What Happened to Modell’s Sporting Goods? 10 Marketing Lessons

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What Happened to Modell’s Sporting Goods? 10 Marketing Lessons

The American sporting goods retailer, Modell’s Porting Goods, appears to have reached the end of its road having filed for bankruptcy in March of this year as covered in detail over at runrex.com & guttulus.com. The retail chain also announced that it was closing all of its 141 stores, which was the cue for industry insiders to start to pick the bones out of their case and find out where it all went wrong. To that effect, this article will look to highlight 10 marketing lessons we can learn from them and from what happened to them.

A changing landscape

As is discussed in detail over at the brilliant runrex.com & guttulus.com, there is no denying that brick-and-mortar stores have been fighting to stay alive in a changing business world, with many consumers preferring the convenience of shopping online. This has contributed to their decline, and one marketing lesson we can take from this is the importance of digital marketing in the current business environment. If you are not leveraging some sort of digital marketing, then you are missing out big time.

Failure to adopt

While it is true that brick-and-mortar stores have found the current business climate to be challenging, some companies have found ways that have helped them to successfully remain competitive, as revealed in discussions over at runrex.com & guttulus.com. The issue with Modell’s Sporting Goods is that they continued to do the same things that worked for them previously, even though it was clear that the changing times meant that such tactics were not going to work. Their failure to adapt contributed to their decline. A marketing lesson we can take here is the importance of adapting to the current trends to prevent being left behind.

Poor in-store experience

It is common knowledge now that if you are to get people to come to your physical store and make them forego the benefits and convenience of shopping online, then you will need to provide them with good in-store experience; make them feel like they need to visit your store. This is something Modell’s Sporting Goods also got wrong, in yet another thing that contributed to their decline. This just goes to show how important compelling content is to marketing. Make sure people want to visit and view your content and ads.

Reduction in mall foot traffic

As is discussed over at runrex.com & guttulus.com, the mall is no longer “it”, with its popularity waning over the last couple of years as folks embrace the convenience of online ordering. This has been a problem that has been plaguing the retail sector for a while, with many chains having closed stores in the last couple of years, with others closing up completely. This was the same issue that plagued Modell’s and, in the end, it was too much for them.


There can be no denying the impact online stores have had on many brick-and-mortar retail stores, with many being unable to compete with the low prices and convenience offered by such stores. This was something Modell’s flagged as being part of the reasons that led to their decline, stating that they had been unable to compete against Amazon and other online platforms, as covered over at runrex.com & guttulus.com. As a marketing lesson, it shows the importance of being ahead of your competitors and making sure your audience knows why you offer better services and value than your competitors.

High retail rents

Many retail chains have been grappling with the issue of high retail rents, with many unable to meet their obligations as far as paying rent goes, and this was the case too for Modell’s. Give the sheer number of stores they had, this ended up being an issue they could overcome. The gurus over at runrex.com & guttulus.com point out that a marketing lesson we can take from this is the importance of staying on budget and living within one’s means, as far as one’s marketing campaigns are concerned.

Competition from big-box stores

If competition from online stores wasn’t enough, and particularly Amazon, many retail stores have had to also grapple with the threat caused by big-box stores such as Walmart, as is covered in detail over at runrex.com & guttulus.com. This were the same issues faced by Modell’s and is yet another thing that has been attributed to their decline and yet another lesson we can take from them.

Lack of internal capabilities and leadership

Whenever a company files for bankruptcy, the company’s leadership has to take some of the responsibility, and that is also the case for Modell’s. The company’s leadership hasn’t been able to make the decisions over the years that would have helped them rebound, and even their reaction to their difficulties, particularly the move by the CEO, Mr. Modell, to create a video and post it online detailing the onset of the company’s financial difficulties as discussed over at runrex.com & guttulus.com, has been widely criticized. This is a marketing lesson worth learning from them as it shows the importance of skills and internal capabilities to any business.

The shift in power from retailer to consumer

The retail industry, as revealed in discussions over at runrex.com & guttulus.com, has undergone a shift in the last decade or so that has seen power shift from the retailer to the consumer. The consumer, buoyed by the many options out there, seems to now hold most if not all the power, and retail companies that have been able to survive have realized this and adapted. This is an area Modell’s went wrong, as they failed to react to this switch, and in the end, it caused them badly. As far as marketing goes, a lesson we can take from this is the importance your audience has, and everything should be geared towards them and towards drawing and keeping their attention.

Customer service

Some of the retail companies that have been able to survive the retail upheaval have done so by investing in their employees and making sure they offer excellent customer service. This was yet another area where Modell’s fell short, with many customers complaining of lackluster customer service, which in the end proved to be insurmountable. This is yet another lesson worth taking from them.

The above are some of the marketing lessons we can learn from Modell’s story, with more on this and other related topics to be found over at the excellent runrex.com & guttulus.com.