Brand Physical: Key Findings
Cohen's was a 75-year old, 100-store optical retailer primarily in the New York Tri State area known for their discount prices. They were faced with a sudden and potentially disastrous challenge by the arrival of two major category killers - LensCrafters and Pearle Vision - who entered the New York market with combined marketing funds of $40 million vs. Cohen's $4 million.
Cohen's needed to re-brand immediately, and deal with two daunting challenges:
1. Find a preemptive and defensible strategic brand positioning to compete and survive against these giant competitors.
2. Develop a media strategy to create the most impact from a budget 1/10th of its competitors.
There are two basic types of eyeglasses wearers:
1. Those who think eyeglasses are purely functional to help one see better.
2. Those who feel glasses are also fashion accessories that enhance your "look."
• Consumers of eyewear perceived LensCrafters and Pearl Vision as "production lines" and "cookie cutter" companies where customers do not have a wide choice of fashionable frames and do not receive a high level of personal attention.
• Those who prefer more fashionable eyewear were willing to pay more for their glasses, and expected them to be 10% to 25% more than "ordinary" glasses.
• Cohen's eyewear is like fashions for your face.
Desired Brand Perception
• Cohen's Fashion Optical, "For the best dressed eyes in New York."
Brand Sweet Spot
• Re-position Cohen's away from their "Discount Eyewear" perception to the "Eyewear Fashion Leader," and actually put the word "Fashion" in the Cohen's name: thus, Cohen's Optical became Cohen's Fashion Optical.
• Commit to expanding inventory to primarily feature all designer eye wear, including classics such as: Gucci, Dior, Ralph Lauren, FRED, Versace and others, all at a great value.
Cohen's Unique Touch Point Map
• In addition to the Brand "touching" its target audience via traditional media, research revealed that many Cohen's customers where Brand Ambassadors who recommended the store to like-minded fashion conscious friends
• Because most people purchase eyewear near where they live or work, this afforded many neighborhood and mall touch points
• Surprisingly, "pre-shopping" on the internet also created new touch point areas
"Influcencer-driven, buyer-directed" Communication Plan
• Our plan leveraged the endorsement of our Cohen's Brand Ambassadors by offering "fashion rewards" for sending us new customers, which they did in great numbers
• Special branded "Wardrobe and Trunk Shows" sponsored by clothing stores in shared malls featured Cohen's eyewear as fashion accessories, such as Gucci sportswear with Gucci prescription sunglasses available at neighboring Cohen's Fashion Optical
• Targeted zip direct mail within a 2-to-3 mile radius of the stores built brand relationships
• The Cohen's website featured a virtual mirror, so prospective customers could "try on" eyewear for hours until narrowing down their selection before coming to a Cohen's store
Strategic Creative Development
• The creative product was a direct strategic outgrowth from the brand nucleus and powerfully supported the Desired Brand Perception, "For the best dressed eyes in New York."
• Also, to leverage our spending power and increase our clout we co-branded by using vendor's photography in the Cohen's ads to piggyback on the large advertising budgets of fashion brands such as Gucci, Dior, etc.
Co-branded ads in the fashion magazines established Cohen's Fashion Optical as a Designer Eyewear retailer, and dramatically leveraged Cohen's advertising budget! Free Standing Inserts provided the "value story" with price-off incentives. Headlines localized the stores in each of Cohen's regional markets positioning Cohen's a "home town" stores, not an impersonal national chain.
Cohen's grew their business 3% for five successive years, and protected their turf despite being out spent 10-to-1 by LensCrafters and Pearle Vision! Today, Cohen's Fashion Optical still holds its leadership position as the resource for value-priced designer eyewear.