“Preference” & The World’s Greatest Hoodie

In Brand Goals

At Storyforge, we follow a specific strategy to help our clients achieve their goals:

Beliefs + Brand + Marketing Activation = Preference, Margin & Community Involvement.

We didn’t invent this process, in fact its been utilized by every successful company you can name. The well proven formula argues that “preference” and “margin” can only come from strongly held beliefs, articulated through a strong brand that is shared with the right audience.

“Preference” is the holy grail of marketing. Preference means that your customers will demand your product even if its more expensive, more difficult to obtain and even causes a little inconvenience in the process.

A small San Francisco apparel company, American Giant, knows exactly how to create preference. Because of their beliefs, brand building and product development, Slate.com named their $89 hoodie: The Greatest Hoodie Ever Made. Following publication of this article, the company’s pace of growth was so rapid that backorder waits grew to as long as four months. But people continued placing orders regardless of the wait.

For me, the biggest indicator as to its success was the journalist’s reaction in the Slate article:

I quickly found American Giant’s story irresistible. For one thing, they had figured out a way to do what most people in the apparel industry consider impossible: making clothes entirely in the United States, and doing so at costs that aren’t prohibitive.

See what just happened? A journalist fell in love with the story (beliefs) allowing the story to be shared with a larger audience. In fact, part of American Giant’s brand strategy is to focus more resources on developing the best product rather than spending excessive funds on marketing:

“One of the great unspoken, dirty secrets about the apparel industry is that brands for the last 40 years have been investing a tiny amount in the product to sustain huge marketing and huge distribution costs,” CEO Bayard Winthrop said. “In American Giant’s case, we do almost the exact opposite of that.”

The company’s strongly held and widely shared beliefs are that clothes don’t have to be poor quality if made in the USA and can remain affordable in the process. In addition, clothing should have an unmatched level of quality.

I think they’re checking all the quality boxes if the reviews on the company’s website are anything to go by:

“This sweatshirt is seriously worth the wait, and awesome for the price, too. I’m considering ordering more to stock up for the rest of my life, but I’m not sure this one is ever going to wear out,” one reviewer wrote.

and

“The hype around this hoodie seems absurd. But once you try it on, the quality really does take you by surprise. It’s unlike any hoodie —or any other piece of clothing — I’ve ever owned. A must-have.”

Could Abercrombie & Fitch or Urban Outfitters achieve this kind of exposure, fanaticism or devotion? Could this kind of demand be bought? The answer in both cases is no. The only way that brands can achieve this level of success is with a high quality product/service that connects with audiences in an emotional way, by telling a story that resonates and inspires customers to make a purchase or share the story. In this case, the story of American manufacturing, highest quality available, focus on research and product design and a “challenger” position.

How strong is your story? Are you Abercrombie or American Giant? Preference is possible, but it begins with your beliefs and your brand.

This article may be reprinted when the copyright, link to article and author bio are included. ©2015 Storyforge, LLC.  Please contact us for inquiries.

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