2019 Retail Trends: Scaling Up with Strategic Partnerships

Strategic partnerships are more important than ever. There have been a number of great branded collaborations this year, and they’ll serve as an amazing archetype to see what’s possible in creating retail experiences- and ultimately, delivering better customer experiences.

Savvy Partnerships

Roberto Cavalli and a retail development company in Dubai opened a new hotel in 2019. Previously, Versace opened hotels with similar strategies, as did Armani and Fendi. These branded collaborations, extending far beyond retail storefronts, make up a big trend that needs to be studied to understand what’s possible for independent fashion brands. There have been companies like Parachute that opened a hotel and made a great branded collaboration. However, you need to understand the future of the brand. It’s an important element of strategic partnerships.

Another great example is the unprecedented branded collaboration between Revlon and Refinery29. Refinery29 had to be very specific about who they would partner with, due to their sizable readership; they’re very integrated with the Millennial customer. This very integrated partnership debuted with Refinery29’s 29 rooms, where thousands of people visited the experiential space taking photographs of the very Insta-bait moments. Products were sold exclusively at that location, online at the Revlon website, and through some strategic distribution points.

The Mechanics of a Branded Collaboration

This great premise of the Refinery29/Revlon collaboration came from the realization that both of these brands speak to the same consumer, sharing the same uplifting and inspiring message. The brands were all for inclusivity and had very similar customer demographics. There was a lot of crossover between them. Again, it’s very important to look at brand fit, when crafting the right strategies for your fashion design business.

Another example is the collaboration between Ulta Beauty and LIKEtoKNOW.it. LIKEtoKNOW.it is an online marketplace for influencers. Influencers make collaborations with different retail companies and independent fashion brands, and LIKEtoKNOW.it is their affiliate marketing platform.

Historically, LIKEtoKNOW.it was used for the influencers to be connected through product for revenue share. However, this wasn’t just a collaboration with influencers. This was a true collaboration between LIKEtoKNOW.it and Ulta Beauty. It’s not one SKU; Ulta Beauty carries many products. We’re seeing retailers going into branded collaborations- not just individual brands.

Opportunities

It’s important to know what kinds of collaborations are available. What brands are out there with similar voices to yours?

Enterprise Companies: Take a look at other types of experiential marketing, other types of adjacent businesses or even other kinds of lifestyle businesses you could be branding. What would it be like if your brand had its name on an airline, or if your brand was on co-working spaces or a coffee shop? What are other kinds of properties and assets can you use to establish yourself?

Growth Stage Businesses: It’s very important to understand how to synergize your brand and brand voice with the right types of partnerships. Many independent fashion brands fail when it comes to strategic partnerships because they’re looking for another voice that can amplify theirs, without determining if it’s the right fit. The right fit means your brand voices are aligned, you’re speaking to the same customer and it’s going to be a revolutionary partnership on both ends. You’re not just going to collaborate on a product; you’re going to create something, a through-and-through experiential interface.

For example, in the case of the Refinery29/Revlon collaboration, the brands leveraged a Snapchat partnership as well. They employed physical and digital. Think about how you can bridge your in-store and in real-life collaborations with digital.

Startups: The right strategic partnership can be an incredibly large impetus for success. Having the right partnerships at the start can help you amplify your voice and gain market share quickly. A word of caution, you need to be prepared with regards to inventory and delivering goods. Make sure you have the right infrastructure in place, or you won’t be able to take advantage of the benefits you stand to gain from those partnerships.

If you need help putting together your strategic marketing plan, identifying key retailers or independent fashion brands as potential partners and executing on those partnerships, send us an email at hello@scalingretail.com. We’d love to assist you in 2019 and beyond.

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