“Future-Proofing” Retail Through Branding and Digital Strategy

BY: JOSE QUIROZ  |  MARCH 15, 2022 – 6 MIN READ

Key Takeaways (6-minute read)

  • Struggling retailers are turning to new strategies to deal with the challenges of rising ecommerce options, the pandemic, and more.
  • Creating a meaningful consumer experience through branding will help retain and build audiences.
  • A healthy digital strategy cannot be overlooked for retailers who want to stay in the game.
  • Brands must disrupt their own methods and those of their industries to grow in this new, boundless space of digital consumer connection points.

The past decade has wreaked havoc on the traditional retail industry. E-commerce, rising overhead prices, and a global pandemic are just a few of the culprits that have caused significant challenges for retailers worldwide. Staying relevant in a society that leans ever more toward digital life is the mandate for any business today. It poses an especially monumental task for even the most established companies that have operated brick-and-mortar stores since inception. The solution lies in a brand evolution—creating a lifestyle destination, both online and in person, that draws consumers in with something fresh and different from what they’ve experienced before. Our ethos at A&P is to connect brands with the consumers that will love them most, and there are certainly ways to do so for retailers in today’s dicey commerce climate.

Branding for the Future

Your brand can be a household name and still need help in this new world of reality meets virtual life. Consumers are looking for comfort, flexibility, and customization in their retail experiences. Some might enjoy going to a store to try on clothes, while others might prefer to order online or even take online shopping a step further with a virtual stylist or personal shopper who chooses items for them. The retail brands who embrace this need for multiple ways to connect with their audience are the ones thriving the best today.

Target has done an excellent job of offering customized experiences for consumers. They can still shop in a traditional store, but they can also find all those items plus even more online at Target.com or on the Target app. Online shoppers can choose between standard delivery, in-store pickup, or same-day delivery in many areas. No matter how they prefer to shop, Target customers have their pick, and the brand has even garnered something of a twenty-first-century cult following thanks to online influencers who love and promote it frequently. It’s all about the experience they have, whether in the store or online, and that’s what they want to share with friends and family.

Although the past ten-plus years have not been easy for department store Kohl’s, its own journey to brand evolution is under way and the future looks bright. Last week, CNN Business quoted Kohl’s CEO Michelle Gass from a presentation to the company’s investors: “We’re evolving our position from a department store to a more focused lifestyle concept centered around the active and casual lifestyle.”

The article goes on to state, “Consumers were dressing down long before the pandemic hit, ditching traditional office wear for denim and sneakers, and Kohl’s had been expanding its selection of activewear and casual brands in response. Remote work during the pandemic sped up this wardrobe trend. Kohl’s believes it has an opportunity to reinvent itself as a leader in this growing market, and plans to add more fitness, athleisure and denim goods. ‘This creates big opportunities for Kohl’s. We expect these trends will live on well into the future,’ Gass added.”

One way it plans to enhance consumer experience is expanding its existing customer rewards program, Kohl’s Cash, from giving 5 percent back on each purchase to 7.5 percent. Kohl’s also unveiled new digital growth strategies such as offering a self-service kiosk for pickup orders and returns. The new direction for this well-known retailer presents an ongoing case study opportunity as we watch its evolution unfold.

Good Digital Strategy

“The rise of digital marketing has led us to a space of great opportunity for retail brands while also enhancing the customer experience,” says our co-CEO and chief strategic officer, Antonio Patric-Buchanan. “While our tech-savvy, social media thriving world now presents us with more opportunities to reach an even greater audience, it also evens the playing field for any other platform that wants to throw their hat into the ring. Brands must now rely on innovation, creativity, and an element of surprise to have their name stand out on an ever-scrolling feed of marketing and information overload.”

Innovation for brands leaning into digital strategies could be redefining themselves. Tradition and convention are no longer the status quo—brands must disrupt their own methods and those of their industries to grow in this new, boundless space of digital consumer connection points. One brand A&P has helped expand into 

the virtual world while maintaining a strong physical presence is The Franklin Institute. This renowned science and technology museum and research center recently launched an all-new digit

al content platform, Beyond, with the help of the A&P team. Providing exclusive podcasts, video series, and bonus content to subscribers allows the institute to stay top of mind weekly as it puts out new content, engages with its audience, and reminds them of what’s happening at the brick-and-mortar museum.

This need to set oneself apart from the herd through digital strategy applies to the pillars of customer experience,design, personalization, content creation, and statistics—but it also goes for carrying the unforgettable brand experience across platforms, like The Franklin Institute is doing. Consumers need consistency. Just like any relationship, they need to know that a brand is there for them and won’t let them down. It’s important to make sure the stellar brand experience your audience wants is what they will get whether they are on your website, your app, your social media channels, or inside your store.

Read more about how Digital Strategy for Marketing Extends Beyond the Web.

That sweet spot where a memorable in-person experience and great CX online is how branding and strategy will work together to bring new life to struggling retailers. Along with our full-service digital wing, the A&P team is thrilled to work with retail brands to build consumer loyalty through this strategy. With specialized research methods both online and off, a proven track record of creating innovative brand experiences, and an eye always on the horizon, we look forward to helping brands “future-proof” their strategy.

About A&P

A&P, a brand agency, excels in finding innovative ways for clients to provide exceptional experiences to their customers. Their work includes consumer insight, brand innovation, creative development, mobile and technology solutions for global brands such as AT&T, Mini USA, DIRECTV, Newell Rubbermaid, Tenet Healthcare, and Barco Escape. For more information about A&P, visit them on Facebook, Twitter or antonioandparis.com.

Jose Quiroz

AUTHOR
Jose Quiroz

Short Bio — As the VP of Digital Engagement at Antonio & Paris, Jose Quiroz continually researches and develops exciting new ways to make connections between brands and consumers through technology. Born in Orizaba, Veracruz, Jose is a “dreamer” who began his tech career over ten years ago and is now the digital operations and digital strategy specialist for this global brand studio. Although he is a digital nomad who loves traveling, backpacking, and heading wherever his laptop may take him, he strongly holds onto his family roots and Mexican culture. When he’s not learning or teaching the latest in digital strategy, you might find Jose practicing combat sports or poring over topics such as aliens, ancient civilizations, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology.

Jose Quiroz

CO-AUTHOR
Jose Quiroz

Short Bio — As the VP of Digital Engagement at Antonio & Paris, Jose Quiroz continually researches and develops exciting new ways to make connections between brands and consumers through technology. Born in Orizaba, Veracruz, Jose is a “dreamer” who began his tech career over ten years ago and is now the digital operations and digital strategy specialist for this global brand studio. Although he is a digital nomad who loves traveling, backpacking, and heading wherever his laptop may take him, he strongly holds onto his family roots and Mexican culture. When he’s not learning or teaching the latest in digital strategy, you might find Jose practicing combat sports or poring over topics such as aliens, ancient civilizations, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology.

Zack blog profile image

CO-AUTHOR
Zack Miskel

Short Bio — Zack joined the Antonio & Paris team at the beginning of 2019 after spending the previous five years running two start-up companies in the Bay Area. Now a strategist, Zack works alongside the strategic planning team at Antonio & Paris to deliver a big-picture perspective for clients such as MINI USA, Barco (Belgium), and Brookdale Senior Living, to name a few.

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