It is at a retail store where every dimension of the brand comes alive for us to see, feel, smell, touch, taste, and hear. And when the retailer embraces digital in the experience, it provides an anchor in a shifting, multichannel world. Those brands leading the table understand that every channel matters in the new landscape —and prove that though a multichannel approach is certainly more complex, if done strategically, it pays off.
As one of the world’s largest brand consultancies, Interbrand has experience of working with and valuing the world’s biggest brands. In fact, its Best Global Brand league table is one of the most sought after tables that global CEOs aspire to be on. The Best Retail Brands table analyses the world’s leading retail brands with the same rigor.
Years of analyzing and ranking the world’s leading retail brands puts Interbrand in a unique position to spot global trends that will shape the retail industry in India. This article shares nine key lessons that have helped determine the success of the world’s most valuable retail brands.
1. Agility in an unpredictable world
Retail scale has traditionally been defined by number of stores. Greater scale allows more efficiency, which yields greater profit. In a responsive world, scale can be redefined as reach and responsiveness through store count combined with online impressions, mobile transactions, and real-life social interactions.
2. The new pathway to purchase
For many years, marketers had a distinct way of determining consumers’ decision processes. Typically, consumers considered a wide range of brands and methodically narrowed their options until a final selection could be made. Thanks to countless digital advancements, today’s consumers can connect with many brands through many channels. Thanks to social media and consumer evaluations, today’s consumers remain engaged with products for an extended period of time after purchase — evaluating and, in some cases, either advocating or criticizing a brand.
3. Every brand is a story
More Indian retail brands need to abandon traditional one-dimensional merchant roles in favor of multidimensional identities and richer textures. When a company gets it right, the brand becomes a value creation tool. Getting it right begins with a great idea that captures the imagination, such as Apple’s averment to challenge the status quo.
4. Design can build brand value
The design of things shapes our experience of them. Design has the power to solve problems, delight and engage — all the elements of a great retail brand. Shopping in India has long ceased to be conceived of as a chore. It is now rightly considered an experience — and people are known to become loyal to experiences as much as, sometimes more than, products. Design has the power to differentiate, helping businesses break from the pack through daring architecture and experiential concepts.
5. The emergence of omnichannel retail
Customer expectations will no longer have to be just fulfilled — they will have to be exceeded. Shoppers who seem to look exclusively for the lowest price, the greatest offer, or the best accessibility, are in fact looking for unique and inspiring shopping experiences, which satisfy their needs and differentiates retailers from their competitors. Responsiveness will trump efficiency.
6. Growth through integrated channels
Humans are social creatures hungry for experience. That’s why there’s always been a special place in our lives for the retail store. Stores are where we learn what’s new, find inspiration, and see other purchase choices we may not have found elsewhere. This is where every dimension of the brand comes alive for us to see, feel, smell, touch, taste, and hear.
7. Balancing channels and staying committed to the brand
An economic backdrop of low growth, high inflation, and saving-conscious consumers made the year a particular challenge. With customers increasingly attracted to online shopping, stores struggled to grab the attention of customers. Understanding how and where to best express their brand in brick and mortar as well as online — and deliver the subtly different experiences customers want from both — remains a top priority for retailers.
8. Good retail is good detail
Steve Jobs’ first three words when he hired Ron Johnson, SVP Retail Operations, were “Retailing is hard.” But Johnson must have done something right because according to mid-2011 sales figures, with 20 percent of total retail sales growth, Apple became the fastest- growing retailer in the U.S. While it is likely that some of this growth has to do with a strong product and service proposition, it is also tangible proof of the importance of an organization’s dedication to detail.
9. Ultimately, it’s about brand value
A brand’s strength is itself derived from ten factors. Four of these – Clarity, Commitment, Protection and Responsiveness – are internally driven, and reflect the fact that great brands start from within. The remaining six – Authenticity, Relevance, Differentiation, Consistency, Presence and Understanding – are visible externally, acknowledging the fact that great brands change their world.
(Source: An article by Interbrand in India Retail Report 2013)