Wal-Mart is strengthening the link it has been forging between merchandise and entertainment particularly with younger consumers as it launches a Miley Cyrus & Max Azria exclusive clothing line timed to get a publicity boost from the singer's upcoming concert tour.
The retailer will sponsor the Cyrus tour, scheduled to hit 45 cities in late summer and autumn.
In developing the clothing line, Wal-Mart teamed Cyrus, who rose to fame on the television show Hannah Montana, and Max Azria of apparel house BCBGMAXAZRIAGROUP to develop what it described as rock and roll influenced tops, pants, graphic tees, shoes and accessories at prices that come in at $20 or less. The line will hit Wal-Mart stores and Walmart.com in early August, in time for the concert tour. The Cyrus line targets a different audience than product under the name of the singer's Hannah Montana television character. Said Wal-Mart spokesperson Melissa Hill:
Hannah Montana is part of our licensed business which focuses on children and is very different from juniors. The Miley Cyrus & Max Azria line targets an audience of teens and young adults, is a private label and available only at Walmart. Launching Miley Cyrus & Max Azria presents another cross-category merchandising opportunity involving entertainment and product.The line represents a new phase in the Cyrus relationship with Wal-Mart, where she is a top-selling recording artist but something more as well. Last year, Wal-Mart made a major push with her Best of Both Worlds Concert DVD, providing it exclusively a month before the general release and simultaneously rolling out a 140-item assortment of related merchandise. Wal-Mart spokesperson Melissa O'Brien said of the endeavor that linking entertainment and product promotion has potential if it is handled thoughtfully. "It has to be the right type of product and brand," she said. "It has to come together in a good way, as it did for Hannah Montana."
Wal-Mart has developed other entertainment and product promotions that have included the release of the latest AC/DC CD, which launched exclusive at Wal-Mart in October as part of an AC/DC Rock Again Store mini-boutiques that combined music with apparel and even video games.
Wal-Mart went even further with the DVD debut of the Twilight movie, debuting Twilight Shops in its stores that offered a wide variety of low-price movie-related apparel, bags, music, books and accessories. In fact Wal-Mart turned the DVD release into an in-store event, encouraging fans to arrive early and await the official midnight release together, enlisting the movie cast in its promotional activity and featuring them in a special feature on its in-store television network. The company even helped link Twilight fans with their fellows on the internet, where, at www.walmart.com/twilight, it also included tips for throwing DVD launch parties.
Will some sort of concert movie or live recording CD come out of the Miley Cyrus tour? Given the evolution of the singer's career, it seems likely. Certainly, Wal-Mart stores will play a role in any future Cyrus-related events, offering special merchandise and creating promotions that will help the retailer advance a strategy of becoming a destination for products associated with major entertainment events that target young people. Wal-Mart intends that young people see it as a place where they can stretch the dollars they spend on the latest craze and remember it as a location where they can take care of their ongoing needs inexpensively as they get older, particularly in entertainment. After all, Wal-Mart just announced a revamp of its electronics departments that includes an expanded assortment of Blu-Ray movies and new signs that make the department easier to shop for Cyrus fans and everyone else.