Tag Archives: Branding

For Conscious Generations, Will Luxury Brands Become Irrelevant?

Branding Blog

With a market of over £200B globally, the luxury fashion brand sector is significant; you only have to look at conglomerates such as Richemont, LVMH Group, and Kerring which within their stables boast, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Chloe, Cartier, Dior, Fendi, Gucci, Saint Laurent, and Stella McCartney to name a few.

Whilst in China, the market share is set to increase with 14% by 2025, it is set to contract by 8% in Europe and the US. However, the global trend of luxury consumerism seems to be on the increase, with 43%. It is forecasted that within the next decade Generations Y and Z will represent approximately 55% of the luxury fashion market up from 32%, offsetting the sales decline among older generations. But can perceived ‘luxury’ brands be so sure that their mass appeal can extend beyond the superficial?

Is fashion, in general, no longer tribal? The vast majority of Gen Y, Z, and Alpha, the less ‘well off’ generations, seem to adopt a more fluid approach to fashion as they may do to gender, sexuality, technology, socializing, etc. That sees an anything-goes approach in fashion, focused less on brand and more on individualism.

Long gone is the need to conform to a stereotype, or compete with others. The fashion I see is an eclectic mix of second-hand clothes – let’s avoid the pretense that it’s ‘vintage’ and be realistic – combined with fast fashion which is naturally, ethically sourced to create a look. A look that’s unique to a persona and voice, occasionally punctuated with luxury brand items to complete the style.

So will this approach to high-end fashion make the luxury sector grow in particular for the brands that ‘get it’ or contract with perhaps some brands becoming obsolete to generations X, Y, and more importantly Alpha? After all, this generation which may be on a budget, won’t necessarily be in a decade’s time and if they have no aspirations to own luxury branded items, they may choose to share the budget more sparingly with brands that speak to them – investing in brands that resonate with the zeitgeist, not tradition, and demonstrate a social conscience in manufacturing, environment, sustainability, and how they give back a proportion of their vast profits to society.

Some high-end brands are already evolving to appeal to the upcoming generations, Supreme and Balenciaga have adapted to meet the needs of their new consumers. From their collectible, Instagram ‘like-worthy’ pieces to the gender-fluid online shops, the brands are listening closely to their audience and are adjusting accordingly, seeing them become more popular than the traditional stuffy luxury brands.

With both ‘luxury’ and ‘fast fashion’ known to be a considerable contributor to global greenhouse gasses, water and air pollution, combined with poor working conditions, we are seeing a conscious effort by many people to change their fashion habits. These changes include a ‘less is more’ strategy, buying second hand, opting for natural fibers, and researching brand practices, often cajoling them to share the manufacture process and provenance.

According to Oxfam, over eleven million items of clothing end up in the landfill. The charity has launched its Second Hand September campaign, with artists who performed at Glastonbury 2019 donating stage outfits for auction or win. Its purpose is to change habits and encourage people not to buy new apparel for one month and thereafter wear clothing more often and not throw away unwanted clothing.

In contrast, the recent ‘willy-waving’ that was the ego-inflating philanthropy towards the drive to rebuild Notre Dame topped $700M with the billionaires behind these luxury giants pledging $339M. Without question, this landmark is culturally worthy and should be rebuilt, however, some may argue that these donations serve to demonstrate that the priorities of the owners of luxury brands may not be in tune with the market they will be designing and marketing to in less than a decade and beyond. With the Energy Agency estimating that by 2030 the planet will require 50% more water and 50% more energy, scarcity of natural resources will be a known factor forcing every brand to change. No one is immune.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, fashion retailer H&M has reported an 11% increase in net sales to 57.4B in Swedish kroner (£4.8B) in its Q2 results (July 2019), compared with the sales rise of 2% seen during the same period last year. It is the fifth straight quarter of consistent sales growth for the company, but despite the increase, shares in the retailer dropped by 1.8% in early trading in July, with H&M saying “hard work and many challenges still remain.”

