468 Retail and Channel Management Blog

Friday, March 11, 2016

Tommy Gun's Original Barbershop: A Man's Second Home

What is a "Tommy Gun"?

The Thompson submachine gun, also known as a Tommy gun, was developed in the United States during the Prohibition era between 1917 and 1920. Because of its large cartridge, accuracy, and high volume of automatic fire, the Tommy gun was very popular and was favoured by soldiers, police officers, criminals, and civilians.

You may be thinking, how does this relate to a barbershop? Certainly this hair destination does not have anything related to guns, but instead it uses the name recognized by many men, I presume, to capture a masculine nature that exudes what it means to be a man.


For many men, getting a haircut occurs on a routinely basis, usually once or twice a month. Tommy Gun's has built an environment where their regular customers feels at ease and relaxed from the moment they enter the door--the transition zone. In order to keep it cool and casual, this barbershop will only take walk-ins and do not take appointments. To sign in, you must enter your name and number into an iPad at the self check-in kiosk. You may then leave the shop until you are notified you are next in line via their text messaging system, or you may choose to stay in their waiting lounge where you are entertained with a large screen TV, iPads, a pinball machine, a hockey table, video games, or popular men's magazines. At the chair, there is a TV inside the mirror where you can sit and watch your favourite sports team play while you indulge in a nice hot shave or haircut. I think Tommy Gun's has a really good grasp of what kinda of men they would like to target, and does so effectively by building a laid-back environment that makes those customers feel welcome.


Tommy Gun's provides a space that appeal to men of all ages with a wide range of styles. There are different costs for children between the age 0-11 which they call the "Tommy Gun’s Original Soon
To Be Man Cut". Tommy Gun's also provides traditional services, such as hot towel shaves which are more enticing to older men. Other special services include mustache, goatee, and beard clean up, hair tattoo, brow wax, and shampoo and style without a cut. The experience and service offered at Tommy Gun's may also, in my opinion, appeal to a population with a larger disposable household income, as the pricing does cost above average for a haircut. Although the cost of a regular maintenance haircut may cost $35-$40 here at Tommy Gun's, there is value that the men are getting through the experience and service they receive. Men like to feel at ease, comfortable, and natural when it comes to making themselves look good. Tommy Gun's has developed this space by finding out the commonalities of all men and combining them into one mission: to making them feel at home.


Tommy Gun's offers a 5 star service to its clients. They make it known that each haircut includes a cold beverage, complimentary hair wash, condition and a scalp massage, TV remote to control the TV in your mirror, rinse and style, and an option to purchase after-service products. The seats are luxurious, red leather chairs with a comfortable foot rest. All the hair tools are stored in what looks like tool chests seen in many men's garages. From the moment you enter, until the time you leave, Tommy Gun's offers a hair service that really defines what being a man should feel like. Many hair salon are dominated by women today and men may shy away from entering a salon full of female clients. Tommy Gun's sets the bar for catering to and specializing in the men clientele and with each man who is converted to understanding Tommy Gun's concept, there is a great possibility he will be coming back for all his future hair needs.

I personally think this is a great concept and that it will set the standard for men's hair services in general. Many hair companies are solely focused on females because they are a large majority of their clientele, but that leaves a large open territory for the hair industry for men. This isn't your typical barbershop down your street. This is Tommy Gun's Original Barbershop.



Adidas collaboration with Kayne West – Adidas Yeezy

Adidas is a German multinational corporation that designs and manufactures sports shoes, clothing and accessories. Adolf Dassler founded Adidas. Adolf and his older brother started to produce their own sports shoes in their mother’s wash kitchen. Adolf was the first to sponsor an African America sprinter, Jesse Owens, in the 1936 summer Olympics. Owen’s success created a good reputation for Dassler, as trainers of other national teams became interested in their shoes. Due to a growing riff between he and his brother, they split up in 1947. Adolf Dassler founded Adidas on August 18th, 1949. Adidas is now the largest sportswear manufacturer in Europe and second largest in the world, after Nike.

On December 3rd, 2013, Adidas confirmed an apparel and shoe collaboration with Kayne West.

Fashion gives people an opportunity to satisfy hedonic needs. “Hedonic goods are consumed for luxury purposes, which are desirable objects that allow the consumer to feel pleasure, fun, and enjoyment from buying the product. This is the difference from utilitarian goods, which are purchased for their practical uses and are based on the consumer's needs” (Hedonic Motivation, n.d.). Fashion also reflects times and changes in society, such as the current health and fitness lifestyle trend along with the shift towards active wear as everyday street wear.

Fashion can be a signal of status. There were only 9000 pairs available for the initial release of the Adidas Yeezy Boost 750, which were only available in New York City, a known major fashion centre, via the Adidas app – the shoes were sold out within 10 minutes.

