The Brand Challenge: Getting Moss Bros’ swagger back

moss brosMoss Bros has been one of the leaders of the British mainstream sartorial scene since the mid-19th century, providing wedding and event attire for generations. But all is not well at this bastion of the high street, as it is currently experiencing turbulence from poor sales figures over the Christmas and new year period.
While sales increased between August and November last year, they declined around Black Friday, with the company blaming online shopping and promotions. Moss Bros also saw lower than expected footfall in December, resulting in a drop in like-for-like sales of 8%, and has subsequently seen its share prices drop by more than 15% in January.
By plotting a brand on the Purchase Quadrant, you can understand the main reasons why they are bought now and could be bought in the future.
There are four dominant modes of behaviour that influence what we buy, which are: habitual shopping, copying someone else’s shopping behaviour, following expert opinion or undertaking considered research.
These modes of shopping make up the four quadrants. They are dependent on four factors: whether we are thinking independently; being influenced socially; thinking fast and shopping instinctively, or thinking slow and deliberating over what we buy. These four factors make up the axes on the Purchase Quadrant.

Please click on image to enlarge

Please click on image to enlarge

Where is the retailer now?
Moss Bros is currently sitting in the bottom right corner of the Purchase Quadrant: Authority. Having a long history of providing men in the UK with quality products and expertise in formal attire, Moss Bros can be seen as something of an authority in this part of the clothing industry. But the days of tailor-made clothing, bespoke recommendations and personal consultations are waning with a shift in the current consumer climate.
With an increasing number of options available for consumers, both in terms of where to purchase their clothes and what influences their purchase decision, Moss Bros can no longer rely solely on its reputation and knowledge. Instead, it needs to find a way to stand out in a crowded market where purchases are becoming increasingly rationalised, ie purchases are justified by comparing products between brands to ensure the decision is right.

Please click on image to enlarge

Please click on image to enlarge

Where should Moss Bros be in the future?
To regain some of its lost ground, Moss Bros should take a step to the left, from Authority to the bottom-left Considered quadrant. It has been suggested that we have entered the age of the consumer (Cooperstein, Forrester Research Report, 2013), where shoppers have become more empowered and demand better products to be delivered faster and cheaper.
Technological advances have resulted in an increased capability to compare different brands’ ranges, quality and price. As a result, Moss Bros must deliver on consumers’ expectations, demonstrating it is a premium brand worth spending money on.
How does Moss Bros get there?
For Moss Bros to move to and establish itself in the Considered quadrant, it can follow a two-fold strategy based on established consumer behaviour.
Firstly, as price has become an increasingly important factor in consumers’ decision-making (Mintel, Menswear UK, 2017), Moss Bros should reframe the prices of its products to highlight value in relation to the quality of the garments. Additionally, a recent report from Mintel (Premium Brands, 2017) found that consumers are willing to pay more for premium brands that are seen as innovative.
Combining price and innovation could be a winning strategy, allowing Moss Bros to shift focus from simple price reductions to show its prices in a more favourable light. One example of how this can be achieved is by marketing new designs as similar to those in iconic global fashion shows, but for a fraction of the price.
The second strategy would tap into customers’ desire for experiences when shopping (Mintel, Fashion Online, 2017) by creating incentives for people to enter Moss Bros stores. Such incentives, aimed at satisfying consumers’ craving for instant gratification, could include in-store events like personal shoppers or release parties for new collections.
Simply generating an increase in footfall through this method could prove beneficial for sales. Research has found that just being able to see and feel a product in person generates a sense of ownership, and is the first step in the purchase process, which can then be used to build long-term customer loyalty.
In summary, Moss Bros needs to move from being an Authority to stand out in the Considered quadrant. It can achieve this by running parallel strategies that focus on both reframing its brand and price, as well as increasing footfall through increased experiential marketing.
Dr Björn Persson is Research Associate at Durham University Business School. KHWS is collaborating with Dr Persson and Durham University Business School to study consumer behaviour and decision-making, to establish a more scientific approach in creating effective marketing solutions

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