468 Retail and Channel Management Blog

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Magic of Disney

Image result for disney store

Image result for disney store

I am not sure if you have had the luxury of visiting a Disney retail store, but I have, so let me guide you through the experience. To start, its magical in every aspect you can imagine. The journey begins by the store catching your eye as you are wondering through the mall. The reason for this is because the store entrance is always large with an open concept feel to it. It has glass walls surrounding the entrance so you can get a sneak peak of the dreams that are about to become true as you enter the store. If you are already a little excited by hearing this then you might also love to know that as you enter the Disney store, you are welcomed by the hum of Disney music from all of your favourite childhood (or adult) movies. You will also notice a kind staff member greet you upon your arrival wearing the world famous Mickey Mouse ears. You look to the left and the store is filled with superhero costumes, action figures, and Mickey Mouse games. Then you look to your right to see the Disney princess dolls, dresses, and tea sets. I am not just talking one or two costumes or toys, I am talking an entire store that is jam packed with the coolest toys and costumes on the market. I have already made it clear that I find this a very exciting experience, but the looks on the children's faces when they enter the store is one of a kind. The way they light up when they see their favourite superhero figurine; how the little girls want to try on all of their favourite princess dresses. It is truly incredible. I by no means am surprised to see the kids so excited by the magical store they are in. Disney has executed a sophisticated and charming way to present their brand not only in their movies, but also in their stores. Although there are many items, out of all the hours I have spent in the store nothing has ever looked cluttered or messy. Everything is placed in a way that makes sense and draws you further in. There is even an area of the store for kids to watch one of the classics on TV while colouring or playing with one of the staff watching over. The engagement that Disney commits to its customers in store and out is incredible. Some Disney stores go the extra mile and have an actual mini castle within its walls to add that extra "wow" factor and for children to play in. 

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So after all of joy you have felt being in such an enlightening place, you head to the cash register because lets face it, you probably found a thing or two for your niece, nephew, daughter, son, or grandchild at some point being in there. As expected, the cashier is always lovely making sure that you found everything you needed. Once the purchase is finished, they will part ways with you by saying "have a magical day." This is really just the cherry on top to the altogether amazing experience Disney has provided you and will have you feeling a little bit more magical and imaginative for the rest of your day.
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You see, Disney did not become what it is without marketing. It was quite a struggle for Walt Disney and his brother Roy to begin the establishment that is here today. Such a large part of what it has become and continues to be depends on the techniques they use to continually please the old and new customers. What made Disney different when it first started was the fact that it could bring anything to life. A cartoon drawing could now talk to you and dance in their films. It was something that sparked the imagination and inspired everyone around. Disney continues to base its marketing strategy on doing the unthinkable and creating a little magic in every aspect of its company. Creating Disneyland is the perfect example of how Walt and Roy did something no one had ever thought of. Making a cartoon life become something that we can all be a part of. So of course, even with some of the prices being questionably high in the Disney store, consumers are willing to pay because not only are you receiving that item but also the experience. Many consumers are loyal customers that want to support the brand and are willing to spend the extra dime. Without the magical experience that Disney provides and consumers expect, it would not be what it is today.

Disney Retail Store Tour

Call It Spring!

