Table of Contents
I. Executive Summary......................................................................................................................3
II. Introduction .................................................................................................................................4
III. Literature Review.......................................................................................................................6
Harrods Internal Analysis ........................................................................................................6
U.S. Environment Analysis......................................................................................................7
U.S. Industry Analysis .............................................................................................................9
U.S. Competitor Analysis ......................................................................................................10
Consumer Analysis ................................................................................................................11
SWOT Analysis .....................................................................................................................13
IV. Research Objectives.................................................................................................................15
V. Methodology .............................................................................................................................16
Focus Group Interview ..........................................................................................................16
Focus Group Interview ..........................................................................................................20
VII. Conclusions and Recommendations.......................................................................................36
Consumer Analysis Data.......................................................................................................40
FGI Discussion Guide...........................................................................................................42
FGI Transcripts .....................................................................................................................44
Top Line Report....................................................................................................................69
Summary Tables ...................................................................................................................70
Power Point Presentation Slides ...........................................................................................79
I. Executive Summary
Harrods is a successful London-based luxury department store that is interested in
expanding into the United States. The objectives of this research study are to determine the
marketability of Harrods in Boston; to determine the overall evaluation of the Harrods store
concept; and assess purchase intention of the store in the Boston market.
Research instruments included a questionnaire survey and a focus group interview (FGI).
The survey was administered to 100 adult Bostonians using random, convenience sampling. The
results showed that a positive overall evaluation of the Harrods store, with top 2 box 71% and a
mean score of 4.0. However, the survey also showed a low level of purchase intention, with top 2
box 49% and a mean score of 3.24. Both top 2 box % and mean score for purchase intention
failed to pass the action standard set for this study, which was top 2 box 70% and mean score
The FGI results showed that participants were aware of the store and had a positive
opinion about it, but, again, the purchase intention was low and participants expressed doubt
about whether Boston would be a suitable market for Harrods due to its size, location and nature.
Based on these findings, it is recommended that Harrods could be successful in the U.S.
due to the positive response among participants to its individual store attributes, however
Harrods should not expand into the Boston market. Further research into market selection is
Harrods is a luxurious, high-end retailer with a rich history and heritage. According to the
Harrods website, the company was founded in London in 1834, it is often referred to as the
“world’s most famous department store”. Its only operating location in Knightsbridge covers 4.5
acres, and offers an extensive selection of products, a world-class shopping experience and
superior customer service. Harrods is more than just a store that carries high-quality branded and
designer merchandise; it is an exclusive community, a status symbol, and an experience that
inspires awe and admiration among celebrities and commoners alike.
Harrods currently operates only in London, but it is an international retail icon with strong
brand awareness among consumers from around the world. The store would see great success in
the United States given the strong retail culture, the high level of disposable incomes, and a
passion for luxury goods and services. Specifically, a Harrods store in Boston would be
successful as the city boasts of a large proportion of affluent adults, and there are few
competitors that can offer such a comprehensive and quality department store experience. Boston
also has strong cultural ties to England, and a very British architectural aesthetic, suggesting that
the Harrods brand would resonate with the city’s culture as well.
The general objectives of this research study are three-fold: (1) to determine the size and
nature of the target Harrods consumer in order to inform brand positioning; (2) to assess the level
of competitive threat posed by other luxury retailers in Boston; (3) to determine the impact, if
any, of the faltering U.S. economy on the demand for luxury goods among affluent consumers.
Secondary research will be conducted using credible industry sources (such as Market
Research.com, Hoover’s, LexisNexis, the Harrods website and other online resources). Primary
research methods will consist of two sessions of focus group interviews and detailed
questionnaires distributed to Boston consumers who do and do not recognize the Harrods brand.
The questionnaire will contain a variety of questions to help answer the research objectives, and
will range from demographic and psychographic details, to information about attitudes, lifestyle,
retail experiences and expectations, shopping motivations, brand awareness and receptivity.
III. Literature Review
Harrods Internal Analysis
The Harrods department store is the largest, wholly owned subsidiary within the Harrods
Holding Group. The Harrods store also operates concessions at airports in London, Europe and
Asia, and exports and licenses branded merchandise to overseas entities. The company is owned
and controlled by billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed, and the Fayed family (Harrods UK
The Harrods department store operates one location in London’s upscale neighborhood of
Knightsbridge. The store’s motto Omnia Omnibus Ubique (All Things for All People
Everywhere) comes to life in the 4.5 acre store, which consists of over 330 departments offering
a wide range of products and services, ranging from apparel, electronics, jewelry, sporting gear
and bridal trousseaus, to pets and pet accessories, toys, home appliances, furniture and much
more. Some of their services include a personal shopping-assistance program known as ‘By
Appointment’; a watch repair service; a tailor; a beauty spa and salon; Harrods Bank; private
events planning and catering; a wine steward, and custom-made ‘picnic’ hampers, cakes and
fragrances. The store also boasts of restaurants that serve everything from high tea, to tapas, to
pub food, to haute cuisine (Harrods.com).
While it is a luxury retailer, Harrods offers discount vouchers and coupons and holds two
sales each year (Winter and Summer). Up to 300,000 customers visit the store on peak days,
more than five thousand staff from over fifty different countries work at Harrods. During its sale
events, Harrods has been known to take in up to £1 million (US $1.813 million) every hour
Due to strong brand awareness in the U.K market, Harrods does not invest heavily in
traditional brand advertising, relying mostly on positive public relations to generate buzz about
their events in the news media. However, the store does promote its two annual sales (Winter
and Summer) through print ads and outdoor signage on transit media.
U.S. Environment Analysis
Between 2003 and 2006, the U.S. economy was growing at an average annual rate of about
three percent. However, by the end of 2007, real GDP growth slowed to just two percent for the
year as the economy was hit the sub-prime mortgage crisis (Cogitamus Consulting, 2008, p.5).
Now, the U.S. is suffering from a meltdown in its financial markets as banks and lenders
are failing and many American consumers are suffering from credit issues and rapidly falling
housing prices. Money is tight, while gas, food and healthcare costs are rising quickly. The
Consumer Confidence Index, a monthly report measuring consumer attitudes and optimism
about the economy, posted a slight gain from 58.5 in August 2008 to 59.8 in September 2008
(1985=100) but these are preliminary results that did not capture all of the effects of the financial
crisis, which occurred mostly in the last 10 days of September. The full impact of the crisis on
consumer behavior and expectations will not be known for some time, but experts anticipate that
general consumer confidence and retail spending will drop, especially if there are significant job
losses (Consumer Confidence Board, September 2008). Such a scenario poses a real threat to
Harrods: if affluent shoppers in the Boston area cut back on their spending levels, the success of
the U.S. expansion could be significantly jeopardized.
However, studies indicate that a few retail channels, such as women’s clothing and
specialty apparel stores, have strengthened over recent years as preferred purveyors for specific
categories, suggesting a potentially positive outlook for Harrods. Department stores were the first
choice for women’s clothing among 29% of shoppers in April 2008, up from 24% in April 2003,
and specialty apparel stores were the first choice for 14%, up from 11% in April 2003. The
preference for discount stores had been dropping since the April 2003 level of 30%, but ticked
up in April 2008, possibly as a harbinger of changes to come. Still, the scenario for a successful
luxury department store may not be as bleak as it seems (Cogitamus Consulting, 2008, p. 13). In
addition, market research suggests that affluent consumers who might most frequently shop at
Harrods are not as affected by the economy as traditional “value shoppers”. Affluent consumers
are more likely to say that “I get what I want” because price is unimportant (Brown & Washton,
America is also seeing a deep socio-cultural trend take root that bodes well for the success of
a premium brand like Harrods: massclusivity. More consumers today have access to ‘mass class’
quality goods and services, such as DVD players, iPods, and luxury vacations. As acquisition of
such items increases, so does the need for exclusivity and status of a different order. Ordinary
consumers, who may not necessarily be considered traditionally affluent, are looking for the kind
of ‘members-only’ treatment that visibly sets them apart from the masses and gives them access
to privileges most others won't get (Trendwatching, 2003). Massclusivity seems to stem from the
increasing level of individuality and customization that today’s consumers have come to express
and expect, and may be related to some level of post-9/11 insecurity, which inspires people to
enjoy all that they can in the present since the future is uncertain. Either way, this social trend
suggests that a premium brand like Harrods will be met with a great deal of excitement and
enthusiasm by the discerning masses, regardless of economic difficulties, as people increasingly
choose to pamper themselves and allow themselves to enjoy the finer things in life.
U.S. Industry Analysis
The overall U.S. department store industry encompasses approximately 3,300 stores, and
has a market size of $90 billion in terms of annual revenues. The industry is highly concentrated
among some key players, and the top fifty companies comprise almost 100 percent of industry
sales (First Research, 2008).
