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Message from the CEO, Dominique Lamb: 8 May 2018

May 08, 2018

Words like relevance and identity have been bandied about NRA headquarters this week like a pack of double-coat Tim Tams, with so many of the big players in the news again.

Myer’s still flailing, The Good Guys have lost some serious skin in the electronics category, and Esprit has announced its exiting Australia and New Zealand altogether. And yet other big names like Spanish player Zara, are going from strength to strength.  

On the smaller end of town there seems to be an absolutely frenetic pace being set, particularly for some of the younger labels. Just ask Sydney founder of The Naked Tiger, Zoe Irvine, who found it all a ‘complete surprise’ to find that infamous new mum Kylie Jenner had posted a snap of herself wearing her label’s Bowie shorts and crop top. Win!

So why is one brand founded half a century ago (that’s been in Australia for more than thirty years, and whose California-cool style used to be the epitome of cool for Aussie teens) about to close all 67 of its stores here and across the ditch, while Zara’s launch into e-commerce is changing the entire market for its competitors, who are dramatically increasing their advertising budgets to keep step?

Obviously, there are myriad factors at play behind all of these results, however one thing continues to stand out across so many areas in the retail space right now, and that is that consumers are seeking out brands and products that support and enhance their own personal identities. And personal branding is changing at lightning pace!

These products are viewed as an extension of who they are, what level of income they want people to believe they have, what they value most, the things they stand for, but also, what they can do for you professionally.

Technology has fostered an environment where there is absolutely no distinction between people’s personal and professional brands – so rather than just affecting a close circle of friends, personal branding can now wield extraordinary influence over people’s earning power (as Zoe Irvine would no doubt attest!).

It’s why a barely-out-of-her-teens woman who’s working around-the-clock to stay afloat, will drop what little money she has left on designer rentals, teeth whitening and immaculate grooming for perfect Instagram posts (those building ambassadorial businesses for example), while someone else with more money than you can poke a stick at will opt for slouchy jeans a t-shirt every day of his life (Mark Zuckerberg)?

Richard Branson says he owes his multi-million-dollar empire to having mastered his own brand early, and then using it as the foundation for everything he does.

And in the modern day and age when young people covet what their favourite influencers are wearing, it’s hard to imagine that Esprit was once the ultimate lust-have brand for Aussie teenagers! At the end of the day, the brand simply failed to remain relevant to its core audience.

On that note, we’d love to welcome our Sydney members to join us and the Retail Doctor Group on June 3 and those in Melbourne on June 4, for the Fit For Business series, How to Win in the era of Amazon, Trump & Empowered Customers (meantime, Amazon’s announced it will open its second distribution centre, this one in Sydney).

 Additionally, NRA partner NORA and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) provider Salesforce, are presenting a Diversity in New Retail breakfast on May 10, so if you’re in Melbourne, we’d love to welcome you along.

I’ll be a panellist, alongside Temple & Webster CEO Mark Coulter, Smiggle Global Head of eCommerce Nicola Clement and James Hurley Founder and CEO Anne Hurley – all of whom have absolutely fascinating stories to share.

And lastly, we’d love to invite our Brisbane members to join us as we host a Greatest Morning Tea on May 24, to raise money for the Cancer Council.

Or you can host your own! Visit Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea for more info.

Have a great week.

Dominique Lamb, CEO. 

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