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Executive Summary In this report the aim was to understand the brand strategy of Cos and the effect of the brand strategy on customer experience, to look at any issues and how to create a brand strategy to manage those issues in the future. The introduction provides an overview of the fashion retail industry in today’s climate and the areas of focus and discussion as widely shared in 2016. Part I provides an introduction of the retailer Cos, its brand outline, brand market environment and rationale for its brand issue. In order to understand the internal structure of Cos an organisation structure hierarchy of the H&M Group is presented. This section also addresses the brands position within the retail fashion industry and looks at Cos’s key aims and values. A Pestel graph is used to justify the macro environmental drivers for the issue/rationale and these issues are discussed with further justification and explanation in the report. The report explores in Part II the stages of brand resonance through Kapferer’s Brand Identity Prism and Keller’s Brand Resonance Pyramid and how they correlate to Cos’s brand experience V customer experience. In order to understand how the brand Cos operates, section two uses these models to hi-light the current brand strategy and where the brand issue emerges with reference to a SWOT in order to summarise and justify the impact of market changes on the brand. Part III looks at several academic models that have been developed and used as indexes to measure and analyse the customer experience, and a Cos customer journey map to explore the brands touchpoints and look at the customer experience valued by consumers. In Part VI of the report the discussion is around current issues faced by the brand and gives recommendations to overcome them. The report also analyses and challenges the current vision and mission of Cos based on their current strategy in today’s context.

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Contents Title Page……………………………………………………………………… Page 1 Executive Summary………………………………………………………..... Page 2 Contents………………………………………………………………………. Page 3 List of Figures………………………………………………………………… Page 4 Glossary……………………………………………………………………..... Page 6 Introduction…………………………………………………………………… Page 7 Part I Justification for branding issue (rationale)…………………………. Page 9 Part II Assessment of impact on brand management approach……….. Page 15 Part III Evaluation of options for brand management approach……….. Page 21 Part VI Proposal and consideration of implementation issues…………. Page 25 Conclusion…………………………………………………………………… Page 29 References in Harvard referencing style…………………………………. Page 30 Appendices…………………………………………………………………... Pages 37 -41 Organisational overview……………………………………………………. Page 42 Additional supporting materials……………………………………………. Page 43

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List of Figures 1.1 Brand Architecture: House of Brands. Ryan, K. (2016) 1.2 Cos Covent Garden UK Flagship Store (2016). [online image]. Available from: [Accessed Sept 2016] 1.3 Cos Aims and Values Chart. Ryan, K. (2016)

1.4 Cos PESTEL analysis table. Ryan, K. (2016) 2.1 Cos Brand Identity Prism. Ryan, K. (2016) Adapted from Kapferer’s Model 2.2 Cos Brand Resonance Pyramid. Ryan, K. (2016) Adapted from Keller’s Model 2.3 Cos Customer Journey Mapping. Ryan, K. (2016). Adapted from b2b International. Available from: 2.4 Cos SWOT Evaluation of Brand and Customer Experience. Ryan, K. (2016) 3.1 Customer Experience Strategy. Ryan, K (2016). Adapted from b2b International. Available from: 3.2 Cos Customer Touchpoints. Ryan, K. (2016) Adapted from Allmond, A (2015). Available from: [Accessed 18th October 2016] 3.3 Drapers multi-channel insight report chart. Knowles J (2016) Drapers Guides [online subscription] Available from:

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file:///Domain/ 0Insight%20Report%202016%20_%20Drapers%20Guides.htm [Accessed 11th October 2016] 3.4 Drapers multi-channel insight report chart. Knowles J (2016) Drapers Guides [online subscription] Available from: file:///Domain/ 0Insight%20Report%202016%20_%20Drapers%20Guides.htm [Accessed 11th October 2016] 4.1 Cos Brand Growth Strategy. Ryan, K. (2016) 4.2 Potential Future Mapping Experience for the brand Cos using an Omni-channel Strategy (Karen Ryan 2016). Adapted from Aspect. Available from: [Accessed 12th October 2016] 4.3 Cos Brand Growth Strategy. Ryan, K. (2016)

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Glossary Aspirational group – Those whom one would like to compare themselves. BCs – Brand communities attached to a product. Brand Experience – Generates advocacy through consumer influence. Bricks and Mortar – Physical presence of an organization through retail store. CDJ - Customer Decision Journey, mapping the moment of purchase. Critical Path – Sequence of activities to complete in a long term project plan. CSR - Corporate Social Responsibility self-regulation integrated into business model. CBBE - Customer Based Brand Equity Model CEM - Customer Experience Management CRM - Customer Relationship management Demographics – Statistical data relating to the population Differentiation – Differences between cultures. Distribution – The process of getting goods to stores where they are sold. Experience Marketing – create a closer bond between the customer and the brand. Fast Fashion – Contemporary term to describe catwalk trends to store. Flagship Store – Companies main store showcasing breadth of products/brands. Gen – X - Generation X the generation born from the early 1960s to mid 1970s Gen – Y - Generation Y the generation born in the 1980s and 1990s House of Brands – Architecture focuses on multiple sub-brands. Luxury Brand – Premium and high fashion brands. Multi-channel – Interact on various platforms. Omni-channel – Cross channel business model to increase customer experience. OBCs – on-line brand communities RRP - Recommended retail price RTW - Ready-to-wear, factory made clothing ready to wear in a finished condition. Segmentation (market segmentation) marketing strategy dividing a broad target market Sustainability –create a system that can be supported indefinitely without impact on the environment and social responsibility. USP - unique selling point a factor that differentiates your product from its competitors.