Department stores are differentiated from discount retailers in that they have checkout
registers in individual merchandise departments, as opposed to a central checkout area.
Department stores carry ‘soft goods’ such as clothing and bedding, as well as ‘hard goods’ such
as appliances, furniture and tools. Major products sold at department stores are apparel (50% of
sales), cosmetics (10%), appliances (10%), and footwear (7%). Most department stores are
located as anchor stores in large malls (First Research, 2008). National and regional chains
dominate the department store industry. Essentially, the industry is stratified into three types of
department stores: discount, mid-range and luxury. Discount department stores/retailers usually
sell products that are not name branded including small household goods, appliances, toys,
groceries, electronics and pharmaceuticals. Examples of these stores include K-Mart, ShopKo
and Wal-Mart. Mid-range stores such as Belk’s, Macy’s, Dillard’s and J.C. Penney, sell some
brand name products but have a greater emphasis on private label brands. Midlevel stores are
differentiated from the discount department stores because they also sell tools and furniture.
Luxury department stores generally sell designer name branded clothing, which is differentiated
as being above average price level. Name brand perfumes, beauty supplies, household
goods/appliances and accessories are just some of the products offered as well as specialized
services such as personal shoppers, spas & salons, upscale restaurants and concierge services. A
few American stores, which fall under this category, include Barneys, Saks Fifth Avenue,
Bloomingdales and Henri Bendel.
Over the past few years, however, mall and department store shopping has been seeing a
downward trend. Department stores are unable to stand up to discount retailers on price, without
compromising on quality of merchandise. Therefore, they have recently begun focusing less on
‘departments’ and more on brands and fashion. As profit margins continue to narrow, the
industry has recently increased merger and acquisition activities, such as the merger between
Sears and K-Mart, and the acquisition of Marshall Field’s by Macy’s. However, the luxury sector
has enjoyed relative success compared to its mid-priced brethren (Business & Company
Resource Center, 2008).
U.S. Competitor Analysis
In the United States, Harrods would compete with the most high-end luxury retailers, such as
Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf-Goodman, Barneys and Henri Bendel. All these retailers are
synonymous with upscale retailing in the U.S. and abroad, and are known for their elegant and
luxurious designer merchandise and superior services. Neiman Marcus has a national presence
and operates two stores in the Boston area, whereas Bergdorf-Goodman has only one flagship
store located on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Both are owned and operation by the Neiman
Marcus Group. Barneys New York operates across the country, with a flagship store in New
York City, and two locations in the Boston area. Henri Bendel, one of Manhattan’s most chic
shopping locations, has store locations in New York City, Columbus, OH and Boca Raton, FL.
The store’s luxury heritage has been seen as a rite of passage for elite young women for more
than one hundred years. Overall, all of these stores are similar to what they offer based on their
price levels, uniqueness of products and services, and a luxury experience for the upscale
consumer. Since all of our targeted competitors are essentially “the same”, we see as a huge
advantage for Harrods in Boston; there is no direct competitor in the United States department
store luxury sector that can compete with the international brand power of Harrods, and the
extensive variety of luxury products and services that the store offers.
Boston would be an ideal target market for Harrods’ U.S. location as the demographics
suggest that residents would respond favorably to a premium retail brand. According to the U.S.
Census Bureau (2006), the demographic breakdown of Boston is as follows: the total population
is approximately 575,000, consisting of 49% men and 51% women. The median age is 33.6
years old and 19% of the population is between 25 and 34 years old. The ethnic breakdown is
predominantly White American (57%), followed by African American (24%) and Asian (8%).
The median household income is $50, 476 while the median family income is $55,998. The
highest occupational sectors are management, professional and other related occupations,
accounting for 44% of the population. 21% of the population has attained a bachelor’s degree.
Additionally, Boston adults are 27% more likely than average American adult to have earned a
graduate degree (Alpert, 2008, p. 37). In short, from a demographic point of view the Boston
population can be classified as relatively young, well-educated, high earning affluent consumers.
Additionally, the Northeast region remains among the United States’ most affluent regions,
which makes it appealing to marketers in all industries (Alpert, 2008, p. 5-6). Affluent
consumers spend more money than the average consumer on apparel and are more likely to buy
luxury items in order to stay in tune with the latest fashions. Affluent consumers are less likely to
have their shopping behavior influenced by “sales” “bargains” or “specials”, however, the
affluent also are highly attracted to various kinds of incentive offers and rebates on product
purchases (Brown & Washton, 2007, p.9).
By evaluating the lifestyles, hobbies and leisure activities listed in appendix A1, we are
able to see that not only is this population a very well-traveled, active and cultured demographic
but also that the consumers in the Boston population have a generous disposable income which
they spend on a variety of activities, (Lifestyle Market Analyst, 2008, p. 95-96). In general,
consumers in the northeast region are more likely than the average American to frequently shop,
stay up to date on trends and to plan future shopping trips as depicted in Appendix A2, (Alpert,
2008, p. 61). According to the diagram in Appendix A3 we know that consumers are not brand
loyal but they do prefer quality, high-end brands, and to shop at specialty stores, (Alpert, 2008, p.
62). Furthermore, luxury goods are commodities that are enjoyable and consistently purchased
by consumers in the Northeast as shown in Appendix A4 and A5, (Alpert, 2008, p. 65). Because
of Boston’s urban environment, public transportation accounts for a large majority of noticed ads
and therefore there exists an obvious media opportunity to reach the target affluent consumer in a
shopping environment, confirmed in Appendix A6, (Alpert, 2008, p. 67).
When we evaluate the behavior patterns and intentions of our target audience according
to the VALS II system this group of people falls into two categories, the Innovators and the
Thinkers. The VALS II system segments the consumer marketplace based on personality traits
that drive consumer behavior. Personality traits are the motivation, while buying behaviors are
the effects, i.e. observable and actionable behavior. With the Innovators segment, consumers are
successful, sophisticated, take-charge people with high self-esteem, receptive to new ideas and
technologies; they are very active consumers and their purchases reflect cultivated tastes for
upscale, niche products and services. Image is important to these consumers; their lives are
characterized by variety and they tend to be established or emerging leaders in business and
government. Similarly, with the Achievers segment, consumers are motivated by the desire for
achievement; they have goal-oriented lifestyles, a deep commitment to career and family, and
value consensus, predictability, and stability over risk, intimacy, and self-discovery. These
consumers are active in the marketplace, favor established, prestige products and services and
are interested in a variety of timesaving devices.
Product Strengths (Harrods) Product Weaknesses (Harrods)
Rich heritage and history, with a Huge variety of products and services
number of unique traditions could be overwhelming to American
Extensive and unique merchandise May be unable to provide as broad and
selection to appeal to all customers unique a selection as London store due
Synonymous with high-quality to lack of distribution channels and
products and services vendors
Magical store experience
Existing relationships with global
designers which ensure that
merchandise will also be available in
Market Opportunities (Boston) Market Weaknesses (Boston/U.S)
High number of affluent, well-educated British culture might not translate well
and cultured adults who would to Americans
appreciate the brand U.S. economy is unstable and could
Increasing trend towards massclusivity make consumers tighten their purse
Strong retail culture; Americans could strings
respond well to the brand and historic Brand loyal customers may continue to
sales shop at local premium retail locations
Deep cultural ties to England, and a General interest in shopping at
strong tourist base to enjoy it department stores on the decline
First venture into foreign territory
would mean steep learning curve for
Based on this SWOT analysis, it appears that there are three key marketing problems facing
Harrods as they consider expansion into the U.S. Firstly, the Harrods concept, product and brand
culture would be very unique for the American consumer, so the research would need to define
the target Harrods customer. Secondly, there is the question of competitive threats, as consumers
could continue being loyal to other luxury retailers and avoid the Harrods brand. Finally, the
faltering economy could have an impact on the success of the store; unless it is determined that
Boston’s affluent consumers are resilient luxury “Innovators” and “Achievers” whose buying
behaviors will remain unchanged despite the economic crisis.
In order to address these marketing problems through strategic tactics, we will need to gather
specific types of information. We will need to understand the level of awareness, recognition and
recall of the Harrods brand among Bostonians, and develop a deeper understanding of our target
consumer. This includes their attitudes and consumption patterns regarding department stores
and their loyalties to competitor stores. We would also need to determine what impact, if any, the
current economic crisis may have our target’s shopping behaviors.