Developments in the Luxury sector are slow compared to ‘fast fashion’ and with a year-on-year decline in revenues and profitability, there are not only economic factors at play but also the way that Generation Alpha consumer will be more selective and conscious. From 2025, it is estimated that Generation Alpha will be over 2 billion-strong and anticipated to start spending their own cash. Therefore, the change in narrative and approach ‘brands’ chose to market to a growing generation, needs to begin now.

Much like those brands who were considered too big to fail, is the end in sight for many luxury brands who continue to focus their attention on a dying generation?

To read the full article please visit Brandingmag.

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Can the new tranche of Chinese tech brands take the UK by storm?

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In recent years, more Chinese brands than ever have broken new ground in Europe and continued to develop outside of their established Asian markets. One of the most immediately recognisable Chinese brands is Huawei and possibly Hisense but have you heard of Haier, Oppo or Xiaomi? Chinese consumer electronics brands have recently launched in the UK and are fast gaining traction in their respective categories since being made available on the UK high street.

We live in a society where global brands are the norm. Whilst we are, or at least believe we are, familiar with many of the brands we are exposed to, there are others that we don’t know so much about even if we buy-into them as consumers. Do we care about a brand’s origins and heritage? Or are consumer purchase decisions driven by a products’ look, functionality, usage, price point and status? If this new tranche of Chinese tech brands doesn’t focus enough on building their brands and resonance with the UK audience, will they be able to compete with their Californian cousins and achieve their full potential in the UK market?

Cleverly Haier, the world’s number one major appliance brand in terms of volume bought Hoover Candy, a traditional stalwart of the Major Domestic Appliance market in the EU which enables Haier to tap into the trust associated with a familiar European brand. Now listed in John Lewis stores, there’s brand reassurance of Haier is being established among shoppers.

Oppo, China’s leading 4G smartphone manufacturer, launched its range of mobile phones into Dixons Carphone earlier this year. With flagship models coming in at under £800 SIM free, the brand offers premium and innovative features at a fraction of the price other brands may charge. Time will tell if the brand has done enough to resonate and take a big enough market share and see a return on investment on their ICC Cricket World Cup and Wimbledon sponsorship.

Xiaomi, pronounced ‘ShwowMee’, is actually the world’s most valuable privately held company, and the third biggest smartphone maker, selling 61 million handsets last year. Xiaomi has been bold with its UK launch strategy and has opened a great new Mi store at Westfield White City. The store is familiar looking, sharing many similarities, all be it on a smaller budget, to that of its Californian cousins.

It sells a variety of products from mobile phones, TVs, smart kettles, electric scooters and other accessories in an environment where you are encouraged to play and explore. Its pricing is competitive and it’s certainly within the budgets of a far wider demographic than other brands but what it lacks is star quality. Star quality on build, packaging and its ability to give consumers that ‘feel good’ factor from an anonymous brand is essential if it’s to mean more to consumers. All possible if its proud heritage and brand storytelling was more obvious.

Tell me what Mi means to the technology industry and I may be persuaded to purchase some of today’s most competitively priced technology and become a brand advocate. Hide from me what Mi is and I may react a bit more suspiciously and feel the brand isn’t the best fit for me. Brands, wherever they are from, should be proud of their heritage and success. A confident, honest and ethical brand will help instil the necessary confidence in consumers to help a brand to gain traction and ‘win’ in a new market.

To read the full article please visit The Drum.

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How do small tech businesses fire up their retail sales?

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Innovation of technology is happening at a ferocious pace and it seems that there’s a gadget for everything and everyone these days. This has resulted in a very competitive retail environment both on and offline with a continuous flow of new products being launched to market.

However, it’s important to note that much of the new tech coming on to the market is originating from innovative start-up brands who may, or may not, have the marketing muscle or budgets to compete at the same level as established brands. For example, brands like Tile, who have a limited portfolio of products are bringing innovative tracking technology to the smart home category. Innovation from these types of company is exciting, but we must make sure that these products get to see the rabbit so to speak. Without brand recall in retail, many brands get lost in the noise when competing against those with bigger marketing budgets to woo the attention and support of major retailers.

