Retail experts say Coles’ new clothing range won’t threaten smaller players, while others say it highlights the pros and cons of introducing add-on products.
In a bid to appeal to cost-conscious consumers, Coles recently launched MIX, its first-ever fashion range featuring shirts, pants, dresses, bathers, shoes and accessories.
The new Coles store in Victoria’s Burwood East will be the first in the nation to roll out the brand from next month, followed by other selected sites from October.
While not all stores will have change rooms, customers who are unhappy with their purchases will be able to return them for a full refund.
Prices start at just $4, with nothing priced higher than $39. The range will be updated fortnightly.
“MIX clothing caters for every customer, from young mums and their families and working men and women looking for quality and stylish everyday fashion in a location visited by most every week – the supermarket,” Coles said in a statement.
Beverley Johnson, brand and marketing manager for MIX, says the range is aimed at people who shop at stores such as Just Jeans, Jeans West and Cotton On.
“Customers will get the fashionability and the quality, but the prices are so much less… It’s something that Coles really wanted to get behind and be first to market with,” she says.
Russell Zimmerman, executive director of the Australian Retailers Association, doesn’t believe Coles’ foray into fashion will threaten other fashion retailers.
“It’s a great low-cost option but not something for everybody. This will fit a small market; traditional retailers will still exist,” Zimmerman says.
Colin McLeod, executive director of the Australian Centre for Retail Studies at Monash University, told the Herald Sun the MIX label will appeal to cost-conscious consumers who value convenience.
He says the impact on smaller fashion outlets will depend on their range.
According to Lisa Tartaglia, a research analyst at the centre, start-ups in the fashion sector can emulate retail giants like Coles by offering add-on products as an alternative to clothing.
“Consumers want range but you don’t want to overwhelm them with choice. Be careful as to what items you choose to sell – look at what’s selling and what’s not,” she says.
But Erminio Putignano, managing director of FutureBrand Australia, says niche players should be wary of introducing lots of add-on products to spark sales.
“If they diversify a lot, the whole overarching brand could lose – or appear to be losing – its sense of direction,” he says.