NEW SEARS LABEL WOOS BLACK WOMEN RETAILER PLANS INCREASED ATTENTION TO THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN MARKET

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Sears, Roebuck & Co. last week launched its first ad campaign specifically targeting African-Americans. The campaign coincides with Sears' spring launch of casual and career wear designed for women of color.

The Mosaic by Alvin Bell line includes jackets, skirts, pants and shirts priced from $36 to $64, now being sold in 200 stores. Sears also has expanded its Circle of Beauty cosmetics line with 24 products in new colors.

A TV spot from Burrell Communications Group, Chicago, shows an artist putting the finishing touches on a fashion sketch, which comes to life and dances to a jazz version of Sears' "Softer side" theme. A radio campaign is planned, and magazine ads will run in Black Elegance, Ebony, Essence and Heart & Soul.

EXPANDING IN INNER CITY

Spending was undisclosed, but the advertising is expected to be refreshed each season. Total expenditures will increase as Sears continues to step up its store openings in inner cities, following the success of stores in the Rego Park section of Brooklyn and in Oakland, Calif.

"Our goal is to connect with our target customer and to reflect the growing diversity of the U.S. population. African-American consumers are very important to Sears, and we want to increase our merchandising and marketing efforts" toward them, said John Costello, senior exec VP-director of marketing for Sears.

Retailers are beginning to place a focus on ethnic markets as the nation's demographics reflect the increasing population of African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Hispanics.

"African-Americans tend to buy a lot of clothes," said Pamela Kelly, VP-client service director at Burrell. "There is a sizable opportunity" in reaching them.

J.C. Penney Co. this spring launched its first TV commercial targeted to African-American women, part of its overall spring campaign. Wal-Mart Stores also has a targeted ad program.

Penney's has its own magazine for black women, while Spiegel has developed a catalog in conjunction with Ebony.

Sears has been targeting Hispanic women since 1991 through agency Mendoza, Dillon & Asociados, Newport Beach, Calif., a WPP Group subsidiary, as well as

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