Branding: The Integrated Shopper
Retailers must make a concerted effort to get consumers' attention in today's fast-paced environment, where prospects are subjected to hundreds of adverting messages a day. When it comes to brand recognition, integration is the name of the game. For consumers to really connect with a brand, they must have the same brand experience online, in-store or with the catalog.
Are retailers making strides in this direction? To find out, over the past 14 months I've scrutinized the brand integration efforts of a variety of retail categories in a four-part series in All About ROI. (The first three were written with George Hague.) For this fourth installment, I've taken a critical look at three outdoor adventure brands — Patagonia, REI and Cabela's — to see how well each delivers a consistent customer experience.
The Patagonia catalog does a superb job of integrating authentic stories and "product-in-use" photography with more typical lay-down images. The lifestyle images and client testimonials provide an element of authenticity and credibility.
In evaluating the digest-sized Holiday Favorites 2009 catalog, I assume that Patagonia has gone to this format to save on mailing costs, like many retailers. The smaller page size would cause many brands to reduce or even eliminate full-page lifestyle images in favor of more selling space. But Patagonia is savvy enough to understand that its customers identify with these "real-world" scenarios and envision themselves in those environments. These inspiring images and stories are a way for Patagonia to tell its customers, "We understand you. We're just like you. We're the real deal." The same action-oriented outdoor photos greet shoppers at its website for a consistent message and seamless shopping experience.
When you set foot in a Patagonia store, you get the sense you've walked into a local shop in a mountain town. As the door creaks behind you, you're greeted with a friendly "hello," and the warm, cabin-like atmosphere makes you want to stay awhile. The company has managed to bring the authentic feel of its brand to life in the retail environment.