Kayne West is a famous hip hop artist among the most acclaimed musicians of the 21st century. He, as a fashion leader, displays the trickle-down effect. The sneakers are worn by celebrities of high social status, such as those shown on the shoeboxes below, as well as every day ordinary fans of low social status.


Adidas History. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adidas
Adidas Yeezy. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adidas_Yeezy
Hedonic Motivation. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedonic_motivation
[Adidas Yeezy Boost 750 sneaker image]. Retrieved from http://cdn.sneakernews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/kanye-west-sneaker-adidas.jpg
[Adidas Yeezy Boost 750 sneaker box image]. Retrieved from http://sneakernews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/adidas-yeezy-750-boost-box.jpg

Bird is the Word: Nando’s Lands in Edmonton

Alberta’s capital has served up a bevy of fast-casual dining establishments in past years. Encompassing everything from Neapolitan style pizzerias, gourmet burger joints, taquerias, to southern-style bbq, and even Korean-style hotdog eateries. The latest to join “the flock” is Nando’s, an internationally established Portuguese-style flame-grilled peri-peri chicken restaurant. Nando’s is a brand with significant recognition throughout Africa and Europe, though knowledge of the company is less substantial in Canada.

My first experience with Nando’s was not through one of its many restaurants (over 1100 locations in 30 countries) but through its array of signature hot sauces sold by several national grocery chains. Over the years, it has become my favorite condiment, so it brought "me to tears" to hear that Edmonton would be one of many markets the South African chain would target in its recent North American expansion

 Located at South Blvd Shops, a mixed use office/retail redevelopment,  anchored by LA Fitness and Finesse Furnishings along Gateway Blvd and Calgary Trail, Nando’s Edmonton has access to the city’s most highly trafficked commercial corridor. This gives the restaurant the ability to capture commuter traffic of those located in some of Edmonton’s highest growth neighborhoods containing young professionals and families.

Upon my first visit, I noticed this brand has no problems attracting its key market segment, as throngs of millennials and ethnic families were lined up out the door. As Patricia Cobe of Restaurant Business asserts the “emerging trend in fast casual is capitalizing on today’s consumers who have an endless appetite for heat.” The tiny African peri-peri chili pepper used by Nando’s in both its chicken marinade and basting sauce, sets the Nando’s product apart from other chicken-based chains in the market such as Swiss Chalet.

In addition to this small pepper’s taste profile driving continuous “growth at Nando’s,” the rebranding of this chain for the North American market has shown promise by offering a unique value proposition to its fans through innovative restaurant design, accommodating "pick and choose" menu selections, and highly engaged customer service, all the while keeping prices aligned with their customer’s perceived value of the experience.

Upon entering the restaurant, I was taken aback by the rare aesthetic of Afro-Portugese design employed throughout the interior. The overall theme within the space includes elements of reclaimed softwood, unusual bright colour schemes, glass and woven fixtures, leather alcoves, Afro-Cuban drum beats, and modern works by South African artists, which “[are] unique to each location.” This concept appears to be aimed at establishing within the customer’s mind that Nando’s isn’t your typical fast-casual eatery. Ron Cecillon, president and CEO of Nando’s Canada stresses: “we’re a chain that doesn’t want to look like a chain. When you visit the new Nando’s, you don’t expect the fixtures you see when the average check is $14.”

The layout within this restaurant is indicative of the high-volume traffic the company expects to generate. A variety of optimally-sized and spaced seating throughout the dining room in the way of booths, round and communal-style tables is able to comfortably and efficiently accommodate guests during peak periods.

When it comes to the menu, Nando’s recognizes the needs of its customer base. Young singles and couples as well as large families are given the opportunity to customize their meals via a “pick and choose” style menu for either dine-in or takeout. In addition, Nando’s “Periometer” allows an individual to pick their desired level of heat. The growing vegetarian segment is also well catered to, as essentially everything on the menu minus the chicken is geared towards herbivores.

The level of staff engagement with customers at Nando’s, is truly impressive. From the moment one steps through the door, one is exposed to several points of interaction with the front-of-the-house team. A host/hostess guides you to a cashier, who customizes your order, which is delivered by a food runner, who is willing to provide anything else you desire (even items you forgot to order). As a customer, this increased interaction  (as opposed to in many quick serve restaurants) builds trust resulting in one feeling satisfied.

Overall, the revamped value proposition Nando’s is serving up to the North American market, looks to be promising in providing a unique and tasty experience. It could quite easily, in my opinion, dominate the fast casual chicken market for years to come.




Crate & Barrel: An Interactive Format

Crate & Barrel has created tremendous success since 1962 through the use of their elegant store formats. They have been an industry leader in adaptive store formats and continue to strive in allowing customers to feel 'at home' while they shop the vast selection of furniture they carry.

