Kelly Kroger
CEO
C&A Mexico
/
Expert Contributor

Long-Term Brand Relevance

By Kelly Kroger | Wed, 09/14/2022 - 12:00

Young businesses spend a lot of energy defining and positioning their brand and many more years focused on increasing their value. But we don't often discuss the challenge of maintaining that brand’s value through the passage of time, as the company's customers are replaced by their children and even grandchildren. How does a brand maintain its relevance with customers over generations?  

The answer lies where it always has and always will: with the customer.

Independent of your industry, the most valuable information you can obtain is that which comes directly from your customer. It is important to continually engage in two-way communication with your customers and identify how their needs and preferences are evolving over time as well as changes in their preferred method of engaging with your brand and purchasing your product. This information will allow you to identify necessary changes to your product, communication, and brand image, not to mention emerging sales channels.  

It is also important to continually improve and adjust your product offering, fueling innovation within your organization and facilitating the ability to pilot new ideas and quickly implement those with positive results. Complacency is the enemy. It is time to eradicate the adage, “if it isn’t broken, don't fix it.” Luckily for those of us in retail, we can easily test new products and services before needing to commit to a large-scale roll-out. Even when pilots do not result in commercial success, there is value in the learning gained. 

The C&A brand was born over 180 years ago in the Netherlands and this year marks our 23rd anniversary in Mexico. While change has been a constant, never has the speed of change been as fast as it is today. 

The majority of C&A’s customers in Mexico are between25 and 35 years old. This means our target customer will shift from millennials to centennials soon and we are currently focused on evolving our brand, products and experience for the first digitally native generation. 

Although centennials or Generation Z have similarities to the millennials, there are differences in how they shop and brands will need to adjust to win them over. Gen Z is the information generation and they do research and browse online before going to physical stores (if they didn't already buy online). They like websites that provide plenty of useful information on the product, descriptions and sizing and place a high value on reviews submitted by other customers on the brand’s site. They also place importance on the ability to interact online and obtain answers for any questions they may have in real time. Otherwise, they will likely move on to another brand where they can obtain all the information they need. 

Gen Z is also more environmentally and ethically conscious than previous generations and that will be a part of their purchase decision. At the same time, they are also more cost-conscious. For fashion brands, that means we face the challenge of creating ethically and sustainably produced collections that are also affordable for their limited budgets.

C&A Mexico remains true to our brand’s original purpose of democratizing fashion, providing an attractive and affordable wardrobe for the entire family. We are also focused on the following improvements to continue to delight our customers in the coming years:

  • Ensuring C&A brand messages reflect our values and purpose and utilizing more digital campaigns that are short in length and contain impactful visual content.  

  • Communicating not only what we do but how we do it. Ensuring complete transparency and explaining how our sustainability program ensures that we are responsibly producing our garments, protecting the planet and people throughout the supply chain. This is not new to C&A but it’s of greater importance to centennials so we will increase communication regarding our program to consumers.

  • We are growing our share of casual products as well as evolving what “casual fashion” means to C&A, based on customer input. Centennials want to look great and be fashionable but comfort is increasingly an important consideration. 

  • Increasing omnichannel digital content in our communication strategies and changing the way we measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. 

  • Marketing efforts can no longer be linked to online or offline sales because centennials interact with both channels constantly to make purchase decisions and engage with brands.

  • Redefining customer experience to integrate online and offline channels and ensuring personalization in all channels. Centennials are native omnichannel consumers, they have never known anything else. As a mother of teenagers, I can testify that their notion of time is quite different. They expect everything to be as simple and fast as a “click.” This has significant impacts on the way we work at C&A to ensure we continue to meet our customers’ expectations in the future. 

  • We need to not only increase reaction time on our website but also in the store and at the checkout line.  

The only constant is change and that is what makes fashion retail such a dynamic industry and a professional challenge. I encourage all adrenaline junkies to apply.

Photo by:   Kelly Kroger