The following report will summarize the Barbour brand, its current location within the market and how it could potentially capitalise on the rise in its popularity in recent years. In order to source information store visits were carried out across London to Barbourâ€™s own stores and a selection of UK stockists allowing an insight into the brands location, store staff, its customers and the store layouts. Secondary research was carried out using the brand website barbour.com and information received from the Barbour promotions and marketing department. Thorough investigation into market activities and trends was carried out though www.trendwatching.com, and www.psfk.com in order to inform our proposal and Mintel was used to find information on customer patterns and current trends that could be of influence.
Summary for senior management: Barbour is a family owned British brand with a strong heritage spanning four generations. The brand has an international turnover of ÂŁ63million and operates from 14 standalone UK stores and through 600 UK stockists as well as selling in 26 countries worldwide (figures from Drapers).
“Only through endurance.” “Barbour is an authentic British brand providing a wardrobe of clothes for country pursuits, country living and for those who simply love the country, while still maintaining the core values of its heritage, durability, fitness for purpose and attention to detail.” (Barbour.com)
Brand values: Barbour aims to generate and maintain customer loyalty by ensuring quality, attention to detail and sustainability.
“It is more than just clothing. For both those who make the garments and those who wear them, it is a quiet passion for something lasting and truly authentic.” Barbour also donates a percentage of its annual turnover to the Barbour Trust (registered charity number : 328081), a charity set up in 1988 to support local and national projects such as welfare, health, unemployment and homelessness. This links back to trend watching.com’s February trend briefing: Generation G which “captures the growing importance of ‘generosity’ as a leading societal and business mindset”. (http://trendwatching.com/trends/generationg/)
Customer: The Barbour brand has a broad customer base from a range of age groups and walks of life. They hold traditional British values and are loyal to the brand with whole generations of families wearing their jackets. Barbour customers want durability from their purchases and would often wear their waxed cotton jackets to outdoor sporting events or whilst working in/visiting the countryside. They are mainly interested in function over fashion however the manager of the central London store suggested to us that of the loyal customers it is the men that buy mostly for sport and the women for fashion. The Barbour customer is willing to pay more for a product that will withstand their outdoor lifestyle and know that they can rely on the brand to ensure the highest quality. The manager also noted that Barbour has seen a recent rise in young men working in the city coming into the stores, favouring the quilted Liddesdale style to wear over their suits as well as ‘trendy young things’ coming in to find a ‘cool alternative to what the high street has to offer’.
Products/services: Barbour is known for its outerwear and offers a range of products from various jacket styles such as waxed cotton, tweed, leather and quilted styles. The Barbour range also boasts; knitwear, shirts, t shirts in both polo and rugby styles, trousers, footwear, hats, gloves, scarves, socks and ties as well as a variety of accessories including handkerchiefs, cufflinks, wallets and belts. Barbour prides itself on its truly unique services, allowing anyone that has a Barbour jacket to return it to their customer service department to be re-proofed, repaired or altered. They also take on board customer preferences when designing their ranges to ensure the customer needs are met. ‘It
is not a brand that has evolved through designers but through customer experience. E.g. Hand warmers built into the pockets which was a customer request’. (British style genius, episode 4)
Price: Wax cotton jackets range between £159 - £249 Leather jackets range between £391 - £489 Quilted jackets range between £69 - £176 Polo shirts range between £39 - £59
Trends: Barbour historically stands for function and purpose. The coats were made to be practical and protect. The 1980’s saw Barbour’s popularity rise with the publishing of ‘The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook’ by Ann Barr and Peter York with “affluent young wannabe aristocrats” seen wandering around the city wearing their Barbour jackets and “enjoying the country-seat implications that oozed from it” (management today. com) The recent popularity of the Barbour jacket owes partly to the film ‘The Queen’ staring Dame Helen Mirren. Her depiction of the Queen and her Barbour jacket set a trend especially popular in the USA with fashionable Americans wanting to recreate the quintessential English ‘look’. The UK has fallen back in love with the Barbour as young famous faces such as Lily Allen, The Artic Monkeys and Alexa Chung have all be photographed recently wearing theirs. Mintel suggested that the market has seen a shift in the build up to the current recession seeing people buying from brands that are familiar to them or hold fond memories. As Barbour is quite family orientated it would be worth noting this as a current trend.
“With the onset of the current recession making many feel helpless and anxious, the emotional power of familiarity and comfort should not be underestimated” (Mintel oxygen)
Distribution and routes to the market: Barbour has 14 standalone UK shops in the Barbour portfolio and 600 UK stockists. The shops are located at; Chelsea Tyne and wear Windsor Central London Edinburgh East Yorkshire Surrey Manchester Heathrow airport Cheshire Staffordshire Hampshire Essex Middlesex Barbour has an online store and a look book catalogue. They sell worldwide in 26 different countries including North America, France and Germany.
