Staples Inc. is launching a marketing campaign with a new message for customers: It's not just the place to go for paper and toner anymore.
The Framingham retailer is swapping its familiar “That was Easy” tagline adopted a decade ago for “Make More Happen,” a new slogan meant to depict Staples as a convenient one-stop shop for a vast assortment of products.
“We want to offer every business every product they need to be successful,” said Steve Fund, senior vice president of global marketing at Staples. “We’re offering more products, more ways to buy, and more great value.”
The campaign is the latest attempt by Staples to transform itself from the king of the office supply superstore to a huge online marketplace with a much smaller physical retail footprint. Harsh trends in the office supply retail business are prompting that shift. Customers simply need less paper, ink, and toner in the digital era.
Annual sales at comparable Staples stores have declined or remained flat for seven consecutive years, a performance analyst Brad Thomas of KeyBanc Capital Markets calls “among the worst in retail.” The company’s earnings per share have also been down the last three quarters in a row, compared with the same periods a year earlier.
“The traditional office supply category is under a lot of pressure right now,” Thomas said. “Staples is being forced to broaden its assortment and this campaign is going to highlight some of the changes they have put in place over the last few years to expand beyond traditional office supplies.”
The company is systematically eliminating superstores or cutting their sizes in half as leases come up for renewal. It’s also reducing the number of products available in stores while adding thousands of additional goods to its website in categories like janitorial and building supplies.
Staples is promoting “multi-channel shopping” with smartphone applications, Staples.com kiosks in stores, and other options to drive customers to the retailer’s website for products that aren’t available in stores.
The company’s marketing campaign draws attention to its expanded assortment of goods in four television commercials featuring the new tagline, which begin airing Monday. One commercial features a factory where workers wear hard hats, use cleaning supplies, and drink coffee all bought on Staples.com. The campaign includes ads on social networking sites and the slogan will be featured in stores and on Staples trucks.
The company is also removing the bent staple used for the “L” in the Staples logo, replacing it with products customers might not realize the company sells, such as water-hose spray guns, scales used in medical settings, and even dog biscuits.
Gary Balter, an analyst who follows Staples for Credit Suisse, said the company has found success selling more than just traditional office supplies to its contract customers. It makes sense for companies to buy as many of their business products from one retailer, on a single receipt, and in one shipment as possible, he said.
Staples was the first of the office superstores to add break-room and facilities products, categories that now generate nearly $2 billion in annual revenue. But the company hasn’t been as lucky with everyday consumers.
“Where they have struggled has been in retail,” Balter said. “They haven’t gotten the customer to associate Staples with anything but office supplies. This campaign is a step to try to fix that and it’s a good step.”