Prepping for a Post-Pandemic World

In a time when many companies are being forced to downsize, Authentic Brands Group has been notable for its continued business expansion. Yesterday, ABG’s Chief Brand Officer Jarrod Weber kicked off Americas Week at Festival of Licensing with a cogent, straightforward discussion of success in brand management and at retail. Here are some key takeaways: 

Bullish on brick-and-mortar
ABG is a big believer in physical retail, a fact that shouldn’t come as a surprise given their recent acquisitions of Barneys, Forever21, Lucky Brand and Brooks Brothers, as well as their unique strategic partnership with mall developer Simon Property Group.

“Some people say retail is dead or dying. I say, we all need clothes. [What’s happening right now is] an evolution. …We as a human species, we like to socialize, we like to go out. At the end of the day, consumers like the experience and although dot.com is extraordinarily important and will continue to grow, it’s not a substitute for brick-and-mortar retail and the mall shopping experience.”

It’s not about need, it’s about want
“In this industry, we’re not in the need business, we’re in the want business,” said Weber. “No one needs another pair of strappy shoes, another handbag, another blazer… That’s the reality of it. We… and everyone out there needs to create a want.”

Weber pointed to Rolex as a best-in-class example of this. “If you want a watch to tell time, a Casio will do better than most, but Rolex creates a want” with great product (first and foremost), smart distribution and a unique marketing story. 

Don’t underestimate the consumer.
“Every decision a licensee makes in concert with a licensor is like throwing a petal into the water – there’s a ripple effect. If you cut on quality, if you deliver into channels of distribution that are not consistent with the brand image, the consumer may not even have a conscious recognition of what’s going on, but the next time they’re in a store looking at your brand against the competitor, they might be naturally drawn to the competitor. … In today’s day and age – and the pandemic has accelerated this – there’s no wanting for brands, the consumer has access to everything. How do you distinguish yourself from the competition?” 

Now more than ever, think long term.
“It’s easy to make short-sighted decisions right now because you need a return on your investment. But what we’re doing right now is we’re focused on the future. …We’re thinking through every brand within our portfolio, every marketing story we’re telling – because at the end of the day when this is behind us, not only are we going to make sure that we’ve survived, but that we’re thriving. … How? By making the right decisions by our brands. It’s a very difficult time. Everyone is getting squeezed … but now’s the time take a pregnant pause and recognize, what are you doing to build the value of your brand?” 

Watch the full session, along with a slate of other great on-demand content, in the Festival of Licensing Live Stage.

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