What if there was a way to gain new customers, expand loyalty benefits and increase revenue — without tapping extensive financial or staff resources? Brand partnerships can provide a strategic way to do just that.
As both offline and online retailers continue to face stiff competition to stand out in a crowded playing field, partnerships give brands an opportunity to engage and connect with customers in new ways. 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.
Below we share insights into the benefits of brand partnerships, tips to make this 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 five important examples.
Gain new customers.
The best brand partnerships work by letting you quickly reach an expanded target audience — as well as 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.
Provide added value to existing customers.
Loyalty program partnerships provide more opportunities to offer a better customer experience to your existing customers through enhanced benefits, loyalty incentives and partnership rewards.
Leverage the skillset of another brand.
Sharing resources in order to expand products, services — even brand messaging — can be a win-win for both brands, allowing you both to enjoy growth without having to invest the time and money to do it yourself.
Gain access to more data.
A brand partnership can give you access to a larger collection of customer data, which can be leveraged to learn about the demographics, interests and shopping habits of different audience segments. This can help you adapt your marketing strategy to message and reach these consumers.
Most importantly, a brand partnership provides an opportunity to deepen market penetration, create new revenue streams and, ultimately, increase profits.
Five Keys to Selecting the Right Brand Partner
As mentioned above, the best brand partnerships extend reach for both brands, providing new avenues to reach and reward shoppers, drive sales and increase loyalty. But a partnership is still an investment in time, resources and your brand’s reputation. So choosing the right partner is paramount. The five steps below can help you get started.
1. Identify your goals.
Whether it’s increased revenue, more website traffic, new customer segments or a geographic expansion, be clear and specific about what you’re hoping to achieve through a strategic retail brand partnership.
2. Look for like-minded and complementary brands.
When done well, a partnership should be mutually beneficial and serve as a win-win-win — for both brands and for the customer. Pay attention to the culture and mission of your prospective partner. How well do your businesses complement one another?
3. Identify the customers you share and don’t share.
Look at opportunities to combine services in order to create greater value for your customers, as well as your brand partner’s customers. Can you offer exclusive experiences unique to this partnership that will grow loyalty and keep customers coming back for more?
4. 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.
5. 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
Several well-known retail brands are turning to partnerships to stay ahead of the competition and increase market share. While partnership objectives vary from enhancing the customer experience to building trust to reaching new audience segments through new channels, the examples below show that partnering and collaborating with other businesses is an effective strategy to increase visibility, loyalty and profits.
Macy’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods
The partnership between Macy’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods is an example of traditional brick-and-mortar retailers thinking outside the box to keep shoppers offline and coming through their door for more than a quick transaction. Outdoor STORY brings a curated selection of outdoor items from Dick’s Sporting Goods into select Macy’s stores, giving shoppers an experience that lets them enjoy the outdoors while they’re inside. Selections change seasonally, encouraging shoppers to come back and check out what’s new.
Kohl’s and Amazon
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, label and ship eligible Amazon.com returns 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 of its locations.
Kroger and Walgreens
This partnership is another example of a winning strategic collaboration focused on providing customers of both stores with convenience and a more enhanced customer shopping experience. Expanding a pilot partnership that launched last year, Kroger features Kroger Express stores (including fresh, frozen and non-perishable items) inside select Walgreens stores, while Walgreens-branded health and beauty products appear in select Kroger stores, allowing both brands to potentially expand market share.
J Crew, WeWork and LinkedIn
Increasing visibility and establishing their brand as a respected, trusted authority among working professionals was the primary partnership goal of clothing retailer J. Crew. The retailer launched an alliance with LinkedIn and WeWork to connect store customers with thought leaders. Through a panel and popup shop series, experts shared their insights on what it means to be successful, how to get there and how to dress for success.
The Home Depot and Pinterest
Through a partnership with Pinterest, The Home Depot has been able to leverage social media to reach new audiences, create awareness and provide value to consumers by offering them a solution to a common challenge: How to easily recreate the look of a Pinterest pin in their own homes. A series of Built-In Pins posts empowers shoppers to complete projects on their own using Home Depot products. Pins show before and after looks, and even offer videos, articles and more to help consumers achieve the look they’re after.
H&M and Alexander Wang
Clothing retailer H&M wanted to appeal to fashion-conscious consumers by offering trendy high-end merchandise. But the retailer still wanted to preserve its core mission of providing affordable clothing to its loyal customer base. Through a temporary partnership with fashion designer Alexander Wang, H&M was able to offer exclusive, trending items in stores for a limited time.
Adidas and Parley Ocean Plastic
The partnership between shoe retailer Adidas and Parley 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 other products made from recycled material designed to keep plastic out of the oceans. Appealing to customers by both helping the environment and offering a valuable product, Adidas has seen a boost in brand value of more than 50% since launching the partnership.
Successful Retail Partnerships Drive Growth and Loyalty
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. Schedule a free consultation today or call us at 303.986.3000.