When a retailer that sells technology suffers from an outdated image, it knows it is in trouble. RadioShack might once have been the first destination for consumers seeking a Walkman or boom box, but it has struggled to maintain relevance as a provider of modern, cutting-edge technology.
The most recent response from the retail chain has been to confront and address that negative reputation head-on. In a buzz-worthy Super Bowl ad (which ranked among the top ten on USA Today’s Ad Meter scoring metric), dozens of representatives of the 1980s stormed an outdated, disheveled-looking storefront, demanding “The 80s want their store back!” Viewers chuckled at RadioShack’s own self-aware self-deprecation—as well as from the fun and amusement of recognizing some rarely seen faces, and checking out the fashions sported by Hulk Hogan, Dee Snyder of Twisted Sister, and Alf.
But the advertisements also made a promise for the future, namely, that stores would be refreshed, updated, and reinvigorated, along with the retail chain’s image. Some change is clearly necessary, considering that RadioShack recently announced it would be closing approximately 500 of its more than 4000 existing store locations.
In this effort, RadioShack takes up a unique position. It has been around literally for decades, and many consumers express a sort of nostalgia, recalling their days hanging out in malls and checking out cool gadgets. In addition, the brand name inherently evokes a sort of folksy charm. But technology consumers today also tend to feel relatively confident, such that their need for a sales clerk who can show them around has diminished. In response, RadioShack has indicated it will pursue a “do-it-together” positioning—neither full-service nor DIY.
The updates to stores are spreading, slowly but surely. The company anticipates that around 100 stores will soon offer 3D printing capabilities. Yet only a few stores have received the kind of complete makeover highlighted in the Super Bowl picture, after Erik Estrada and Mary Lou Retton had retrieved their decade’s store.
Source: Rob Walker, “How RadioShack Plans to Rescue Itself from Irrelevance,” Yahoo Tech, February 12, 2014, https://www.yahoo.com/tech/how-radioshack-plans-to-rescue-itself-from-irrelevance-76424164006.html