12 min read

What lessons can we learn from Cath Kidston on creating a strong brand experience online

Jack Wearne
Jack Wearne
What lessons can we learn from Cath Kidston on creating a strong brand experience online

Earlier this month, Cath Kidston appointed a global brand extension licensing agency, Beanstalk, to expand its new categories in home, fashion and gifting internationally. It’s a positive sign for an iconic brand whose future looked bleak only two years ago after going into administration.

During the pandemic, Cath Kidston joined a long list of retailers that closed their physical store doors, with the exception of one experiential store, and pivoted to a digital-first future. It’s a strategy that has worked, and there’s one lesson we can all learn from them: replicating a strong brand experience online is key.

Building brand identity online

Declining brand trust and loyalty has been an unfortunate trend over the last few years, and the pandemic acted like a giant boot only pushing this further along. Any emotional or rational trust brands have built up with customers in-store is now under threat, as shoppers get accustomed to the convenience and overwhelming choice of online shopping.

According to our own research, shoppers have less confidence buying online. But almost half (49%) of Brits feel more confident to buy a product online if they have received a reputable brand experience.

Setting up an online store is easy. The hard part is establishing an online identity strong enough to build trust and pull customers away from the likes of Amazon. You need to be digital-first, but also brand-led to have a chance.

A brand’s biggest defence is the brand itself

Our own research shows that 43% of British consumers ditch their online basket at the last minute to check if the items are available on Amazon, and then finalise their purchase there. It’s a worrying statistic that shows how brands are becoming a stepping-stone to Amazon. Consumers are discovering products via brands, but feel the pull of Amazon at the last minute.

A brand’s biggest defence against the likes of Amazon or other online distributors is the brand itself. Consumers buy into brands that understand them and that they trust. If authentic brands are the order of the day, how can they harness that online?

Traditionally, consumers have valued the help, advice and recommendations from an in-store sales assistant. Now, they’re expecting the same level of guidance when shopping online. With guided selling tools and email remarketing, there’s no reason you can’t deliver a near-identical customer experience on your site.

One of the ways Cath Kidston excels is in complementing its digital strategy with its flagship experiential store in London, which still accounts for 15% of its sales. It understands that shoppers transcend between in-store and online, and expect the same experience in either channel. The online experience needs to match that in-store experience and hold its own.

In Cath Kidston’s case, honing in on its brand experience has not only helped it to survive, but also extend the brand into new markets.

Becoming a brand-led digital-first retailer

Shoppers are increasingly pledging allegiance to brands that can deliver a top rate experience. But that can look entirely different depending on whether they’re walking down the highstreet or browsing online. Brands need to master the art of the boutique brand experience online, as they have in the physical world. After all, it’s the brand-led digital-first retailers like Cath Kidston that have the best chance of survival.

If you’re interested in building a strong online brand experience for your business, get in touch with the Ve Global team today.

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