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A Happy Marriage

By: Lisa Doyle
Posted: July 13, 2011, from the July 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Mally Roncal, founder of cosmetics line Mally Beauty, agrees. “From the get-go, it was important for us to establish strong relationships with our retail partners,” she says of the line, which is sold at Henri Bendel department stores, online and on QVC (see Storeless Selling). “We communicate with them very often—every day, if not several times a day—so that we can all stay on the same page. We feel it is very important that they fully understand Mally Beauty in terms of who we are, what our image is and where we would like to take our brand in the future.”

The promotion of a new product by the retail team can only be amplified by the active participation of the brand. When Roger & Gallet launched its line at Duane Reade, it lured customers by handing out 6,000 roses in the course of two days, with special cards redeemable for a tote bag with any Roger & Gallet purchase of $20 or more.

C.O. Bigelow goes above and beyond when introducing a new product, and expects the brand to do the same to ensure a successful launch. “We have our own PR team, and we’ll incorporate the brand into our social media campaign, we’ll do a window on 6th Avenue, we’ll put in an in-store display, we’ll try to have someone devoted to the brand and we’ll have the founders here just to talk about the brand,” says Ginsberg. “We have a very sophisticated clientele that is very well-read and knows a lot about the brand already. Our staff is used to dealing with an educated customer, so they want to be sure they can talk intelligently about the products. The more staff members learn about the brand, the more empowered they will feel to talk about it. So, I tell the brand to put the time in. If you work with them, it will pay off because we are in it for the long haul.”

Likewise, La Rinascente employs its own public relations initiatives, dedicates staff to a new line and glorifies the products in high-traffic areas, and gives the brand an opportunity to play its role in advertising as well. “We make sure to allow brands the possibility of expressing their products by allowing them to personalize each shelf with the following elements: logo, shelf talker, tester display and product description,” says De Stefanis. “Where possible, we allow them to personalize niches with brand visuals as well.”

Heading for Divorce?

Even if a brand and a retailer seem like a match made in heaven, there is the occasional instance in which the relationship hits the skids. According to De Stefanis, some reasons that La Rinascente might discontinue sales of a particular brand include low sales performance, change of brand positioning or negative publicity. Ginsberg also notes that poor performance, for whatever reason, could lead to an end of the relationship. “We will give a brand a lot of time—we will put in a lot of time beforehand, we’ll test it and we know if it’s something interesting,” explains Ginsberg. “So if we discontinue it, it’s because no matter what we tried, it’s just not working. We might if we feel the support on the brand side is not enough.”