IV. Research Objectives
Therefore, these will be the specific research objectives of our study:
Examine overall evaluation of Harrods store concept, including likes and dislikes
Investigate evaluation by attributes and store image
Determine purchase intention of Harrods
Profile demographics and psychographics of Harrods target audience
Determine target audience’s attitudes towards and purchasing patterns at department
Understand level of competitor loyalties, as well as competitor strengths and
Determine impact of economic crisis on target audience shopping behavior
Suggest marketing mix strategies and tactics
A. Focus Group Interview
Participants, Recruitment, and Profile
The Harrods Focus Group Interview (FGI) was conducted on Tuesday, November 11,
2008 at the Emerson College’s FGI room on the 6th floor of the Walker Building. A 25-years-old
female, resident of the Boston area and a member of the research group, conducted the interview.
All participants were recruited by e-mails and personal requests made by the research group.
The participants were 7 women and 4 men, all Boston residents between the ages of 20
and 30; 9 of them were Graduate students: 8 participants were from the Global Marketing
Communication and Advertising program of Emerson, 1 was from the Media Arts program of
the same school and the rest 2 were working professionals, who were recruited by other
participants and the research team.
Three out of the 11 participants were non-Americans: 2 from Europe and 1 from Latin
America. The 9 graduate students are currently studying in the United States without a job or
extra income. The remaining 2 participants work full-time, but for privacy reasons, they were not
asked about their income.
The Focus Group Interview was conducted in one session that lasted 45 minutes. At the
beginning, food and drinks were offered and a few minutes later the moderator introduced
herself, welcomed the participants and explained the procedures. Participants, one after the other,
introduced themselves and stated their favorite products to shop for. Right after, the moderator
started asking questions. After some basic questions on shopping and departments stores in
Boston, participants were shown a video about Harrods. Participants were then asked to evaluate
what they saw and to share feelings and thoughts about Harrods. The whole interview was
recorded on a tape for result analysis purposes.
The moderator started by asking participants to share their general attitudes towards
shopping at department stores and the main motivations of visiting such stores. The next set of
questions was geared towards obtaining information about the competition in the department
store market in Boston. Participants were asked to state their favorite department stores, to rank
them, and share feelings and perceptions about all the department stores. Then, the moderator
asked questions about the participants’ thoughts and perceptions of Harrods. Right after the
concept board was shown, participants were asked to evaluate what they saw, to state their
intentions on shopping at Harrods, to recommend locations in Boston or the rest of the U.S, to
associate Harrods with a celebrity and to give human characteristics to the store. The last part of
the FGI consisted of questions about the current economic crisis and its effect on the
participants’ shopping behavior.
The FGI Transcript is included in the appendix.
Data Collection Method
Each member of the research group was assigned 25 questionnaires and was responsible
of recruiting people to fill them out. The questionnaires were administered to family and friends,
students and staff of Emerson College and working professionals at an office located in the
Boston downtown area. Each participant was asked to sign two consent forms and keep one
copy. After the questionnaires were completed they were kept in separate envelopes from the
consent forms to ensure that no one could match names and questionnaires.
Sampling Method and Samples
The sample size is 100. Non-probability volunteer sampling was used, including
convenience sampling. The following tables analyze the profiles of our samples:
Firstly, the survey measured purchasing patterns and general attitudes towards
department stores, and determined external influences on shopping behavior. Moreover, the
survey thoroughly analyzed the competition in Boston. After the participants became more
acquainted with the brand through the concept board, the survey assessed their overall
impression with the brand, their beliefs in certain attributes that are related to the brand, their
purchase intention, and their suggestions for store location and promotional tactics.
The data was analyzed by using SPSS statistical software. The specific statistical tools
that were used included: descriptive statistics – to find the mean scores for all the questions;
cross tabulation to compare percentages of answers with respondents’ demographics; and One-
Way ANOVA to compare mean scores by demographics among three or four groups.
Action standard was used in order to determine whether or not Harrods should be
introduced to the Boston market. Due to the current negative economic situation in the U.S., the
mature stage of the clothing market, and the presence of many established luxury department
stores in Boston, the action standard were set very high. Moreover, due to the size of the
investment and the company’s inexperience in expanding in foreign markets, the risks are high
and the action standard should be such that would leave no room for possible failure. The action
standard for Harrods was set to Top 2 Box 70%, Mean Score 3.75.
A. Focus Group Interviews
Perceptions of Department Stores (General)
One of the main objectives of the focus group was to gather more qualitative information
regarding perceptions of department stores in general. Generally, perceptions and overall
attitudes towards department stores were positive. According to responses in the FGI, when
asked how participants feel about department stores, the main benefits of shopping at a
department store communicated were variety and one-stop shopping. Participant comments
include, “I like [department stores]…because there’s so many different choices,” and “It’s a one
stop shop and you have different department stores depending on where you are and what you
want.” When asked when they shop at department stores, as in time of day, week, or season,
participants provided a variety of answers such as: “Only at Christmas time when they have
those sales and promotions,” “I prefer small stores that have a focus, like if I know that I want a
certain thing I’ll go to the store that has that thing in a variety. I don’t go to department stores,”
and “I like to go all year long, in the afternoons, usually during the week. Never during the
weekend because it’s too crazy busy. Participants shared common views on what they look for in
department stores. Four participants said they look for deals or sales.
Favored Department Stores and Potential Harrods Competition
This section was intended to provide insights on what attributes determine preference
when choosing a department store. When questioned about preferred or favorite department
stores, the participants provided a small variety of responses: 4 participants said Macys, 3
participants said Bloomingdales and others mentioned include Sacs Fifth Avenue, Barneys and
Nordstrom. Participants elaborated on these choices saying, “Macys because it’s most accessible
to me…and it’s what I have at home as well as here in Boston,” “Bloomingdales because I hate
snooty sales people and…I find that the staff are actually very friendly and very willing to help
younger girls that may just be browsing.” Other participants provided insight into higher end
department store shopping in New York saying, “I like Bergdorf Goodman just when I am in
New York. I never buy anything there because its way out of my price range…It’s so fun,” and
“All the department stores in New York have a special mystique around them and they are
always really beautiful.”
Perceptions of Luxury Department Stores
After previously discussing department stores in general, the questions were more
targeted to acquire information about perceptions of luxury department stores in the United
States. When asked if there were any luxury department stores that stood out in the United
States, participants gave several answers: 4 participants agree that Sacks Fifth Avenue stood out,
2 participants supported Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Lord & Taylor and Nordstrom were
suggested but not supported by others. The moderator prompted the participants to give
associations that they had with several stores including Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, Henri
Bendel, Neiman Marcus. Comments for Barneys include: very trendy, museum, celebrity-esque,
modern and contemporary. Comments for Bergdorf Goodman include: old lady stuff, old New
York, classic yet sometimes tacky. Few participants had heard of Henri Bendel, so that
department store was skipped. Comments for Neiman Marcus include: very high end yet poor
service (snooty). When asked to rank the stores 1 (most high end) to 4 (least high end), excluding
Henri Bendel, participants ranked them: (1) Neiman Marcus, (2) Barneys and (3) Bergdorf
Perceptions of Harrods
Overall, general perceptions by the participants were mixed. Many had heard of Harrods
but had never experienced the London based store, a few participants had even been there and
had nothing but rave reviews towards it. Negative reactions were mostly based on the initial
perception of too expensive or too big. Several participants who had been to London
demonstrated their overwhelming negative experience with the store. Harrods was
overwhelming, as a few participants did not even want to venture into the store. Reactions such
as “I drove by it in London and thought it was too big so I stayed away” and “I’ve been right
outside but I don’t think I’ve ever gone inside” were generally discussed. Positive statements
included “It’s amazing; it’s actually the best department store of like the world”, “I looks pretty
amazing” and “It’s a really extravagant place, like it’s always over the top, like everything, even
the displays are so over the to, so extravagant.” After showing the participants the Harrods video
concept board, many participants viewed Harrods in a negative light. A few participants thought
that they would not be able to shop at his store due to price, or the feelings of being
uncomfortable in a luxurious store. Although many were unaware of the store concept and
everything the store offered, the video just seemed to make the store out to be too overwhelming
and crowded. One participant who had visited the store stated “ yea that’s what I didn’t like
about the store it’s so overwhelming, so crowded…every room has like eight staircases that go to
each room individually, it is a maze…it was just too much.” Other negative reviews of the store
were also seen as reactions to the video concept board. Many participants had a hard time
relating why a certain celebrity was being linked to Harrods bi-annual sales.