Crate & Barrel has chosen a unique trade off that consists of size and cost. The average store size in the United States, in 2013, was 15,000 square feet. This is an incredible cost that the store must cover but they achieve this through the elegant and convenient formats. They insure customer engagement by making sure every piece of furniture is perfectly laid out and nothing is out of place. This allow the store to have beautiful flow, allowing customers to be fully engaged while browsing because they do not have to worry about where to go.

Since Crate & Barrels stores are so large they are also able to effectively show a great selection of products. This is perfect for the large retailer and has allowed them to use their format to increase online sales as well. They have acquired many new customers on their online platform that browse the large stores then go home to make their final decisions on what to purchase. Not all retailers can compete with this business model, as it is very difficult to acquire such space in the retail atmosphere. In 2014 the retailer increased online sales by 10.3% and has estimated over half of these purchases were first considered while viewing the product in stores.

Ultimately Crate & Barrel continues to compete with their major competitors by created a friendly open environment that is welcome to all. Their formats focus on elegance rather than confusing ‘racecar’ style layouts. This allows Crate & Barrel to offer a higher quality product at a higher price point than their competitors. This business model has been proven successful in an incredibly competitive market. Through their unique format they have also been able to compete in new domains of sales by using their stores as a visual representation of the products that can be ordered online.


Saxx: Putting the Competition in their Pouch

              Saxx Underwear Co., founded by Trent Kitsch, started as a simple idea for a class project: a men’s underwear that is made with top quality materials and fitted with a revolutionary “3D pouch” design, something that has never been brought to market before. It has now grown into an extremely successful specialty undergarments retailer, going from just online sails early on, to being in retail stores across North America. Interestingly enough, the idea was even rejected on Dragon’s Den, the popular Canadian TV show where aspiring entrepreneurs attempt to convince millionaires to invest in their business, so the start was somewhat of a rocky one to say the least. However, judging by the loyal following and immense growth they are experiencing now, there is no doubt in my mind that there is something in the business that the Dragon’s didn’t see at it’s inception. It’s a classic example of rags to riches, but how did Saxx get to where they are today?
              One of the things that Saxx does extremely well is recognizing the need of the customer. In an interview with Kitsch, he explains that he came across this need for more comfort and protection while he was out at sea. Being in a cramped boat for days on end got him to think about how he could redesign men’s underwear to “prevent contact and be more comfortable”. Although this was a personal realization, he in fact discovered a hole in the market that needed to be filled, as currently there was no underwear that provided the type of protection that Saxx does in times when the user is participating in high-intensity activities. As a result of this need, Saxx aims to appeal to customers who are physically active and also are willing to pay for the high end product that they offer. To do this, Saxx employs brand ambassadors who exemplify the qualities that they are looking for in their own customers: people such as Kevin Love, an NBA all-star, and Ken Block, a rally driver, are some of the ideal candidates that Saxx has chosen to promote their brand.
              One interesting thing to note is that Saxx does not actually own any stores of their own. They mainly do business through their website and having their products in a variety of other retail stores. Since Saxx has a particular type of customer in mind, they really pay attention to what stores their products are in, mainly focusing on sporting goods retailers and specialty stores. Examples include Sport Chek and The Briefing Room. Although Saxx’s brand visibility may not be extremely high due to not having their own physical stores, over the years they have been able to generate a very loyal following because of their innovative and high quality product that is truly like no other.

              If Saxx continues the current growth that they are experiencing now, there is no doubt in my mind that in the future they will became a global leader in men’s underwear, blazing a trail in innovation and forcing other prominent underwear brands such as Calvin Klein and Jockey to play catch up in the years to come


Fitting in by fitting into Brandy Melville

Brandy Melville has successfully established itself as one of the trendiest brands amongst the coveted teen demographic. According to the Huffington Post, “Brandy Melville is one of the fastest-growing brands… ranking well ahead of established stores like H&M, American Eagle and Hollister” (2014). They have differentiated themselves in three ways: a large social media presence, competitive price points, and their unique marketing strategy targeting a very particular segment.
Brandy Melville, for the most part, does not invest in any traditional advertising tactics but rather relies on social media and word of mouth communication as their medium for advertising and promoting their brand. “Brandy Melville’s popularity is fed almost exclusively through social media buzz” says blogger Lisa Marsh (2014). Brandy Melville has approximately 2.5 million followers on Instagram, 75,000 followers on Twitter, 240,000 likes on Facebook, and maintains a popular board on Pintrest. Brandy Melville’s major e-commerce presence has not gone unnoticed, Business Insider discusses how, “the brilliant Instagram account, which features a mix of professional models and real customers [has helped the] retailer rank in the top ten teen clothing brands.” (2015) In addition to this, the storefronts also display minimal and very discrete signage, therefore adding to its exclusivity. Besides social medial, Brandy Melville has also gained a lot of its popularity from “Hollywood celebrities, including The Kardashians, Ashley Benson, Taylor Swift, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Miley Cyrus, Karlie Kloss and many others.” (Brandy Melville, 2016).

