Branding: The Multichannel Shopper
Clothes may make the man, but brands make the clothes. Who hasn’t succumbed to the lure of a designer label because of … well, the label?
Clothing companies have a unique advantage when it comes to building brands: People buy clothes to reflect who they are or who they want to be. It’s a direct reflection of how they want to be perceived. Think about this if you’ve ever not purchased a T-shirt because the label was too prominent: Was it really because you didn’t want to be a walking advertisement, or was it just the wrong advertisement?
Clothiers have worked the catalog and retail combination for decades. Knowing the strength of multiple channels, they were early adopters of online marketing. But in multichannel branding, have they maintained their lead? To find out, we recently conducted a secret shopper exploration of Eddie Bauer, J.Crew and Anthropologie. (For the first part of this ongoing series, check out our Multichannel Shopper investigation of food merchants in our January 2009 issue, which is also archived at CatalogSuccess.com.)
Yes, this company was launched by a man named Eddie Bauer. He invented the down jacket, designed a shuttlecock that popularized badminton and founded a clothing empire in 1920. Besides all that, the U.S Army allowed him to stitch his label in uniforms Bauer manufactured for servicemen during World War II. He was the only designer afforded that privilege. From the start, Eddie knew a thing or two about branding.
The Bauer brand-meisters have been in a chess match with L.L.Bean and Lands’ End for decades. They all sell the same style of clothing to the same demographic. Why choose one over another?
Is Eddie Bauer the consciously low-fashion brand of long-lasting quality that emphasizes details? “It’s ugly and it makes you look like a box, but it lasts forever.” Lands’ End has that position sewn up.