Claims file: Power of the brand

Home Columns Claims file: Power of the brand

by Lew Migliore

You may have heard about the stir created by Target regarding the “Missoni Madness” that took place. Missoni is famous for unique knitwear in a variety of fabrics in colorful patterns, as well as home furnishing and a recent entry into the boutique hotel business. The clothing is extraordinarily expensive and was found in high-end stores such as Niemen Marcus until Missoni signed a deal with Target to market and sell a mass produced line of items: Clothing, dishes, bedding, etc. It was advertised in 40 magazines and repeatedly on television.

When stores opened the coveted merchandise sold out in hours. Even stars were buying it. You can put Missoni up there with Vera Wang, Lagerfeld, Louis Vuitton, St. John, Louboutin, Rolex, Bentley and the like—extremely high-end products every woman wants.

The buzz created by the Missoni/Target branding and marketing created awareness for Missoni and elevated the reputation of Target. The point here is both companies fully understand the market.

In his book, “Tasks, Responsibilities and Practices” business guru Peter F. Drucker says to ask the question, “Which business am I in and who is my customer?” This is something you should all do.

It is clear Missoni and Target did this because they are creating new customers—women who desire high fashion and quality at a reasonable price. They know which business they are in—providing high style fashion to the masses at a price point they can afford with limited access, exaggerating the demand.

What does this have to do with flooring problems? One of the biggest problems in the flooring industry is we undervalue ourselves and don’t know who our customer is. It is usually a woman: In almost every environment she makes the decision or influences it. We don’t know which business we’re in. It’s fashion: People buy flooring to beautify the space, everything else comes after that.

Look only to the five star hotels and casinos that have beautiful, highly styled, high performance, one-of-a-kind, custom made carpet. Manufacturers of flooring are great at manufacturing and the economies of it, but are terrible at marketing. Retailers are hung up on price, don’t have a clue about marketing, don’t cater to the primary customer and wouldn’t understand fashion if it bit them on the nose.

Business is supposed to make money by delivering a product or service. To make lots of money and have fewer problems, take a look at the products I’ve mentioned. Model your business after a high-end brand or product. Cater to women.

Make your store so unique that no other competitor would want to do what you do. Hire staff who understand women, style, fashion and high quality. Most men are Neanderthals: Most in the flooring industry haven’t a clue about style and fashion. As a result, by their very nature of doing business the same old way and trying to lower prices, you should be doing just the opposite.

Establish a unique identity. Be more to your customer, with better products and service than the competition. You’ll find you won’t have much competition if you do this. The down economy may have you believing people aren’t spending money or aren’t willing to. Just look at the “Missoni Madness” created by Target; customers were falling all over themselves to get a product that is normally out of the reach of most Target customers.

Think of what you can do with your store to tap into the river of profit that flows just outside your door. Most of you will read this and put it down. Hopefully there will be a few of you who will be moved by it and actually take action and change.

Lewis Migliore is a troubleshooter, consultant and speaker based in Dalton. To reach him, call 706.370.5888, e-mail or log on to

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