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“As goods and services become commoditized, the customer experiences that companies create will matter most.” Pine et al. (1998) pp. 97-105 Fashion Retail is notoriously fickle, trends come and go, and fashion brands have developed and discarded many different versions of brand and marketing strategies over the course of their brand’s development. Many in order to become more profitable and satisfy their stakeholders (a common misconception mistaking market share for emotional share (Morrison, et al 2007), others to grow more sustainably (Aaker, DA. 2001), and the most recognised modern approach, to satisfy a brands customer needs based on the experience the brand offers them. (Keller, KL. 2003). It is recognised through academic studies that there is a clear relationship between customer satisfaction and financial success (Fornell et al 2006). A key area of discussion at the Drapers Fashion Forum 2016 (Stocker, K. 2016), from on-line discounters to luxury R-T-W brands was the importance of their company’s brands ‘building on the customer experience’ and the growing significance of a brand savvy, price savvy customer whose loyalty is based fundamentally on the brands holistic approach to customer experience (Morrison, et al. 2007). Therefore, many of the presentations were formed around how those retailers can maximise their relationship between brand experience, the product and the customer experience, growing existing business and providing a successful relationship for the brand and customer in the future (Fornell,1992). Of course there are many areas which are key to improving brand experience including the successful integration of a brand across a number of channels (customer omniscience) maximising customer data through integrated information technology systems, targeted global expansion (on-line markets and stores), and the current phrase amongst retailers, “local is the new global” ( Kapferer, 2008)

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adopting the culture and communications in the area of expansion. Many high street brands endeavour to provide a key customer experience through a brand experience strategy. This report endeavour’s to explore the brand experience in relation to the brand COS (The H&M Group), which psychological aspects and marketing channels of the company support the brand experience, and how Cos’s customer loyalty and satisfaction could be improved to encompass a more successful customer experience and brand model for the future (Fornell,1992) by improving the consistency across all marketing channels particularly digital.

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Part I Rationale Brand issue: How can Fashion Retailer Cos successfully improve their customer experience for consumers when shopping for their brand across multi channels? Brand Outline Cos (Collection of Style) launched in 2007 and sits within the house of brands of the H&M Group, a successful Scandinavian fashion retailer. Cos as a standalone brand has over 150 stores globally including London, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong and New York and a formative on-line presence with 19 on-line markets. Their brand ethos echoes the future of modern customers and retailers, valuing transparency, sustainability, openness and simplicity. In order to outline the business and relationship of COS it is important to also acknowledge its parent company and the house of brands within the H&M Group. The following table illustrates Cos’s positioning within its current brand architecture as a brand within a house of brands (Fig.1.1). The H&M Group are looking at launching a further two new brands in 2017 (H&M Annual Report 2015). H&M Group House of Brands H&M Group


& Other Stories

Cheap Monday




H&M Groups House of Brands consist of H&M, & Other Stories, Cheap Monday, Cos, Monki and Weekday. Each sub-brand operates independently and obtain separate market share and profits.

Figure 1.1 Brand Architecture: House of Brands (Ryan 2016) Cos was originally conceived to provide affordable fashion that would offer an aesthetic alternative to luxury brands such as Prada, Fillipa K and Acne and compete on the high street alongside Zara/Massimo Dutti, Reiss, Whistles and on-line with Finery. Whilst Cos’s image is akin to a luxury brand (Schroeder et al 2006) its price structure falls well below the pricing of a luxury brand. 10 of 44


Attention to detail is everything for Cos and their stores are no exception. Across the globe they find extraordinary buildings where they can maintain the traditional elements and details whilst opening up the spaces through modern architecture and design to create gallery-like spaces which act as backdrop to their collections creating the ultimate customer experience in-store (Brakus et al 2009). Since its launch in 2007 Cos has aimed its brand at a premium “older� customer (spanning generation X and Y) and focusing on with a stronger online presence (Euro monitor 2016 p.9). Heavily influenced by architecture, art and music and literature, Cos regularly collaborate and curate with art venues such as The Serpentine Gallery and the Guggenheim Museum, they create playlists on Sound Cloud and engage in art, music and literature events creating a sense of community (Muniz et al 2001). Collections are designed to bridge the gap between luxury and high street fashion, and stories are created every 18 months. Cos are striving to be the antithesis of trend driven, consumer driven fast fashion.