SWOT analysis: Strengths: Barbour has the benefit of a strong brand name and heritage with three royal warrants. It is also seen by its consumers as an investment buy as they know they are guaranteed a quality product that will last. Weaknesses: Barbour suffers from a lack of awareness of the brand name in the commercial market. The brand has some interesting sections on their website such as a ’recipe’ page with Mike Robinson, TV wild food chef, but this has only been updated twice and therefore more could be done to make this or other projects like it more regular to enable customers to engage with the brand and visit the site more often. Some stores are closed at the weekend. Opportunities: Current trend - need to take this and run with it to ensure it doesn’t pass by. There is also the opportunity to create a diffusion line to appeal to the younger generation. Barbour could and should use their website as a marketing tool, by taking advantage of online media they will appeal to a wider audience. An online blog would be a possibility. Threats: Competitors could copy their trademark wax cotton and quilted jacket styles which would mean the Barbour ‘look’ could loose its appeal quickly as it filters down into the cheaper high street stores. Barbour would need to play up on the durability and service aspects of the brand in order to hold customer attention and persuade them to opt for their more expensive jackets as an investment piece rather than a cheaper high street copy.
Competitors: Burberry are known for the birth of the trench coat. A weakness of this brand was that they fell into the wrong market category of the younger consumer. This then gave the brands recognisable check print a ‘chavy’ appeal. This saw a growth in counterfeit garments and accessories on the market which interfered with the brands status. Barbour would need to be cautious with any marketing strategy to ensure they stay true to who they are and do not fall into the wrong market. Hackett are another brand that focus on a strong British heritage. They push the idea of authentic British style with similar casuals to Barbour plus formal wear. They are also strongly associated with sporting events and much like Barbour, they sponsor various sporting clubs such as the British Army Polo team, the London Racing club and Aston Martin Racing. Rugby ace Jonny Wilkinson has been ambassador for the brand since 2002 and the current face of Hackett is actor Matthew Goode. Both men are said to ‘embody today’s gentlemen perfectly’. The website is updated regularly and includes a style advisor section with an ‘ask Jeremy‘ section where consumers can message Jeremy Hackett for advice on what to wear. This adds and interesting element to the site and it would be nice to see Barbour include small features like this to make the consumer feel more in touch with the brand.
What’s next? It would be suggested that Barbour take advantage of the current popularity in their product range with younger individuals by creating a diffusion line aimed at the 16 + age group. It would be advisable to keep the looks simple and mix old vintage styles with new, drawing inspiration from the rich archive and making it relevant to today’s market. We would suggest that they keep the price points similar as the jackets still remain an investment buy. A diffusion line would be an important marketing strategy as it would enable the brand to target both the loyal customer and the new younger customer separately without offending or turning either of these demographics off the brand. As a promotional method for the launch Barbour could produce a look book/diary that would include dates of up and coming sporting and cultural events. It would also add a nice touch to include space to write personal notes alongside images from the new collections styled and shot to appeal to the younger demographic. The diffusion line would also enable the brand to promote in a slightly more rebellious way including ‘post secret’ style notes within the look books and using a tag line such as “what would you do to get yours dirty?”, as it is said that the Barbour jacket gets better with age and therefore getting the jacket dirty is a part of the fun of owning one. Even ‘MP Ken Clarke loves his battered old jacket so much that he refused Barbour’s offer to repair it free of charge’. (www.managementtoday.com) A limited run of look books would be handed out free of charge by models dressed head to toe in quintessential English attire at various locations such as, boutique festival ‘the secret garden party’ held in Cambridgeshire and at known hang outs of the affluent and influential youngsters of London and other large cities around the UK. Followed by free posters containing images of the Barbour collections and details of where to buy which will be given to those that miss out on the book. Alongside this Barbour could launch a competition to find the funniest way to ‘mess up’ a Barbour jacket with the winner receiving a new style jacket absolutely free.
This would work in a similar way to the competition run by the brand in 2003 to find the oldest existing Barbour Jacket. It would be hoped that this would raise the brands profile and also provide some fun and games for the consumers trying to decide on the best idea.
Bibliography: Mintel http://academic.mintel.com/sinatra/oxygen_academic/search_results/show&/ display/id=446170#hit1 Management today http://www.managementtoday.co.uk/search/article/412413/barbour-reproofingbrand/ Barbour webpage http://www.barbour.com Drapers magazine, February 21 2009
British style genius. Episode 4. BBC two. October 2008.