Page 2: The challenge for the brand
C&A’s strengths lay in its high brand awareness, family orientation, reputation for low prices and extensive choice. However, its perceived weaknesses included a lack of targeted communication with customers, the reluctance to adapt to meet local fashion needs and, more importantly, the lack of a quality fashion image.
Research also demonstrated growing confidence in retailer brands. Recently consumers have become much more individualistic. They like clothes that reflect their lifestyles and personality. Fashions and brands have become much more important for a wider range of individuals from different socio-economic groups. This has led to the growth of focused competitors providing branded products reflecting their values.
Consumers view the brand as an important part of their purchase. Whereas a product is simply something manufactured in a factory, a brand is ‘made’ in consumers’ minds and part of the relationship they develop with their purchase is represented by values or attributes they perceive as being included within their purchase. A brand, therefore, is a name, term, sign, symbol or design that identifies the products of a seller and makes them different to those of their competitors. Brands comprise the product, the service and customer perceptions. As brands develop, consumers become aware of them and select them in preference to others. The value of a brand is the extent to which it has high levels of loyalty, quality and other associations.
Changing brand values
C&A has in the past focused upon cost and price. As one of the largest buyers within the clothing industry in Europe, it has been product orientated. As consumers became more aware of brands, C&A witnessed a decrease in customer loyalty and a shrinking market value. The challenge for C&A was to alter the way in which customers viewed its products by turning the consumer focus on cost and price into brand awareness and preference. This would involve improving the value of activities, in and around the organisation including transforming the store base and changing the fashion and quality image of the company from low price perceptions to high value propositions.
To do so required exposure of the brand personality which represents:
- warm and friendly - user/customer friendly, human, with ‘feminine’ characteristics
- (pro-) active - active, open-minded and approachable, modern
- efficient - reliable, beneficial, up-to-date, value for money
- being responsible - caring, concerned with others, involved in society, trustworthy
- innovative - creative, vital, future-orientated.