Retail Brand Marketing Strategies in the 21st Century

Brands have become more than just a style statement. “Impossible is nothing” — Adidas, L’oreal’s “Because, you’re worth it”, “Just do it” — Nike, are some taglines that speak volumes of who customers would like to personify or idolize, or sometimes simply associate with. Brands have undoubtedly let customers take center stage, where they want to act as an aid to motivate, induce confidence and empower its customers. This is hard work.

In the last few years, brands and retailers have witnessed a change in customer shopping behaviours. From wholesale to limited products and now personalized products. But one thing is explicit, as time passes, changes in society have caused an orthodoxy to lose traction.

From online shopping to better brick and mortar experiences, brands are working their way to deliver an element of personalization to promote brand loyalty. They are turbocharging towards innovative means to create a — special ‘wow’ experience to attract and retain consumers. Also because, consumers are demanding that seamless experience. Since there are umpteen brands that are available, customers find it easy to switch if they do not find the perfect experience.

Be it brick and mortar stores or while shopping online or via a mobile application, it is becoming critically important as to how brands are communicating with their end-users.

Redefining the trends in customer markets will shape the future of the retail industry that yields new opportunities in the way brands communicate.

Main reasons why brands have to pivot from their old school thought are:

  • Growing internet penetration

Importance of Advertisements

Brands are creating the — “keeping up with the trend” FOMO among consumers. Advertisements that occupy the customary billboards and hoardings to digital signage at prime locations, “Labels” are reaching out to customers consciously and subconsciously, while they walk and talk. As vibrant SALE signs do in-store, the goal is to also make the online shopping process as easy and intuitive as possible. From discounts to faster deliveries, changes in B&M stores, to enhance the customer shopping experience. Companies are going that extra mile so that the customer thoroughly associates with the brand.

Technology as a differentiator

Communication by different merchandises has become distinct. From the basic differentiation of convenience and experience stores, brands can set themselves apart. Let’s take two brands: Primark and Dior. Your mind easily knows how to differentiate between the two.

Technology has been the front-runner in driving suitable engagement and a finer experience in consumers’ shopping journey. Making the most of it are B&M stores that are witnessing a shift to staff-free stores and unmanned checkouts. These are possible through connected or converged networks, devices, channels, and applications.

Taking this emerging concept to play is Nucleus Vision, an IoT and Retail technology-based company use ion sensors to detect customers and suggest the best in house discount for the customer. Understanding individual consumers and consistently meeting their expectations is essential to making it happen. Retailers are setting up data analytics that collects data, analyze it, tackling data disparity and convert all this data into something that is personalized for the customer.

GAP released a digital dressing room on their app to try on clothes on a digital mannequin without even entering the store. Companies like L’oreal introduced Augmented Reality just to spare their customers for the messy physical testing of products. As major brands pace ahead in digitizing their products they are adopting trends that enable their customers to visualize their looks by facial recognition through 3D video, The best part is that these modern changes in shopping patterns are providing more latitude to serve the customers who are tech-savvy.

Technology has reached an almost preliminary level, where based on the email addresses that customers are often used by a user logged is synced with mobile applications that run sponsored ads for similar searched products. Companies are now leveraging these attributes amongst others:

  • Using software and algorithms to understand their customers better and have a better shopping experience.

Role of S-Commerce — Social Commerce

Lately, shoppers have developed a trait of clicking pictures of themselves in or with their newly purchased products with their friends and networks, via Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. With an increase in the number of sharing media platforms, the wider audience is more aware of what brands their friends are wearing, what brands their favorite celebrity star is donning. This has led to a subsequent rise of crowd culture which has become is potentially intrusive.

The “Pop-ular culture” is the crux to gaining more customers and is transforming the repertoire for generating more revenue. Brand ambassadors and paid partnerships with influencers are part of this whole strategy. The competitiveness amongst similar takes a subtle definition here and it is how best the brand delivers its promise, is the way they build trust with their customers. Under Armour’s collaboration with Dwayne Johnson is the ultimate celebrity endorsement. Another collaboration was Stephen Curry’s shoe line with Under Armour was predicted to sell more than LeBron James’s Nike footwear merchandise back in 2016, at $160 million versus James’s $150 million. Such partnerships have given the old chaps in the industry run for their money and sales. After some searches, trying a new angle was Reebok with their collaboration with Gal Gadot, that showcased the feminine power in a masculine inclined theme like sports. Shoppers look up to brands that can inspire, flatten out stereotypes and who have the ability to communicate bold personalities.

Shoppers have begun trusting the collective reviews of strangers — and the mighty challenge, for brands and retailers is to be noticed as authentic and trustworthy. Opinions and suggestions on social media sites — posted by friends and strangers have more influence on specific purchase decisions than factors that brands and retailers can control, such as advertising, sales promotions, and pricing. Clearly, consumers’ trust has become more crucial for brands’ success.

Shoppers have started searching for alternatives, which opens up an opportunity for innovative brands to push forward a new ideology in their categories. This has also caused a new line of businesses and products to gain attention. From animal cruelty-free products, to organic and eco-friendly products, besides the conventional branded tags. Social media is enabling companies to leapfrog from traditional media to forge meaningful relationships with customers. This leads to another interesting topic that helps brands sustain brand loyalty — membership or subscription and loyalty points.

Subscription services in branding

Premiumisation is becoming the trend of the hour where customers receive a better customer shopping experience and a reason for companies to build the rapport with their loyal shoppers.

A well-sighted example is the Amazon Prime day deal acts like a hook-line-sinker to tighten grip on their shoppers by getting them to enroll in its membership program. It aims to offer discounted deals, faster deliveries, and free shipping. The Prime membership appears to be important for revenue stream also clinching in loyal customers. Prime members are key to driving the companies growth as they spend two to three times as much as nonmembers.

According to statistics, currently more than 100 million users were paying for the membership. During this whole time, they are also boosting their own products like Kindle, firesticks and the echo speakers.

Another example is the “Red card loyalty” of Target offers free shipping, for a paid membership Target offers same-day shipping.

Freemium version of various products are being launched. Where customers get to try the services of the brand for free for the first month and then customers are asked to pay for the services they avail, either every month or a 6 month or a yearly package. Customers are even now willing to pay for the services if they feel that they are good enough or they can also revoke the services. From Apple music, Netflix to Spotify and many others. In the retail sector a similar model is fine tuned where the customer pays for membership to receive reward points or loyalty points and vouchers that they can later redeem on their next purchase, this is how they maintain the brand touchpoints.

It is clear that creative approaches in marketing particularly how brands communicate their values, strengths and fundamental ideology of the business. It is not about the conventional integrated marketing methods that get the brands going in this competitive consumer hungry world. It is how best brands deliver a memorable experience to its customers where brands are adored, remembered and oft bought.

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