A successful rebranding strategy needs these key elements to gain consumer attention
Even the most well-known brands update their public image by periodically employing a rebranding strategy. Brands typically focus on a few key demographics, and over time, marketing strategies may lose their impact. Today’s 18- to 25-year-olds have different driving desires and needs than the 18- to 25-year-olds of ten years ago. As a brand’s target demographic ages out of their market, they must be prepared to focus on a new group of consumers. If the message isn’t updated, it may no longer resonate.
Additionally, consumers’ purchase behaviors will change over time. New purchase platforms will require new strategies, while old ones may become obsolete. The mobile commerce trends that impacted the CPG industry through 2018 were all centered on this technology shift. Consumers began spending more time on their mobile devices, and brands had to shift avenues to reach them. Moving to a mobile-first strategy often requires rebranding to ensure the new medium accurately translates the brand's messages.
Staying Up-to-Date on Demographic Desires by Generation
While it’s important not to stereotype consumers, there are some purchase behaviors that seem common amongst certain demographics. This is especially true during such diverse times as these, where some individuals grew up with the internet while others discovered it as young adults. This disparity will impact how likely these individuals are to adopt new technology. There are four generations in the marketplace which will make the greatest impact on a brand’s bottom line;
Baby Boomers make up the oldest generation of shoppers, and are typically already retired or close to retirement. Brands may incorrectly assume these individuals are not internet savvy, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. While boomers prefer to shop in-store, they’re also a vocal presence online. Social media is an important channel, as 71% of boomers report having a profile on a social media site.
Generation X is a smaller generation, represented by those born between the mid-1960s and the early 80s. These individuals are comfortable with the internet, but also enjoy more forms of retro-entertainment as well. They place high value on the opinion of their peers, as 21% of Gen X’ers report making purchase decisions based on a personal recommendation, while 19% rely on online reviews.
Millennials are a major market of opportunity, being as large as the Boomer market. The millennial generation is represented by those born between the mid-80s and the late 90s. While they grew up with the internet, the majority of these consumers still prefer to do their shopping offline. When marketing to Millennials, brands may want to consider establishing mobile marketing strategies to aid in the in-store experience.
Generation Z is made up of those born after the turn of the century. This generation will play a large role in the future of retail, as they are on their way to being of age to make purchase decisions for themselves. In fact, by the year 2020, they’ll be the largest generation of consumers by size.
Tracking desires by generation can help brands understand exactly when certain technologies will go from niche use to mainstream acceptance. If a brand targets those in their late-40s, as an example, they’ll know that ten years from now mobile marketing will be more important to that group of consumers than television ads.
Regaining Relevance With a New Market of Consumers
Today, one of the most difficult places to stay relevant in is the apparel industry. Trends change quickly in fashion and even iconic brands may find themselves floundering. This was the case for the well-known denim brand, Levi’s, as a sudden sales slump caused them to adopt a rebranding strategy.
Levi’s held the top spot when it came to denim in the U.S., hitting $7.1 billion in annual sales during its peak in 1996. However, as their target demographic grew up and spent less on denim, Levi’s brand equity wasn’t enough to attract the younger Millennial market that replaced them. These shoppers typically preferred designer names over affordability when it came to jeans, meaning Levi’s had to discover a way to appeal to younger consumers. The brand took several crucial steps in its rebranding strategy.
Levi’s was hit hard by the rise of fashionable athletic wear, so they had to reach out to influencers that wore this type of clothing while also creating a higher-end feel. Kim Kardashian famously debuted the brand’s RE/DONE line, while Levi’s jeans were also heavily featured on the family’s widely anticipated 2017 Christmas card. As the Kardashian-Jenner family is typically glamorous and fashion-forward, the casual look adopted for the card helped pull more interest to the brand.
Levi’s has also worked with a number of innovative companies in developing digital campaigns and initiatives. Levi’s partnered with Disney for a Snapchat promotion and worked with Google to develop a functional, fashionable smart jacket. These innovative campaigns gained the attention of younger Gen Z consumers who find innovation in unexpected places very appealing.
Consumers are demanding more social accountability from companies, especially those in the apparel industry, and Levi’s listened. The company made a pledge to reduce its water use and did so with a new protocol which allows them to reduce water consumption in the denim finishing process by 96%.
