Page 2: Weaknesses in the late 1990s
By the late 1990s it was all too apparent that the brand was slipping and needed to be put back on track. Since the 1960s, success had been based on the brand’s association with youth culture. During the 1990s this association began to lose some of its vitality. While sales of the brand continued to grow, it began to suffer from declining equity. By this we mean that the perception of the brand in terms of the desired position was beginning to slip.
While in the 1980s Levi’s were seen as ‘cool, youthful, innovative and sexy’, market research revealed that this was no longer the case by the late 1990’s. Brand managers at Levi’s realised that they needed to revitalise the perception of the brand. The company had, wrongly, been emphasising its role in wholesale merchandising - i.e. selling millions of pairs of blue Levi’s to retailers and ensuring good sales volumes and profits for these retailers. However, this focus tended to ignore the consumer.
Since the late 1990s Levi’s brand managers have changed the emphasis to consumer focused brand management. Brand managers recognise that their responsibility is to deliver the image of the brand both to consumers and to retailers, as well as ensuring high sales volumes and achieving retailers’ financial goals.
The emphasis now is therefore less inward looking - e.g. ‘how many units have we sold?’ and more outward looking, e.g. ‘what do consumers see Levi’s as being?’