Figure 1.2 Cos Covent Garden UK Flagship Store (

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Brand Market Environment The H&M Group have consistently expanded the brand Cos and from 2009 to 2014 Cos grew from one percent to three percent of H&M Group’s total revenue, an increase of $132 million to $625 million in sales according to estimates by Euro monitor (Euro monitor 2016). In recent months there have been a significant number of risk factors affecting fashion retail and directly affecting Cos within the H&M Group, including the decision to leave the European Union, fluctuating economies including the disparity between the value of the dollar against the pound. And most recently the press has reported that the UK arm of H&M’s profits after tax fell 19% to £36.4m for the year to 30 November 2015, as the retailer continued its store expansion programme (Drapers Sept 2016). The investment in bricks and mortar stores is having a negative effect on sales growth, profit and margin, and in these economically uncertain times the H&M Group needs to respond positively to this financial downturn and focus on its strengths and invest in routes to maximise sales growth and customer equity. The H&M Group reflect upon and address these risks regularly in their monthly company reports (H&M Group 2016). In the H&M Hennes and Mauritz three-month report (1st Dec 2015- 31st August 2016) they reported a number of risks and uncertainties








macroeconomic changes, geopolitical risks, sustainability and external factors. But more significantly the areas in which this report alludes are changes in consumer behaviour and how the brand is managed consistently across all routes to market. Brand Issue This report looks to outline how Cos can successfully build on their customer equity (Brakus et al. 2009), grow year on year sales across all channels of the business and provide a positive customer experience for consumers when shopping for their brand across multichannel. This relies on Cos implementing a successful integration of their brand across a number of channels (customer omniscience) maximising customer data through integrated information technology systems as outlined in the introduction.

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Cos’s web site makes its aims and values clear that the customer is central to everything the company does (Figure 1.3) and is concerned with the ‘brand experience’. These aims and values align themselves closely to imitate the retail strategy/footprint of the luxury sector (D'Arienzo, 2016). Cos aims to provide high levels of brand experience from their modern, functional stores, to the attention to detail with customer service. The Cos Customer

The Cos Brand

The customer is central to everything we do We want our customers to enjoy a high level of service To provide our customers with a great shopping experience every time

The collections reflect our core values of timeless, modern, tactile and functional design. Timeless garments for everyday wear We ensure all COS garments are comfortable and functional.

Cos Stores

Cos Values

Cos Responsibilities

We create an uncomplicated atmosphere that all COS customers can enjoy.

Our values should be regarded as a support and something to lean on in our everyday work. Common values inspire contentment, commitment and happiness. Our shared values are openness, simplicity, constant improvement, belief in people and cost consciousness.

We aim for sustainability in everything we do. Sustainability is an integral part of our culture.

Figure 1.3 Cos Aims and Values (Ryan 2016) It is difficult to evaluate whether the customer is as aware of these values as a brand strategist? However, Cos puts the emphasis of their brand DNA (Shaw, 2007), and the importance of the brand and customer experience as their focus. The statements sum up the brands ideology of wanting to promote loyalty, a lasting customer experience and an emotional brand connection, similar to the model of emotional and consumer behaviour (Brakus, et al. 2009) followed by many marketers and academics. There has been a noticeable change in fashion retail in relation to consumer behaviour and expectations across pre purchase, purchase and post purchase touch points (Figure 3.2). This report seeks to identify the issue of improving the customer experience across its multichannel operation using improved digital business strategies to improve key customer touchpoints and address any negativity and 13 of 44


feedback from customers surrounding poor customer experience particularly around purchasing and delivery. James Knowles, head of commercial projects, Drapers discusses “The multichannel fashion shopper is focused on the product and is browsing on several devices and apps, before drilling down to their preferred product and retailer. Services and functions that support the shopping experience (including logistics and order fulfilment) must be channel agnostic, and deliver a seamless purchasing and delivery experience.” There is not currently an integrated digital system in place to harness these areas within the Cos brand and the retail and online channels operate quite separately which can lead to frustration for the customer in terms of purchasing and returns. Whilst the H&M Group have invested heavily in store expansion for Cos and the subbrand ‘& Other Stories’, the majority of Cos’s competitors have invested heavily in digital strategies (All Saints (Stocker, K. 2016)) providing their customers with a seamless shopping experience across all routes to market and an integrated and managed approach of communication and social media. In order to reflect the market changes in the fashion retail sector and use appropriate methods to identify positive and negative impacts on Cos the latter part of this section sums up the issues with a Pestel analysis to analyse and monitor the macroenvironmental factors that have had an impact on Cos and previously been discussed in the brand outline, market environment and brand issues. Of the hi-lighted threats the main two areas in the Pestel Analysis are technology and social. The Pestel reflects the key technological issues which Cos have an opportunity to address through the implementation of digital online and offline business models. Cos will also need to invest in new ways of distributing fashion and engaging with their customers. Cos has an excellent vertical manufacturing operation but distribution and delivery could be addressed in the future. Cos could look at new ways of communicating with customers using social media networking and e-store models as

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there is currently no parity or control in some of these areas across sale channels which again are reflected in some of the negative social media feedback (Appendix III). Looking at the Pestel, Cos is socially weak on integration between social media and e-store. The H&M Group have also rapidly expanded Cos into new markets based on mirroring the history of H&M’s brand footprint, predominantly with store formats and fewer online formats following behind.