Most of Levi’s rebranding strategy was supported by technology. The brand focused on digital platforms where younger consumers congregated to gain their attention. They worked with the celebrities that influenced these younger consumers and adopted the causes important to them. Through these strategies, the brand was able to regain the attention of consumers and increase sales. In 2017, Levi’s reported its highest annual sales growth in a decade.
Using Digital Avenues to Connect With Consumers
One takeaway that the studies of various demographics have shown us is that brick-and-mortar shopping is thriving. Across all demographics, consumers prefer shopping in the store when they can. However, the need for digital advertising is still critical in order to reach them.
Mobile app partnerships can help brands get in front of the right consumers at the right time. These strategies can also work to direct consumers to products in the store. Shopkick is heavily focused on using mobile technology to aid consumers as they shop and has built functionality in its app to best leverage this.
Essentially, mobile use in the store allows brands to incentivize and prime consumers for sale. With Shopkick, the consumer visits a retail location and receives notification of all the participating products they can scan for rewards points (kicks). As they gather these kicks by scanning UPCs with their camera phones, they attribute the positive interaction and memorable shopping experience to the product and brand. Shoppers also receive an additional incentive to try the product when brands provide even more kicks for scanning receipts after purchase.
This type of strategy can help brands revitalize their in-store image, even when shelf space or location isn’t ideal. Through the app, brands pull consumers away from their competitors’ in-store displays and allow them to focus solely on their product. This strategy is also one that works when guiding consumers in online sales, and establishes the brand as forward thinking and innovative.
Using Innovative Shopping Options in a Rebranding Strategy
The window from early adoption to mainstream use of technology is surprisingly narrow. This can be seen through studying the timeline of the smartphone. The first smartphone device designed for widespread consumer use—the iPhone—debuted in 2007. As of 2017, nearly 70% of the American public had a smartphone. In less than a decade, smartphones went from being cost-prohibitive, technical devices in use by few to widely available, affordable options used by just about everyone. Therefore, it’s reasonable to believe that technologies in the early adopter stage now will expand to mainstream use over the next decade. Some technologies to consider include:
2D image recognition:
Image recognition technology is expected to impact retail by allowing consumers to shop based on their everyday experiences. For example, a consumer could take a photo of a shirt someone else is wearing, upload that photo, and receive information on where to purchase it online. Snapchat and Amazon have already taken advantage of this technology. The companies teamed up to offer Snapchat users the option to find items on Amazon by uploading photos of the products they see.
Smart speakers will drive the adoption of voice ordering. Almost one-third of U.S. households have a smart speaker and that number is expected to rise. While voice ordering hasn’t grown as fast as initially expected, mainstream use of such devices will likely change that. As consumers become more comfortable with the technology, they’ll use more of its available features.
Augmented and virtual reality:
Apps that provide an immersive experience for consumers act as an excellent way to refresh a brand’s image. Many popular retailers, including Target and Amazon, have created AR apps to make shopping online easier for consumers.
Reaching consumers as they’re passing a restaurant or in the shopping aisle can increase the likelihood of sales. Geo-tracking, GPS, and beacons help tell brands where consumers are in their shopping journey and guide them to their products. These are common technologies for today’s retailers and it's likely they will grow even more complex over time.
Consumer adoption of these new features will depend on the ease and effectiveness of use. Brands and retailers will need to form strategic partnerships with developers to benefit from new marketing options through both AR/VR and location. To maintain visibility as consumers use voice or images to search, brands will need to focus on reputation management. Reviews on shopping platforms will likely drive relevance for these searches, meaning customer outreach will be critical.
Brands that want to update their reputation can do so by taking advantage of innovation. Offering a new, in-demand experience revitalizes a brand and makes it appear tech-forward. In many cases, brands will not have to invest significant funds in creating these innovative experiences. Instead, they will need to establish third-party partnerships with shopping and social media platforms.
Brands should consider adopting a rebranding strategy at some point if they want to stay relevant with consumers. Understanding how the desires of their target demographics will change is the first step. Following that, brands need to align themselves with today’s consumers and take advantage of the technology they use to make purchase decisions. With a tech-forward approach, brands can preserve their name equity and improve sales online and in the store.