Potential Harrods Consumers
In response to the question asked by the moderator, “What celebrity would best represent
Harrods?” participants pointed out names including: Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig, Katie
Holmes, Princess Diana, Prince Harry or William.” These celebrities were mentioned because
they exude a sense of glamour, physical attractiveness or wealth. As for many of the responses
mentioning non-American actors, one group participant stated that “I got a really over the top
feeling…the way a lot of American movies are over the top but they don’t convey the overly
conspicuous wealth as much.” The group thought that the typical Harrods (non-celebrity)
consumer would be a young or married rich person in their mid 30’s or older. There was a
tossup among participants to whether this consumer would be a male or female. One outliner
participant, suggested that “it would be someone who is a young professional a famous architect
or an art gallery. I associate it with young professionals who are really wealthy, with like private
equity types of people.” This comment initiated more topic of conversation including what
occupation a Harrods consumer would be. Wall Street was the majority response had by the
Harrods in Boston
A vast majority of participants agreed that Harrods coming to Boston, in particular would
not be a wise choice. Reason for their decisions were based on sheer size of the store, Boston’s
lack of glamour, location, too much of a niche market, not enough wealth to support and the
uniqueness of the store might be lost opening other locations. Many participants suggested that
if Harrods actually came to the United States, that it would be better suited in New York or Los
Angeles. Reasoning’s to these other two locations included, “enough people to support the store
year round” and “more of a fashion forward city.” Competition was another issue some
participants had but it coming to the United States in general, regardless of location. Participants
who thought Harrods would better fare in New York, suggested that there is a lot of competition,
due to flag ship department stores such as Macy’s. If Harrods were to set their sights on Boston,
locations discussed by participants included Chestnut Hill, Copley Place, Newbury Street, and
the Prudential Center, some place outside the city and even “Pave over the Common.” Many
participants agreed positively that they would shop or go check it out, if Harrods actually came
to Boston. When asked by the moderator, what type of person in Boston would shop at Harrods,
responses thrown out included, other participants, tourists, people with large disposable incomes,
wives of the Rex Sox and Celtics and Theo Epstein. Everyone agreed that people with money
was a very high factor for consumers wanting to shop at this store. When the moderator, many
participants that the poor state o the economy could affect the way people would perceive and
shop at Harrods mentioned the economy if it came to Boston. “Beyond the actual price, it has
this image that is very expensive and people immediately are like well were not going to shop at
a place that says it’s really expensive.” Responses from the group were unanimous in statements
depicting Harrods as, really big, unique and expensive. The participants suggestions for Harrods
coming to Boston included good luck, tone it down, buy another chain, sub brand and simply
put, don’t come. As one participant stated “Harrods means London.”
B. Survey Results
(i) General Attitudes
Attitudes towards Shopping at Department Stores
Respondents showed favorable attitudes towards shopping at department stores overall, with a
mean score of 3.70 on the 5-point scale (See Table 1). The results are as follows: like (42%),
neutral (28%), strongly like (20%), dislike (8%) and strongly dislike (2%). When surveying
attitudes towards shopping at department stores, Females indicated more favorable attitudes
towards shopping at department stores (3.82) compared to males (3.39). See Graph 1 below:
Graph 1: Attitudes towards Department Stores
Motivations for Shopping at Department Stores
When surveying motivations for shopping at department stores, respondents selected
necessity (57%), seasonal sales (42%), fun (38%), variety (38%), experience (14%) and other
(4%). Females are motivated more than males by fun and seasonal sales. See Graph 2 below:
Graph 2: Motivations for Department Store Shopping
Key Factors that Contribute to Overall Shopping Experience
According to survey results, the key factors that contribute to overall shopping
experience are as follows: quality of products (84%), price of product (75%),
environment/atmosphere of store (50%), variety of merchandise (50%), customer service (49%),
ability to return products (40%), décor of store (31%), convenient parking (19%), knowledgeable
sales person (17%), warranties (7%) and other (5%) (See Table 3). More females selected
environment/atmosphere of store and variety of merchandise than men. See Graph 3 below:
Graph 3: Key Factors Contributing to Experience
Most Important Qualities in a Department Store (scale 1 to 6)
When surveying consumers it is important to know the most important qualities in
department stores and in what preferential order they rank. Ranked from 1 to 6, with one being
the most important quality and six being the least important quality, the results (mean scores) are
as follows: quality (2.17), price (2.29), variety (2.76), location (3.79), store experience (4.50) and
knowledgeable sales person (5.22) (See Table 4). Females found quality and store experience
more important than males. Males found price, variety and location more important than females.
(ii) Purchasing Patterns
Frequency of Shopping at Department Stores
The Survey results that indicate the frequency of shopping at a department store per
month are as follows: 1-2 times (38%), less than once (34%), 3-4 times (24%), 7+ times (3%), 5-
6 times (1%) (See Table 5). Lower household income levels selected shopping 1-2 times per
month more than higher income levels. See Graph 4 below:
Graph 4: Frequency of Shopping at Department Stores
Money Spent at a Department Store per Shopping Trip
Survey results indicate the average amounts of money spent at a department store per
shopping trip are as follows: $51-$100 (37%), $101-$150 (23%), $0-$50 (19%), more than $200
(12%) and $151-$200 (9%) (See Table 6). Younger demographics spend less money per
shopping trip than older demographics. Higher income brackets spend more money than lower
income brackets per shopping trip.
Preparation Level for Shopping
Survey results indicate 49% of respondents say their preparation level for shopping is
both impulsive and planned, planned (32%) and impulsive (19%) (See Table 7). Preparation
level for males is more planned than females; females tend to be more impulsive. Younger
demographics are more impulsive, while older demographics are more planned.
Preferred Method of Shopping
For preferred method of shopping, survey results indicate in-store (89%) and online
(11%) (See Table 8). No respondents selected the other options: home shopping, catalog or
other. All brackets of respondents within the gender, age and household income demographics
are consistent with in-store as their preferred method of shopping.
(iii) Competitive Analysis
Favorite Department Store
For favorite department store, the results are as follows: Nordstrom (25%),
Bloomingdales (13%), Saks Fifth Avenue (8%), Barneys (6%), Neiman Marcus (6%), Bergdorf
Goodman (3%), Henri Bendel (1%) and other (38%) (See Table 9). Older demographics favor
Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus. Younger demographics favor
Loyalty to Favorite Department Store
Survey results indicate 62% of respondents said yes, they are not loyal to their favorite
department store, while 38% said no (See Table 10). More females are loyal than males. These
results are consistent across all brackets of respondents within the gender, age and household
(iv) External Influences on Shopping Behavior
Impact of Economy on Shopping Behaviors
The impact of the economy on shopping behaviors is important in deciphering how
consumers are affected. According to the survey, results are as follows: generally shopping less
(54%), more conscious of the price sticker on items (45%), generally saving more (26%), the
economy has not affected the way I shop (23%), shopping less frequently at preferred/favorite
retailers (20%), buying fewer premium/name brand items (15%), opting for more store brand
items (14%), shopping more frequently at discount retailers/outlet malls and other (2%) (See
Table 11). Females impacted more than males in that they are more conscious of the price sticker
on items and shopping less frequently at preferred/favorite specialty retailers.
(v) Product Concept Evaluation
Perceptions of Harrods Based on Concept Board
The respondents of the study showed favorable perceptions of Harrods based on the concept
board, with the mean score of 4.0 on the 5-point scale and the top 2 box of 71% (See Table 12).
The findings passed the action standard of this study, which is a top 2 box of 70% and mean
score of 3.75. The results are as follows: like (47%), strongly like (24%), neutral (20%), dislike
(7%) and strongly dislike (2%). Females perceived Harrods more favorably than males. Younger
demographics and lower household income levels perceived Harrods more favorably than older
demographics and higher household income levels. See Graph 5 below:
Graph 5: Perception of Harrods
Reasons for Liking or Disliking Harrods (Open-Ended Comments)
Of the 89 respondents that listed reasons for liking Harrods, the responses were: wide
variety (42%), unique experience (23%), glamour (15%), celebrity appeal (4%) and other (16%)
(See Table 13). Of the 83 respondents that listed reasons for disliking Harrods, the responses
were: expensive (59%), overwhelming (21%), too exclusive (10%) and other (24%) (See Table
Perceptions of Harrods Brand Image
When surveying consumers it is important to know how consumers perceive the Harrods
brand image. The results (means scores) are based on a semantic differential scale of 1 to 7.
Respondents perceived Harrods to be expensive (6.42), luxurious (6.42), extensive selection
(6.29), high end (6.28) and chic (6.05). To a lesser degree respondents also perceive Harrods to
be elegant (5.84), exciting (5.59), welcoming (5.09), contemporary (4.88) and for me (4.49) (See
Table 15). Results are consistent within all brackets of the gender, age, household income and
marital status demographics.
Evaluation of Harrods Store Attributes
Respondents evaluated Harrods based on a variety of store attributes. The favorable
results are as follows: luxury appeal (4.54), wide variety of products (4.46), exciting shopping
experience (4.27), and unique store (4.24). To a lesser degree, respondents also evaluated
Harrods as: more to offer than other department stores (3.93), convenient, all in one shopping
(3.85), exceeds my expectations for department stores (3.80), offers services I would use (3.00),
offers products in my price range (2.72) and department store for everyone (2.34) (See Table 16).
