The Rise of the Physical-Only Brand
16 November 2020
Author: Jasmine Waters
It’s fair to say that the likes of Primark are not usual points of inspiration for small or independent brands, but their circumstances are especially unique. Renowned both nationally and globally for accessible fashion at low prices, Primark’s ability to avoid any form of online retail has remained a point of fascination and criticism. In a pandemic-ridden world, many industry members are questioning whether Primark’s more ‘old-fashioned’ approach to retail can last throughout this stretch of time. With their sales figures proving the opposite, what can smaller brands learn from the success of the fashion anomaly?
How have Primark made things work?
As we explored in an earlier article, Primark have had a distinctly difficult 2020. One of the only retail stores to have to completely close overnight and go without making any kind of profit for months on end, they have generated £2 billion since reopening. If we compare that revenue to their high street competition – each of whom have maintained an online retail platform throughout the year – many other sales suffer. What is Primark doing differently in order to succeed?
How can other brands implement this?
Regardless of level of business, it can’t be argued that not having some kind of online presence is a huge vulnerability in the current circumstances. One of the factors Primark has to its advantage is being well-known for delivering a certain type of product and service. If smaller brands are still looking to build up this reputation, they’ll need to some kind of digital door open. However, that’s not to say that there isn’t a great deal to learn from Primark’s physical-only approach. For a start, they have poured a great deal of money into upgrading and transforming the kind of pre-pandemic retail that existed before. One of their flagship stores has been kitted out with eating pit-stops and beauty checkpoints, expanding the retail experience beyond the buying of products. Being able to broaden a brand’s reach and target different consumer needs in one place, or journey, is an essential success point independent brands can carry through into practice.
The other strength Primark plays to is knowing exactly what their customers need and delivering on it. Remaining offline is what allows them to keep their price point so competitive, and although the majority of us would like our purchases to be as sustainable as possible – but many can’t always afford to fulfil that. Primark is serving to not only a demand that is rife, but a demand they know well. Alongside this, their demand has increased following their total closure, which is a risky strategy for any kind of brand to take but could be one that works extremely effectively. Using different methods to form a strong brand identity could make the best of Primark’s strategies work in smaller places – without the need to be cut off completely.
Image source: https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/