With the changing tide in retail, brands who smugly relied on their expanding network and brand dominance to control market share, are likely to be the most vulnerable.
E-commerce has lowered the barriers to entry and a more level playing field is emerging. But digital is not the only changing force in retail. Increasingly consumers are placing more value on uniqueness, they champion brands with a sense of rebellion who are brave and do things differently, they seek out products that display skilled craftsmanship and stories that are authentic. Surprisingly all these attributes are traditionally characteristic of small start-up brands, who, free from the shackles of large corporate procedure, are eager to explore new and innovative ideas and need to find their niche to compete.
Being big no longer means you dictate the terms. The financial crisis of 2008 was a sobering reminder of just how spectacularly big brands can fail.
So how do big brands avoid the pitfalls, remain relevant and grow? How can big brands restore agility into their processes, take appropriate risks and adapt to their customers changing needs?
In short, big brands need to think small.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, thinking small does three things:
Refocusing on brand promise ensures that they are able to reposition their offering and engage with their target audience in an authentic way. Tell the story and engage with the customers through shared values.
Studying consumer needs and carefully crafting your products to meet those needs. Being consistent with how you meet the needs builds trust and loyalty.
Developing a strong but simple strategy that reinforces the brand proposition. The tighter boundaries force the brand to get the details of the product and consumers’ needs right.
While thinking small may initially seem too parochial, this shift in mind-set resonates with the consumers and the brands remains relevant to them, which in turn results in abundant growth for the business. Many larger brands have started to adopt this strategy, focusing on telling the brand story by using immersive technology such as virtual reality visors at point of sale in-store. Consumers engage with brands and the authentic journey from source to store. Consumers emerge as advocates for the brand and the store from which they bought it. Thinking small may just be the next big thing.