Corporate Gibberish

Like so many retailers, Macy’s is struggling these days. Faced with such struggles, some retailers close stores, some try to build up their internet business, some change some aspect of their business.

The Curmudgeon would like to tell you what Macy’s is doing, but, well, he’s not really sure.

Why not?

Because he doesn’t speak corporate gibberish.

The centerpiece of Macy’s new strategy. Surely the company’s shareholders are delighted.

Consider this, from the company’s CEO, as reported by the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

As we reviewed our strategy to best address today’s challenges and navigate the company back to growth, we sought inspiration from our founder. R. H. Macy chose the star as our company’s symbol when he founded the business more than 150 years ago. It was derived from a red star tattoo that he had on his forearm from his days as a mariner and inspired by the North Star, which always guided him toward an optimistic future.

Okay, The Curmudgeon doesn’t see what this has to do with, as they used to say, the price of tea in China. In fact, it reminds him of a job he held early in his career as a grant-writer for a Philadelphia hospital/medical school that in all of its years in existence had only one accomplishment of note – an accomplishment that had to be mentioned in absolutely everything we wrote because, well, it was the only good thing to say about the place. Still, let’s indulge Macy’s CEO in his little reverie and stroll down the company’s hoary memory lane as a prelude to getting down to business and Macy’s “Five Point North Strategy,” again as reported by the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

From familiar to favorite. “Which includes everything we do to dial our brand to full bright and at all touchpoints. The Macy’s brand is well-known and well-loved, and we have the opportunity to strengthen our fashion authority and execute initiatives around loyalty and new pricing strategies.”

“…dial our brand to full bright and at all touchpoints”?


“…strengthen our fashion authority…”?

Okay. Riiiiiight.

It must be Macy’s. “It’s about delivering the products and experiences our customers love and can only find with us. This includes styles and home fashion in every day and special occasions. This also includes our iconic events and encompasses our strategies to appeal to more valued consumers with our Macy’s Backstage and Last Act strategies.”

“…iconic events…”?

You KNEW The Curmudgeon ‘s eyes lit up when he saw that one. I think the guy means “We have a lot of sales. A really really LOT of LOT of sales.”

And “more valued consumers”? Is that their way of saying that if you’re not a regular, you’re not getting the same level of service? Or that they now intend to gear their efforts toward higher-income customers (which would raise the interesting question of, if that is the case, what in the world are they doing in malls)?

Every experience matters, both in-store and online. “Our competitive advantage is the ability to combine the human touch in our physical stores with cutting-edge technology.”


Macy’s idea of “technology”

“…cutting-edge technology” probably means they’re finally going to get rid of those clunky charge account gizmos they use in some of their older stores – you know, those gizmos that the clerks need to push vigorously from side to side to make a manual impression of your credit card.

Funding our future. “Which represents the decisions and actions we take to fuel our growth focused on cost reduction and reinvestment and creating value from our real estate portfolio.”

“…creating value from our real estate portfolio”?

Um, doesn’t that just mean “Selling stores when the land they’re sitting on is more valuable than the business inside”?

What’s next. “What’s next explores how we innovate to turn customer and technology trends to our advantage and drive growth, exploring previously unmet customer needs and making smart investment decisions based on customer insight and analytics.”

“What’s next explores how we innovate to turn customer and technology trends to our advantage…”?

Not a clue.

What – no reference to the “value proposition” or “the value add”?

Maybe it’s just The Curmudgeon, who admittedly is not fluent in corporate speak – proudly so, he’d like to add – but do you see anything in that gibberish that’s going to help Macy’s current mariner prevent that ship from going under forever?



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