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Developing Lifestyle Retail Brands

Developing Lifestyle Retail Brands

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Published by Manoj Nakra
Retail, Branding, Strategy Execution
Retail, Branding, Strategy Execution

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Published by: Manoj Nakra on Jul 18, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Developing Lifestyle Retail Brands
As consumers we all know that brands are ubiquitous in our lives. Think of a product orservice we need and invariably a few brand names come to our mind. We have got soused to using brand names as a short-hand for ‘trust’ in the product i.e. the product will‘deliver’ on the ‘promise’ implicit in the brand. On the supply side, the dream of everyentrepreneur is to ‘create’ a brand; creating a brand being considered synonymous withbusiness success. In this article I focus upon retail brands as different from productbrands, and identify what is required to create retail brands with emphasis on ‘lifestyle’retail brands.
What is a retail brand?
Compare a Zara with a Rivoli. Zara is an fashion-forward apparel retailer that sells onlyZara (own) branded merchandise whereas Rivoli sells a range of branded (all brands soldby Rivoli belong to others) merchandise (watches, pens, jewelry, eyewear, and leatherproducts etc.). The goal of both retailers is to create a distinctive identity associated withtheir brand that is recalled by consumers when the need to buy products of their particularcategory is aroused i.e. Zara succeeds as a retail brand when Zara comes into the choiceset of the targeted customer whenever they need to buy apparel. Rivoli succeedswhenever customers think of Rivoli as a place to shop for stylish accessories independentof the brands that it carries. Rivoli would fail the test of a retail brand if people think of Rivoli as a place to visit to shop for selective brands that it sells i.e. the outlet is awholesaler’s outlet. Rivoli’s has strenuously worked to create its own identity over theyears e.g. the ‘In Style In Store’ logo, and the continuing campaign. The goal of everyretailer is to create a brand identity with which consumers can identify with, and developorganizational processes and systems that deliver the identity consistently. The outcomeof this strategy should be reflected in increased frequency of visits, increased shoppingbasket size, and price premiums. Retailers have a choice, either to create an identity thatthey wish their store to have or by default consumers will develop an image that may beinconsistent with what the retailer desires to project, with detrimental consequences.To develop a working plan to create a retail brand we start by identifying the dimensionsof a brand (see table 1). The dictionary defines a brand as an ‘identifying mark’ or trade-mark on a product or service. The American Marketing Association extends thisdefinition by adding two criteria – one, identifying the nature of trade mark as a logo as avisual feature (e.g. name, sign, symbol, or design), and two, identifying what theidentifying mark achieves i.e. differentiates the goods of one seller from its competitors.Brands are the visible face of the company, and often reflect the corporate personality i.e.what the company truly is (Toyota as an environmentally sensitive company as differentfrom General Motors). For consumers brands serve as shorthand information for takingspeedier purchase decisions (e.g. buying fruits and vegetables from Spinneys) orinfluencing decision-making when confronted with complex choice making amongstbrands (e.g. buying a high value domestic appliance from Carrefour or stand-aloneindependent specialty retailer). Residual brand names in memory serve as a summary of all mental ideas / images and / or direct experiences with the brand, both as information
about the brand and feelings associated with the brand experience. Brands also aid inreducing consumer perception of risk-of-use (i.e. product not meeting expectedperformance) by use of guarantees or promising quality (e.g. returns policy of a retailstore). As we move into the domain of ‘residual’ brand image in the minds of consumers,a consumer-centric ways of looking at brands starts to emerge. Brands are not what brandowners want them to be. It is more important to understand what brands ‘mean’ toconsumers or what is the consumer’s view of the brand. A Louis Vuitton hand bag or aBulgari watch not only serves the functional role expected of a handbag (or a watch) butalso creates a ‘feeling’ of possession of something unique and valuable (limited edition),and is used to express (communicate) to others an image and identity of the owner(wealth, artistic taste, etc.) in the social fraternity. A brand is therefore what consumersperceive it as with its functional utility (i.e. what it does or need it serves), psychologicalattributes (i.e. brand image), and symbolic meaning (i.e. meaning for brand buyer). Thisis the concept of brands as an ‘identity.’ The identity that consumers seek to projectthrough the consumption of brands is influenced by their cultural values (what the brandmeans in the cultural context e.g. a Louis Vuitton bag means something in a social settingwhere the brand is understood by many or using ), symbolic and functional valuesassociated with people using the product (i.e. personality of the brand and the personalityconsumers want to project – use of brand label accessories with brand names emblazonedon the products or buying a Harley Davidson), feeling that brand is an expression of arelationships with a company (e.g. possessing and using an American Express card that isused by well known personalities is perceived as belonging to a select group), andimbuing (through attribution) brands with value to pay a premium beyond their functionaland symbolic value (buying a Bentley).