Call It Spring is the ultimate destination to discover unique design shoes and accessories. The store caters to young men and women from ages 15-25, who are interested in fashion and believe in living life to the fullest. Call It Spring in Southgate centre is situated right in front of Victoria Secret, which in my opinion is an excellent place. Considering both brands have a similar target market and distinct product assortment. 
The ever young attitude of the brand is reflected on their e-commerce website. CallItSpring.com was the first place I visited after discovering the brand. Since it was a convenient way to learn about the brand and the type of products it sells. The easy to navigate website has on their homepage vibrant colour schemes and pictures of stylish models. The fresh outlook was very appealing and welcoming.
Moreover, these characteristics of the brand have been extended to their products and their store design. The store front displays a huge poster of a stylish woman wearing Call It Spring products. It captures the attention and connects with the fashion-forward consumers, resulting in them entering the store.
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Image may contain: shoesThe store has a sleek neutral look mix with striking colours that creates an inspiring environment. I like how the entrance has an open feel and the products are displayed in a way that everyone can view them without any blockage from the sale signs. Furthermore, last year the women side of the store transformed into showcasing their new collection, Alice Through The Looking Glass. I noticed on the shelves the eye-catching handbags and shoes displayed. They even had special bags that are used for putting in customers purchases with the collection name and colour scheme. It was a collection that I personally liked and I enjoyed how every aspect of the shopping experience encompassed the new launch. I also recall shopping in another store carrying my purchase from Call It Spring and someone asked me whether I made a purchase from the collection due to the bag. Having such an uplifting environment with the playful colours in the store and the unique new collection, resulted in gaining clientele interest. Thus, the customers spend more time in the store and are more likely to make a purchase.
Call It Spring has three product categories: shoes, handbags, and accessories. They have a wide breadth of product assortment, such as the handbag category consists of backpacks and clutches, etc. Moreover, the shoes mostly have a very simple design and look, but there are some printed shoes. Furthermore, my favourite category is handbags on both their channels. The handbag prints and designs are so unique that it is easy for me to recognise them anywhere. In my opinion, the products are primarily incomparable to their competitors due to their shoes, handbags, and accessories having the same print. It gives the clientele the option to purchase in the three categories the same style of products. This option emphasises Call It Spring different way of approaching style and fashion. This is not easy to find, especially with their fun, sunny, happy prints that I really like. 
Road Trip: Bristol Dry Lake
Call it spring utilises social media platform, such as Instagram and Facebook to share their clientele pictures wearing their merchandise. Thus, it creates an environment of inclusivity and engagement between the customer and the brand, resulting in a strong bond. There are also many celebrities and fashion bloggers with massive followings that post pictures wearing Call It Spring products. This results in generating brand awareness and traffic towards social media platforms and websites. Another aspect of their social platforms that stands out to me is that they share posts about other things besides their products, such as quotes, fun videos, and giveaways, etc. This strategy definitely attracts more followers by keeping things light, welcoming and less promotional.
Call It Spring is a breath of fresh air due to the whole package: the youthful environment of the store, the signature mint green and light blue colours, and the unique printed products and collections. Having a go-to place that is on trend and has its own unique personality truly caters to those individuals, who enjoy a sense of freedom and uniqueness in their style. 



Sears: Facing the Facelift

In late 2016, Sears Canada gave itself a new look. Along with a new logo and website, store layout changes have been made so that gone are the days of tall displays, outdated mannequins, and shelves that fill the store with gaping holes of emptiness.

The theme of the makeover seems to be “newness”. Some characteristics of the new layout include black displays on wheels, more dynamic and complete-looking mannequins, and finished with a polished concrete floors. All these features allow executives to easily make adjustments, which can translate to something “new and exciting for a customer” states company chairman Brandon Stranzl.

Sears’ new store format is also said to have taken pages out of the playbooks of Designer Shoe Warehouse (DSW), and Marshalls, all of whom Stranzl considers “the best in the business.” Some departments of the new Sears’ have been influenced by these stores. 

A look inside

I think these kinds of changes for Sears are definitely backed up by good ideas. Comfortable shopping is achieved by mimicking concepts of other retailers. Layouts that resemble other stores that their customer demographic also goes to definitely gives a better sense of familiarity. Ultimately, it can help Sears become a more familiar option in the minds of many.  

At the same time, there is no trace of the old Sears. It seems like Sears has applied the Inverted U idea on the larger, brand level. The contrasting new look of Sears is enough to stir some curiosity in consumers, but not enough to drive them away from being too foreign. In this new makeover, also known as “WTS (What The Sears)”, customers will continue to find low prices in the large retail store Sears was known as. Hopefully these changes will not just be for show.

Just not the same.

