Kunde & Co was challenged to merge 51 existing clothing labels into one strong power brand capable of covering all customer groups and clothing categories. The new brand would be rolled out through a new marketing system, backed by ongoing campaign development to increase brand awareness and store traffic.
New fashion brand changes perception of a retail textile business
VRS is a new clothing brand for everyone who wants affordable fashion. Sold exclusively at Danish retail stores føtex and Bilka, the brand creates fashion styles, basic wear, shoes and accessories for the whole family, and introduces new items every week.
Creating a strong creative concept to cement your name
Among the eight names tested, VRS came out as the winner. As brand awareness was a key objective, the launch concept brought meaning to the name by using different words beginning with S to describe what kind of brand VRS wanted to be, such as, Vi eR Sammen, (We are together in English).
Using celebrities that offer identification and awareness
For 2016, VRS teamed up with former supermodel and current author Renée Toft Simonsen and her daughter Ulrikke Toft Simonsen, also model. They were chosen for their strong fit with the brand. VRS is a brand for the family. It is straightforward and fun, yet fashionable and diverse. With their strong chemistry, fashion interest and down-to-earth attitude, Renée and Ulrikke represent the brand perfectly.
For føtex and Bilka, textile is an important part of their business, but over time the number of labels had grown out of hand. At its peak, there were more than 50 different labels for all the clothing, shoes and accessories offered in store. This created unnecessary confusion, both internally and externally, and made building brands an impossible and expensive task.
The competition within affordable fashion is intense with players like H&M dominating. In order to tackle the competition, it was crucial to develop a new stronger and unified voice in the market.
Together with Kunde & Co, Dansk Supermarked set some ambitious objectives. First, it had to merge 51 labels into one brand capable of covering all customer groups and clothing categories. This brand would then be rolled out through a new marketing system to increase awareness amongst the target groups and help increase store traffic.
Insights as the foundation
The project started with a thorough review of data from Dansk Supermarked on the textile business, its sales figures and category performance. This was uncovered through data analysis and pre-interviews with key stakeholders to ensure buy-in and a full understanding of the market. On top of this, Kunde & Co not only visited føtex and Bilka stores across Denmark, but also went to the UK to investigate best practices from other retailers. These activities enabled the development of a series of hypotheses that could be tested.
The external brand test
Looking internally is not enough. This is why the hypotheses were used to develop a questionnaire and creative test material for an online survey. Over 1,000 respondents across Denmark were taken through an extensive test bar comprising clothing trends, brand names and descriptions, creative concepts and visual tonality. The test also considered current and future value drivers as well as channel and media preferences.
A new customer segment uncovered
The test revealed that there were two main target groups: core supermarket shoppers, who largely buy all their clothing in store; and non-core supermarket shoppers, who sometimes buy supermarket clothing. Føtex & Bilka have traditionally focused on core supermarket shoppers, but interestingly the test revealed that the non-core supermarket shopper is not only a larger segment, but also has a larger consumption, making them very valuable. Furthermore, the test uncovered differences in what drove the segments when making clothing decisions.
These results created the foundation for a strategy that focused on retaining and expending core supermarket shoppers, as well as focusing on recruiting more non-core supermarket shoppers.
Creating the new brand
Across the two segments, there was a strong test preference for one brand name – VRS. The VRS logo had the strongest fashion connotation and respondents didn’t immediately associate it with a supermarket brand, which made it more appealing to the non-core segment.
To build recollection, the name was activated by playing on how it sounds when pronounced: Vi er Sammen, (We are together in English). This play on words was used to attribute the right brand values: for everyone, playful, fashionable and empowering.
Defining the brand platform
The test helped form the brand’s building blocks, which were then clearly defined in a brand book to guide all future brand work. This included a brand story for VRS, the brand’s values, the visual universe and tone of voice.
The test also revealed the most intuitive way to allow VRS to remain one unified brand while still appealing to different customer groups. From the testing it also became clear that some existing brands still held value. In order not to lose this brand equity, a few brands were kept, with VRS as a prominent endorser in a transition period.
Implementing the VRS design
A key task before the brand launch was to rebrand all clothing. This included creating an extensive design manual to cover all the clothing hang tags, labels, patches, stickers and packaging. The signage, bags and banners outside stores were also rebranded to give maximum awareness of VRS. This ensured the brand is perceived consistently across all points of sale.
Redefining the marketing system
Traditionally within textile, the main methods of communication has been in store signage and a weekly leaflet, which had relatively limited reach. It was therefore clear that the marketing system had to be revitalised by launching VRS using the same channels as established high-street brands.
The marketing system was built around the major clothing seasons. Broadcast media was used for each seasonal burst, including a short film to launch the brand, tell its story and activate different customer categories.
This was complemented by print advertisements and inserts in national female magazines to appeal to the primary household shopper, and present the VRS story in channels that allowed for broader story telling.
Other elements included an insert leaflet for core customers, a VRS webpage, and dedicated Facebook and Instagram accounts.
The right celebrity endorsement
For VRS, 2016 commenced with endorsement from Renée and Ulrikke Toft Simonsen. The right celebrity can build brand awareness significantly and allows for strong PR and identification from the target group. Renée Toft Simonsen is extremely well known within the target group as a global supermodel of the 1980s, and is now an author and psychologist. Activating Renée Toft Simonsen alongside her daughter, Ulrikke, allowed VRS to maintain a family focus, but also represent two different customer segments.
The partnership with Renée and Ulrikke Toft Simonsen has generated significant PR as well as overwhelming positive feedback on social media.
Just 18 months after the launch brand awareness is now at 43% and projected to grow with each campaign burst. Additionally, the latest brand tracking shows that the brand has improved on the two key parameters of style and quality perception.
- Logo and visual identity
- Textile/packaging design manual
- Brand Book
- Campaign concepts
- Media strategy
- Social media
- Media strategy
- Newsletter design
Putting creative concepts in front of customers to ensure broad appeal
Creating a new fashion power brand requires market knowledge. Internal interviews and workshops enabled Kunde & Co to develop creative material to be used for an extensive online concept test. Completed by more than a thousand respondents around Denmark, it tested everything from the name, logo and visual tonality to purchase patterns and creative concepts.