T.J. Maxx: The Master of Off-Price Retail?

T.J. Maxx is polishing its image. The low-priced chain has been aggressively rebranding to convince customers that its stores are not filled with musty, seasons-old merchandise–but rather, they’re a resource for new, cool, on-trend apparel and accessories.

A recent ad featuring one of the store’s fashion buyers

Somewhat counterintuitively, the recession has actually helped the retailer with its rebrand. The large quantity of designer merchandise that sat unsold at high-end shops ended up on the T.J. Maxx racks, bolstering their inventory and bringing in more label-conscious (who are now also more penny-pinching) shoppers. A spokesperson for the company told Reuters, “We are extremely confident that the paradigm has shifted, that we have been able to cull an entirely new group of customers,”

To further this reputation, the chain recently rolled out new TV and online ad campaigns featuring fashion insiders like Marie Claire senior shopping editor Zoe Glassner and Vogue contributor Lucy Sykes.

T.J. Maxx has also been heavily targeting bloggers with both giveaways and a trip to the T.J. Maxx/Marshalls HQ in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Jessica Quirk, who runs the fashion Tumblr What I Wore, blogged after her trip: “I had some major misperceptions about Off Price retail – the main one being that the goods in store were somehow damaged or out of season. Not true! 95% of goods are department store quality and that other 5% is not noticeable to the shopper…The buyers shop year round (instead of working a year out like most fashion buyers) so they’re able to scoop up the goods that other stores canceled. My fellow Apparel Merchandising grads will understand why this is such a smart business model.”

Blogger Nitrolicious echoed these sentiments: writing, “In my mind I always thought that T.J. Maxx/Marshalls was discounted stuff from past seasons, irregular stuff and leftovers from other stores, kinda like an outlet type of store…You can say I never gave the retailer a chance [because] I refuse to step foot into the stores, but this past two days made me change my mind.”

Will all this translate to additional store traffic and purchases? Well, at the end of last year, Maxx’s sales were up 58% and their current marketing efforts are leaps and bounds ahead of competitors like Loehmann’s, Filene’s Basement, and Ross. With new ads featuring big industry names, incredibly positive blog coverage, and increased social networking, T.J. Maxx seems to be doing everything right in the rebranding department.