Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Focus on the core

I went to another BCAMA event today (BC Marketing Association). Topic was marketing in the fashion industry. It was a panel presentation with three very diverse fashion retailers - Bootlegger, Westcomb and Aritzia. My light bulb moment: I'll never be an Aritziacustomer and they don't care - nor should they.

Why are these 3 retailers successful? Because they know and focus on their core customer. They know who they are and don't try to be anything else.

My favourite line from Sally Parrott (Aritzia) is that they really don't care about the 'non' Aritzia customer and don't spend any money trying to attract them. They focus on their brand demographic and getting them into their stores to experience the Aritzia brand. And I have to begrudgingly agree with their strategy of staying focused on that 15-35 year old. If they grew their product offering to older or younger women they would likely lose their core.

Bootlegger tells a similar story. They had to take a hard look at their business in the 90s and cut their kids line to focus on men and women only. By editing they were able to better focus on their brand. Dustin May, from Bootlegger, has a favourite quote from Tom Ford about editing and seems to live by it. They have edited a lot of their pull marketing programs as they didn't return the same ROI as their CRM program. Again, they focus on their core business and it works for them. I wish them luck in their new e-comm business launching in April.

Westcomb had the best presentation. No slides. Just Gabriel Cote - a passionate outdoor enthusiast who started a company to find the gap between technical apparel and style. He was an authentic approachable guy - just like his brand. Their point of differentiation is they are 100% Canadian made and their focus is global. This is a very specialized industry and they have focused on fostering individual relationships with their dealers to get feedback and build a better product (when asked how he follows trends he talked about taking floor staff out to the pub to get their thoughts and ideas). His best quote was during the Q&A when answering a question about handling the economic downturn. His American dealers are cutting their budgets and his response to them was "you need a Porsche in your showroom if you want to sell a Ford." He knows his product is top of the line and will sell and will also help his dealers sell other products too.

So while I am still rather annoyed that I'm too old and rather too average in size to shop at Aritzia... I realize that I'll just have to find another aspirational lifestyle retailer that fits my current age and lifestyle.

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