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Are Established Retailers at a Content Marketing Disadvantage?

By August 9, 2016Guru
For retailers, the story of their brand — or product — can be a major selling point. But if a company has a well-established story, the stability of the brand can make it hard to inspire an audience that wants to make sure it’s not missing The Latest Thing.

Established retailers walk a fine line between boring and inspiring consumers with content. Customers like continuity and familiarity, and a mature retailer trying to redefine itself as an innovative brand can alienate its customer base. However, if a retailer’s marketing efforts read as outdated, it can lose customers to newer competitors.

But what’s the better position in retail – to be a known quantity, or ride the cutting edge? The tried-and-true shops may still hold the advantage.

The Big Data Advantage

Unlike new retailers, older sellers have scads of data on their customers, stores, products, sales and other vendor partners. Mature retailers can use their wealth of sales data by sex, age, race, geographic area and seasonality to create brand messages that key on their customers’ purchasing history. Rather than trying to guess what customers might want in the future, mature retailers know what their customers have wanted over time.

Selling a History of Innovation

It’s hard to break brand loyalty for a reason – consumers are often nervous about spending money on a new product. Without making itself look old, an established retailer can create content that celebrates its history of moderate, yet important, innovation. This allows older, establish retailers to brand themselves as the consistent, but safe, creator of The Next Thing.

Native Advertising Benefits Established Retailers

Retail consumers often won’t make purchasing decisions on their own, proven by the fact that online reviews and social recommendations are leading tools that influence today’s buying decisions. People trust and respond to third-party recommendations more than paid advertising copy. True native advertising – content that discusses problems and provides expert solutions without promoting a product – allows mature retailers to extend their status as subject experts in their space.

Selling the Brand Vs. Benefits

Corporate branding consultants StealingShare point out that newer retailers without an established brand must rely on messaging their category benefits, instead of expertise. Mature retailers can use their established credentials to confirm their market-leader status among customers by creating content that emphasizes a brand, and all it means to customers.

Newer retailers like H&M, Zara and Primark try to attract millennials and Generation Y with quick-changing inventory and low prices, but don’t have the same story to communicate as older retailers, giving shoppers less a reason to bookmark the sites of newer retailers as trusted reference sources. Older retailer, Target, has used its status as a long-term customer partner by creating its School List Assist shopping tool for back-to-school help for shoppers.

Same Message, New Tools

One advantage mature retailers have is the use of new marcomm channels to distribute the message of an established brand to younger customers. Communicating via Pinterest, Vine, Instagram, Twitter and other social media channels gives older brands a chance to offer younger buyers something new retailers can’t – the security that comes from buying from a seller the masses have already vetted and approved. In an attempt to target tweens and teens, K-Mart partnered with Nicki Minaj and Adam Levine, creating a Shop Your Way portal and Twitter feed for the celebrities, along with multi-channel social media and email content campaigns.

Author Steve Milano

Steve Milano has decades of publishing, journalism and advertising experience. He has created content for Fortune 500 companies, large media conglomerates, top-tier newspapers, magazines and websites. Milano's work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Orlando Sentinel and the Idaho Statesman, and many other publications.

More posts by Steve Milano

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