Battle of the Brands

Having decided to mark our seventeenth wedding anniversary this year, Mr McGowan and I took a trip down memory lane and returned to the place where we spent our honeymoon, Cannes.

The resort, on the French Riviera, hasn’t changed much since we went, but for some reason, the diversity of the town’s ‘high-street’ offering struck me more this time. Perhaps perusing the retail outlets of the Boulevard de la Croisette wasn’t at the top of my priority list the first time.

With a resident population of about 70,000, the streets of Cannes boast a choice of retail stores usually found in cities with at least ten times the population. As we all know, Cannes, or la Côte d’Azur in general, attracts significant numbers of tourists from very different socio-economic backgrounds and, over what seems like a few close-knit streets, this seems to intensify the battle of the brands. Whether it is low-cost or luxury, in Cannes, the big names have it covered.

I considered how hard the independent business owner has to work to make their brand worthy of a visit but then don’t all big brands start off as small, independent businesses.

Take two examples of clothing stores which are a stone’s throw away from each other in the town but focus on different target markets. Zara an affordable retailer whose philosophy is that clothes are a perishable commodity to be regularly and effortlessly replaced. Chanel, the fashion house giant, specialises in haute couture on the world’s catwalks twice a year.

Believe it or not, both started as small, independent businesses – Zara as a clothing shop in La Cornua, Spain and Chanel as a millinery shop in Paris, France. What set them apart? Both have leaders with inspired visions for the business. These visions evolve into concise brand values which drive the business today and into the future. Both appreciate which market segment they are going for and target themselves accordingly. Every decision will reinforce the idea that their product is precisely what these target customers need.

Nothing in the list above is available exclusively to the big brands, but they make the difference because they give assurance to stakeholders like customers, investors, suppliers and staff. They tell people this is a company I want to shop with, invest in, do business with or work for.

Did you know you could win the battle of the brands in your sector and go on to become just as big as Zara or Chanel? Email today for a brand review and see where you could grow.

What about me? Where did I shop when I was in Cannes? I regularly pop into one (Zara) and aspire to visit the other (Chanel), which is the desired positioning for these brands based on my consumer profile. I did say my career goal was to be the Marketing Director of Chanel in my high school yearbook, so good to know I have maintained my aspiration for the brand in one way or another!

And the second honeymoon, aspirations were maintained in that one also.

I like to have a favourite song to accompany most things in life, so holiday song this time – Lapsley’s Operator

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