In this first of a two part blog entry, I'm going to share a personal anecdotal story on my "love" for the Italian brand Replay. In the second entry (which will likely be posted after the American Marketing Association conference), I will share some intense anecdotal "brand hater" stories that I've come across through my research. Think of part 1 as "how far a consumer will go purchase a brand he/she loves". Think of part 2 as "how far a consumer will go to retaliate to a brand that he/she hates".
Last week I just returned from Miami. Although I am not a big shopper, one of the highlights of my trip was buying Replay jeans. I’ve truly loved the brand ever since Lisa and Laura (two spectacular sales girls from a now-closed Montreal boutique store Venus) got me to try them on by asking, "Why don't you try these new Replays?" The jeans just fit. The material was soft. The pockets were in the right places. The hang-tags looked cool. They were made in Italy. I thought that the in-store displays for Replay were cool and not trashy like so many other designer brands that try too hard. While the Replay brand was quite a bit more than I wanted to spend, I was happy to pay the premium because “they spoke to me”. It was love at first sight.
Since that time, Replay brand became a lot more difficult to purchase in Canada. Its high price point and weak distributor promotional support led to sluggish sales. (The brand continued to sell pretty well in Europe.) And a couple of years ago, Replay distribution ceased in Quebec and Ontario. I was confronted with an uncomfortable reality: I would have to look for a new brand of jeans. But for me, trying, buying, and wearing other brands just didn’t feel right. I had become a lover of the Replay brand. To use brand researcher Susan Fournier's lingo, I was married to Replay jeans.
But, marriages are meant to last and I decided to fight for mine. Two things needed to be done. First, since I was reticent about buying other jean brands, my old Replays would have to last longer. One pair has been patched up by the seamstress on 3 separate occasions. Second, I would have to look for a new Replay outlet. Since I never a fan of purchasing jeans online, I researched Replay outlets via search engines and blogs with very limited success. (Replay really needs to improve its online representation.) I decided to contact Replay corporate office in Italy. They advised me that there was only one retailer carrying their products in Canada- and that retailer was in Winnipeg. (I'm pretty sure the Replay rep didn't know Winnipeg is almost a 3 hour flight from Montreal. This Winnipeg retailer was also pathetic about responding to purchase inquiries). Beyond those effots, in every city that I visited for work or for fun, I also sought out retailers carrying Replay. Last week, I discovered a Replay flagship store in Miami South Beach. I called my friend who was visiting Miami with me and said, "Come with me to the Replay store."
When we walked into the store, I was greeted by two charming sales people-Alexandra and Jennifer. I told them I had been all over looking for Replay. They laughed, showed me the new jean lines and asked, "Why don't you try these new Replays on?" The jeans just fit. The material was soft. The pockets were in the right places. The hang-tags looked cool. They were made in Italy. I bought more than I originally thought I would buy, and spent more than I thought I would spend. But, I was happy to do this because it was for my marriage. It's love Replay'd all over again.
For other Replay lovers out there: I've come across two Replay flagships in North America. SoBe and NYC. Below is an excerpt from NYMag on Replay.
Italian label Replay is all about aggressive mixing and matching. Plaid is paired with floral designs, grungy, masculine pieces are combined with feminine beading, and even the store itself—a large, immaculately clean space—is littered with tattered garage-like artifacts. And in keeping with the dinge-chic esthetic, Replay focuses strictly on not-for-the-office attire. Even the higher-end We Are Replay line—which boasts handmade items often emblazoned with the word “replay”—primarily consists of jeans, patched sweaters, shirts, and boots, most of which soar well into the three figures. The results are predictably eclectic, with some items that look like an arts and crafts teacher took a glue gun to them, and others that appear one step ahead of tomorrow’s fashionista.