Brandy Melville is best known for its unique ‘one size fits all’ policy that they have on all their clothes. Every shirt, sweater, jacket and pair of pants is available in only one size. Most of the clothes at Brandy Melville fit a small or medium sized girl ranging from size 0-6 and are therefore targeted towards a very specific segment, keeping mind the average size for women in the United States is approximately size 12-14. Adopting this policy gives teens the desire to fit in by fitting into Brandy Melville’s clothes. Brandy Melville has created the vision of the quintessential ‘Brandy girl,’ “whose classic character stands out in the crowd, is refined and fashionable yet relaxed,” the idea of this idealized 'brandy girl' is what teen girls aspire to be (Brandy Melville, 2016). 

Lastly, one major way Brandy Melville has differentiated itself in a way that attracts their target market are their exceptionally affordable prices. They offer their customers fairly low and reasonable prices in comparison to other retailers who are charging double or even triple the amount for very similar clothes. Having affordable prices for their target market, teenagers, is extremely valuable and beneficial as teenagers tend to have lower spending windows in comparison to other segments of shoppers.

I believe that Brandy Melville has strategically differentiated themselves using the three strategies they have chosen. Mainly using social media and not traditional marketing strategies can be quite risky, however to many peoples surprise this has helped the brand reach the levels of success it has. Adopting a 'one size fits all' policy has created several negative views on the brand, similar to ones that are targeted towards companies like Abercrombie and Fitch, however regardless of the negativity that Brandy Melville receives the policy has built an aura of exclusivity around the brand that teen girls yearn for. I believe that the pricing strategy Brandy Melville has adopted was strategic and intelligently chosen and is another the reason for the fast growing popularity of the brand. To conclude, Brandy Melville has successfully established itself as a trendy and exclusive brand amongst the teenage girl demographic by creating a need to fit in by fitting into Brandy Melville.


Clé de Peau Beauté


Clé de Peau Beauté is French for "the key to skin", although the brand might sound French, it is actually a Japanese subsidiary brand under the parent company Shishido. Clé de Peau Beauté is a luxury cosmetic brand that focuses their researching on finding the key to unlocking a new world of beauty for women everywhere. This blog post analyze will focus on Clé de Peau Beauté's success at synergizes their marketing mix to create a successful brand. Specifically at the use of the marketing 4Ps, Product, Place, Promotion and Price. 

Product - performance and packaging design

Clé de Peau Beauté has a very simple concept for all of their products - to demonstrate luxury. They achieve so by using only the best  ingredients from all over the world and combine it with the latest technology to provide the customer the best performing cosmetic products. the packaging design in line with their goal to demonstrate luxury as the packaging resembles diamond a something that is associated with luxury. Their latest skincare product, la creme is a good example combining precious ingredients, exclusive technology and diamond packaging to portrait quality and luxury.

Place - Location and Store Design

Clé de Peau Beauté mainly uses two channel to distribute their products, first is through exclusive retailers such as Nordstrom and other retail stores that carry high-end brands. The second is through their own retail concept stores, usually located at central business district. For example, the Hong Kong Clé de Peau Beauté concept store is strategically placed at HK's International Financial Center (IFC) Mall next to other designer and luxury brands such as La Prairie, Cartier, and Jimmy Choo. By placing themselves among other luxury brands and locate at premium locations suggests that they are in the same category. In addition, the store uses concept design which is similar to Apple store as they too invite customer in to experience the product. Inside the store, there are multiple stations designed for customers to test their products in a comfortable setting. Apart from the testing stations, the store is designed with highlights shining on multiple reflective surfaces to mimic the illusion of being surrounded by diamonds. 

Promotion and price 

Since Clé de Peau Beauté's target market is very specific, they concentrate their sell force at the Asian market where they receive most of their revenues from. However, they promote different category of cosmetic products in different regions, In Asia they focus on skincare and in North America they focus on makeup.Their promotion strategy is simple, contract celebrities who are young and are more associated with natural beauty to endorse their brand. In addition, Clé de Peau Beauté also promotes personal experience hence the use of concept stores and skin consultation session in store. As for their price, Clé de Peau Beauté promotes high price which serves as a halo effect on their products and makes the customer feel that high price represents high quality. Their cosmetic products are normally ranged from $100 to $250 (USD) and their skincare products range from $150 to $1,000 (USD)

Overall, Clé de Peau Beauté did a very good job of using the marketing 4Ps to their advantage at delivering an image of luxury. Furthermore, they successfully combine different aspects of the brand, from packaging to distribution channel to store layout design they all promote and work together to promote the brand's exclusiveness. 





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