What with the recession, supermarkets expanding into every niche offer and the relentless growth of on-line – what remains of our once proud Independent retail sector, must believe that the end is truly in sight.
All is not lost however – one Independent retailer’s approach may point the way for others…
A few weeks ago I popped into Sweaty Betty – a sports outfitter for woman – that had just opened on our gap-toothed Muswell Hill high street.
Whilst my wife tried on an array of gym tops, I noticed that a blackboard prominently advertised yoga and running classes. The manager told me they run free classes 2 or 3 times a week.
Highly noble perhaps – but this is also a brilliant yet simple marketing strategy. It demonstrates a real passion for health and fitness at very little cost. The result is loads of feel good brand engagement – with all the commensurate commercial benefits.
Goliaths such as Tesco and Sainsbury would find such a brand building strategy very difficult to replicate – across 1000+ stores.
This is perhaps the source of salvation for our high street. Sole traders can be more tactically nimble and thus provide a more genuinely ‘personal’ shopping experience.
Let’s call this customer relationship;
So, adopting the Sweaty Betty approach, what can our hard pressed Independent retailers do for little cost – to enhance customer passion and make them stick to their retail brand like G.L.U.E?
The basis for my Brand G.L.U.E approach is that the world is full of passionate experts with time on their hands. They are sitting at home, waiting for that well-timed and constructed call… (and cup of tea).
This is what our retailers could consider trying to do:
Bakers/patisserie – perhaps short baking sessions of cakes and bread in the shop – by a local cookery author or chef? Customers will then be able to buy the product (“this is one I made earlier…”)
Bookshop – local writers talk about their work. Brings in footfall and again stimulates related sales. Align with book reading groups and allow them to use space in your shop to meet up.
Records/music shop – there are plenty of pop stars and musicians around wanting to reminisce!
Sports/ Cycling shop – too early to get Bradley Wiggins to turn up for free, but there are a lot of ex pros out there wanting to inspire others. What about puncture repair demonstrations?
Kitchen/bathroom fitters – Attract kids with SIMS design your own kitchen/bathroom exercises on ipads – and the parents will follow and stick around!
So, for the Independent retailer it could be as simple as this. Demonstrate passion in your product and service and your customers will return it and stick with you.
The Sweaty Betty Brand G.L.U.E approach is perhaps the best and most effective weapon in the battle for the consumers’ hearts and wallet.
This is an abridged version of an article that first appeared in Brand Republic
By Mano Manoharan