Welcome to the third annual RetailX Brand Index, in which we once again focus on consumer brands and retail brands that sell to customers across Europe. It is a fascinating time to be looking at these kinds of companies, because of what they tell us about how retail is changing not just within Europe, but across the world.
In 2018, we noted how we are all, as consumers, drawn towards international brands that seem to represent values that are distinct from those of domestic names. With the rise of digital technologies, these brands can now reach beyond home territories far more easily
so that, for instance, Scandinavian clothes companies selling understated yet stylish leisurewear can more easily reach urban 30-somethings and 40-somethings.
While some companies, such as Adidas, Nike and Nespresso, have the heft to leverage these kinds of market developments worldwide, it’s challenging for many others. Take brands operating in the fast-fashion sector.
These are companies with customers who are typically impatient to get hold of the latest styles, yet reluctant or unable to pay premium prices for such services as free next-day delivery. To succeed, direct-selling brands have to resolve these kinds of tensions. Complicating things further, customer expectation and behaviour changes constantly.
For these kinds of reasons, the last year has seen many successful direct-selling brands – indeed, retailers in general – looking in detail at the nuts-and-bolts areas of multichannel retail, such as fulfilment and warehousing.
Yet we would argue that focusing in too closely on operational issues carries risks. To return to the idea of consumers being drawn to brands that seem to offer something different, the idea of selling excitement is a retail constant. Too much focus on operational matters is bad strategy if it comes at the expense of merchandising and the customer experience.
As to which brands are performing most strongly here, the pages ahead, which draw on our ongoing research for the IREU Top500, should prove enlightening. We also aim to highlight effective and practical ways of performing at the highest level, in which spirit we hope this RetailX Brand Index will prove a useful tool for both brands and retailers across Europe.