See Graph 6 below:
Graph 6: Evaluation of Harrods Store Attributes
(vi) Purchase Intention
Likelihood of Shopping at Harrods Store
The respondents of the study are not sure if they would shop at Harrods, with the mean score of
3.24 on the 5-point scale and the top 2 box of 49% (See Table 17). The findings did not pass the
action standard of this study, which is a top 2 box of 70% and mean score of 3.75. The results are
as follows: somewhat likely (29%), not sure (21%), very likely (20%), somewhat unlikely (15%)
and very unlikely (15%). See Graph 7 below:
Graph 7: Intent to Purchase at Harrods
(vii) Marketing Tactics for Harrods
Suggested Store Location for Boston
Respondents suggested store locations for a Harrods store location are as follows:
Newbury Street (41%), Copley Square (24%), Back Bay (16%), downtown Boston (7%),
Brookline (4%), Cambridge (2%) and other (5%) (See Table 18). Older demographics and higher
household income levels suggested Back Bay more than younger demographics and lower
household income levels. Conversely, younger demographics and lower household income
levels suggested Copy Square for a Harrods store location more than older demographics and
higher household income levels.
Preferred Ways of Gathering Information about Department Stores
Survey results indicate that 62% of respondents selected online as their preferred way of
gathering information about department store followed by friends and family (46%), television
(41%), direct mail (36%), magazines (31%), newspapers (26%), radio (14%), in-store (11%) and
other (9%) (See Table 19). Younger demographics and lower income levels prefer television,
online and friends and family as a way to gather information more than older demographics and
higher income levels.
Promotional Tactics that Would Encourage Shopping at Harrods
Respondents selected sales (81%) as the promotional tactic that would encourage
shopping at Harrods, followed by free gifts with purchase (52%), coupons (39%), advertising
(30%), frequent shopper incentives (29%), promotions (17%) and other (5%) (See Table 20).
VII. Conclusions and Recommendations
Overall, the Harrods product concept received fairly positive reactions to individual store
attributes. Unsurprisingly, the concept of department store shopping and the Harrods brand
appealed more strongly to women than men.
Survey participants offered high scores to Harrods on its uniqueness, variety, excitement,
convenience, luxury, advantage over other stores, and its ability to exceed overall expectations.
FGI participants also generally shared the same views.
However, participants in both research instruments shared concerns about Harrods. The
key barrier for the brand appears to be its inaccessibility – from a brand, price and product
perspective. FGI participants were unable to identify the ideal target audience for the store: male
or female, old or young; the participants could not agree on who would shop at Harrods, except
that that person would have a high income. This could mean that Harrods is indeed for everyone,
but it seems more likely that this confusion stems from an unclear perception as to who this
brand caters to. Indeed, the high price factor of Harrods appeared to be a major barrier for
respondents across both research instruments. Both concept boards, survey and video, conveyed
a palpable sense of luxury and expensiveness which excited and intrigued participants, but also
made them wonder if they could afford the products at this store.
Harrods also came across as overwhelming, which was the number one barrier for survey
respondents in the open-ended questions. The number of departments, product lines, and store
size made participants feel as though it would be difficult to understand and navigate. Both
research instruments revealed that Macy’s had the highest share-of-mind among participants.
The experience offered by Macy’s is extremely different from that which Harrods proposes, but
offers some insight into what shoppers, at least in Boston, may currently expect or desire from a
department store experience.
Finally, the participants in both the survey and FGI did not support the idea of Harrods
extending into Boston. While there were general concerns about the brand becoming diluted by
expanding outside the flagship store in London, Boston was not deemed to be a suitable market;
participants suggested that New York City or Los Angeles might be better options, given their
sizeable affluent populations and reputations as fashion-forward cities. Additionally, purchase
intention scores across all demographics were below the action standard of 3.75, suggesting that
Harrods may not be successful if it opened a store in Boston.
Overall, it appears that Harrods has potential for marketability in the United States since
participants in both the FGI and survey appreciated its many individual attributes. While it is a
high-priced premium brand, there could be a market here for the luxury it offers. However, the
store should not open in Boston due to the low purchase intention expressed by Bostonians in our
survey, and the reservations shared by FGI participants. Harrods should instead explore other
markets such as New York City and Los Angeles for suitability.
If Harrods chooses to expand to the U.S. through another market, it will need to
overcome its inaccessibility barrier through its marketing mix and positioning in order to be
From a price perspective, Harrods should maintain its premium pricing in order to remain
true to its brand positioning as a luxury department store for affluent shoppers. However, the
price aspect could be downplayed in the U.S., and other attributes could be emphasized, such as
quality, variety and excitement, in order to appeal to the American audience, as their preference
for Macy’s indicates a strong interest in variety of merchandise.
From a product perspective, Harrods may be better served by not immediately all 330
departments to its first U.S. extension, as that might overwhelm shoppers. The store should start
on a somewhat smaller scale, exporting only its most successful departments and services. It may
also want to focus less on American designers and products, and carry more European and store-
brand products in order to emphasize its foreignness and uniqueness.
From a promotions perspective, the store should use Public Relations and events/parties
to create buzz about the store. It should also maintain its two annual sales and promote them
heavily to affluent shoppers, using targeted media channels such as fashion magazines and the
Sunday sections of newspapers, which are read heavily by high-income consumers. Harrods
could also consider a bold television campaign to boost brand awareness, and establish its key
points of difference with competing department stores.
Finally, from a distributions standpoint, as suggested earlier, the store might be more
successful in New York City or Los Angeles rather than Boston. Further research should be
conducted to establish the ideal market for the store, whether on the east or west coast.
In summary, Harrods should be positioned as a luxury and premium department store,
targeted towards female shoppers in order to capitalize on the audience that responded most
favorably to the brand. Additional research into the ideal age and income brackets would be
required to further define this audience.
When conducting future research, the researchers of this study offer some
recommendations to ensure that the data collected is relevant and stable. Firstly, the sampling
methodology for the survey was random and convenient; in the future, we recommend using
mall intercepts in order to speak to participants while they are in a shopping frame of mind, as
this might produce more accurate results. Researchers could also partner with malls where the
intercepts take place and reward participants with discounts at mall stores. Additionally, data
could be collected through incentivized participation in an online study, which participants could
take when convenient to them.
The sampling methodology for the FGI also introduced some biases into the results. Most
of the FGI participants were in the 20-30 years age range, students, and with low incomes.
Overall awareness of the luxury store category was also low, and the participants ranked Neiman
Marcus as the most high end store, rather than Bergdorf Goodman, even though the latter is
considered generally more exclusive due to its one store location and designer lines. Thus, it is
likely that the response to Harrods was negative because the participants did not accurately
represent the target audience for the store from a demographic and “general knowledge”
perspective. Additionally, many of the participants knew each other, and the group dynamics
were very casual and persuasive, which may have led to biased responses.
Finally, in order to overcome the inaccessibility of the Harrods price tag, we recommend
providing more information about prices in the concept board, perhaps indicating how much of
the store merchandise falls within a certain price range, for example, “50% of products cost
between $10 and $100”. This might help provide participants with a better idea of just how
costly the store is, and prevent negative biases inherent in a luxury brand.
APPENDIX – CONSUMER ANALYSIS DATA
Boston Psychographics (% are of the total Boston population)
Source: SRDS Lifestyles Market Analysis 2008
Hobbies & Interests (top 3): 1.) 53.1% donate to charity, 2.) 20.8% Crafts, 3.) 20.6% Home
Lifestyles (top 3): 1.) snow skiing frequently, 2.) own a Mac, 3.) foreign travel
Home life (top 3): 1.) shop by catalog/mail 45.1%, 2.)avid book reading 38.7%, 3.) flower
Good life (top 5): 1.) travel in U.S. 36.2%, 2.) frequent flyer 35.7%, 3.) wines 24.6%, 4.)
