Get insights, tactics and examples of successful brand partnerships that drive growth.
- Retail partnerships are proven to drive revenue and boost brand awareness.
- Companies that collaborate can gain new customers and strengthen loyalty with existing customers.
- Brand partnerships can be a less resource-intensive way to expand your product offerings.
- Retail partners may share resources and leverage each other’s skillsets.
- Choosing the right retail partners is paramount to creating a win for both brands and the customers.
What retailer wouldn’t want a way to increase revenue, retention and acquisition — without tapping extensive financial or staff resources? Brand partnerships can provide a strategic way to do just that and more. Below we share insights into the benefits of retail partnerships, tips to make the tactic work for you and examples of successful collaborations.
What Retailers Can Gain from Strategic Brand Partnerships
Brand partnerships can offer retailers advantages related to numerous areas of customer and revenue growth. Here are six important examples.
1. Increase sales.
A retail partnership provides an opportunity to deepen market penetration, create new revenue streams, strengthen customer relationships and, ultimately, increase profits.
Forrester research showed that 76% of retailers participating in partnership programs found the strategy helpful for delivering on revenue goals.1 Nearly half saw revenue increase and 45% saw a boost in brand awareness due to the partnership.1
2. Gain new customers.
The best brand partnerships let you quickly reach an expanded target audience — consumers already loyal to your partner brand. This may introduce your company to new audience segments and markets you may not have been able to reach on your own.
By increasing reach, these collaborations can be an effective way to build market share and gain a new group of loyal customers.
Example: Through partnerships with Ulta Beauty and Harry’s Razors, superstore Target is reaching audiences who might not normally shop their aisles. And while an Ulta or Harry’s customer is shopping Target stores or online, they just might pick up some other merchandise. Target’s brand partners also gain access to Target’s large customer base.
3. Expand product offerings.
Partnerships can make it easier and less expensive to add new products, since you don’t have that initial development investment. It also lets you test different offerings with your customers without the committing to them long-term.
Example: Nordstrom is on a mission to extend its product assortment from 300,00 items to more than 1.5 million over the next several years,2 and partnerships are playing a major role. One of the more recent collaborations brings 11 Honoré’s luxury, plus-sized apparel to the store, with the brand likewise benefiting by reaching more customers through Nordstrom’s well-established retail network. Nordstrom’s other partners have included Everlane, Reformation, Glossier and Boy Smells, as well as a shop-in-shop experience with Indochino.
In another approach, some retail partners have successfully worked together to develop unique shared product lines.
Example: Sportswear retailer Adidas collaborated with exercise-bike brand Peloton to produce a line of performance and lifestyle wear. The complementary companies both benefited from the new product line, which was designed with help from Peloton instructors.
4. Strengthen loyalty from existing customers.
Seventy-two percent of retailers believe they deliver better customer experiences because of a brand partnership.3 When the Financial Times identified 25 top brands, more than 40% had partnered with at least one other brand specifically to build customer engagement and enhance the customer experience.4
Collaborations can also add more value (or perceived value) to the customer relationship. For instance, you may be able to offer customers enhanced loyalty program benefits, with more ways to earn and redeem rewards.
All of this builds greater loyalty. In fact, according to a Forrester report, 72% of retailers said they increased customer retention thanks to a partnership.3
Example: When customers purchase Ulta Beauty products at Target, they can earn benefits through both brands’ loyalty programs — Ultamate Rewards and Target Circle. The partnership between Target and Harry’s Razors also offers an improved customer experience, allowing customers to buy immediately in store versus waiting for an online order to ship. Plus, Target customers can get a discount on a Harry’s subscription. All of which makes it more tempting to try the product.
Example: Offering a better customer experience through convenience is proving successful for Kohl’s stores. The retailer began accepting returns from Amazon customers at select locations with the goal of adding value while driving incremental sales. Kohl’s employees will pack and label eligible Amazon.com returns, then send the items back to the e-tailer free of charge. After initial results showed that the Kohl’s stores accepting Amazon returns significantly outperformed other Kohl’s stores, the retailer expanded the partnership to allow Amazon returns at all its locations.
Example: The partnership between Kroger and Walgreens is another example of providing customers of both stores with convenience and a more enhanced customer shopping experience. It’s a multi-faceted partnership that includes Kroger Express stores selling a limited selection of grocery items inside select Walgreens stores, and Walgreens-branded health and beauty products being offered in select Kroger stores. Each partner has its own branding on signage within the other’s space.
5. Share resources, leverage skillsets.
Retail partnerships should allow both partners to share resources, from team talents to costs. For instance, consider co-op marketing, or co-sponsor events, workshops, fashion shows, contests and so on. Note that sometimes short-term partnerships are built expressly for these types of activities without any goal of extending the relationship.
Example: Off Road Tents partnered with Guana Equipment for a co-marketing campaign giving away a Guana rooftop tent. Customers entered with email addresses or cell phone numbers, allowing both brands to build their lists. Entrants earned discounts for simply participating in the giveaway, and many purchased products.
Example: Apparel retailer J.Crew launched an alliance with LinkedIn and WeWork to connect store customers with thought leaders through an expert panel and popup shop series. Participants gained insights on what it means to be successful, how to get there and, of course, how to dress for success. The partnership was geared to help J. Crew increase visibility and establish their brand as a respected, trusted authority among working professionals.
