13 OCT 2015

New role of today’s Retail for the brand

The Director of Univisual, Gaetano Grizzanti, deals with the theme of brand in the modern retail world.

It is more and more obvious that in recent years, the retail is evolving as business asset at strategic level and consequently, the brand management is increasingly becoming its main critical factor for success.

«The historic brand-retail combination is living a second youth…» states Gaetano Grizzanti, CEO of Univisual, who continues: «…thanks to the modern need of ‘multi-channels’, the retail takes up a primary role that was challenged by the assertion of Internet and e-commerce. Today the web is the unbeatable exploration tool, however the sale point is still - in addition to the preferred where to conclude a purchase - the place par excellence where the brand makes its essence tangible in order to engage the consumer».

Following the technological and content development that revolutionizes display spaces - as well as the communication tools they avail themselves of - the brand has also the need to evolve its contact methods with the consumer. Which are the most significant elements of this change?

Today the retail sphere re-proposes an important opportunity for the brand: a renewed physical territory where the public can live a unique experience, in line with their set of values. Within this context, the brand is called to focus on its specific performance, different from that of the retail world in the strict sense of the term, often limited to the exposure of the product or placement logics within a space. In order to respond to market expectations directly and immediately, companies must focus on identifying a more strategic and less extemporaneous mood, in perfect tune with the ‘brand personality’.

Today, thanks to the brand, the point of purchase (POP) can exceed certain limitations of the past a finally pursue a contemporary language, dare more. In many cases, especially in the USA, the strong push in this direction is obvious, coming from modern display spaces, therefore it is interesting to observe how the brand exploits this dimension to emphasize its voice, at times also deafening, with a very effective impact on the public.

After ‘brand experiences’ of this type have also reached Italy, the retail is outdating traditional rules, such as for example the ‘absolute classic’ aimed at confer great visibility and light to the product. A true revolution is that of the consumer of a renowned clothing brand – that realized what he had actually bought only when getting home. In brief, many paradigms that have lasted for so many years, today must evolve, allowing the brand to find new view points in the retail sector and assert a new entity. All of the above is a duty and at the same time an opportunity for the brand.

The consumer in the sale point is bombarded by a many stimuli, occasions and offers: can we state that this is the place that above all, sees the comparison between different strategic and tactic approaches?

True, retail is an important strategic and tactic asset nowadays. However, not to reduce the “ROI”, the voice of the brand must resound with more strength compared to the commercial one. This amplification of the “brand power” is able to engage people naturally, so that the price, promotions and any other element, are switched to a more “operational” level. The engagement ability of the brand thus allows to reduce the impact of competition and crisis.

This brand’s voice is what takes root and lasts in time. Does it also have the ability to gain the customer loyalty?

The concept of ‘loyalty’ is by-now outdated. It was a goal to reach in the past, today we know that this is not possible. ‘Loyalty” is a univocal relation, while the relation with the brand is evolved, based on an existing 'syntony' between the parties. Nowadays, no individual recognizes himself in a set cluster: it can remain himself despite acting according to different life styles, choosing brands based on the “way of being” that they decide to adopt. The consumer can feel at ease “living” different brands at the same time, even in competition with each other. For this reason, the product positioning is less important compared to the brand positioning, that in fact characterizes and distinguishes it.

What is the consumer looking for when entering the sale point, what are his expectations?

When each of us enters a sales point nowadays, is instinctively looking for an experience. The risk of the dealer is the elaborate a “retail identity” focused only on functional aspects and spaces, forgetting the brand is actually the real home owner. Each experience in the sale point must be extremely in line with the brand identity, otherwise an unconscious inconsistency is created between the place visited by the individual and what the latter perceives.

Having stated this, it is important to also consider the obvious difference between single-brand stores and large-scale distribution signs, where in the first case, the place and brand may be overlapped while in the second case, the role of the retailer may change between ‘distributed brand’ or ‘container brand’, where identity and power conflicts are interlaced.

Today, we must also face the increasing number of windows, both physical and virtual, following the internet boom…

In fact, the definition of retailer nowadays, does not necessarily refer to a physical space. However, it must be stated that many retailers born on the web are revaluating the opportunity to have a physical sale point on the territory. Let’s think for example to the sphere of banks born to offer exclusively an online service that today are opening actual branches or banks that extend the branches' opening times also on Saturdays.

The actual theme of multi-channels leads first of all the brand's ability to relate and interact, evolving the sale point to a place complementary to Internet - certainly necessary and reliable in terms of function and practicality - in order to respond to the new desire of a closer relation between customer and retailer.

Perhaps this is the most important change under way today:

after times in which it was believed that the web could have been able to eliminate the concept of 'physical space' in favor of 'virtual' space, the need of human contact arises once again from the heart and soul of people. There are territories where the brand lives.

This article is taken from magazine: "ADV L'Advertiser" no. 8 - October 2015 (TVN Group)

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