February 1998




The Body Shop does it without advertising


Want to build your store's identity without expensive advertising? It can be done, as one successful retailer – The Body Shop – proved. Its founder and chief executive officer, Anita Roddick, believes ads are a waste of money, so she created a razor-sharp, strong-as-steel image for her store without them.

An article in the Harvard Business Review looked at how The Body Shop does it. (The article also studied five other companies, all of which had honed their identities through off-the-beaten-track marketing strategies. None of them are jewelers, but some of their strategies can be applied to any retailer). Here are some of the lessons the authors drew from Roddick's unorthodox brand of brand-building.

1. Make sure your identity is a clear one. In the case of The Body Shop, it's a "profits-with-a-principle" concept that positions the company as an advocate of worthy social and environmental causes.

JEWELER'S TIP: Identify with a cause that relates to your merchandise - environmental studies at major gemstone and metals mines are required now in many countries. You could donate a portion of profits to helping stock a wildlife reserve at an African mine site, for example.;


2. Communicate to your customers with programs that reinforce your position. Every message The Body Shop sends reinforces its identity, including opposing testing on animals, participating in Save the Whales rallies and supporting endangered species, women's rights and alternative energy sources. "These efforts are not ancillary to The Body Shop brand, they are the brand," the authors write.

JEWELER'S TIP: Tell customers through signs, displays and giveaways about your jewelry-related views. For example, endorse the disclosure of gemstone treatments and oppose the underkarating of gold jewelry.


3. Your customers' experiences in your store should further underline your identity. "Enter a Body Shop and you are greeted by a clerk who not only wears a Body Shop T-shirt bearing a social message but also believes in the company's causes, values and products. Displayed among the store's goods and tester samples are posters and colorful handouts printed on recycled paper that provide information about the products [and] social causes the company supports," say the authors.

JEWELER'S TIP: Make sure your sales staff understands your ethical positions on such issues as disclosure and can speak about them with customers.


4. Invent ways to get customers involved with your store beyond simply spending money there. The Body Shop enlists its customers in its causes, creating a bond. It once sent 500,000 signatures from supporters and employees to the president of Brazil asking him to stop the burning of the rain forest. "Providing extensive information, especially using media advertising, cannot duplicate the impact of customers' personal experience with a brand," the authors write. "There is brand-building power in getting the customer involved in a larger experience."

JEWELER'S TIP: Sponsor trips to the Smithsonian's new gemstone exhibit to foster learning about mineralogy and gemstones.

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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