I do not think looks alone will be enough to turn Sears back into the retail giant it once was. Nowadays convenience is quite a big factor that can make a store significantly more favourable to customers. As for Sears, customers may choose other stores, such as Amazon, which offers convenience in having no need to step into a store; or Walmart, which offers convenience through having a greater selection of products all in one place. Sears needs to find a way to offer customers a better value for choosing them along with their decent pricing and selection; have something new to complement that new look.

In the third quarter ended October 29 just this past year, Sears has reported to experience a 7% drop in same-store sales, doubling its net loss. However, it is expected that there will be more to come, as Stranzl states that there is “a process of constant innovation to deliver better products and experiences.” If Sears can go beyond just the looks and find other ways to improve shopping experience, it can definitely put them further in the right direction. 


The Body Shop or The Body Flop?

Founded in 1976, The Body Shop became a pioneer in the beauty industry by kick-starting the trend of selling ethical and environment-friendly skincare products. Over the 40 years that it has been operating, The Body Shop has went from humble beginnings in Brighton, UK to having over 2,500 stores in over 60 countries. Despite the success The Body Shop has seen, it has been struggling in the last couple of years and has even become L'Oreal's worst performing brand in 2016. This has lead L'Oreal to explore all strategic options and even consider bids for the brand. What happened to such a prominent beauty brand and is there any hope for The Body Shop?

A loss of identity

Part of what made The Body Shop very successful was its unwavering commitment to better business practices which encompassed banning all animal testing on its products and using all natural ingredients among other things. The skincare and cosmetics industry is always evolving and while The Body Shop’s commitment to social issues was a game changer in the 1980’s, more and more companies are jumping aboard and doing it much better. For example, LUSH went from being one of The Body Shop’s suppliers to becoming a thriving competitor and seller of natural products by doubling its market share over the past 5 years. The Body Shop's market share has declined to 9% in 2016 and it has lost itself in the beauty market where the natural and ethical approach has become the norm and the competition is able to do it all at a cheaper price.

Big changes with short-lived returns

In an attempt to boost sales, The Body Shop revamped its store format and introduced the interactive model Pulse which gave its stores a “fresh and vibrant boutique” look and allowed customers to linger around the store longer. By changing the look and feel of the store, the company was able to reiterate its company’s message and values to its customers all while engaging with them. In a saturated market such as the beauty industry, format decisions have a huge impact and according to CEO Jeremy Schwartz, the new format led to an increase in the company’s profits. But given the current financial state of the company, it is evident that despite changing up a store’s environment can be very impactful, more needs to be done to regain lost market share.

Selection and product innovation

Managing its product selection can be integral in improving The Body Shop’s financial situation. Currently, the company sells a wide variety of products from skin care to makeup to products for men, but it lacks innovative and on-trend offerings especially with its makeup section. In order for The Body Shop to compete with its competitors that are investing in developing exciting and cutting edge products, it will need to reevaluate its customers’ needs and wants and come up with a retail value proposition that not only speaks to its core values but one that can distinguish The Body Shop in such a saturated industry. 


Fabletics: Fab or Drab

As a new lover of yoga, I had a need or maybe just a strong want for new workout clothes. As a beginner, I already felt out of place unsure of all of the poses (what the heck was Baddha Utthita Parsvakonasana), but also the fact that I was in my baggy old t-shirt and shorts when everybody else was wearing Lululemon. Clearly my hedonic need was unsatisfied.  

Baddha Utthita Parsvakonasana 
Trends in health and fitness have helped propel athletic clothing sales, but beyond that the athleisure market was born. Many contributing its existence to Chip Wilson, the founder of Lululemon. My search for new workout clothes originated there, but I didn’t want to pay $100 for a piece of spandex. I wanted to fit in at my yoga classes, but not at that price. As a student there were better things I could spend my money on.

