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Why Brands Should Get Political and Life After Retail Death

Why Brands Should Get Political and Life After Retail Death
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Solidifying brand loyalty among customers has surpassed points programs and free shipping. Consumers, especially Gen Z, are expecting brands to take stances on political issues and social injustices. According to a Sprout Social survey, about 70% of consumers think brands should be public about issues such as immigration and race relations, while 58% want those brands to voice opinions through social media.

Taking on corporate responsibility and pushing conscious messages will resonate with consumers, but tread lightly as ingenuity can easily backlash (i.e. Pepsi's attempt at political unity with Kendall Jenner). In our interview with Rick Helfenbein, President and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), he notes that historically the 4 R's, (providing the right product, right fit, right price, at the right time) has led to success. But today, it is the fifth "R" or, doing what is right, where consumers are increasingly focused.


What's a store without cashiers or self checkout? Sounds like an equation for high loss and prevention costs, right?

Well, think again. Now, the first Amazon Go is opening its doors to the public and it is a format like none you've ever experienced. Amazon has consistently redefined the retail business model and how consumers shop. Having access to an endless product marketplace and same day shipping through Amazon Prime has spoiled even the most anti-Bezos customer.

The smart store, which lets shoppers take what they want off the shelves then leave without checkout, is clad with cameras, sensors, and AI technology to track inventory and automatically charge customers as they exit the store.

Of course it's not the only Amazon news of the week - there was also the little healthcare announcement - in case you missed it.


Are you envisioning antique cash registers and price guns? Nah, there is such a thing as the afterlife...in retail...at least.

Resurrecting once thriving brick-and-mortar chains like FAO Schwarz, The Limited, and American Apparel is more than just deploying an e-commerce-only strategy. Companies are approaching consumers through smaller storefronts, downsized chains, or opting to be a featured brand at department stores.

Shuttering doesn't mean the end, moreso a new creative beginning. Brand partnerships, for instance (like with former electronics retailer Circuit City and IBM Watson), are just one of the ways in which our once-favorite brands are living on. Nonetheless, with the expansion of behemoth companies like Amazon, can we expect these revivals to be more than just a novelty?


In a digital community of eye-catching amateur photography and influencer branding, beauty retailers are boosting the visual aesthetics for a love-at-first-sight appeal. "There’s a big desire to create an Instagram moment, where a product is very photogenic and encourages consumers to take a picture of it,” said Natasha Jen, a partner at the branding agency Pentagram.

These Instagram moments are spurring the development of new and unique products. Glitter facemasks, foam effects, and rose-gold beauty oil applied with a dropper are taking over IG feeds.

To standout in an over-saturated industry and take advantage of word-of-mouth marketing, beauty retailers are honing in on captivating textures (like Glow's pink gel masks), and placing less emphasis on the packaging.

Remember, it's what's inside that counts.


Instagram has been the launchpad for a major marketing revolution. Micro-influencers are replacing celebrities, retailers are crowdsourcing for product development, there's been a birth of IG models and actors, and the latest; Insta-famous handbag labels.

Wandler, an Amsterdam based handbag brand, is capitalizing off its "Instagram-friendly imagery, and is emerging as streetwear's new IT-brand. Its unique selling point of clean, androgynous cuts with bold feminine colorways have caught the attention of popular influencers like Linda Tol and Camille Charrière.

The brand is breaking into the luxury market through a community platform, and just one year after launching, has 17 stockists. Finally, an affordable and attractive alternative to the Chanel bag we've been eyeing for oh-so-many years.

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