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Major North American Apparel Retailer

Overcoming a flattened growth curve through competitive brand repositioning, strategy clarification, and creation of a purpose-driven organization.

Capabilities Deployed: Brand, Strategy, Culture, Insights

The Challenge

After several years of flat revenues, this Major North American clothing retailer needed to reestablish its growth trajectory by targeting new consumer segments, most importantly in the fiercely competitive and fragmented men's and women’s street wear markets. Additionally, there were significant organizational challenges to achieving the company’s growth objectives, including accelerating and unfocused innovation, fragmented brand management and merchandising processes, and an undeveloped brand strategy. In addition, the brand architecture and customer experience had become overly complex and confusing to customers, further eroding brand appeal and resonance in the market.

Our Solution

We organized a cross-functional client team representing senior leadership in marketing, merchandising, R&D, corporate development, and store experience/operations to ensure involvement and commitment across all important business functions that impact the customer experience. We conducted extensive qualitative, ethnographic and quantitative research to identify key brand attributes, points of leverage and elasticity for the store brand and its key clothing brands (comprised of numerous private labels representing roughly 90% of the business).  Our research revealed a significant opportunity to establish a powerful emotional connection with targeted consumers through a new brand promise that links the company’s heritage of innovation to a now-needed aspirational brand promise centering on “confidence and self-expression.”  We created comprehensive brand, product, and communications guidelines to ensure consistent understanding and more effective management of the store brand and its major clothing brands, and assisted with the development of a new strategic blueprint that identified the strategic imperatives required to bring the entire customer experience into alignment with the new brand promise. We also developed new Brand and Product Management structures and processes tailored to the client organization, including a more disciplined and constructive interface between marketing, merchandising, R&D, and store operations.

The Outcome

The company rapidly developed a portfolio of more fashionable, on-trend and on-brand designs, and translated the strategic blueprint and brand framework into a revitalized, more helpful, "outfit-driven and idea-driven" in-store customer experience, as well as a more compelling online and mobile shopping experience. Creative strategy and communications became more focused, reinforcing the revitalized brand promise. The first ever “Brand Council” was established, overseeing the new brand management processes and ensuring greater integration and cooperation between key business functions. As a result of these initiatives, the company achieved a 21% increase in revenue in a two-year period.

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