• • • •

• National and international tax legislation Corporate tax, customs duties, income taxes • • and indirectly via VAT Fluctuation in the US dollar/euro exchange • rate • Action of UK leaving EU could impact • on purchasing costs by decisions at a • national level on export/import subsidies, • customs duties, textile quotas, • embargoes, etc. • Risks in global political climates


Vertical operation On-line business models to compliment bricks and mortar New ways of distributing fashion and engaging with customers Communication with customers using social media networking and e-store Abandoning the high street to on-line models




Sustainable policy Climate change Dwindling natural resources 78% renewable electricity in company operations 56% less greenhouse gas since 2014 31% cotton from sustainable sources 2015 Animal rights groups/animal welfare policy 12k tons recycled clothing in 2015 Environment awareness creates new market segments

• • • •

ECONOMIC • • • • • • •

Interest, currency and credit risk GDP Growth UK unemployment at Median household disposable income Consumer spending growth Foreign currencies Provisions for pensions

Ageing population Aligning products to socio cultural diversity Weak integration between social media and e-store Rapid expansion into new markets

LEGAL • • • • • • • • •

Swedish Companies Act Nasdaq Stockholm Rules for Issuers Swedish Corporate Governance Code Equal opportunities Minimum wage Zero hours contracts Manufacture must adhere to Intellectual property Improved labour standards

Cos PESTEL Analysis

Figure 1.4 Cos Pestel Analysis (Ryan 2016) In Part II the report begins to assess the impact on the brand Cos’s management approach. The report endeavours to investigate the current interactions between brand and customer and the opportunities to build brand personality, brand community, brand trust and brand attachment to maximise the potential of branding and customer experience in order to drive the success and growth of the brand in the future (Keller, 2003). The report further explores the brand issue of improving Cos’s customer experience for consumers when shopping for their brand across multichannels improving the consistency across all marketing channels particularly digital.

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Part II Assessment of impact on brand management approach

“The most valuable brand building block, brand resonance, occurs when all the other brand building blocks are established. With true brand resonance, customers express a high degree of loyalty to the brand such that they actively seek means to interact with the brand and share their experiences with others” Kotler 2006 p.167 Following on from Part I and in response to the changing environment of customer behaviour and shopping habits in fashion retail it is vital to look at the current brand management approach to Cos and identify where it can improve in order to provide a higher level of customer experience and brand resonance for the Cos customer of the future with particular emphasis on the issue of improving the consistency of all routes to market using seamless digital technology. Kapferer has written widely about the importance of building communications between the identity of a brand and its customer, by identifying the key facets in order to build a relationship on constructive theory and not on a hollow identity (Kapferer 2008 p.158). In this section the report looks at Kapferer’s Brand Identity Prism and identifies the six key facets relating back to Cos’s brand identity in order to establish its strengths and weaknesses. COS BRAND IDENTITY PRISM Based on Kapferer’s Model

Personality Timeless Understated

Relationship The go -to workwear wardrobe High customer advocacy

Culture Traditional methods new techniques, diversity, sustainability

Reflection Timeless, modern, confident and considered

Self-image Individual, honest, open minded and cost conscious




Physique Fashion brand for women and men Re-invented classics Wardrobe essentials


Figure 2.1 Cos Brand Identity Prism (Ryan 2016) adapted from Kapferer’s Model 16 of 44


This section of the report also cross references Cos’s data and information using Keller’s Customer-Based Brand Equity Model (CBBE). Keller’s model uses goals which translate well from Cos’s key aims explored in Part I (Fig. 1.3): 1. The first is to be logical and well integrated (which sits well with the assumption that the H&M Group have created a premium price brand that sits apart from their fast fashion offer house of brands). 2. The second is to be versatile (which is relevant to Cos’s product which offers primarily workwear and key pieces on which the customer builds their wardrobe). 3. And the third to be comprehensive (which encompasses their diverse customer

base, intellectually echoing Cos’s core aims and values).


RESONANCE Loyalty Attachment Social Networks Community JUDGEMENTS Design Quality Timeless Affordable Luxury FEELINGS Confidence Stylish Social Approval PERFORMANCE Design Quality Functionality Sustainable IMAGERY Retail Stores Minimalist Design Monochrome Palette SALIENCE Global Brand Womenswear. Menswear, Childrenswear, Lifestyle







Figure 2.2 Cos Brand Resonance Pyramid (Ryan 2016) adapted from Keller’s Model Using both Kapferer’s Prism and Keller’s CBBE Models, (which brand strategists and marketers’ widely used to identify their brands), it is possible to compare Cos’s stages of brand identity and brand building and how Cos can clearly build on their brand and customer experience, whilst identifying problem areas and looking at how to solve these with positive strategies moving forward.

