After a couple of years of pandemic-related social isolation, many of us could probably use a reminder: “No man is an island, entire of itself.”
While the 17th-century English poet John Donne probably wasn’t thinking of the digital shelf when he wrote those famous words, they just so happen to serve as an important reminder for organisations looking to stand out in the 21st-century marketplace.
In fact, there’s a broad tendency to undervalue cooperation in the spirit of rugged competition in the business world.
But some pretty large brands and retailers — the Procter & Gambles, Hewlett-Packards, and Lennon/McCartneys of the world — saw tremendous success by embracing the powers of partnership and collaboration.
As it turns out, brand partnerships are becoming increasingly popular with retailers in 2022.
We’ll review a few reasons why, and provide three strategies that will ensure your campaign is a successful one.
Why Are Brand Partnerships Important?
Obviously, not every partnership will end up like the Beatles. But both organisations should see mutual benefit, if executed correctly with the right partner.
Typically — but not always — an ideal brand partner would likely be a company servicing a similar type of customer base that doesn’t act in direct competition to you: think a clothing company and a large box retailer, or a tire company and a large auto supplier.
From there, your two companies can share data on customer behaviour, sales, signage, and more to effectively meet your customers’ pain points.
Or, create a really stunning joint experience that helps you stand out on the digital shelf.
You’ll both be able to receive new insights and provide collaborative solutions you wouldn’t be able to achieve on your own.
If you find the right partner, commit to collaboration, and remain flexible, both organisations stand to experience increased customer loyalty and sales from a focused partnership.
1. Assess New and Evolving Trends
As Forbes reports, the U.S. Department of Commerce found that ecommerce sales are up over 50% since 2019 (to $870 billion in 2021), which is a testament to how customer shopping habits have evolved during the pandemic.
Retailers need to become more agile in order to keep up with the latest consumer expectations.
Start by taking honest stock of your brand partnership and carefully assess to what extent you’re meeting customers across all your touch points.
- Are you missing out on business because your shoppers’ pain points are better addressed by another brand?
- Does your brick-and-mortar location offer services like same-day pickup, no-hassle returns, and other amenities?
- Do you have employees who can knowledgeably answer customers’ questions?
Beyond those basic principles, there continue to be fast-moving innovations affecting the marketplace and consumer experience every day, providing some actionable opportunities for motivated marketers.
- Can your partnership benefit from working with social media influencers to create a livestream shopping experience?
- Can you work with a social media company to provide an augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) shopping experience for your customers?
The same can be said about your partnership’s values.
- Are both of your organisations responsive to the increasing number of “conscious consumers” who care about issues like sustainability, social justice, and equity?
Your brand partnership can’t be a “set-it-and-forget-it” program — both parties need to understand what kinds of customers shop at their stores, consistently monitor those customers’ needs, and be willing to be flexible in order to accommodate the latest shopping preferences and behaviours.
2. Analyse Your Competitors
Beyond broader trends in the marketplace, your partnership should take particular interest in how your competitors are directly targeting your customers.
As you can imagine, your partnership’s customer experience should be a novel, compelling, and trustworthy contrast to that of your rivals — and the best way to do that is to understand what makes the other team tick.
Taking a look at online reviews, social media, and other feedback channels should provide some insight into what makes their model work — and where their weaknesses lie.
- Can you articulate the reasons a customer might do business with one of your competitors? If not, it’s time to start studying.
Consider creative ways to one-up your competition’s biggest draws.
- If your competitor offers 48-hour service, brainstorm ways to leverage your partnership to provide 24-hour service.
- If their customers complain about an onerous return process, make sure you’re hyping up your streamlined, “no questions asked” policy in contrast.
Remember: You want your competitors to be playing catch-up with you, not the other way around. Don’t be hesitant to act bold and stand out in the crowd.
3. Stay In Constant Communication
As discussed in tips one and two, data-sharing and joint analysis are crucial elements of a successful brand partnership — which is why it’s essential to maintain open, frank, and constant communication between parties.
You should develop a regular meeting schedule that includes all relevant stakeholders, and ensure representatives from both parties are also reachable outside of those times.
Regular meetings with both teams will engender a mutual emotional connection to your shared goals, and build up camaraderie that will become helpful as your partnership continues to progress.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
The marketplace is all about competitive advantage, but don’t let that obscure the fact that there’s a great deal of value to be found in strategic brand partnerships.
Start by researching the brands on your shelves, their customers, and their unique needs. And when you find a great opportunity, don’t be afraid to strike. Your customers will thank you for it.
More than ever, brands and retailers need to band together to provide seamless shopping experiences for customers.
If you’re ready to go to the next level with your brand partnership, download our report, “Breaking Down the Barriers to Winning Commerce,” for tips and best practices.