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Say goodbye to Jos. A. Bank's crazy suit discounts

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(Read caption) Jos.A. Bank CEO Doug Ewert has called the chain's current discount strategy 'unsustainable' and said that the constant sales damage the value of the Jos. A. Bank brand.

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Jos. A. Bank has been known for insane sales, but the days of "buy one suit, get seven" may be over.

The company is changing its sales strategy to try to move away from the discount image and appeal to a broader variety of customers. We look at what this may mean for the future of the store, and for your ability to get great deals on menswear.

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Permanent Sales Weaken Brand

The store's reputation for heavy discounting has clearly been honestly earned, but even two years ago we were seeing signs that it was no longer working well. With frequent steep sales in excess of 66% off, the store's supposed "regular" prices had begun to seem irrelevant — even deceptive, as some alleged. DealNews saw 26 "buy one, get more" sales from Jos. A. Bank during 2014. (That's over two every single!) We also saw steep discounts, with individual items dropping as low as 90% off (with free shipping to boot).

Although the brand was acquired by Men's Wearhouse a year ago, it hasn't seen strong sales figures. CEO Doug Ewert has called the current discount strategy "unsustainable" and said that it damages the value of the Jos. A. Bank brand. With Saturday Night Live skits suggesting Jos. A. Bank's buy-one-get-more suits as a cheap alternative to paper towels, it's not hard to see where Ewert is coming from.

Moving Away From Discounts Can Be Risky

Phasing out discounts that have come to be expected can be tricky, as JCPenney CEO Ron Johnson's disastrous experiment with eliminating coupons showed. While JCPenney's move was intended to provide shoppers with better everyday value, eliminating the coupons seemed to eliminate a lot of customer excitement, reducing total sales by over 20%. Even the eventual decision to bring back the coupons didn't bring back all the customers who'd left.

Ewert seems to be planning a less extreme approach. Rather than eliminating sales entirely, he said he will begin by stabilizing prices and keeping discounts where they were a year ago rather than attempting to beat the store's past lows. Customers can expect more single-item sales, rather than bulk deals.

Courting Non-Discount Shoppers

The Men's Wearhouse leadership is also looking to diversify what Jos. A. Bank offers to attempt to appeal to a broader range of customers (including younger ones), rather than just the discount crowd. The store will begin carrying high-end Joseph Abboud suits. In addition, they plan to increase their focus on tuxedo rentals, slim-fit suits, and big-and-tall suits.

The plan is to try to broaden the brand's appeal without alienating current loyal customers — a tall order. The majority of the store's current customers have been drawn in by the store's long history of extreme discounts. At the same time, the "discount brand" image could make it more difficult to attract customers who place value on more than simply price. In a sense, that image is both what the store relies on and what it needs to escape from.

Do you shop at Jos. A. Bank? How do you feel about the store's decision to back off on discounting? Let us know in the comments below. And to see all the latest menswear deals anytime, be sure to check out out men's clothing deals, and sign up for our men's clothing newsletter.

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Erin Coduti is a contributor for DealNews, where this article first appeared. 


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