Businesses spend time, money and energy pitching to buyers but many fail to prepare properly for when their online listing finally gets the green light, which can often take far longer than expected – i.e. months rather than weeks. It may also only be a sample of a retailer’s estate in which the brand gets the opportunity to prove the viability of their product. Once a retailer presses the button, a brand must fit with the retailers’ timelines and expectations and retailers are savvy operators, not to be underestimated when understanding what their shoppers like. The moment the listing begins is when businesses really need to move product, especially in traditional brick-and-mortar stores.

Some brands are astute enough to have created a strong online presence and awareness already via their own platforms or investment in an advertising campaign but for many, building brand awareness and driving conversation really starts with retail. So, what’s the best retail strategy for a start-up technology brand?

Get real

Firstly, don’t just focus online. According to the ONS online sales still only account for 18% of overall retail spend. This is especially true for electrical/technology products, which are often a considered purchase. Our own research shows that people like to go in-store, touch and feel the products, see them working in situ and get advice from store staff on what they should be purchasing.

Despite what many brands may think, you cannot rely on purely the store to sell your products as you will be just one of many established brands in a crowded category, or a category of one which no one has heard of or understands fully. Your carefully crafted marketing messages and USPs can easily get lost in translation. It’s not like an own brand store where everything is within your control. You can, however, take collaborative steps to help how your brand is marketed in third party retail.

Depending on the store and deal being negotiated pick your store strategy carefully. For example, you may or may not have the option to be in an entire estate and you may have more success and sell through picking off specific stores that attract more of your audience profile. However, which stores you end up in is not necessarily your choice; possibly being in fewer stores can make things easier to manage in the short term to establish store presence as sales increase.

Hearts and minds

This is one of the most crucial times for a start-up brand and getting momentum can make or break a business. Invest in working with a partner, an agency or individual consultant that strategically works as an extension of your sales and marketing strategy and enables your limited resources to focus on the ‘bigger picture’, making the right connections in store – connecting your brand with both the sales staff and consumers alike. Don’t leave it to chance or risk being ignored.

Work with the store to create an experience. This doesn’t have to be a large scale costly production. Merchandise well and manage the retail space so consumers can learn, look, touch and interact with the product effortlessly. But most importantly, develop a relationship with management and shop floor staff.

Show them you’re a brand that means business and is going to invest in them as a partner. Seeding product with selected store staff is common practice and enables them to talk sincerely about your product based on actual usage and therefore encouraging them to become an evangelist of your brand. You ideally want to create a store full of influences who are willing you to succeed so charm them, train them and reward them.

Innovation is fueling this exciting technological transformation, must make sure that these products get into the hands of retail store advisors who are capable of selling it and ultimately into the consumers’ basket. Considered purchases take time and an approach that resonates with a consumer’s lifestyle and need. Brands should not just be reliant on the big online retailers who are not the panacea many brands perceive them to be. Marketing online is another Pandora’s box we can discuss next time.

For the full article visit The Drum.

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Should Brands Be ‘In’ or ‘Out’ of the Political Debate?

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When considering how much time, money, and effort brands invest in establishing their equity as a valuable asset, you have to ask: should they be risking this equity by adopting a political position? The answer is probably not, just as you wouldn’t debate religion or social economics in the context of your brand. However, as we are seeing in the UK with the EU Referendum, and in the US with the Presidential race, brands are getting braver and sticking their noses into the political debate, risking alienating those that buy their products based on brand alone.

It’s a given that a brand’s stance on social responsibility is of paramount importance, for example, ensuring they pay a living wage relevant to the countries in which they operate in, paying statutory taxes, and exposing corruption in sponsorship, as in the case of the rather embattled FIFA. But, when the debate shifts to who to vote for, you run a huge risk of upsetting red or blue, left or right, yes or no.

Why would a brand financially invest in finding the most appropriate brand ambassadors or advertising campaigns only to potentially destroy any good will created amongst their loyal fans by pinning their colours to a political cause? Customers are ultimately what generates revenue for any brand. Speaking to your audience in the correct manner is essential to stimulating interest and persuading them to spend their hard earned money on your brand. Therefore, apart from the obvious free PR achieved, why take a gamble by entering into the political debate?

We recently commissioned consumer research, speaking to 2,000 respondents on the effects of consumer spending due to UK’s pending EU Referendum. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the vote could see the UK, a member for over 40 years, leave the European Union. The In (remain) and the Out (leave) campaigns have created aggressive and clever campaigns, coercing some brands to comment.

