Over the years, the retailers have adopted several unique strategies and ways of dealing with the challenges. We shall briefly discuss the two major strategies adapted by the international retailers in their areas of global operations.
Differentiation by Unique Customer Experience
Some of the features that highlight the international retailer product is the standardization in the product mix as well as stores format and sales promotions which is retained similar across the globe and it is this that builds the brand visibility and loyalty. Customers began to associate the particular store format as well as the colour and logo with the brand. However in the last decade or so, the trends have changed. We have begun to see the international retailers coming up with unique store setup as well as unique concepts and interiors in exclusive showroom that promises an entirely new shopping experience for the customer. A Prada showroom in US is totally different from the one in US in terms of its interiors. In Tokyo too, the Prada showroom is designed and built by famous architects and interior designers who reflect the modern trend and provide a unique experience for shopping.
Most of the luxury brands have begun to catch on to the modern generation and create a platform to reflect the ultra modern cultures. The luxury brand customers therefore are made to feel exclusive and enjoy their shopping experience with which their brand loyalty is strengthened. This approach can however be taken by individual brand owners and high end luxury brands that can afford to spend their investments in this area. The larger and bulk retailers of brands like Mango, GAP etc would not follow this strategy for they tend to be driven by profits coming in from larger volumes and need to keep their operational costs under control. Going forward we can expect the retailers to get more creative with the brand advertising by projecting a distinct lifestyle and status associated with the brand and thus invest on communicating a uniqueness to the customer through the brand positioning than spend huge amounts on operations. On the other hand the International retailers which standardized format of showrooms are likely to expand their product promotions as well as customer loyalty programs and try to increase value for money proposition to attract and retain more customers.
Extending Product Mix and building new Brands
Europe and US are traditionally the large markets for international retailers. In the last decade due to various reasons including economic situations as well as change of the trends, the international retail sales have begun to shrink and some of the brands seems to be reaching maturity as well moving towards decline. In trying to expand sales, the retailers have begun to expand the product mix as well as build new complementary brands. Most of the fashion brands like Gucci, Diesel as well as brands like Nike, Reebok etc have started marketing fashion accessories related to their main line of products. Most often the brand extensions include new fashion clothing, accessories and fashion jewellery, footwear, handbags, sun glasses and such similar product lines.
Besides extension of product lines, the retailers have also begun to expand the market through additional brands. Introducing additional brands helps the retailers in many ways. New brands can be introduced along with the old brand so that it helps build the new brand with brand association as well as visibility. New brands can help the retailers attract a new segment of customers who were not targeted by the old brand. The new brands can be designed to provide price differentiation as well as new fashion trends, thus catering to a whole new segment in the market. Giorgio Armani with its complimentary brand Emporia Armani is perhaps the most successful strategies seen in promoting and growing complimentary brands. Diesel too has introduced baby Diesel and Diesel kids as brand extenstions.
Apart from the above brand specific strategies, international retailers have also begun to embark on buying new companies with similar brands or entering into new line of business altogether in order to fuel their business expansion and market extension.