Retailers and brands need to have an authentic brand story that is consistent throughout the business to establish an emotional connection with consumers, regardless of price level and sales channel, retail bosses agreed at the Drapers Fashion Forum.
Speaking at the event in London, Ashish Sensarama, chief executive of premium tights brand Wolford, said: “We’re not just selling tights, we’re selling a story.”
He urged delegates to carefully define brand DNA, which he called “the start and end point of everything”.
Mark Henderson, chairman of luxury Savile Row tailoring business Gieves & Hawkes, agreed: “The service at 1 Savile Row creates a standard for how we can do that in our business around the world, but it also creates stories and experiences.”
He gave the example of a recent weekday at the store, when a family was sat with Joe, the in-store butler, with an ice bucket of champagne as the son was getting measured for his wedding suit with the rest of the wedding party.
“That is how stories are built and the emotional connection is a feeling that filters down through the business with our made-to-measure service, the label, the sales assistant and the product,” he said.
For Steven Cohen, chief executive of young fashion menswear retailer Blue Inc, creating an emotional connection with consumers comes from differentiating itself from its competition.
“We do that through property, people and product and it is about getting all those things right,” he said.
Responding to a question from the audience on whether an emotional connection can be created online, Genevieve Kunst, managing director at aggregate shopping site ShopStyle, said: “You visit the same website over and over again and that loyalty comes from emotionally engaging with that brand.”
She gave the example of Net-a-Porter as a business that embodies its personality throughout all of its activities.
Sensarama said social media was a good opportunity to demonstrate some of that personality, while Henderson added: “With social media, the story has got to be true, because if it is not, you will get found out.”