FITCH Must See: The Power of Brand Partnerships

by Libby Riddell, Designer, FITCH Columbus

Each month the FITCH Must See team across the globe celebrate the best in brand experiences. This month, the team are looking at the brand partnerships trend — focusing on DSW x The W Nail Bar and Macy’s STORY x Dick’s Sporting Goods in Ohio, USA.

For many brands or retailers looking to enhance their store experience and bring something fresh to consumers, brand partnerships can provide a wealth of opportunity.

The key to a successful partnership is understanding the consumer and their many needs, wants, and hobbies. Brands need to understand where their shopper is when they aren’t in their store, and what experience can they can each then provide to bring them into the store.

Designer Shoe Warehouse (DSW) has found a perfect pairing with W Nail Bar, a local nail salon in DSW’s hometown Columbus, Ohio. The brand understood that its target consumer is shopping for shoes to complete fashionable looks, and a manicure or pedicure helps the shopper do just that while also promoting self-expression. This partnership also helps engage customers in the physical store by offering a service that cannot be found online.

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The W Nail Bar in DSW in Columbus, Ohio.

From the entrance, there are direct sight lines to the nail bar located at the back of the store. The bright neon sign encourages customers to make their way through the racks to see what is back there or as customers leave with their fresh manicure, they are encouraged to explore the breadth of shoes to complete their look.

The shoe warehouse is testing out the nail salon in two of its Columbus locations and will be looking to pilot in five more stores across the U.S.

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The W Nail Bar in DSW in Columbus, Ohio.

While the partnership of The W Nail Bar and DSW feels organic, other retailers are experimenting in more unconventional collaborations. Over the summer, Macy’s utilized its acquisition of STORY and paired up with Dick’s Sporting Goods for an experiential shop-in-shop experience: “Outdoor Story”, in 36 stores across the United States. This was the first time we’ve seen the two major retailers team up.

The partnership encouraged consumers to interact with the brands outside of the store and provided community gardening classes and kayaking expeditions. These event-based initiatives help the brands connect with customers on a more emotional level, where buying merchandise isn’t the main focus of the retail experience.

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STORY in Dick’s Sporting Goods in Columbus, Ohio.

“Outdoor Story” was a strategic and curated two month collaboration that included a selection of products from Dick’s own private label. It allowed both retailers to create interest around their brands by trying new ways to attract and delight their audiences.

Collaborations like these can help brands establish new customers, reengage current customers and bring positive disruption to the industry.

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