Building Brands that Matter in the age of COVID-19:
As we continue to move through the COVID-19 crisis, much thought is focusing on what physical retail space will be like on the other side. Brands that are nimble and put the customer at the center of planning will be best able to weather the storm and come back even stronger than before in a more rationalized marketplace. We thought it would be timely to share a visit to their Hudson Yards location as a glimpse into where we believe brick and mortar will be heading in 2021 and beyond.
Rhone, a digitally native men’s performance lifestyle brand launched in 2014, has grown year over year since its inception with strong partnerships and staying true to being best in class. Building their assortment around traditional silhouettes with cutting edge performance materials has allowed them to stand out in an underserved category. Acknowledging the shift in how modern men dress and live has created a cult following with products like performance fabric men’s dress shirts selling out rapidly. CEO Nate Checkett’s mindset of innovating the unexpected, adding silicone strips to the heels of ankle socks for instance, and keeping hyper-focused on a well-honed assortment has served the brand well.
Rhone first dipped into retail space at Equinox fitness locations with Pop-ups by showing up where their customers are and growing strong brand recognition. Metered growth has allowed for time to test concepts before jumping into brick and mortar retail. This approach made it possible for their Hudson Yards location to become the 2nd highest selling store by square footage. The store, which is easy to navigate, edited assortment, keyed in customer service, and clean marketing navigation makes for a frictionless shopper experience. Customers can quickly take in the flow of the space without feeling overwhelmed by too many skews and loud signage. At a time when we feel a constant barrage of data, Rhone feels like an oasis. As stores begin to re-open, the transition to COIVD-19 stores that can capture this messaging of calm will best attract customers back. Training staff as Brand Ambassadors that can quickly inform and address customer needs while switching channels between digital and real-time will lead this charge.
CEO Nate Checkett is keen to continue to harness data and focus on empathy as we move through COVID-19 with a commitment to the health and wellness of not just his customers but his employees. This mindset will become a key pillar to future success by connecting on a deeper emotional level.
Written by Melody Linscott
Melody is the Trend Research and New Product Developer at ITL