Table 1 What is a brand?
 What is a brand? How does it exist? Brand utilityA physicalidentity in a legalcontextLegal identity as atrademark, logo, designetc.Prevents others from copyingLogo, design,symbol, etc.As a logo, design,symbol, etc.Enables recognition and differentiation by customersthrough visual identity. With investment and overtime brand starts to connote values like quality,innovation etc.Brand ascorporateidentityExists in the minds of stakeholders (customers,employees, banks, etc.)as being synonymouswith corporate valuesespoused and perceivedby stakeholdersStrong differentiationAs a ‘shorthand’repository of informationabout theproductExists in the minds of consumers as image / idea / direct experiences- as a summary of allexperiences with thebrand – as informationand feelingsInfluences consumer choice processA positive brand feelings / experience leads to a belief that the brand will deliver on the ‘promise’ – brandtrust
Partially a
dapted from Leslie de Chernatony and Francesca Dall’Olmo Riley, “Defining a “Brand”: Beyond the Literature withExperts Interpretations” Journal of Marketing 1998
Brand as‘meaning’ toconsumersExists in the minds of consumersAs functional utility – serves the need for which itwas purchasedWith the psychological attributes – associated withthe image of the brandAs an ‘identity’ for the consumer – what using thebrand means for the consumerBrandconsumption asconsumer‘identity’Exists in the minds of consumers – as anexpression of self or as areflection of what othersperceiveCould be based upon social and cultural norms,symbolic values perceived to be associated with thebrand, brand acquisition and use as a means of belonging to a cherished group, and attribution of value to the brand
What is a lifestyle retail brand?
 The concept of Lifestyle Retail Brands is derived from the premise that consumption of brands has symbolic meaning, beyond the functional utility, and can often serve thepurpose of creating or expressing a social ‘identity’ for a consumer. A Lifestyle RetailBrand (LRB) is created when a retailer creates a retail brand around the lifestyles of atarget market segment. The concept of DIY (do-it-yourself) for home improvement is aclassic example of an LRB. So how is it different from a normal hardware store? In aDIY store the retail offer is engineered to closely reflecting the needs and lifestyle of thetarget consumer segment – a father and / or mother who wish to do home repair or createnew extensions to a home as a participative family project. The fact that the concept hithome was the emergence of the Home Improvement soap on TV, and the emergence of Home Depot and Lowe’s as billion dollar companies. Ace Hardware in the Middle East is just starting to re-position itself as a LRB by experimenting with small format stores. In alifestyle retail brand the basic retail proposition is augmented with a set of values thathave symbolic value and meaning for the lifestyles (how they dress, how they think, howthey behave, what they do, and what views they hold on life, etc.) of the specificconsumer group. A visit to the large format Ace hardware store (Dubai Festival City) onany day would reinforce this proposition. It would be obvious that it is the integration of the lifestyle of the consumer into the retail format that distinguishes Ace as a lifestylebrand from other hardware retail stores in Deira. Burberry is another brand thatmetamorphosed from a purveyor of the staid check to a LRB, a must-have for fashion-conscious. I was involved in bringing Burberry to the region, and observed thetransformation later at close quarters. Ikea (Dubai Festival City) is another Lifestylebrand. Old Navy emerged from Gap catering to the hip-hop generation. Old Navy inDubai is a pale shadow of the original but more on this later.To reinforce the difference between a brand and a LRB one can contrast two brands inthe same category – Cross and Mont Blanc. Cross is a very well engineered pen, a penthat functions very well, and the first to offer a genuine lifetime warranty. Mont Blanc, onthe other hand, started as a writing instrument but has been developed into a LRB overthe past few years with launch of exclusive Mont Blanc boutiques and extensions intoaccessories like leather, watches, eyewear, and jewelry. The Mont Blanc star logo has

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