retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

I'm a big LL Bean fan, and so it was with considerable interest that I read a piece in Advertising Age about a new campaign the company is launching "in an effort to attract consumers on a national stage."

The campaign, which is tied to its broader "Be An Outsider" theme, focuses on the current back-to-school season ... and features some terrific commercials that you can see here and here.

There were two passages in the story that struck me as Eye-Openers.

One is that LL Bean, one of the great traditional catalog marketers, has begun focusing less on paper and more on digital media - but this isn't just a matter of adapting to current realities. Brad Matson, senior VP-creative at LL Bean, says that the goal is "to shift us from a heritage brand, in catalogs, to a product company.", but

Having a "heritage," it seems to me, sometimes can be the same thing as having - or being trapped by - a legacy. What LL Bean is trying to do is difficult, but probably critical to its long-term relevance.

The other thing that grabbed my attention was a line from Leeann Leahy, chief executive at Via, the agency that is working with LL Bean to sharpen its message and hone its focus.

The story notes that the new campaign is designed to differentiate LL Bean "from other outdoors-focused brands that push more extremism because it emphasizes inclusivity and a 'shared love,' said Leahy. 'It's not about scaling a mountain, it's about having a picnic'."

BTW...by at least one measure, LL Bean seems to be on its game.  Prosper Insights & Analytics, which describes itself as providing business intelligence solutions, has released the 2016 Customer Service Champions - and for third straight year, consumers gave LL Bean top honors, ranking it above Amazon.

“While Amazon has dominated retail headlines lately, our latest list of Champions proves that competitors can still connect with consumers on factors other than price,” the company said, "L.L.Bean’s customer-centric philosophy certainly resonates with shoppers, earning the outdoor outfitter a rare retail bragging right: a first place finish over Amazon.”

It's a start.
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