Why would Redcats USA, the parent company of the former Lane Bryant catalog, abandon such a recognizable name last November by changing it to Woman Within? Plain and simple: The company’s hand was forced.
As part of its licensing agreement with Limited Brands, the former owner of the Lane Bryant company that sold the catalog division to Brylane (renamed Redcats several years ago), Brylane agreed to stop using the Lane Bryant name for its mail order catalog 15 years after the acquisition, which was last October.
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After unsuccessfully trying to renegotiate the licensing agreement with the management of Charming Shoppes, the current parent company of Lane Bryant, Redcats USA braced itself for a name change. The firm, which also mails Metrostyle (renamed from Lerner New York in 2006), KingSize, Chadwick’s, TGW, The Sportsman’s Guide and Roaman’s, among others, was given a year to plan the name change before implementing it.
“We started to prepare the final name in 2006,” says Redcats USA Chairman/CEO Eric Faintreny. “And we’ve been informing our customers by doing everything we have to do to re-establish a new brand on our customer file for a year.”
Although there’s little precedent of catalogs changing names, Red-cats USA learned from prior experience: The Metrostyle name change had been due to a similar licensing agreement.
Using all media available — catalogs, direct mail, the company Web site — Redcats USA began to feverishly communicate the new name to customers in October 2006. All units of the company were involved, Faintreny says, from customer service to marketing to creative.
Redcats used the catalog’s cover to make customers aware of the impending name change. Following a three-step progression over the transition year, the cover verbiage evolved through each new edition:
1. Lane Bryant introduces Woman Within
2. Woman Within, formerly Lane Bryant
3. Woman Within (on its own).
“It has been a two-year, continual project where people have met almost every week,” Faintreny says, “not only to discuss what was ahead, but also to look at the customer service section and customer perception. We evaluated the acceptance rate, gauging what was moving well and what needed attention.”
The Woman Within name wasn't entirely new to Redcats USA. It was the name of an intimates specialty Lane Bryant catalog, and management’s thinking was that the name would work well to represent the overall Lane Bryant brand. “By using Woman Within, we wanted to reinforce the fact that we were close to our customer, close to the woman,” Faintreny says.
Although Redcats didn’t accompany the name change with a complete overhaul of the book, it did make some subtle changes in photography to give Woman Within a different aura and unique identity. The same applies to the book’s merchandise, which has evolved into a more modern, unique look.
Faintreny says there’s been minimal backlash from customers or loss of customers due to the name change. While unwilling to provide exact sales figures, he claims Woman Within has performed above company forecasts and much better than the market since the name change. Customer service surveys were also administered to track customer perception and acceptance of the new name, the great majority of which have been positive, he says.
“People are welcoming of the new, fresh brand that modernizes itself,” Faintreny says. “That attraction to a new breed of customers probably offsets some of the Lane Bryant customers we lost. The two have neutralized one another. We have our identity, which is different from the Lane Bryant stores, and that’s good for us.”