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In terms of what Cos does as a brand, Kapferer’s ‘physique’ (Kapferer 2008 p.182) aligns to some extent with Keller’s model of brand salience (Keller, 2001 p.71). Cos as a brand is known for providing stylish and affordable fashion for work and key items for the wardrobe which include womenswear, menswear and childrenswear. These are all knowns for the brand Cos and provide the product offer for which the brand is most known and generates customer salience and a brand physique which is robust and clear. One of the newer product areas that Cos has introduced is their ‘things’ range, this product area focuses on beautifully designed and crafted lifestyle items for use at home and work. In terms of competition in this product area, Jigsaw recently launched their first seasonless collection ‘A-Line’ with a significantly higher price structure, this is an area where Cos could re-visit their pricing strategy based on offering investment pieces and collectables as part of their extended product offer to support their brand physique. Cos’s personality (Kapferer 2008 p.184) is expressed by how it communicates its brand identity and unlike many brands does not rely on a muse or celebrity to convey this message, but uses its store environment, staff recruitment and customer base to reflect the personality and shared values (Fig. 1.3) of Cos.

Cos’s image and

personality (Kapferer 2008 p.184. Keller, 2001 p.83) have a minimal yet distinct monochromatic palette which transcends its products, stores and on-line web site imagery. Defined by silhouette and architecture Cos aims itself at an older core customer from the creative industries. Cos’s culture and ethos (Kapferer 2008 p.184) are bound in sustainability and equality values, which are fundamental to the H&M Way (H&M Way 2016). Brands are often guilty of neglecting this facet of their brand identity and Cos could do more to promote its sustainability culture in order to enhance an emotional connection with its customers. Particularly in the wake of recent ‘seasonless’ collections (Burberry, Erdem and Jigsaw. Cos already design their collections in-house (at the brands head office in London) and work on an eighteen-month cycle with deliveries into store on a weekly rather than daily basis. The Cos customer is excited by new stock in-store and on-line, and would connect with more unique and collectable pieces. Cos could

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emphasise a move away from the fast fashion culture (Zara, Primark) to a more responsible consumer attitude which could strengthen their brand equity? Cos’s brand relationship (Kapferer 2008 p.185) is of primary importance in this section of the report in that it relates directly to the brand issue of connectivity and communication channels between brand and consumer. And particularly in relation to providing a positive customer experience for consumers when shopping for their brand across multichannels in fashion retail. In order to develop this there are a number of areas where the customer interacts currently with the stores, product and website that could be improved and areas of community such as Cos’s social media platforms where customer experience is currently lacking. The following table illustrates the Cos Customer Journey which has a direct influence on customer experience. Some of the key issues outlined in the report stem from the lack of communication across channels for Cos and include opportunities to develop online business models to compliment the bricks and mortar stores, looking at new ways of distributing fashion and engaging with the customer, and communicating with the customer using enhanced social media networking and e-store connectivity. COS CUSTOMER JOURNEY MAP AWARENESS



Update working wardrobe

Find affordable, stylish key pieces

Compare with previous brands

Cos website Cos stores Personal relationships

Cos website Cos stores Personal referrals

Competitors: Zara Massimo Dutti Jigsaw Finery ASOS

Accidental discovery Brand likeability

Browse online Compare price and Visit store delivery options Sign up to newsletter

Online promotion Sponsored event

Electronic ads Search advertising Social media Embrace CSR

Key pricing Free p&p and returns Participation marketing

PURCHASE Proceed dependent on availability, size, collection & delivery

Cos website Cos store Staff interaction

POST PURCHASE Satisfied purchase Can I return easily

BRAND ADVOCACY Positive feedback V Negative feedback Based on this experience

Returns Exchanges Quality/satisfaction with product Interactions with other customers

Lack of product availability Disappointment Surprise delivery charges and lack of Returns only to where Flexibility with returns purchased

Improved sales Free P&P Collect customer data Flexible returns Opps to personalise Offer relevant info Flexible order + collection

Social media Personal references

Mixed customer feedback Based on experience

Manage social networks Active engagement and involvement with consumers

Figure 2.3 Cos Customer Journey Mapping. Ryan, K. (2016). Adapted from b2b International. 19 of 44


How Cos’s customers wish themselves to be perceived relates to Kapferer’s reflection (Kapferer 2008 p.186) and also Keller’s judgements (Keller, 2001 p.88). The Cos customer is aware of the aspirational personality of the brand and they view Cos as a clean, minimal, stylish brand which contributes to their own personality and overall lifestyle. Cos provides affordable luxury at high street prices and the customer can rely on their intrinsic quality and detail and is prepared to invest in key pieces which the customer can add to their wardrobe and enhance their perception of performance (Keller, 2001 p.81). In order to illustrate the key areas for improvement a SWOT provides a synopsis of the areas previously discussed in this section with particular focus on the brand issue of providing a positive customer experience for consumers when shopping for their brand across multichannels and is discussed in greater detail in relation to Part III and evaluating a range of strategic options for the Cos Brand. This includes opportunities for Cos to develop online business models to compliment the bricks and mortar stores, looking at new ways of distributing fashion and engaging with the customer, and communicating with the customer using enhanced social media networking and estore connectivity. COS SWOT Evaluation of Brand and Customer Experience. STRENGTHS


Own unique brand identity.

