Making the Old Brand Young - Topshop Revitalizes The Bay
by Rosalie Beaudoin
When I heard a Topshop boutique was coming to Canada, I jumped for joy. I love the brand.
For those unfamiliar with Topshop, it is a British retailer that has 440 shops in 33 different countries selling relatively inexpensive fashion-forward clothes and accessories to women (It also sells under the name Topman for men, but let’s be honest, women’s fashion is more interesting!). The target market for Topshop is a young 15 to 30 year old woman who like to wear trendy/hip and make-a-statement clothes and go out on the town.
What makes Topshop brand so interesting to me is it distinctive style and highly differentiated product line. If you are not familiar with the “look and feel of the brand”, these product line names will help give you a flavour for what I am talking about:
Psychadelic Dandy, Holiday Sparkle, Rock-oco, and Galactica
|A little Holiday Sparkle|
Topshop products have been accessible to Canadians, but only via the online store. Of course, it is tricky to shop for clothing online. There are issues with fit (not being able to try it on) and delivery charges - which are not applicable to the in-store shopping experience. That, however, changed very recently.
Bonnie Brooks, president and CEO of The Bay, is the one to thank for bringing the Topshop store (and Topman), from Britain to Canada. The Bay was acquired exclusive Canadian franchise rights. Yet, this raised a bigger branding question. From a branding point of view, was this a good move for The Bay?
When I heard that the Bay was going to be launching Topshop within their store, I started thinking, do these two brands jive? To me the typical The Bay shopper was an old couple shopping for wool shirts. I wanted to see if my attitude towards The Bay was consistent with others in my segment. So, I did a quick-and-dirty brand image investigation of The Bay using some classic brand image free association tests. My sample were all Topshop target market consumers. Here's what I found. Their perceptions were highly consistent with mine: The Bay is “a dusty, stagnant, and old” brand”. The Bay "is not for me". In short, The Bay has a relevancy problem among Topshop consumers.
|Rock and Shimmer: Topshop|
The Competitive Collision
So what does this mean? First, The Bay’s image is being revitalized through the brands it carries. That's a win for the Bay, so long as it can lure the desired segments in. Second, Topshop’s image is not going to be tarnished because it is carried in a revitalized Bay store. Third, the competitive landscape is on a collision course for this target market. The "old" Bay is becoming more competitive with younger consumers who shop at other places like Zara and H&M. Then, in 2013, Target enters the space with 125 additional stores.
As a marketer, it is going to be fun watching these brands collide and compete for young women. But, with more choice, it is also going to a lot more fun for this segment to shop!