Feb 6, 2008

Armani Eyewear Fuels Retail Format Correction

"We need to bring retail up to the level of our brands"
Claudio Gottardi, CEO - Safilo Group SpA
(maker of fashion eyewear brands Giorgio Armani and Dior)

The retail industry correction I've been pounding on is gaining steam. More and more branded products are looking at large, scaled-up - but bland - retail chains and turning up their noses.

Stihl, Inc. has for some time been running national advertising under the banner "Why is the World's Number One Brand of Chain Saws Not Sold at Lowe's or The Home Depot". The answer is also in their ads. Those national retail chains simply do not provide the end consumer with the full range of experience components they want.

Over the next few years, leading Home Improvement product makers tell us they are looking hard at abandoning commoditized retailers in favor of fresh, exciting, consumer-friendly specialty stores.

In consumer electronics, CompUSA is gone and Circuit City isn't far behind. Why? We all know what it's like to try and make an educated electronics decision in stores stuffed to the gills with low price signage and untrained, high-turnover staff. And that's only the surface of the problems with commoditized retail formats.

So Safilo, like other smart brand leaders (think Apple!) is reported by Christina Passariello of the WSJ to be taking the tough path of fixing the retail model on their own. We have to believe it's the last thing they want to put their capital towards.

But without a viable retail model, all the new product work in the world won't find its way to the consumer.

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