Retail Marketing Is in Fashion
Remember that fancy shoe guy, the one made famous by the women from Sex in the City? Well, he’s back.
I know this not because I am an aficionado of expensive footwear (I am.) or because I’m tracking the career trajectory of Manolo Blahnik (I’m not.). My new awareness stems from the inordinate number of mentions the Spanish designer had in my “retail” Google Alerts yesterday morning.
It seems the shoe master has branched out, and will be launching his first, full, stand-alone line of evening bags at the end of July. The debut of this collection is big fashion news; the man is a genius who brought high style to pop culture. (The bejeweled, blue satin pumps that Big presents to Carrie at the end of the first SATC movie was Blahnik’s Hangisi design.)
The evening bag collection is comprised of six different clutch styles, each decorated with jewel designs that already exist in the iconic shoe line. And they make the footwear seem downright affordable; retail prices for the new bags range from $1,725 to $1,925.
So what can high-priced handbags possibly have to do with retail marketing or signage and display?
Maybe a lot. I find my inspiration wherever I can get it; Manolo Blahnik as muse is not too shabby. As retail marketers, we can look at his collection, its presentation and the impact it has on fashionistas for direction in creating in-store displays and experiences – for any kind of retail brand.
It is not a matter of highbrow versus mass market; ideas don’t have price tags. (Actually, they do, but that’s another post for another day.) It is about examining something smart and beautiful and taking direction from it. So what is Blahnik teaching us?
Demonstrate exclusivity. We all want to feel special. Everyone wants to be first, to be in on it and to have something that others don’t. (Uma Thurman carried one of Blahnik’s new bags at Cannes earlier this summer.) In-store VIP events, limited-time offers, previews and access to style makers are just a few of the ways to offer exclusivity to the shopper. The retail marketer who can make her feel like she is enjoying something others aren’t has made a great first step in creating a brand loyalist.
Be surprising. Blahnik’s bags are surprising in their color combinations, their cunning size, their material – even their very existence. Use display to create something unexpected for the shopper to engage with. It doesn’t have to be huge or life changing. Just make it delightful and deserving of her attention
Know your brand. Everyone knows a Manolo Blahnik on sight. His esthetic, quality and brand voice are always clear and consistent. Strive for the same clarity when creating in-store shopper experiences. Visuals, tone of voice, type of interaction, level of familiarity – all are dictated by brand personality. Don’t be afraid to display one.
Showcase quality. A shoe is just a shoe, but a Blahnik is perfection. That’s not simply a brand message; it is a fact, proven again and again to the customer. Think about material and manufacturing when creating in-store displays. Shoppers seek quality not only in the goods they buy, but in the experiences they engage in.
Get rid of the “it’s just” attitude. Blahnik would never say, “It’s just a shoe.” or “It’s just a handbag.” By the same token, it’s not just a sign. It’s not just a display. These are critical opportunities to connect with shoppers, build the brand and move the merchandise. Elevate what might seem mundane; give it the meaning and resonance it deserves. Honor these tools of the retail marketer.