gourmet cooking/fine foods 24.4%, 5.) foreign travel 24.3%
Sports/Fitness/Health (top 3): 1.) physical fitness/exercise 41.6%, 2.) watching sports on tv 37%,
3.) walking for health 34.9%
Shopping Attitudes and Behaviors: Northeast Region, 2007 (U.S. adults)
Category……………………………………………# (000), % of Regional Total, Index
Use the Internet to Help Plan Shopping Trips* .................. 7,971, 18.1%, (Index 115)
When I Shop I Visit a Variety of Stores .............................. 21,622, 49.1%, (Index 112)
Keep Up With Changes in Styles and Fashions ................ 13,157, 29.9%, (Index 111)
Would Pay More for Environmentally Friendly Products .... 18,087, 41.0%, (Index 111)
Buy Products That Use Recycled Paper ........................... 16,882, 38.3%, (Index 110)
Often Go Out of My Way to Find New Stores .................... 3,909, 8.9%, (Index 107)
Really Enjoy Any Kind of Shopping ................................... 12,063, 27.4%, (Index 106)
Tend to Spend Long Periods of Time in Store Browsing ... 14,017, 31.8%, (Index 106)
Usually the First Among Friends to Shop at New Store .... 4,693, 10.6%, (Index 105)
Shopping Attitudes and Behaviors: Northeast Region, 2007 (U.S. adults)
Category……………………………………………# (000), % of Regional Total, Index
Prefer Shopping at Specialty Stores Because
They Tend to Carry More Brands .................................... 10,483, 23.8%, (Index 109)
Change Brands Often for Variety/Novelty .......................... 8,987, 20.4%, (Index 108)
Prefer Shopping at Specialty Stores Because
They Tend to Carry the Best Brands ............................... 10,194, 23.1%, (Index 108)
Always Look for Brand Name ............................................ 15,794, 35.8%, (Index 104)
Don't Buy Unknown Brands to Save Money ...................... 16,382, 37.2%, (Index 104)
Apparel-Related Attitudes and Behaviors: Northeast Region, 2007 (U.S. adults)
Category……………………………………………# (000), % of Regional Total, Index
Everything I Wear Is the Highest Quality* .......................... 13,453, 30.5%, (Index 115)
Spend More Than Can Afford for Clothes ......................... 6,107, 13.9%, (Index 111)
No Longer Wear the Clothes I Wore a Year Ago ............... 5,859, 13.3%, (Index 110)
Really Enjoy Clothes Shopping ......................................... 14,501, 32.9%, (Index 102)
Apparel-Related Attitudes and Behaviors: Northeast Region, 2007 (U.S. adults)
Fashion & Brands
Category……………………………………………# (000), % of Regional Total, Index
Budget Allows Me to Buy Designer Clothes ...................... 6,457, 14.7%, (Index 118)
Fashion Magazines Help Determine Clothes Buy ............. 5,957, 13.5%, (Index 113)
Designer Label Improves Person's Image ......................... 5,934, 13.5%, (Index 113)
Every Season I Buy the Latest Fashions ........................... 6,008, 13.6%, (Index 112)
Am First Among My Friends to Try New Styles ................. 4,823, 10.9%, (Index 112)
Have Surprised Myself by Buying Brands
I Normally Don't ............................................................... 13,597, 30.9%, (Index, 111)
Top Designers Make Quality Clothes ................................ 11,659, 26.5%, (Index 110)
Media- and Technology-Related Attitudes and Behaviors: Northeast Region, 2007 (U.S.
Category……………………………………………# (000), % of Regional Total, Index
Often Notice the Ads on Trains.....................................8,515, 19.3% (Index 175)
Often Notice the Ads on Taxis .....................................6,015, 13.6%, (Index 123)
Often Notice the Ads on Buses ....................................10,094, 22.9%, (Index 122)
Often Notice the Ads at Bus Stops ...............................7,808, 17.7%, (Index 122)
**Index can be read as the percentage that consumers from the Northeast region are more or less
likely to do something than the average U.S. consumer with 100 representing the Average U.S.
APPENDIX – FGI DISCUSSION GUIDE
APPENDIX – FGI DISCUSSION GUIDE
“Good evening everyone. My name is Stacey and I will be moderating this focus group
discussion today. I would like to thank all of you for coming today. Thank you.
Today’s discussion is going to revolve around the general topic of shopping and then we
will go more specifically into department store shopping. I urge all of you to speak your minds,
as all of your opinions are very important to us. There is no right or wrong answer. We will be
will be recording the session to prevent loss of information however everything you say will be
kept confidential. So let’s begin with introductions and possibly everyone say what their favorite
thing to shop for is. So, I will start, my names is Stacey and my favorite thing to shop for is
accessories like purses and stuff.
1. In general, do you feel about department stores?
2. When do you do shopping at department stores, as in time of week, or months, or time of
3. When you go to department stores, what do you look for?
4. Are all department stores are the same?
5. What are your favorite department stores? And why?
6. Do you think there is a luxury department store that stands out among department stores
in the United States?
7. Tell me if you’ve heard of these stores (writes Neiman Marcus, Barneys, Bergdorf-
Goodman, and Henri Bendel on the board)
a. If we were going to rank these stores from one to four, with one being the most
high end, and four the least, what would you rank as number one?
8. Have any of you heard of Harrods?
9. If so, please share thoughts or perceptions or any information you know regarding
10. Okay, now we’re going to watch a video about Harrods on that screen.
a. Now that you’ve seen the video, what do you think of Harrods? How about those
of you who had not heard of it before?
11. If Harrods was a celebrity, who would Harrods be? Who could represent Harrods?
12. If you were going to pretend Harrods was just a regular person not a celebrity, how
would you describe Harrods? Would it be male or female? How old would they be? What
would be their occupation?
13. Do you think that Harrods would be successful if it came to Boston?
14. Where do you think the best location in Boston would be?
15. Would you shop at Harrods if it came to Boston?
16. What type of person in Boston would shop at Harrods?
17. As far as the economy goes, do you feel that the poor state of the economy could affect
the way people perceive and shop at Harrods?
18. Do you have suggestions for Harrods if they decide to come to Boston?
Well that’s all, thanks for participating!
APPENDIX – FGI TRANSCRIPT
Moderator: Good evening everyone.
Participant A: Good evening.
Moderator: My name is Stacey and I will be moderating this focus group discussion today. I
would like to thank all of you for coming today. Thank you. Today’s discussion is going to
revolve around the general topic of shopping and then we will go more specifically into
department store shopping. I urge all of you to speak your minds as all of your opinions are very
important to us. There is no right or wrong answer. We will be will be recording the session to
prevent loss of information, however, everything you say will be kept confidential. So, let’s
begin with introductions and possibly everyone say what their favorite thing to shop for is. So, I
will start, my name is Stacey and my favorite thing to shop for is accessories, like purses and
Participant A: My name is Ailyn and my favorite thing to shop for is shoes.
Participant B: My name is Anita and my favorite stuff to buy is t-shirts and shoes.
Participant C: My name is Yeray Carratero and my favorite stuff to buy is t-shirts.
Participant D: My name is Lauren and my favorite things to buy are shoes and dresses.
Participant E: My name is Lynsi and my favorite thing to shop for is shoes.
Participant F: Brian, and my favorite thing to shop for is ties.
Participant G: Jill and makeup.
Participant H: Gina, makeup also.
Participant I: Ally and tops.
Participant J: Are we talking clothes here?
Moderator: Yeah just whatever.
Participant J: I would say books then.
Participant K: Mike and outer wear, jackets.
Moderator: You and Marie are similar. This is Marie’s brother by the way.
All Participants: Ohh, hi.
Moderator: Alright, so let’s talk about department stores. In general, what do you guys think
about department stores? How do you feel about department stores?
Participant E: I like them.
Moderator: You like them, can you elaborate on that?
Participant E: Yes I can, because there are so many different choices you can get house wares,
bedding, all that good stuff.
Participant A: It’s a one stop shop for whatever you need…it’s a one stop shop and you have
different department stores depending on where you are and what you want.
Moderator: When do you do shopping at department stores, as in like time of week, or months
or time of day? Just when do you like to go?
Participant H: Only at Christmas time when they have those sales and promotions and stuff and
I can get everything for my mom and my sister and stuff.
Moderator: Okay, so why not during the rest of the year?
Participant H: I prefer small stores that have like a focus, like if I know that I want a certain
thing I’ll go to the store that has that thing in a variety. I don’t go to a department store.
Moderator: Anyone else?
Participant D: I go to department stores all the time. I was at one today actually on my day off. I
like to go all year long, in the afternoons, usually during the week. Never during the weekend
because it’s too crazy busy.
Moderator: When you guys go to department stores what do you look for?
Participant G: Deals.
Participant E: Deals.
Participant D: Yeah deals.
Participant I: The sale things that are like 30% off or whatever.
Moderator: Anything else.
Participant D: Purses.
Participant A: I like to see what is in fashion now. I read magazines and that sort of stuff but
then I want to see what’s in the stores because if they have designer brands what do they offer.
Moderator: So, are all department stores are the same? I mean do you go to some more for style
some more for variety some more for quality?
Participant E: I typically only go to one just because.
Moderator: Which is?
Participant E: Macy’s, because I don’t usually go into Saks or Bloomingdales…is
Bloomingdales in the Pru? But I don’t usually go into the department in the Pru, if I go to the Pru
I go into stores and Macy’s at home.
Moderator: What’s the Pru?
Participant E: The Prudential Center, sorry I’ve lived in Boston for awhile.
Moderator: So since you discussed Macy’s, what are your favorite department stores?
Participant D: Bloomingdales…100%.
Participant A: Bloomingdales.