Innovation opportunities.

Growing product offer including women’s, men’s, children and

Expand product offer to include home & lifestyle(tapping into H&M home



Brand largely promoted by customer advocacy/word of mouth

To promote the brand using combined online/interactive/experiential

and the use of owned media.


Planned investment and growth.

Implement Omni-channel management systems to provide innovative customer experience and to optimise stock and operational efficiencies.

H&M Groups Sustainable Practice Policy

Promoting Sustainable Practice Policy

Promoting creative communities through collaborations and

Further engaging creative communities through collaborations and events

events including art, music and literature.

including art, music and literature, instore and on-line.



Negative/lack of customer interaction social networks and

Lack of parity across social networks and communities.

communities. Multi-channel management system not providing a seamless

Competitor’s Omni-channel management systems to providing an

experience for the customer, optimising stock and operational

innovative customer experience, optimising stock and operational



Delivery options not flexible. Shipping charge, ite m s bought

Competitors offering free p&p, collection and returns in-store and on-line,

online c a nnot be r efunded or e xchanged in a ny of the

ordering, stock check and using stores as distribution centres.

s tor e s. Stores not currently used as distribution centres.

Figure 2.4 Cos SWOT Evaluation of Brand and Customer Experience (Ryan 2016)

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Part III Evaluate a range of brand and brand management development strategic options for the Cos Brand.

“Prior to digital,” says Andjelic, “brands used advertising as communication. Now that consumers can have contact with a brand everywhere from mobile sites to social media, the broadcasting model no longer cuts it. In order to deal with an infinitely more complex customer journey, brands need to shift from messaging to brand experience.” Maiki, R. (2015). In this section the report explores alternative strategies looking at the relationship between brand experience and customer experience, the strengths and weaknesses within the Cos brand previously explored through the PESTEL and SWOT analysis and referencing justification for an approach to resolve the key issues going forward.

Assess needs and segment customers Measure and develop

Map the journey for customer segments

Structure the customer touchpoints

Identify the desired experience Design the brand experience

Figure 3.1 Customer Experience Strategy. Ryan, K (2016). Adapted from b2b International. In order to look at how Cos’s consumer responds and how brand experience occurs (Parkes et al 2016), several factors including: pre-purchase / browsing, purchase /

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shopping, post purchase / receiving and consumption of the Cos product must be taken into account (Brakus et al 2009).



















Figure 3.2 Cos Customer Touchpoints (Ryan 2016) based on A. Allmond 2015 COS Product and Brand experience (pre-purchase touch point) In 2009 Brakus Schmitt and Zarantonello published their Brand Experience Scale and asked; “What is It? How do We Measure It? And Does It Affect Loyalty?”. Their model looks at sensation, feeling, cognition, and behavioural responses evoked by brandrelated stimuli that are part of a brand's design and identity, packaging, communications, and environment. Brakus et al proved that several dimensions of brand experience positively impact brand loyalty. To put Cos’s pre-purchase advertising into perspective, Cos operate a lean advertising marketing approach and use predominantly owned media to advertise the brand and little to no above the line advertising. Cos offer a multichannel approach that provides the customer with the options to browse and purchase their products online or instore however at the decision making process, purchase and post purchase the system is not integrated or monitored effectively across platforms the customer experience is compromised and causes significant negative customer feedback through social media channels (Appendix III) 22 of 44


which are currently un-managed in terms of regulating feedback. Most of these responses can be attributed to lack of communication surrounding availability and stock levels across stores and online and unexpected delivery costs. There is some evidence that Cos core customer browses online and then purchases instore and this is experience studied in relation to activities (Chang et al 2010) what happens according to where experiences occur (online) and where they take place (instore). These experiences affect the decision making process based on product judgement, attitudes, preferences, purchase intent and recall (Zarantonello et al 2010). This is a pre-purchase touchpoint and interactions that drive awareness and differentiation (Parkes et al 2016).

3.3 Drapers multi-channel insight report chart (Knowles J 2016) COS shopping and service experience (purchase touch point) In 1992 Claes Fornell established a Customer Satisfaction Barometer (CSB) to measure the customer experience in Sweden (Fornell 1992) it was a survey based on data from customers of 100 companies in about 30 industries and established a link between productivity and quality of product leading to customer satisfaction. Whereas previous studies had focussed more on productivity and quantity. The survey data was

