Branding Feature: Branding Beyond the Products You Sell
Some of us remember a time when manufacturers and retailers wanting to reach their customers would simply place an ad touting their brands and products. Ads could take any of several forms — newspaper, magazine, radio, direct mail and, if the budget allowed, television. The message could be subtle or direct. It would run a number of times according to the ad agency's "proprietary" formula and the consumer would ideally respond by going to their local store to make a purchase.
This retail business model, which fostered the rise of that once great and now-faded American institution, the mall, seems terribly outdated and almost quaint today. The mall was the place where retail lived and thrived. The mall had something for every member of the family, usually with multiple retailers offering the same branded merchandise from their gaudy-themed store windows. The mall was a destination; it was entertainment just as much as it was shopping.
Then the internet came along and changed everything.
It's a new world now. For many of us, mall or no mall, visits to a retail store are few and far between. The fact is the internet has pretty much made many brick-and-mortar retailers mostly irrelevant, if not obsolete. Consumers are bombarded with increasingly sophisticated, precisely targeted ads driving them to the web for their purchases. Shoppers have gotten smart (and maybe a little lazy) knowing that they can find exactly what they want at the absolute lowest price without moving from their PC, tablet or mobile device.
From 2000-2012, total U.S. retail sales grew 3.2 percent compounded annually. During the same period, e-commerce sales posted a 19.1 percent compounded annual growth rate. Furthermore, according to Forrester Research, the web will account for 11 percent of the total retail sales in the U.S. by 2018. That's $414 billion in sales, a compound annual growth rate of 9.5 percent.