By Frank McKenna 13 April 2012 at 11:00
News this week that Mothercare was having to significantly downsize and close hundreds of it's stores across the UK reminded us of the need for businesses to constantly review, revise and modernise their offer. The Mothercare brand was once seen as the crème de la crème within its specialist retail field, but it has failed to keep up with modern promotional and marketing techniques, falling behind competitors such as Mamas and Papas.
It is the latest in a list of more traditional retail brands that have struggled to meet the challenges of the twenty first century. Woolworths, Lewis’s and Ethel Austen are among the once giant brands that have fallen by the wayside in recent times.
Is the demise of these huge retail beasts inevitable in the face of the vast change that has taken place in our buying habits, what with on line sales and shopping becoming part of a ‘lifestyle’ experience rather than a necessary chore to many nowadays?
Well, brands such as Next, M&S, and most recently the Co-op have proved that even traditional high street names can survive and thrive in tough times, so long as they move with the times. Marketing and promotion budgets are said to be the first things that companies reduce in times of recession, but a failure to invest in your brand can lead to catastrophic consequences.
Even for the SME, the need to get yourself out there, build a profile and maintain a presence in the market is vital. The beauty about the changes that the internet has brought about in terms of how and what we purchase is that marketing has become cheaper – but you have to be smarter so that you don’t simply become part of the on-line ‘noise’.
It is not easy standing out from the crowd – but nothing that is worth doing ever is. If you haven’t done it yet this year, do it now – review your marketing strategy, and take a quick look at what your competitors are up to. It will be time well spent.