The Re-rise of the ‘Comfort Brand’
Author: Jasmine Waters
Eleven years ago, after the recession, Campaign Magazine explored the increase and growth of businesses known as ‘comfort brands’. The strategy was for brands to create a space of trust and transparency in order to see their consumers through a difficult time, mostly achieved through types of marketing. The world has of course moved on since then, but we now find ourselves in a predicament that no one has ever dealt with before, let alone anticipated. What could it mean to be a ‘comfort brand’ now, and what can we learn from previous triumphs?
What were ‘comfort brands’?
As the economy was shot to pieces in 2008, brands found they could maintain a dialogue with customers by transporting them back to a place of comfort, often rooted within the brand’s national origins. Businesses established early that the trick was embracing authenticity, keeping the overarching message as one that was grounded and empathetic. There was a similar retreat to local retail, and small, home-grown brands soon found themselves at the forefront of consumer attention. Although this was indeed a strength, it was not enough on its own, with brands needing to offer real value for money as well as a more surface level of marketing. The counterpoint was that many consumers didn’t want to be reminded of what was already there, if a brand chose to take a heritage-led approach. Trend forecasters established that the 00s was a decade that emphasised the importance of community, especially important through times of uncertainty.
Is this the same in 2020?
In many respects, there are a lot of similarities. As we draw closer to the end of 2020, brands will know by now that retaining an empathetic nature is essential, putting the work into developing authentic connection and communication with a customer base. The same can also be said for not reminding people of what is happening is the ‘real world’ – many of us want a balance between feeling supported and feeling transported. However, being a ‘comfort brand’ could also take on an entirely new meaning. Unlike the events of 2008, there is now a distinct importance placed on the ability to be physically comfortable. Leisurewear has become a dominant and profitable sector, as demand continues to rise with a growing fear that retailers may not be able to match it. To be able to adapt your brand to include some level of physical home comfort may prove to be just as important as embodying the comfort spirit itself. There’s no doubting that those brands who incorporate a balance of the two are the ones who consumers will continue to turn to in their hour of retail need.
Image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/women-in-activewear-doing-yoga-3822672/