Participant E: Macy’s .
Participant G: Macy’s.
Participant J: Macy’s.
Participant I: Macy’s.
Moderator: Bloomingdales, Macy’s, any others?
Participant D: Saks is good.
Participant A: Barneys.
Participant K: Nordstrom.
Participant D: Yeah Barneys is good.
Moderator: Okay, you guys are good.
Researcher: (on intercom) Um Stacey, we have the room for awhile so take your time getting
people to answer questions, feel free to elaborate as much as you can.
All participants: (laughing)
Participant E: Okay, I will elaborate on that. Macy’s because it’s most accessible to me at least
and it’s what I have at home as well as here in Boston.
Participant D: Bloomingdales because I hate snooty sales people and I found you get that a lot
at Saks. I experienced that yesterday and I hate that more than anything and Bloomingdales I
find that the staff are actually very friendly and very willing to help younger girls that may just
Participant H: I like Bergdorf Goodman just when I am in New York. I never buy anything
there because it’s way out of my price range, hopefully someday it will be in my price range but
I really like, they have an entire basement that is all makeup counters and all these gay guys that
spritz you with perfume constantly as you walk by. It’s so fun.
Participant A: Actually all the department stores in New York have a special mystique around
them and they always are really beautiful, and Barneys looks like a museum. Like you go there
and there’s nothing to touch and nothing accessible but it’s beautiful just to go there.
Participant H: You can look at the windows.
Moderator: Do you guys think, because you touched on some of the higher end department
store, do you think there is a luxury department store that stands out among department stores in
the United States?
Participant D: Saks, I’d say.
Participant E: I would agree.
Participant A: Because it’s everywhere mostly.
Participant D: I would say more than Bloomingdales.
Participant H: What do you guys think about Lord & Taylor?
Participant E: I don’t think that’s luxury.
Participant I: It’s not…I’d say Saks.
Participant D: Nordstrom maybe or Neiman Marcus.
Participant A: Neiman Marcus is high end.
Participant G: But it’s just like different prices. It’s pretty much the same thing, pretty much the
same layout, same design. It’s just more price ranges like Saks is obviously more expensive,
Macy’s is more accessible. I don’t think as far as amenities it really stands out.
Moderator: Okay, some of you guys have mentioned some of these, so we are going to right
them on the board and go over it. Tell me if you’ve heard of these stores. (writing on the board)
Researcher: (on intercom) Uh guys, can you um, refrain from speaking over one another
because that’s going to be really hard when we’re doing the transcribing.
Participant E: I’m sorry Zeenat, we just really into it.
Participant A: But this is a focus group.
Participant D: We’re just trying to give you as much information.
Participant E: Should we raise our hands for you.
Participant I: Is this part getting transcribed?
Participant E: Would you prefer us raising our hands?
Moderator: No it’s fine. So if you’ve heard of these stores, kind of throughout, starting with this
one, sort of some things that you associate with it. Barneys. Or think of when you hear Barneys?
Participant D: Very trendy.
Participant A: I feel like the New York one is like a museum.
Participant D: It’s like celebrity-esque, lots of celebrities shop there. I see Katie Holmes. I
always see her.
Moderator: Anything else for Barneys?
Participant D: It’s like modern and contemporary.
Participant A: Yeah, I associate the buyer, what’s the name of this guy, well whatever there’s a
celebrity buyer for Barneys.
Participant D: Oh yes, oh my god yeah…(thinking).
Moderator: Okay what about moving on to Bergdorf Goodman?
Participant H: Actually the other floors that I don’t normally go to too much, they have a lot of
old lady stuff, like really expensive, old lady jewelry.
Participant A: It’s like old New York.
Participant H: It’s a little bit more either classic or a little more tacky old lady.
Moderator: What did you say?
Participant H: I said tacky but also sometimes really classic.
Participant H: It depends on what season it is and what they’ve got out.
Moderator: Anything else? How about, besides Gina has anyone here been to Bergdorf?
Participant A: The food is really is really good.
Moderator: Okay, I just was thinking because I have been there and I don’t remember a food
court which is why it took me a second. What about Henri Bendel? Has anyone heard of it or
Participant E: I’ve heard of it but I’ve never been there. I think I’ve read about it in books.
Moderator: Okay we’ll skip that one. What about Neiman Marcus?
Participant D: Very high end.
Participant H: I think of the cookie story. The woman who went there and asked for the recipe
of their cookies and they charged her $275 for the recipe and she was outraged and so she copied
the recipe and sent it to everybody she knew in New York and now every body has the recipe. So
they were really snooty and treated her badly. So that’s what I think of.
Participant D: They don’t greet you nice either, if you don’t walk in, in like Prada shoes, forget
Participant E: I’m not going to walk in there.
Moderator: So if we were going to rank these 1-4, with one being the most high end, four the
least, what would you rank number one?
Participant E: I’m going to guess Henri Bendel.
Participant I: That’s because there is only one store. Bendel only has that store in New York.
They tried to expand and they failed.
Moderator: No, it’s owned by Limited Brands and they have one in Columbus as well and other
places in the country.
Participant A: Oh I thought they were broke and the other places, they closed them up.
Moderator: So how many people would vote Barneys as the most high end?
Participant D: I don’t know.
Participant H: Neiman Marcus.
Participant F: Neiman Marcus.
Moderator: Can you all raise your hand for something…I’m just going to say Neiman Marcus
because that’s the only one anyone really acknowledged.
Participant E: Can Henri Bendel be out of this since no one has been there, so the top three?
Moderator: Yeah, top three.
Participant A: Barneys two.
Participant H: Barneys is two, and Bergdorf is three.
Participant K: Do they sell stuff for males at Bergdorf…I just think female.
Moderator: Yes, they have a full…they’ll have like a floor for like Louis Vuitton and it will be
in sections. It’s all men’s in one part.
Participant A: In New York they have the women’s on one side and the men’s on the other side
of the street.
Moderator: Have any of you guys heard of Harrods?
Participant D: Yes, best store ever!
Participant E: (raises hand yes, I have)
Participant A: Yes.
Participant B: Yes.
Moderator: If so, please share thoughts or perceptions or any information you know regarding
Participant D: It’s amazing; it’s actually the best department store of like the world.
Moderator: Have you been there?
Participant D: Like a million times. It’s amazing. I love it. The food galleries are insane.
There’s like, how many, floors like 9 floors?
Participant A: I got lost in it.
Participant C: Yeah me too.
Participant A: It was too much.
Participant D: The best way to describe it…there is an entire floor dedicated to accessories and
clothing for your dog, like over $200 for, like an entire floor.
Participant H: Like a whole or a half?
Participant D: It’s a huge section, have you ever seen a whole floor for your dog, but the food
galleries are the best.
Participant C: its excessive luxury things.
Moderator: Excessive luxury. Okay, has anyone heard of it but not been there?
Participant I: Yeah.
Participant k: I drove by it in London and thought it was too big so I stayed away.
Participant e: I’ve been right outside but I don’t think I’ve ever gone inside. It’s very pretty in
the winter time though for Christmas.
Moderator: Okay, now we’re going to watch a video about Harrods on that screen. So you
might want to turn and face and enjoy.
Moderator: Okay, so now that you’ve seen the video, what do you think of Harrods? For those
of you who haven’t heard of it before?
Participant G: It looks pretty amazing, is that the only store?
Moderator: Yes, there’s only one store.
Participant E: Do you know when the sales are?
Moderator: I think post Christmas and then summer.
Participant I: It looks pretty cool. I don’t think I would be going there. None of these came to
mind as places I would go. I just like the Macy’s and like lower end I guess.
Participant H: It’s too crowded.
Participant G: Especially at the sale time, it reminds me of Christmas time when they all rush
Participant C: But when you get there when it’s not in sale, it was not crowded at all; it was
kind of different but not crowded.
Moderator: For those of you who have been there, does that video reflect the experience you
had when you were there?
Participant D: Yeah it does, it’s a really extravagant experience, like it’s always over the top,
like everything, even the displays are so over the top, so extravagant.
Participant A: Yeah that’s what I didn’t like about the store, it’s so overwhelming, so crowded,
even if there’s not a lot of people, every room there is like 8 staircases that go to each room
individually. It’s a maze, you can go up or down the stairs to any side or the middle of the
building and there is this huge Egyptian whatever that you see and opera music all over the
place. So it was too much.
Participant J: I thought it was interesting because the opera music sounds like it would fit better
with what we were seeing. There was weird techno music playing in the background and I
wasn’t entirely sure of what the store is supposed to be.
Participant H: Like why Christina Aguilera? That just didn’t seem to fit for me. I mean Cher
understandable but not Christina Aguilera. That just didn’t seam to make sense to me.
Participant E: Well, Jennifer Love Hewitt.
