The question of why people buy things is a beguiling one, and companies pay big bucks to try and figure out these motivations. Sure, we all have those brands we love, and which personally express something about us, but most consumers will admit that some purchases just happen. Shirts are a great example.
Standing in line the other day, I saw someone wearing an Oakley polo shirt. Now, Oakley is a lifestyle brand, and are able to offer apparel that fits that image of active outdoor wear easily. Still, as someone who runs a marketing agency in orange county, it got me wondering about what the implications were, from a branding perspective. Why would someone buy a shirt from a sunglass company? And can just any company offer polo shirts? Frigidaire? Quaker Oats? Equifax?
Part of it may be that the individual was in need of a polo and Oakley happened to be there at the right time. It’s likely that part of the decision-making process was the trusted brand of Oakley, and what it stands for. Even if the person knew Oakley only as a sunglass company, it wouldn’t be a big leap of imagination to picture them also making decent polos. Oakley was a good fit for that person.
My overarching point is that, as a lifestyle brand that caters to golfers and other sporty people, Oakley is easily able to offer golf polos because it fits their target lifestyle. Conversely, some brands may not be able to comfortably extend their offerings to include ski gloves, hats, or polo shirts (sorry Quaker Oats). Every brand fits a lifestyle, and by that definition, can be considered a lifestyle brand. Whether you’re thinking about the shirt you offer, your main product or service, or your logo or website, you have to ceaselessly consider the lifestyle of the people who will be benefitting from your offerings. This is what leaders of a business do anyway, but it’s worth noting that when making decisions about adding products, it’s good to put on your branding hat, and consider how additions will affect the perception of your brand.
This means that each business needs, more than almost anything, an intimate awareness of the lifestyle they are catering to. When you know this, you are able to know much about your company’s future, including the direction you’ll grow in. Oakley, once it came time to grow, was able to calculate whether they would just have swag T-shirts, or if they would invest in making high-quality sport wear that people will actually buy, and because they knew their audience well, they made the choice to branch out with a whole apparel line. Moleskine, which used to be a niche notebook company for bohemians, artists, and wannabes, has recently made the push into the student vertical, with backpacks and other student stuff—and the odds are, it will fit their target audience and their lifestyle.
What you offer is part of your brand, and affects how people see you. When navigating decisions about extending your products or services, you need to take note, and be thoughtful about how it will fit with your audience. You may consider getting a marketing agency in Orange County to give you a hand, and to help you make an informed decision.