The Secret Door to Brick-and-Mortar: Succeeding With Millennials
By Nate Dwyer, Red Peak Branding
In the face of an e-commerce take-over, brick-and-mortar retailers are flailing to attract Millennials into stores and industry experts are issuing the same old humdrum advice. Marketing gurus instruct retailers to make retail experiences for Millennials feel “personal” and “convenient.” These are surface level tactical recommendations rooted in common sense — people like to feel attended to and enjoy a hassle-free shopping experience.
But industry experts have overlooked a much more compelling (if not also obvious) emotional insight that may reveal how to turn a now skeptical, pragmatic, yet values-oriented shopper, into a loyal follower.
While some peg Millennials as self-centered actors, it is clear also that the idea of togetherness, teamwork and support are important to this group. Looking back to the ’90s, it’s easy to see where these values (and the millions of hours on Facebook) derived: This was the first generation told they could change the world with collective action. Think of the first recycling programs, Sesame Street, and the drive for equality and diversity expressed through crayon-scribed graphics of communities linked hand-in-hand. Quite simply for Millennials, “teamwork makes the dream work.”
David Burstein, author of “Fast Future, How the Millennial Generation is Shaping Our World” writes, “They see the world from a values perspective — reaching Millennials requires a real investment [from brands and organizations] in social responsibility.”
If that is true, one can surmise that authenticity is critical across all brand efforts and initiatives. This is a savvy consumer, and to show a genuine interest in supporting their passions, validating their interests, and helping them come together — the investment must look sizable to feel real.
There is no better touchpoint for Millennial-focused brands than real retail space.
Lululemon is a great example of how a retail brand has found success in using physical space to validate and support customers and give that culture a home. Now the third most profitable retailer (behind only Apple and Tiffany & Co), bringing in a tremendous $1,936 of sales per square foot in 2012, Lululemon stores offer not only great products but are also temples of yoga. At each location, Lululemon moves products aside, unrolls yoga mats thus transforming their retail space into instant yoga studios. Classes are complimentary to everyone in the community. During store hours you’ll find bright, energetic yoga fans behind the counter (and sometimes even doing yoga in the window). These are much more than sales people, they are brand ambassadors and highly knowledgeable about both the exercise and Lululemon products.
These investments have not only resulted in a loyal following of shoppers, but have allowed the brand to expand their offering into running, and Lululemon now owns the broader “sweat culture.” As of February, Lululemon has opened or acquired over 210 stores in North America and Australia and in 2012, launched 27 stores.
A similar strategy is working for a much less sexy retailer, Duane Reade. In 2009, Duane Reade was just another drug store struggling to compete in a crowded marketplace, giving their customers no reason to choose them over CVS or Rite Aid or other local drug stores.
But the brand realized its most unique offering against the big national chains was its New York heritage. Unveiling the tagline “New York Living Made Easy,” Duane Reade redesigned stores with a focus on New York residents. Each major location was overhauled with bright new shelving, more organized departments and a cleaner look and feel. Flagship stores also offer unique, neighborhood-specific services.
In the Financial District, beauty consultants cater to the droves of young female professionals who work in the area. On Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, you’ll find a walk-in beer fridge complete with growler tap. This investment in localized offerings echo just what Millennials are looking for: a reflection of their specific interests, and recognition of their needs.
The location-specific design reflects a brand that understands the challenges of living in New York better than the competition. Sales of private label products have doubled and Duane Reade continues to be the preferred drugstore destination of New Yorkers.
We’re now seeing smaller brands build culture into their retail offering, or build retail to expand their cultural impact. Chobani has invested in their very own boutique retail space in New York. The new Chobani Store in SoHo offers yogurt-lovers unique yogurt creations in elegant glass containers, and perhaps more importantly, they’ve given yogurt lovers a place to flock.
Given the company is the leading seller of Greek yogurt in the U.S., one might ask why a retail space was necessary. But for Chobani (who are losing ground to the marketing powerhouse of Dannon and its Oikos Greek yogurt brand) this was more a brand-driven decision that will help them own the Greek yogurt space.
If Chobani can support and validate yogurt culture (no pun intended), any brand can do the same around their offering.
In a quest to build deeper relationships with consumers, retailers must think beyond tactical, clichéd ideas of ‘convenience’ and ‘personalization.’ These efforts may capture minds, but will not capture hearts. It is through supporting and validating customers’ identities that brands can make their product sacred, their store a cathedral, and transform fickle Millennial consumers into retail evangelists.
Nate Dwyer is senior strategist at strategy-and-design brand consultancy Red Peak Branding, a unit of Red Peak Group.
Pet supply company OurPet’s sees record third quarter results
OurPet’s Company, a leading proprietary pet supply company, saw sales in its grocery, mass retail and pet specialty channels grow substantially in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, compared to the same period last year.
The company’s sales were also complemented by higher international sales, which were up more than 42% from the same quarter a year ago.
The company’s net revenue increased 34% to $5.7 million, a third quarter record for the company, driven by higher sales to a majority of the company’s top customers, especially in the food, drug and mass markets, plus further diversification in the company’s sales channels.
"Our record 2013 third quarter results reflect solid progress and position us to achieve additional improvements across our business in the fourth quarter and into next year,” said Dr. Steven Tsengas, chairman and CEO. “Our long-term growth strategy includes double-digit increases in net revenue and net income as we continue to execute our plans in multiple sales channels and with ongoing attention to our operating margins. The net revenue increase for the most recent quarter was specifically due to solid performance in our base business and core product lines."
As the company looks ahead to 2014, it expects to drive performance through growth in its base business and by further expanding core product lines, including the launch of new products.
OurPet’s Company designs, produces and markets a broad line of accessory and consumable pet products in the U.S. and overseas.
ArbiterSports restructures leadership as part of growth initiative
ArbiterSports, a leading game management solutions provider, has named Jeremy Brown as the company’s chief technology officer.
According to the company, they brought in Brown because he is a software architect, user-interface designer and quality assurance expert. To address the company’s accelerated growth, a decision was made to divide the responsibilities of CTO and chief infrastructure officer between two individuals. Both roles were previously handled by Troy Black, who will retain the job of chief infrastructure officer.
"We’re excited to have Jeremy join our executive team," said Jeff Triplette, CEO at ArbiterSports. "He brings an exciting new level of expertise that will allow us to design for the long term, develop products even more rapidly and assure the quality our customers demand through new automated tools. He’s also a business-minded engineer, who’ll be a perfect fit with our culture."
Before joining ArbiterSports, Jeremy worked as a senior software engineer and software director for Novell, Ping Identity and Echopass. His areas of expertise include user experience design, quality assurance automation and software architecture, in addition to team management. Brown has a bachelor of science in computer science from Brigham Young University, a master in education in instructional technology from Utah State University, and an MBA in technology management from Westminster College.
ArbiterSports products are built on a cloud-based system that allows secure access from anywhere and provides seamless integration and add-on features.