This week we had the opportunity to bring together Rocky af Ekenstam Brennicke, Marketing & Brand Management, H&M New Business, and Pino Roscigno, Commercial and Brand Director at Stadium, to discuss the relationship between branding and sales in retail. Here’s what we talked about!
How can retailers leverage growth throughout the year, instead of boosting sales on specific days and periods? i.e. Black Friday, Christmas, Valentine’s day etc.
Pino: Working more with insights is definitely a key aspect to be more relevant throughout the year and keep pace with the Customer. Runners for instance, are interested in practicing running all year round, not just during spring and summer. Therefore brands need to be able to engage with them over a longer period of time, not only in specific moments. On the other hand, thanks to the many opportunities of sales and promotions, there is always room for system interruption and for creating moments and offers that will surprise, motivate and please the customer.
Rocky: I think we should keep a close eye on how the commercial cycle is evolving due to the global impact and international influences. For example, the entry of the mega sales event – “Singles Day”. This is a new important day to mark in the calendar, as this will impact all of us in the long run, as it is already part of the retail calendar, and it will become more and more integrated in our culture as well. At the same time, we also need to have a long term plan to keep consistency throughout the 12 months. Being agile during specific periods and days is a requirement to survive, but that does not mean being fickle about your commercial calendar.
How can retailers protect short term competitiveness while achieving long term growth?
Pino: Building a brand is often seen as a cost, if you want to narrow in on the effects and look only at short term KPIs. While, if this is done correctly, it can become a lethal weapon for customer acquisitions and sales, as it should eliminate future friction in sales: the stronger the brand, the lower the cost per acquisition. The answer lies in working with long term branding, including visual identity and positioning, as well as short term sales effects.
Rocky: I agree with Pino, unfortunately there are no shortcuts. Talking from a brand perspective, you should consider your brand as your bank account for savings: you need to make deposits, to be able to do withdrawals, and you have to keep the deposit over time to get interests. If you have worked properly and with a long term sight with your promise and differentiation, then it will be easier to act and react on short term needs and challenges.
The international landscape is rapidly changing due to increasing competition and external influences. What do you think brands should do to maintain their market share and positioning in current markets?
Pino: It’s really important that brands are always aware of their competitive landscape and have a clear understanding of their market, this is as crucial as focussing on and adapting to changing Customer behaviour. The key challenge is to continuously adapt while keeping the focus on your own competitive advantage, making sure you keep your unique identity and edge in order to ultimately win the game.
Rocky: Well, there are so many strong players out there that won’t make life easy. In my opinion, the most sustainable way to compete is by trying to outsmart, not outspend, your competitors. Focus on your core, master your offer and identity, and always take into great consideration the growing need for value-driven branding. Champion trust and transparency towards the consumer because they will see right through you.
Speaking about international expansion and influences, where do you currently see the main opportunities for the next 5 years in eCommerce?
Pino: To me, the low hanging fruit is in using the unique advantages of eCommerce to improve the physical and digital experience, by being able to maintain a broad offer and unique assortment wherever you are, be it Paris or Bollnäs.
Rocky: We are convinced we are not up for a retail eradication, but we are for sure up for a retail rebirth. I think it will be very interesting to witness and observe how the young consumers urge for physical brand experiences and how this will affect future retail. The exciting part is that we still don’t know how this will happen and on which terms. When it comes to the e-commerce experience, totally seamless and personalised shopping experiences will probably be hygiene factors: you will need to be able to juggle that with the reluctance to give away personal data!
If you’d like to hear more from Pino and Rocky about branding, sales and much more, they will give a co-presentation “From Singles Day to Summer Sales: Addressing the impact of the changing commercial cycle” at Savant eCommerce Stockholm in June. Secure your tickets here!