As a boutique, your branding is intimately entwined with the vendors whose product graces your shelves. As retailers, you can turn these vendors into partners to grow your business and your branding.
Enhancing your relationship with manufacturers is critically important in branding your lingerie store, for many reasons. Today, let’s look at retail partnerships with your key brands, and how teaming up can be a two-way street where everyone wins.
Here’s one great example of a successful partnership. Recently, retailer Bella Intimates celebrated its 10th Anniversary with a big fashion show that used the Magic City TV show as the theme.
Magic City was also the inspiration between the show’s network – Starz – and Cosabella. Cosabella created a limited edition capsule collection of sexy lingerie inspired by the show’s era, “1950s fashion, taking key design elements from the show’s infamous Miami setting during an era of gambling, drugs, money, sex and drop-dead glamour.”
To make Bella Intimates’ Anniversary celebration really pop, owner Shelly Manougian reached out to Cosabella as a partner, “because they are one of our favorite vendors to work with.”
By using partnering, Bella Intimates was able to blow out their Anniversary event for their customers. Cosabella sent samples for the fashion show, press materials, and even donated Never Say Never thongs for the event swag bags.
It’s clear why the partnership was a win for Bella Intimates. To better understand why this event was also a win for Cosabella, I talked to Guido Campello, the company’s VP of Sales, Branding and Innovation.
According to Campello, Cosabella is always looking for store that are putting together opportunities that seamlessly blend business, marketing and PR. But not just any stores – proven stores that have shown Cosabella they’re committed to a two-way relationship.
What that means, first and foremost, is easy”¦show them the money! Requests of Cosabella are examined on a case-by-case basis, and are always tied to prior year sales and immediate growth potential. Events are costly, both in terms of the amount of time they take in support on Cosabella’s side, and the out-of-pocket costs involved. So retailers need to prove their value as partners. As Campello says, “we’re not a marketing firm, and we’re not in the giveaway business.”
At the same time, an agreement to partner goes beyond a simple ROI calculation, and Campello outlined some steps retailers can take to demonstrate commitment to the brand.
1) Tell a story.
When approaching a brand like Cosabella, paint a picture to show them exactly what you want to achieve with the partnership, and how Cosabella is intimately involved in the outcome. Tell the story of the event in a way that’s compelling, interesting and tailored to the partnership. To get to “yes” retailers need to come with a specific point they are trying to achieve, or a specific way they are going to build for Cosabella.
In the case of Bella Intimates, the store took a fun tie-in to product that was specific and unique. It told a clear story from the perspective of the store (10th Anniversary) and the event (tie-in to the TV show and, more specifically, Cosabella’s Magic City line). By using models ranging in age from 20s to 50s, they showed that Cosabella was a brand that transcended generations. The story of Bella Intimates’ history with Cosabella also played a role that helped get a positive reply.
2) Put shoppers in the mood.
When you create a mood, it evokes a desire to shop. Buying is not logical – it’s emotional. Cosabella wants to be an in-store destination, in stores where women want to shop, and that means creating a boutique that mill make customers feel something – an education, or an experience. Excite the customer.
Bella Intimates’ event didn’t stop at being a party or even “just” another fashion show. The store used the evening to showcase limited edition Cosabella samples that could be special ordered. They also used the opportunity to begin planting the shopping seed before the holidays. Customers could put favorite items on their on the wish list. Since Cosabella was the partner, they were the more prominently featured and in front of customers when wish lists were being written.
3) Engage and share
Engage in the community and share with Cosabella. Engage with Cosabella and share in your community. Do both!
Feature a partner brand in your blogs, tweets, pins and Instagrams to engage and share with your community. Tag and forward to your brand rep to close the communication loop with your partner. That way, when you’re ready to ask for a favor, your history with the brand speaks for itself.
Just some of the ideas Campello threw out as opportunities for a virtuous sharing cycle included: counter cards, display materials, special packaging, window takeovers and permanent signage. Several of these components were worked into the Bella Intimates Anniversary Event.
Ultimately, as lingerie retailers, you don’t create your branding alone. Your store’s persona is shaped by the products your sell, and you have the opportunity to create events with those brands that transform a vendor into a deeply committed partner.
Remember that the partnerships that last longest and create long-term value are those that develop both your store and your partner, just like the Magic City event featuring Bella Intimates and Cosabella.
Tell a story.
Put shoppers in the mood.
Engage and share.
When all three components are in play, the store, the vendor and the customers are all winners – and your lingerie branding is enhanced.
This article first ran in Lingerie Briefs.