It was about 5 years ago when I sat in front of 3 executives during an interview for a Visual Manager job with a higher-end shoe company when they asked me,
“How would you sell our shoes?” My response – “I’d focus on your story…People are more likely to buy something that has a story behind it. Something they can connect with and share with friends and family and on social media.”
In 2015 there was a lot of talk in the retail world about eCommerce and online shopping but little about how brick and motor stores could actually survive these changing shopping habits. Many experts predicted the end to brick and motor stores. Others said that customer service was the way to save brick and motor stores and gave tips on how to provide better customer service. Some talked about the design and setup of the store. Although customer service and shop-ability in a store will drastically impact your sales but step one is getting shopper INTO the store.
The Emotional Side of Retail
Times have changed and so have shoppers. When I told that company that I would sell their shoes by focusing on the history and the lifestyle of their brand, they thought I was crazy. Which was fair. At the time. lifestyle wasn’t a major focus for many brands and they were no difference. What’s unfortunate is this company had a really interesting and unique story. But unless you went to their website to read about (like you do for any interview) you wouldn’t know it. They didn’t talk about it on Instagram, didn’t highlight it on Facebook. They didn’t tweet about it or blog about it.
The Millennial shopper is a much different shopper than the generations before them. Price point and even sometimes quality aren’t on the top of their priority list when looking at a product. They are a more emotional shopper. They are drawn to products they can connect with. This could be through a celebrity, an event, a social cause or the story of how the company came to be. It could be the way the garment was made, what it is made from or what the garment supports. Something they can connect with and talk about.
Selling a Lifestyle
Recently, those same experts from above have started to suggest lifestyle branding. Rightly so since more consumers are making buying decisions based on emotions and social influences. Who could have predicted that…
If this is an avenue you want to explore, there are 5 simple adjustments you’ll need to make to your business.
#1 : Define your brands lifestyle
Before you can sell your lifestyle, you have to define it. Think about your ideal customer: what do they look like? Where do they work and what do they do outside of work?
Create a persona. Remember, we are looking to pull on the emotions of people. When you create a persona and give a face to the lifestyle, it becomes more relatable.
Give them a name, job title, lifestyle. Even though they aren’t an actual person, creating a persona give you something meaningful and something that becomes relatable.
#2 : Educate your staff and sales team
For your brand to grow, you need to educate the people selling your brand to consumers – the staff and sales team. Your operations teams should live and breathe the lifestyle; they should be your internal ambassadors.
For them to do that, they need to be taught the lifestyle. Share the company story, how it came to be and the mission. Share the persona but make it fun. Give them a name, have a cartoon caricature done. Visual images will help people retain information and makes them relate-able.
Old Navy does this really well. For each age group, they have a persona. They have likes and dislikes, a history, an attitude. If you have ever worked for Old Navy, you remember them even years after being an employee. And if you work for the company, at no matter what level, your business decisions are made with these people in mind. That’s how you stay true to your brand, your lifestyle.
#3 : Communicate your lifestyle through social media
Now your team is educated, it’s time to educate the consumer market. The fastest way to spread the word to a large demographic is through social media and marketing.
Your posts on Instagram and Facebook should primarily show your product in action. In its natural environment. It should show your real-life persona (or look-alike) wearing your merchandise while they are out after work or using your product before heading to the office. This could be a model in a staged environment or an influencer whose lifestyle matches your brand.
On your website, you want to continue the same message. The landing page should showcase your lifestyle through images and stories. Include a lifestyle blog where readers can learn about your company, the history and even new adventures. Find ways to connect with consumers on a personal level and get them to follow in your journey.
#4 : Mimic that lifestyle in stores
Whether your customer goes to your website or walks into your store, the lifestyle you have defined for your brand should be seen.
Find elements from the persona’s daily life that can be used in your design. Things like brick, wood or greenery that can be used to cover walls or as accents though the store. Is your lifestyle a minimalist? Your store and website should reflect that.
Think about your colours and if your persona would be drawn to them. In a store, think about how would they decorate their home. The store should replicate that.
Canada Goose took this concept to a whole other level. They recently launched a lifestyle store in select malls. These stores aren’t your typical store. They do not have any merchandise in them that you can purchase. Instead, they take you through an interactive tour of their brand. They tell you the stories behind their products, where they have been used and how they are able to be so much better than the others. They even have a “cold room” where you can try on their product and actually see and feel how they work. They do offer a way to purchase their product – online and sent to your home. Not your typical brick and motor store.
This is a very unique concept (for now) but it is a powerful experience. They are giving consumers the ability to experience their brand. Their lifestyle. They are teaching people about where they come from and sharing the stories that happened along the way in an interactive and real way. They have created an emotional connection with people who may now be a new customer (ambassador) or at the very least, getting people sharing about their brand experience.
#5 : Live the lifestyle
For your lifestyle to thrive, EVERYONE in your company has to live it. And it starts from the top. When the executive team lives the lifestyle, it trickles down. When everyone is representing the brand and lifestyle, decisions making is simpler and the communication out to consumers is clear, consistent, powerful.
Take Lululemon’s head office for example. Right from the very top the company reflects health and wellness. The corporate office is outfitted with yoga and meditation rooms, daily fitness classes, greenery walls and natural light. And this same thinking is also shown in their stores, on social media and communicated through the teams in the stores.
In a day in age where most of our communication is through a device, people are starved for ways to be connected, to be a part of something and to be liked. Brands will have success if they find a way to give people that connection. Create that following or the community of like-mind people that share the same lifestyle and they will buy into your brand. They will buy your product, share the love for it and continue to follow along in your journey.
If you have any questions on how to find your lifestyle or how to share it with you customers, send us an email at [email protected]