Finally, I remembered Fabletics, my Facebook and Instagram had been flooded by advertisements for weeks and now I had a reason to check it out. I was excited, who doesn’t love online shopping! Furthermore, Kate Hudson was a co-founder, I was a fan even before I entered the site. Kate combined the popularity of athleisure and the convenience of e-commerce. My experience exceeded my expectations, but over time the excitement disappeared and my satisfaction dwindled. As a prestigious “VIP Member”, here is my experience with Fabletics:


Fabletics follows a Price Centric Model. Kate Hudson stated, “You should not have to pay $150 for a yoga pant. [There was a] gap in the active wear market, plenty of luxury brands, but none that offered stylish high quality gear at an accessible price point (Netflix, 2016).” Fabletics is able to offer higher quality at a lower price because it is “direct to consumer and e-commerce (Netflix, 2016).”

Fabletics uses mass customization to establish preferences. The Lifestyle Quiz asks a variety of style and size preferences to develop a personalized shopping experience called “my outfits”. New products and outfits are suggested in “my outfits” ever month. Customer reviews and ratings are also available for most products. These profiles and product ratings allows Fabletics to compile customer information and track popular items. 

Extreme promotions for new VIP Members attract new potential customers. The benefits of a VIP Membership are enticing and necessary to benefit from low prices (otherwise they are comparable to Lululemon).

Fabletics is extremely convenient as it is available anytime. But, some customers may prefer to have an in-store experience. Fabletics opened brick-and-mortar stores in 2015 and are currently expanding (Fabletics, n.d.). Although online shopping is growing, in-store shopping is still dominant (Gold, 2016). Fabletics is still able to customize the in-store experience by offering popular items determined from online customer’s profiles and reviews (Gold, 2016).


Although “my outfit” is a great idea, the execution is not 100%. Further personalization would be beneficial considering I barely look at “my outfits” and generally browse the entire site.

Fabletics sugar coats the idea of a membership model, saying it is not a prescription because you are able to pick and choose what you want (Mowbray, 2016). Although different, many customer complaints believe they are using deceptive marketing. If it looks like a cat and acts like a cat, it is probably a cat. Other complaints have also been made from a growing number of demon customers including:
   - Return costs
   - Items frequently out of stock
   - Opting out of VIP Membership is hard
   - Lifestyle Quiz is annoying
   - Unauthorized monthly credit card charges if you forget to "skip"
      (Mowbray, 2016)
Fabletics has not ignored these complaints and from a satisfied customer’s perspective, most are unwarranted.

I would consider myself the average customer, definitely not an angle, but far from a demon. My complaints are few, Fabletics benefits from my occasional purchase, but even more from my frequent monthly slip ups of forgetting to “skip”. However, they do have to deal with my impending returns, which in the end get me stuck in a cycle. The drawbacks of Fabletics appears to have a minimal impact as they have expanded into FL2, Fabletics for men (Fabletics, n.d.)!


Extended Side Angle Pose. (n.d.). Retrieved March 12, 2017, from https://www.yogaoutlet.com/guides/how-to-do-bound-extended-side-angle-pose-in-yoga

Fabletics: Activewear, Yoga & Workout Clothes | Fabletics by Kate Hudson. (n.d.). Retrieved March 9, 2017, from http://www.fabletics.ca/

Gold, S. (2016, November 01). Kate Hudson's athleisure brand is doubling down on a strategy it borrowed from Apple and Warby Parker. Retrieved March 9, 2017, from http://www.businessinsider.com/cmo-of-kate-hudsons-athleisure-brand-fabletics-on-retail-industry-2016-10

Mowbray, N. (2016, March 20). Fury over Kate Hudson's Fabletics 'scam': Customers threaten to sue firm over claims they've been ripped off by hidden monthly charges after taking up VIP membership . Retrieved March 11, 2017, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3500874/Fury-Kate-Hudson-s-Fabletics-scam-Customers-threaten-sue-firm-claims-ve-ripped-hidden-monthly-charges-taking-VIP-membership.html

Murray, Kyle. B. The retail value proposition: crafting unique experiences at compelling prices. Toronto, ON:University of Toronto Press, 2013.

Netflix. (Producer). (2016, December 14). Chelsea [Video file]. Retrieved March 02, 2017, from https://www.netflix.com/watch/80104619?trackId=13752289&tctx=0%2C2%2C85a6a20d-2bbb-4302-a6d9-dfd225ed81ec-154125226