Participant D: I think the best person that fits with that is Victoria Beckham.
Participant A: Posh yeah.
Participant D: (continued) Is the person I’d have to say fits the most with that.
Participant G: And also if they had Sophia Loren, maybe.
Participant A: Yeah maybe.
Moderator: Did anyone’s perceptions change from what they heard from anyone?
Participant G: I just feel like it wouldn’t be like, kind what Aly said, I feel that I would feel
really uncomfortable and be like ahhh I shouldn’t be in here I cant afford anything.
Moderator: After seeing that, just out of curiosity, does anyone feel that they have heard of the
brand now that they have seen the video?
Participant G: Yeah I have actually, because of that VH1 show.
Participant A: Oh the fabulous life.
Participant G: They always talked about what Harrods did for a celebrity. Like they did weird
things for all of them.
Moderator: So you mentioned Victoria Beckham, so that’s kind of where we are heading with
this. If Harrods was a celebrity, who would Harrods be other than Victoria Beckham? Who could
Participant G: Who’s that’s guy that plays James Bond now?
Moderator: Pierce Brosnan.
Participant J: Daniel Craig.
Participant A: Maybe a Katie Holmes type of girl.
Participant C: Princess Diana.
Participant E: Yeah Prince Harry or William.
Moderator: Do you know that the Al-Fayeds own Harrods.
Participant D: Yeah the guy his father, Dodi.
Participant C: Yeah because I think she is very pretty and glamorous, that’s what Harrods is.
Participant J: Yeah I got a really over-the-top feeling and I don’t feel that even with a bunch of
the way a lot of American movies are over the top they don’t convey the overly conspicuous
wealth as much.
Participant C: Maybe Rania the queen, this girl is kind of Princess Diana right now.
Moderator: If you were going to pretend Harrods was just a regular person not a celebrity, how
would you describe Harrods? Would it be male or female? How old would it be? Occupation? If
you were to personify it?
Participant I: I would say like mid 30s, rich.
Participant F: Young and married to a rich old guy.
Moderator: So it would be female.
Participant D: I don’t think so.
Participant I: So this is just my opinion even though I have never been there, yeah I would just
say mid 30s rich, doesn’t have a job, housewife type.
Participant J: Yeah.
Participant D: I disagree; I think it would be someone who is young professional a famous
architect or like a director or an art gallery. I know that is random, I just associate it with young
professionals, with really, really wealthy like private equity type of people.
Moderator: So we can agree on female, young?
Participant C: I don’t think young. I would think like 40 but seems like 20.
Moderator: Young at heart……what would the occupation be as Harrods as a person?
Participant K: Wall Street.
Participant D: Yeah Wall Street.
Participant K: Wall Street last year.
Participant A: Wall Street before the summer.
Moderator: Ok so let’s talk about Harrods coming to Boston, do you think that Harrods would
be successful if it came to Boston?
Participant G: No.
Participant D: No.
Participant J: I think it’s overly glamorous.
Participant H: Too big for the population and the tourists that come here.
Participant G: I kind of agree that it wouldn’t really work because one, the reason that Harrods
is so special is that there is only one store. There is nothing else like it in the world and so to like
open another store especially, not in New York, would be to dilute it a little bit, being like ohhhh
its not as fantastic and anymore.
Participant E: I think it would have a total niche market, it would be out near Bloomingdales
near Chestnut Hill and you don’t get a lot of traffic there anyway.
Participant H: The huge thing about Harrods is that a lot of tourists go there too, so it’s a
combination of people in London which have a lot more people than Boston and tourists. And
the tourists who come to Boston, come for a totally different experience than those who are
going to London.
Participant J: I don’t really get glamour from Boston and that seems to be what they are going
Participant F: More New York and L.A.
Participant K: I don’t think there are enough wealthy people here. I mean there are wealthy
people here but not enough to support it year round compared to New York.
Participant D: London is like the fashion capital of the world. It’s in Europe, if you bring it to
the States it kinds of degrades it one level, like you’re not talking about Europe anymore.
Participant H: It might work in New York.
Participant J; Yeah, yeah New York seems a better place.
Participant G: But I think there is a lot of competition in New York, like the Macy’s flagship is
huge there and like Saks. Like most of the flagship stores are in New York.
Moderator: So just a show of hands, how many people think that it might work in New York?
All Participants: Hands raised (except Participants C and D)
Moderator: If they were going to bring Harrods to Boston anyways, make a go of it, where do
you think the best location in Boston would be?
Participant E: Chestnut Hill.
Participant J: Pave the Common.
Participant A: Yeah they need a big space.
Moderator: Why Chestnut Hill?
Participant E: Because I mean you have a lot of people with money who live towards that area
and I mean right now that’s where a lot besides Newbury Street and Prudential Center, I mean
that’s where you have a lot of boutiques, a lot of higher class stores.
Participant A: I also think it has to be some place out of the city because of the size its going to
need, in the city its going to be really hard to find a space so big but it would be more profitable
for them to be in like Copley Place.
Participant C: Yeah I think if you take Harrods out of the city, it’s not Harrods.
Participant D: That’s what I think.
Participant J: I think if you did something interesting like put it on the top of one of the taller
buildings in Boston that might I don’t know, I just think that would be interesting.
Moderator: Would you guys shop there if it came to Boston?
Participant G: Would their prices drop?
Participant D: Yes.
Participant H: No.
Moderator: Would you guys go there?
Participant E: You would probably go there to check it out.
Participant A: Yeah.
Participant G: Yeah.
Participant E: If you go once and the prices are astronomical, you wouldn’t go.
Participant D: I would go to the food gallery, and you guys should go too.
Participant C: I would go there to buy a bookmark.
Participant A: The one time I went was to check out the store because I was in London but I
would never check it out again.
Moderator: Alright, what type of person in Boston would shop at Harrods?
Group response: Lauren. (Participant D)
Moderator: Can you elaborate on that?
Participant I: A person with a large disposable income.
Participant F: Some tourists would.
Participant E: Wives of the Red Sox players.
Participant F: Theo Epstein.
Participant A: Yeah that’s the perfect guy.
Participant D: Or the wives of the Celtics.
Moderator: So basically people with money.
Participant E: People with money.
Group Response: Yeah.
Participant C: If you don’t have money you won’t shop there because it’s out of your price
Participant A: Yeah it’s like $20 per thing.
Moderator: As far as the economy goes, do you feel that the poor state of the economy could
affect the way people perceive and shop at Harrods?
Group Response: Yes.
Participant J: Beyond the actual price, it’s got this image that is “we are really expensive” and
people immediately are like, well we’re not going to go to a place that says it’s really expensive.
Moderator: So the first thing that stands out to you guys is, if I said that it’s unique, really big or
expensive, the first thing you would say is?
Participant K: Really big.
Participant C: I think unique.
Participant D: Yeah unique.
Participant I: Yeah unique.
Participant J: Expensive.
Participant E: Expensive.
Participant D: I mean they have lines there that are really expensive but a lot of the lines are
similar, I mean these stores (points to stores up on board) are expensive but it’s not any much
more than I would say Barneys or Neiman Marcus.
Participant C: I mean it’s really expensive but you can find something to buy there if you want,
but it’s an experience to go there.
Moderator: Because I have never been there, do you think when you have been to the
Knightsbridge store, is it expensive in comparison to the other stores there, or is it expensive in
comparison to American stores? Because I know the Macy’s there is more expensive than the
Macy’s here, is it because it’s in England or because it’s more expensive?
Participant C: No, no I think because it’s expensive not because it’s in England. I mean because
there is a Zara and a Gap on that street, its not because its in England, it’s that kind of shop is
really for the world.
Moderator: Do you guys have suggestions for Harrods if they were going to come to Boston?
Participant I: Good luck.
Participant A: Tone it down.
Participant E: Don’t come.
Moderator: Don’t come.
Participant J: Buy another chain.
Participant H: Yeah but if they tone it down that would be bad for them in general so…
Participant A: Yeah
Participant D: They could come under a different name, like if they sub branded. They
definitely need to downsize I think because there’s not enough room or population to sustain that
kind of store.
Participant C: I think it’s not a good idea to bring the store here.
Participant J: Yeah it’s not a good idea.
Participant C: Because it’s like Harrods. Harrods means London and you can’t put it in Boston,
its not its not like I mean is people go there to buy a small box of poopy you know there is like a
small box , all of the people try to go there and just buy something to have this box.
Participant E: Yeah people buy something just to carry around the bag, just carry on the name;
it’s like moving Cheers to…
Participant A: Like a puppy?
Participant C: Yeah like a stupid face dog….whatever people go there and are like oh just
bring me something (from Harrods) and get 10 things for 20 pounds which is so expensive just
because its Harrods.
Moderator: Well that’s all, thanks for participating!