Partners can also leverage each other’s skillsets to gain abilities their own team doesn’t have. For instance, one retailer may have strong video skills while the other has a stellar social media team. One may have a strong email list and the other may have an effective SMS program. By finding ways to combine different team talents, you may be able to create marketing campaigns and other strategies that wouldn’t be practical to do alone. Meanwhile, both sides will be exposed to new ideas and approaches.
Example: The Home Depot partnered with GoLocal, Walmart’s white label delivery service, which incorporates delivery drones and autonomous vehicles. The home supplies retailer extends its fast-delivery capabilities, while the megastore gets an alternative revenue stream.
Example: The Home Depot also partnered with Pinterest for a social media campaign. A series of Built-In Pins posts empowers shoppers to complete projects on their own using Home Depot products. It helps both company partners reach new audiences.
Example: Meanwhile, Walmart partnered with BuzzFeed’s Tasty food app to produce shoppable recipe videos that allowed viewers to easily shop for ingredients (and cookware) on the retailer’s website. Walmart was able to leverage BuzzFeed’s video and social media skills and gain exposure to Tasty’s large audience. BuzzFeed improved its customer experience with the seamless interaction between recipe and shopping.
6. Gain access to more data.
A brand partnership can give you access to a larger collection of customer data. That can give both retail partners a deeper, broader understanding of your mutual customers, with more information on demographics, interests, shopping habits and so on. This can help you adapt your marketing strategy — even your product lines and store locations — to reach these consumers with greater relevance.
4 Keys to Selecting the Right Brand Partner
Choosing the right company partner is paramount to achieving the results you both want. The four steps below can help you evaluate prospects and start your collaboration with a solid foundation.
1. Identify your goals.
For a successful brand partnership, participating companies need to agree on a single, shared objective or complementary objectives. For instance, a newer, smaller brand may want to build brand awareness by partnering with a better-known brand, whose goal may be to increase revenue. It’s important that partners clearly communicate their specific goals and understand how the partnership will support those aims.
2. Look for like-minded and complementary brands.
While partnerships can include small or large retailers, and may be short-term or long-term, the key to success is to collaborate with companies that complement your brand and offer more value to the customer than would be possible without the arrangement.
Pay attention to the culture and mission of your prospective partner. Consider how well your businesses complement one another. Determine the portion of customers you share — who may build affinity to both brands through the partnership. And assess the customers you don’t share — are they an audience you want to reach?
Example: Lyft — a popular transportation option when people need to get from an airport to a hotel — initiated partnerships with complementary companies Delta, Alaska Airlines and Hilton. When Lyft customers connect their account to their Delta SkyMiles, Alaska Mileage Plan or Hilton Honors accounts, they can earn points or miles for every ride.
Example: The partnership between Adidas and Parley for the Oceans shows how brands can deliver on their core culture and mission to build trust by being authentic. The brands worked together to develop a line of training shoes and apparel (Adidas’ wheelhouse) made from recycled material designed to keep plastic out of the oceans (Parley’s focus). Appealing to customers by both helping the environment and offering a valuable product, Adidas saw a boost in brand value of more than 50% after launching the partnership.
3. Examine the alignment between your products and services.
Does the brand partner offer a product or service that your brand doesn’t? Would it appeal to your current customer base? Keeping the focus on the customer experience for your current customers, your partner’s customers and the new consumers you’re trying to engage is key to an effective brand partnership strategy.
Look for opportunities to combine services and create greater value for your customers, as well as your brand partner’s customers. For example, can you offer exclusive experiences unique to this partnership that will grow loyalty and keep customers coming back for more?
4. Develop a clear brand partnership roadmap.
Create a detailed plan that includes objectives and expectations of the partnership, deciding together what you want to accomplish. Include a plan for how you will share assets as well as responsibilities for planning, implementing, marketing, tracking and measuring ROI.
Successful Brand Partnership Examples That Drive Growth and Loyalty
When done well, a partnership should be mutually beneficial and serve as a win-win-win — for both brands and for the customer. Collaborating with other brands can give retailers the chance to get in front of new audiences and media channels to increase awareness, build loyalty and grow revenue. In today’s competitive retail landscape, selecting the right partner can bring greater value to your brand and, ultimately, your bottom line.
Creating strategies to build and maintain customer loyalty is what we’ve been doing at CCG for the past 40 years. Learn more about the retail marketing solutions we offer and how our retail marketing consultants assist companies in creating and improving their customer loyalty initiatives to bolster long-term, profitable customer relationships. Contact us for a complimentary consultation — call 303.986.3000 or click the button below.
1 “Invest in Partnerships to Drive Growth and Competitive Advantage,” Forrester Consulting, published June 2019, https://go.impact.com/rs/280-XQP-994/images/PDFdownload-PC-AW-InvestinPartnerships.pdf, accessed Feb. 9, 2023
2 “Nordstrom Launches Retail Partnership with 11 Honoré,” Kaarin Vembar, Retail Dive, posted Oct. 6, 2021, https://www.retaildive.com/news/nordstrom-launches-retail-partnership-with-11-honore/, accessed Feb. 9, 2023
3 “Retail Partnerships: How to Collaborate with Other Stores (+ 9 Examples),” Elise Dopson, Shopify, posted Jan. 10, 2022, accessed Feb. 3, 2023
4 “Preparing for Loyalty’s Next Frontier: Ecosystems,” Julien Boudet, Jess Huang, Phyllis Rothschild, Ryter von Difloe, McKinsey & Company, published March 5, 2020, https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/growth-marketing-and-sales/our-insights/preparing-for-loyaltys-next-frontier-ecosystems, accessed Feb. 9, 2023