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considered extremely valid and reliable and bore a direct correlation to customer satisfaction and company market share. In the past shopping and service experience were attributed to a stores physical environment (Brakus et al 2009) but in the digital age with instore and online experience’s the customer’s feelings, attitudes and satisfaction toward the brand must also be clearly attributed to the virtual shopping environment. Cos has a strong visual aesthetic which enhances the customer experience through their architecturally designed store environment. Whilst it is difficult in web design to include the personality of a store/staff environment and the many other dimensions of brand personality (Aaker, 1997) within a virtual site, a brand must use its brand identity cohesively to create a parity of customer experience through areas such as customer engagement, ease of use and competence to result in a sensory and intellectual experience. Proactive customer services and the use of invisible technology would improve how the customer interacts with the brand. Morrison suggests that “a successfully executed brand experience encourages loyalty in the long term by creating emotional connections, through creating an engaging, compelling and consistent content” (Morrison et al. 2007 p.). This is a post purchase touchpoint, an interaction that builds confidence (Parkes et al. 2016) and could be advocated through social engagement at local and transactional levels to engage the customer and create a stronger relationship between the brand and the customer. COS consumption experience (post purchase touch point) This is the satisfaction phase or feel good factor after the research and buying phase has been completed the customer leaves a store or receives a parcel and a number of feelings can be experienced in response to this phase (Brakus et al 2009). Sharon Morrison’s study (Morrison et al 2007) looks at emotional brand experience, customer selection and customer loyalty and references several academic models including the Model of Emotion and Human Behaviour by O ’ Shaughnessy and O ’ Shaughnessy (2003) as an example of how the following experiences are linked emotionally to an

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outcome of decision or choice of the product based on the consumers value system, the emotive stimuli or object of emotion, the appraisal of the object of emotion, the beliefs and desires and the emotional response. In JDA and Centiro’s Customer Pulse report 2015 the need for personalisation at the delivery and returns stage is outlined as “this could be returning goods to a store or specifying a location and/or time for a courier pick up. By capturing this information, retailers can start to personalise the returns experience and create more value for the consumer and themselves.” JDA and Centiro also outline the importance of “Retailers looking at returns as a further opportunity to enhance the customer experience. In the same way that today’s omni channel environment is allowing consumers to buy items where and when they want, they would like the same flexibility when it comes to returns.” (JDA 2015). In Drapers Multi Channel Insight Report 41% of 45-to-54-year-olds are most likely to abandon a purchase because of unexpected delivery charges being added. This was the number one reason for basket abandonment across all ages and Cos’s key demographic.

3.4 Drapers multi-channel insight report chart (Knowles J 2016) The next section of the report reflects on the negative outcomes of Cos’s brand touchpoints which have been assessed previously and the key implementation requirements to improve the customer experience for consumers for the brand Cos.

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Part IV A coherent proposal, which addresses the issues and considers the key implementation requirements for the brand Cos.

“Building on this base, we can now continue to develop and strengthen the shopping experience within a number of different areas such as continued integration of stores and online, expanded and faster delivery options and mobile payment solutions.� Karl-Johan Persson H&M Nine Month Report 2016 p.2 This chapter seeks to propose a strategy based on the key implementation issues that need to be addressed for the future, reflecting on the analysis and evaluation previously discussed. In the above quote, Karl-Johan Persson, CEO of the H&M group acknowledges a need to build on the existing base which is currently a multichannel operation and hints that H&M are looking to optimise their continued integration across store and on-line including payment solutions which would give customers greater flexibility and answer some of the issues raised in this report. In order to provide a greater customer flexibility, the report reflects on the three key customer touchpoints: Firstly, the COS product and brand experience (pre-purchase touch point). The main issues are lack of communication surrounding availability and stock levels across stores/on-line and unexpected delivery costs which hinder purchases. Secondly the COS shopping and service experience (purchase touch point), there is a lack of customer interaction and engagement at point of purchase which could be addressed through social and community initiatives and the use of invisible technology to improve how the customer interacts with the brand instore and online and to optimise stock and operational efficiencies.

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And thirdly the COS consumption experience (post purchase touch point) return and exchange (items bought online cannot be refunded or exchanged in stores) addressing the flexibility and cost of post purchase. In order to put these in perspective the report looks at the key actions: “What are the challenges?”, “What are the solutions” and “What are the key benefits” to propose a coherent strategy. COS BRAND GROWTH STRATEGY 2020

Elevate the Cos Brand by engaging consumers experientially

Strengthen communities engage audiences and create effective sales channels

Build omnichannel to drive own retail online and offline

Further build Cos’s operational strength to enable key strategy implementation

Figure 4.1 Cos Brand Growth Strategy. Ryan, K. (2016) What are the Challenges? The Brand Experience through omnichannel retailing is an area in which many companies have and are investing into heavily based on seamless integration and keeping the focus on your most important asset ‘the customer’. Cos as a brand still refers to its strategy as multichannel in a number of reports, press and telephone conferences (H&M, reports and presentations). If Cos is to succeed in the future, it is clear that they must embrace future technology to bring a clear message and parity across channels to deliver a consistent customer experience. Cos’s core structure is primarily most successful in terms of capturing their customer’s emotional connection and encouraging future purchases customer advocacy (Smith et al. 2002) and customer loyalty (Brakus et al. 2009). There is currently some dissatisfaction reflected through the store experience and the online experience being 27 of 44


used in separation with regards to payment methods and returns policy (Appendix III).

Browse Community Forum

Social Media



Browse Facebook Page

Browse Website

Visit a Store


Email a Service Agent

Customer Service

Navigate an IVR Via a Smartphone


Transfer to a Customer Advisor

Receive Information Via SMS

Potential mapping experience for the brand Cos using a onmi-channel strategy.