What our research shows is that brands should proceed with caution when entering the political debate. When asked whether consumers agree with “I’m more likely to support the side taken by a brand that I trust,” 25% of 18-24 year olds disagreed. However, as we progressed to the 55+ age group, i.e. those with more disposable income and more likely to vote, this disagreement increased to 41%. It’s therefore a sobering thought for any brand to realise that you may alienate a large proportion of your loyal customer base – an audience not just buying for themselves, but also the wider family unit.

When asked if “brands should stay out of politics altogether,” a staggering 61% of respondents said yes, with only 7% disagreeing. When you dissect this across all age groups, it becomes more pertinent as the feeling is consistent with 55% of 18-24, 56% of 25-34, 58% of 35-44 & 45-54, and topped by 68% of the 55+ agreeing. Bring gender into the equation and 64% of females feel more strongly about brands staying out of politics, compared to 58% of males, making political brand association more unappealing as originally thought. With research indicating that brands should be politically agnostic, think about any brand looking to endorse Clinton and Trump.

The statistics are a clear indicator for any brand entering the political debate, for whatever reason, it could potentially become a toxic issue causing long term damage to your reputation across the ages and sexes. Why take the risk? A brand’s social conscience should prevail, and any legitimate lobbying should cease when it spills into the public domain. The damage caused to your brand is likely to outweigh any financial gain from influencing the electorate.

 

Read more at: http://www.brandingmagazine.com/2016/06/15/should-brands-be-in-or-out-of-the-political-debate/

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Will Rugby World Cup sponsorship reap the benefits for brands?

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As the dust settles on the Fifa scandals, meaning sponsors can keep a low profile for now, the attention now turns to the Rugby World Cup which is being held in the UK. Yes that’s correct, here at home, not that many have noticed.

It’s interesting to hear that Heineken is to push 50% of its marketing budget into Rugby World Cup sponsorship in an effort to ‘maintain its recent sales momentum and continue its association with ‘world class events’.

With the tournament starting on 17 September to the 31 October, will supporters – whether die hard or casual – be captivated for a full six weeks? More importantly, will sponsors reap the benefits before viewer apathy possibly settles in?

Statistics have shown that 20.6 million Brits tuned into the Football World Cup final in 2014, compared to just six million for the previous Rugby World Cup final in 2011. So with a longer period to keep a global audience engaged and fewer viewers, the challenge for sponsors is how do you engage with consumers to reap the rewards of sponsorship? That’s a lot of beer over and above that would have been sold to balance the 50% investment.

To keep consumers interested throughout, brands need to involve consumers in the sport, not just the tournament itself. Dedicated fans will stay interest regardless, but to keep non-fans interested there needs to be a connection to the actual sport. Using an omni-channel experience to guide consumers between online and in store is the best way for brands to create this engagement.

As part of its online strategy for the tournament, Coca-Cola is running an on-pack giveaway where consumers can enter a code online to potentially win a Coca-Cola branded, World Cup Gilbert Rugby ball. As with many past sporting events sponsored by the brand, Coca-Cola is encouraging consumers to enjoy their products whilst watching the tournament, but also to get involved and play the game itself.

By creating this engagement, the brand is ensuring continued consumer interest in the sport, and as a result the larger tournament.

Many other sponsors are yet to reveal their online strategies for the tournament, or how they will create this important engagement with fans. With just over a month until the opening ceremony, brands need to start building the hype. Only time will tell if the sponsors can reap the benefits by keeping fans engaged throughout.

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Gekko reveal new brand identity and website

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Gekko are delighted to reveal our new brand identity and website, that gives a fresh look to the UK’s number one tech-focused Field Marketing agency.

Daniel Todaro, MD, Gekko said “Complementing the recent brand refresh, Gekko continue creating rewarding connections with our new website. Over the past 13 years, Gekko has maintained its ability to adapt in retail, the most dynamic of industries, to bring your brand to the right people and the right people to your brand. Gekko Field Marketing helps complete your customer journey and brand experience with measurable ROI and insight complementing your brand’s ATL.”

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