The Department Store Decline: Is a Misplaced Sense of Brand Loyalty to Blame?
2019 has been the worst performing year on record for retail. We’ve seen the collapse and near-collapse of household names on an unprecedented scale. This leads us to the question, why? Surely these mega stores have enough clout to survive a tough trading climate? Surely, if they can’t noone can?
For those of you that follow our analyses of each case in the retail breaking news, we usually dive deep into the eCommerce blunders that likely prevented success for these brands. In this article however, we wanted to focus on a different issue altogether. We wanted to look specifically into the misguided sense of brand loyalty that ties these failures together.
In previous decades, our most historic high street retailers have seen great success in leveraging their legacies as part of their brand stories. Customers and employees alike loved feeling connected to the bigger sense of belonging. But in more recent years, and as a result of the onset of the digital shopping age, declines would suggest that the likes of Beales, John Lewis, Debenhams and House of Fraser are now suffering on this front.
It’s time for a new approach. In the new age of digital consumers, people are far less likely to show brand loyalty just for legacy’s sake. Customers shop around. They are connected enough to price-compare online, they are open to trying new brands and they expect seamless experiences such as home delivery and returns, if the items aren’t quite right.
So for our oldest brands to assume that their customers will continue to go through the motions, often with antiquated processes, is either stemming from ignorance or arrogance. Is this misplaced reliance on using their heritage to draw customers finally hitting (or hit) its saturation point? It certainly seems that these department stores are presuming a level of customer loyalty that no longer exists, or certainly not to the degree it used to. So then, how is it possible for similar companies to start making steps to future-proofing against this trap?
A piece of advice would be for businesses in a similar stalemate, to rediscover their sense of your story and its value and appeal to the end customer. Just because it sounds nice to you, the business, doesn’t mean it actually resonates in any way with the target audience. It’s about getting a fresh sense of this from the customers perspective. It should be firmly understood from the outset that internal perspectives are often somewhat clouded when the topics are close to home.
Happy shopping everyone!
#Retail #RetailDecline #CommerceTips
About the Author
Shelley is Head of Product Marketing at Eclipse, and is particularly interested in consumer behaviour in relation to retail and digital experiences. Shelley speaks on the topics of marketing, neuromarketing and psychology at industry conferences around the world.