Afraid to take a page out of the lifestyle brand’s playbook? Those days are done.
This is the first in a composite series on the rapid evolution of maturing “lifestyle brands” and how their customer and community-first strategies are redefining what it means to be a successful business.
It has become a cliche to say that the pandemic is ushering in new ways of doing business. Something that hasn’t been talked about enough and has become an obsession of mine recently is how the path to sustainable growth – by growth I mean more market share and revenue – has changed dramatically in recent years. Any entry-level textbook on entrepreneurship and scale will tell you that you must first have a great product and market fit. You find customers, nurture them into loyal customers, and then improve or expand that product, or take your learnings to develop new products.
That path is done. Welcome to the era of purpose-driven growth.
Businesses Are Defined By the Power of Purpose
Businesses are increasingly being defined less by the quality of their products and more by the power of their purpose. This may interest you : Business degrees. This is changing the way a business should plan for growth.
Today, after entering into an enterprise with a great product, the next step is not to build as large a target market as quickly as possible and then refine and expand products, but to go in the opposite direction: Build a niche brand, and then build a lifestyle brand.
In 2008, WIRED magazine co-founder Kevin Kelley wrote an influential article about brand building titled “1,000 true fans.” Kelley argued that an entrepreneur only needs about 1,000 true followers—those defined as raving repeat customers—to build a successful business. This, in essence, is the foundation of what is now called “niche brands”: Don’t make a good product for the many, but a perfect product for the few.
With the rise of highly personalized ad campaigns made possible by innovations in marketing technology, niche brands enjoyed unprecedented success in the 2010s. Brands such as Jacamos (clothing for tall men), Lefty’s (products for left-handed people) and August (services for homeowners renting out their homes) have created original lines and legacies that their founders can be proud of.
Related Article: 3 Ways CX Can Be a Driver of Business Strategy
Lifestyle Brands Stand for Something
However, for the uber-ambitious entrepreneur, niche brands beg the question: is it possible to harness the power that comes with a highly-maintained customer community and combine it with much larger brand awareness? The answer, as we’ve seen recently, is the rapid rise of what I call “lifestyle brands. On the same subject : How to prepare your business for a possible recession.”
Lifestyle brands are as customer and community focused as their niche brand counterparts. And so, they are just as defined by the consumers they don’t do business with. For example, in the world of niche brands, a right-handed person would try tirelessly to find a good pair of scissors on Lefty’s. However, lifestyle brands define who their communities are and are not by purpose and mission, not product. Many lifestyle brands cater to righties and lefties, but in different senses of those words.
In short: Lifestyle brands stand for something. And they don’t care if you stand for it too, because they know there are plenty of people.
Lifestyle Brands Share 4 Key Traits
So what do lifestyle brands look like in practice? From my point of view, lifestyle brands have four main characteristics: To see also : The Business Lunch May Be Away.
Related Article: 2 Years Into COVID: What CX Strategies Work Now
The Case for Lifestyle Brand Success
One of the reasons business leaders are afraid to pursue the lifestyle brand strategy is their concern about alienating potential customers by standing so strongly for certain beliefs or ethos. To that end, I wanted to list some economic reasons why the lifestyle brand approach is better (especially with a potential recession around the curve).
Afraid to Alienate Customers? Those Days Are Gone
There was a time in the not so recent past when even the mention of a brand’s lifestyle strategy would send business leaders running for the hills. Why risk alienating any potential customer by instilling faith?
But those days are over. Consumers want brands to take a stand. They want to understand that companies that are using their resources to communicate a better way of life, whatever that might mean for those people, have real feelings.
In my next article, I’ll dive more into concrete strategies for companies to mature through the stages of development from product leader to lifestyle brand. This path to growth will define the next era of business, and how consumers expect to interact and engage with companies.