Attention Readers! The Blue Light Special Is Back

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After a Christmas testing of the retail concept, Kmart Corp.'s newly revamped BlueLight.com store has introduced the Blue Light Special discount for online shoppers.


Visitors to BlueLight.com now will be privy to surprise limited-time offers on select items each day. The tactic began online yesterday -- the same day Kmart started flashing blue lights and hailing, "Attention Kmart Shoppers!" in 2,000 Kmart stores nationwide after a 10-year hiatus.


"It's going to be a great vehicle for us to bring frequency to the site," said Steven P. Feuling, BlueLight.com's chief marketing officer.


BlueLight.com, San Francisco, is majority owned by Kmart, Troy, MI. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., New York, and Japan's Softbank Venture Capital are minority owners. It is the nation's No. 2 Internet service provider with 6.8 million users.


The Blue Light Special icon will be featured on the home page of BlueLight.com. Shoppers who click on the flashing BlueLight.com logo will be greeted, "Attention BlueLight Shoppers! There's a Blue Light Special going on. Shop now. Time is running out," and will be led to the pertinent page.


Ad agency Chiat/Day, New York, will break a multimedia campaign themed "Blue Light is Back!" as part of the push to revive the Kmart brand under its new chairman/CEO, Chuck Conaway.


Preview TV spots show the Statue of Liberty with a blue flame, the landmark Hollywood sign in blue, a lighthouse beacon shining blue light and a spaceship emitting blue light as it takes off.


On the Internet, links on sites such as CBS.MarketWatch.com and Walt Disney Internet Group's Family.com will drive traffic to the BlueLight.com site. Visitors to BlueLight are also encouraged to enter their e-mail addresses for news and offer updates.


Kmart first installed flashing blue lights in its stores in 1965 as a way to alert shoppers to bargains on the floor. The concept was mothballed in 1991 as the mass merchandiser fell into a decline.


Consumers who now walk through a Kmart store will see a blue canopy with a bulb inside. Never announced ahead of time, the Blue Light Specials are more of a customer retention effort offline.


"Getting even one more visit a year from our existing customers and based on the same shopping basket, it will give us an extra $2.8 billion a year," said Brent D. Willis, newly appointed executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Kmart.


The corresponding benefit to the BlueLight.com store was not disclosed.


Online, categories like electronics and products such as MP3 players are most likely to be offered as Blue Light Specials. Yesterday, the Blue Light Specials were a Palmp-3 player offered at a $20 discount for $99.99 and a Fuji digital camera for $194, a discount of $30.


"Really the stuff most in demand," Feuling said. "Really the objective is to reward our customers. It's not clearance."


Items will be discounted up to two-thirds of their regular price, Feuling said. The special offer is expected to run once or twice a day and last one hour.


"If the product runs out of stock, that's it," Feuling said. "One product at a time."


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