In todays world of cut throat competition, Retail has become a challenging business, with competitions popping out of the blue. Retailers who are able to create a distinct identity for their stores in the minds of the consumers will be able to sustain in the market profitably in the long run. This requires building a customer-centric culture and monitoring the global trends on a continuous basis. To set themselves apart from the competition, retailers must build a brand image for their store. This will give them a two-fold benefit of maintaining goodwill with both the manufacturers and the consumers. Brands are one of the most valuable assets, and creating a good brand image is crucial for retailers as it is for the manufacturers, especially as retail competition is at its peak in the recent years. Brand building consists of creating an image for the retail store, advertising, and implanting their store logo in the consumers mind.
The Global Retail Scenario:
Brand plays an important role in the retail arena. It identifies a particular product and differentiates it from its competitors. Today nobody goes to the store to buy a soap, or salt or butter. They want to buy a Lux, or Tata, or Amul. Consumers do not want to shop in a retail store. They want to shop in Wal-Mart, or Marks and Spencer, Zara, and the like. Such is the presence of brand image in the minds of the consumers. 16 of the worlds top 50 brands are retail brands.
A successful branding strategy should:
- Generate customer value,
- Provide perceived value, and
- Be difficult to copy.
Initially, the retailers notion of having a brand image did not go through well. The classic ideas of the retailers did not match with the simplicity of brands. Also, the retailers mind-set to expect an immediate return on their investment did not go with the prolonged time brands need to spread their influence in the market. But later on, retailers started understanding that, their biggest asset apart from the retail space, and supply chain are the shoppers themselves. So, having a strong brand image is a pre-requisite for success. Strong brands become transferable, and extend their operation into new service areas.
Textile Retailing and Branding:
Textile industry is one of the most highly competitive industries in the world. In todays textile world, branding has become an extremely complex task. There are so many textile companies, and every one of them wants a share in the pie. Retailers began to see the necessity of having a strong brand in their business to provide exceptional insulation and demand. Gap, Mango, Zara, Marks and Spencer, and H&M are a few to name among the top global retail brands dealing in clothing. Mango operates in 89 countries, Zara 68, and H&M operates in 28 countries with a universally strong influence. The ability of the brand determines the customers ongoing loyalty, repurchase and retention, ultimately influencing the retailers profits.
Importance of Branding:
- Identification of the product source: identifies the manufacturer from whom the product came to the retail store.
- Assign the responsibility to the product maker: in case if there is any malfunction in the product.
- Quality Representation: the owner of the brand will be the source of the quality of the product sold.
- Builds a bond with the retailer: the type of product sold in the store, and the reputation of its manufacturer will satisfy the status requirements of the shopper.
- Legal protection of unique features: of the in store arrangements of the store.
- Indicates quality level to satisfied customers: the store display and products sold will be a status symbol, and shopping at the store will satisfy the customers self-esteem
- Gains competitive advantage: over the other retail stores selling similar or substitute products.
- Financial returns: will help the retailer to increase customer satisfaction and thereby acquire more profits.
Branding is differentiating their product or store from that of others. In a retail outlet, branding can be done through many ways.
- Delivery of the products at the consumers doorstep.
- Reliability, and repairability, in case if the product does not comply with the quality and performance standards.
- Customer Service, courtesy, and good communication.
- Employee hiring and training.
- Competency in creating a comfortable shopping environment for the customer.
- Visual aids, like signs, symbols and logos could be used in an appropriate way so as to build a brand image in the minds of the consumer.
Brand identity is what the retailers transmit into the market place. This is under their control if they understand the market, customers preference, and the nature of their brand. Brand image is what that exists in the customers mind, the information they have received abut the brand through word of mouth, experience, advertising, service etc.
Retail brands have been more successful in the recent past years comparatively with product brands. The retailer is closer to the consumer and communicates with him at the moment of purchase. Once the customer trusts the retailer and has good experience, and memories of shopping, a strong foundation is laid that will last for a long time.
Brands make it possible to recognize a product and simplify the purchasing decisions. It creates a sense of belonging in the minds of the consumer. Retail brands are visible platforms for kindred spirits. Unlike products, brands have infinite life. Retail branding creates brand preference. A brand created successfully in the retail space lives in the minds of the consumer forever.
1. Building successful Indian Brands, Asst Prof. Sundar, BIM. http://www.bim.edu/pdf/Larticle/Building_Successful_Indian_Retail_Brands.pdf
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