How Did These Indie Brands Succeed?
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The world isn't built up to support tiny companies. Indeed, the chances are stacked against us.
When it comes to anchoring themselves in the thoughts and habits of their audience, large companies have an obvious edge.
They have the financial means to invest in large marketing campaigns, celebrity endorsements, and lobbying governments to pass legislation in their favor.
They aren't always successful, however.
A tale of two businesses
Consider the high-end beauty product company L'Occitane, which is so well-known that it even has a store in my local mall in Calgary. The firm has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
"I declare bankruptcy" yells Michael Scott from the Office.
Meanwhile, over this summer, popular indie company Glossier was able to attract $800 million from investors.
What exactly is going on here?
On the surface, it seems that this is a battle between a well-established brick-and-mortar brand and a direct-to-consumer startup, with DTC emerging victorious during the epidemic.
Strong channel strategy isn't enough
Another viewpoint, which I think explains many of the high-profile retail bankruptcy in 2021, is that
You see, you can't have a great internet company unless you have incredible marketing that produces a ton of leads. People aren't going to stroll by your mall store or drive past your sign.
Glossier spent a lot of work into figuring out what their customers wanted that no one else was offering (barely-there cosmetics in beautiful packaging) and where potential purchasers learned about new items when the business first started in 2014. (mainly through social media)
Then, via their powerful blog, Into the Gloss, they went about building a devoted fan following.
Not quite unique
Many small companies and startups succeed by catching their audience's imagination and demanding devotion in ways that big organizations are unable to match.
Walmart might launch a blog tomorrow (I'm not sure if they have one now). However, everyone who reads it will see it through the perspective of "giant corporation, I don't trust you."
Small companies, independent brands, and startups have the chance to form real audience connections that large brands seldom do. If these businesses can remain true to their principles, they will be able to maintain brand loyalty long after they are no longer deemed tiny.
Independent shoe shop Poppy Barley, which just produced excellent vegan shoes made of cactus "leather," is one example of a company that has accomplished this.
Another example is Patagonia, a multibillion-dollar outdoor company that has risen above the competition by adhering to its corporate principles.
The same may be said about La Croix, my personal favorite beverage. (I'm not sponsored, but I drink around nine a day, so if they offered, I'd take it.)
Even after being purchased by another small-ish beverage company 20 years ago, the cult favorite sparkling water producer has retained its proud niche position. Its devotees are not just zealous, but also trend setters. To compete, Pepsi developed Bubly and Coke introduced A-Ha, but they haven't made much of a dent in La Croix's popularity.
What does this imply for small businesses?
The fact that the big players' marketing expenditures dwarf ours does not imply that they will win. We have a unique chance to connect with the market in a manner that others can't.
Words are used to form that bond.
Not just any words, but flawless copywriting that describes what makes your company unique. What makes it appropriate for your target audience. This basic persuasive power is what creates a desire for your product.
If you're a little company owner who can't afford to compete on marketing budget with the big boys, you can at least ensure that your message is well-crafted. It's the most certain method for your target customers to discover you, adore you, and stick with you.