bluelight Special was the original flash sale that “made shopping fun,” a spokesperson for Kmart said.

Now the retailer has brought back the light and the siren and the deals to its 942 stores, and even aired a TV ad on "Sunday Night Football" on NBC to commemorate the re-launch.

In fact, the company plans a slew of initiatives tied to the re-launch, including:

• Kmart’s new ad campaign features the Bluelight Special in a modern way that also aims to recapture the nostalgia that many Americans remember as kids.

• Bluelight Specials will cover various product categories and offer deals (example: 16-piece comforter set regular price $137.99, on sale for $79.99, and Bluelight Special price is $19.99).

• Kmart is also introducing Freebie Saturdays: Shoppers can come in anytime on Saturdays and get items like free popcorn, small toys and candy (while supplies last) for kids under the age of 12.

• The retailer plans to overhaul store signage and merchandising, as well as interaction with store associates, inspiring an environment and culture that makes shopping fun again.

Kmart, a unit of Sears Holdings Corp, could use the help from a new marketing strategy.

In August Sears Holdings’ share price sank to a new low of less than $20 as the company reported second quarter same-store sales fell 13.9% at Sears stores and 6.9% at Kmart stores as of July 25. Year to date as of August, same-store sales have declined 14.2% at Sears and 7% at Kmart.

In an interview with Reuters, Kmart president Alasdair James said the decision to revive the sales tactic was the result of months of research that showed Kmart customers remembered the experience fondly, whether from shopping on their own or with their parents when they were kids.

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