Branding: The Integrated Shopper
No, I'm not a woman. But I do shop for women's clothing. Huh? Let me clarify. My wife hates to shop. She simply refuses to buy things for herself (weird, I know). I, on the other hand, love to shop, especially for clothes (even weirder). So I end up doing all the shopping for her. I love the entire experience — comparing styles, watching trends, seeing who's wearing what, flipping through catalogs, browsing online, and especially walking into a store and experiencing the retail environment firsthand. Over the years I've gravitated toward my own favorite brands for men, but never really took a good, hard look at women's apparel brands.
For this fifth installment of The Integrated Shopper, I do just that. I take a critical look at the various selling channels of Coldwater Creek, Chico's and J.Jill to see how each brand integrates the consumer shopping experience.
I've admired this brand for years for its name recognition and solid reputation. It seems to be respected in the industry and has maintained a strong presence through its catalog, website and retail stores, which isn't an easy task these days. However, I must admit, I still don't know what the brand stands for. Maybe I just haven't looked hard enough. I started my search for the answer by reviewing Coldwater Creek's shopping channels.
First up was its catalog. The cover shot was a clean presentation of a happy model wearing a floral-patterned trench coat tossing rose petals into the air. The headline read, "180 New Spring Styles." The back cover showed another model wearing a light sweater holding a bright pink flower standing against a backdrop of flowers. I get it, this is Coldwater Creek's spring book.
The inside of the catalog offered a nice, clean presentation of brightly colored apparel items set against a sea of solid pastel backdrops. Mixed in were images shot in a studio against the same pastel backdrops of smiling models holding flowers. The book felt organized, open and airy. It was easy to shop, the pacing was interesting, and the overall impression was fresh and polished. There was certainly high production value here. However, there wasn't one mention of what the brand was about or why you should buy from it. Not one. It never once described what makes Coldwater Creek unique — unless it was the flowers.