Figure 4.2 Cos Future Mapping Experience (Ryan 2016, adapted from Aspect) There are numerous retailers currently employing a successful omnichannel business strategy (Burberry, All Saints, M&S, Next), the example above maps the potential of future customer interaction within the brand Cos based on an omnichannel strategy (Fig. 4.2). What are the Solutions? If Cos were to implement the strategy to move from a multichannel to an omnichannel business they would offer customers seamless integration of online and offline sales, improve communication between channels, stock and customer and heighten their overall customer experience and satisfaction levels. As a recommendation Cos could look to implement a retail management system with industry specific fashion solutions including customer relationship management solutions (organisational buy in), the shortlisted suggestions would be: JDA Software (Ikea), GS1 UK ( and Hso (Add. Supp. Mat. p.43). Cos’s future brand strategy must also include managed control of its external and 28 of 44


internal online communications (OCs) including social media and community platforms (Wirtz, 2013), which currently reflect some negative customer feedback (Appendix III) and should be providing parity across channels focussing on turning customer dissatisfaction into loyalty. The H&M Group as the parent company of Cos would be ideally placed to pilot and test the strategy within its established clothing brand H&M before rolling it out to their house of brands including Cos (Fig. 1.1). The H&M Group already test and pilot company expansion strategies when moving into new global on-line and store markets (H&M Report 2016). What are the benefits? The benefits of a technical solution are to bring consistency across the business and would enable a system to support growth and innovation in the future. Successful implementation would bring a much improved customer service experience that is seamless across all channels by ensuring communication across all channels. Cos would have a greater understanding of its customers and be able to nurture its customers and personalise its responses in reaction to better quality data and analysis. An omnichannel system would give greater insight across operations and manage stock more efficiently and long term stores could look at becoming distribution centres to improve availability and delivery.

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Conclusion Without an omniscient view of the business Cos’s ambitious growth plans will be constrained by inadequate systems. And consequently unreliable management and customer information which will impact on the brands equity (Aaker, 2001) and the overall customer experience. How Cos implements these changes across platforms will impact on the overall brand equity in the future (Chan-Olmsted, 2011). The global fashion retail landscape is always changing and as retailers seek to integrate and align various channels to provide shoppers with a seamless shopping experience, omnichannel retailing is at different phases in different geographic regions. The demand for omnichannel retailing is unlikely to slow down, and retailers operating in different regions of the world will need to overcome various challenges to achieve omni-channel proficiency and satisfy their sustainable credentials alongside the desire for their customers purchasing immediacy. If Cos want to remain a future player they will need to fuse the capabilities of their ecommerce site, and bricks-and-mortar stores into one simple shopping experience.

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Geoghegan, J. (2016). H&M UK Profits and Margins Slump. Drapers Record. Available from: [Accessed 28th October 2016] Goodall, S. (2016) Client Director/Partner. Interview with OPX Brand Strategist. 26 October. Hancock, I., Joseph. (2016). Brand/story: cases and explorations in fashion branding, Second edn, Bloomsbury Publishing, New York. Hines, T. and Bruce, M. (2012). Fashion marketing: contemporary issues. 2nd edn. Oxford: Routledge. H&M. Reports and Presentations. [online] Available from: [Accessed 18th September] H&M. H&M Nine Month Report 2016 [pdf] Sweden: H&M. Available from: 9234_en.pdf [Accessed 18th September] H&M. H&M Annual Report 2015 [pdf] Sweden: H&M. Available from: %20Report%202015_en.pdf [Accessed 18th September] H & M. H&M Telephone Conference six-month report 22 June 2016 [pdf] Sweden: Available from: 16/Telephone%20conference%20presentation%20Q2%202016_en.pdf [Accessed 18th September] 33 of 44


Jackson, T. & Shaw, D. (2009). Mastering Fashion Marketing. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. (Palgrave master series). Kapferer, J. Noel. (2008). New Strategic Brand Management, the: Creating and Sustaining Brand Equity Long Term. [online]. Kogan Page. Available from: [Accessed 15 October 2016] Keller, K.L. (1993). Conceptualising, Measuring and Managing Customerbased Brand Equity. Journal of Marketing, 57 (1) pp. 1-22. Keller, K.L. (2011). Brands that transcend: How to Navigate the Future of Brand Management. Marketing Management, summer 2011 pp. 37-43. Keller, KL. (2001). Building Customer-Based Brand Equity: A Blueprint for Creating Strong Brands. Report- Marketing Science Institute Cambridge Massachusetts, 107, p. ALL, British Library Document Supply Centre Inside Serials & Conference Proceedings, EBSCOhost, [Accessed 15 October 2016] Keller, KL. (2003). Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring, And Managing Brand Equity. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall. Keller, K and Lehmann, D. (2009). Assessing long-term brand potential. Journal of Brand Management, 17(1) pp.6 -17. Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, [Accessed 24 September 2016] Knowles, J. (2016). Multi-Channel Customer Insight report 2016. Drapers Record. Available from: [Accessed September 18th 2016] Kotler, P. (2006). B2B Brand Management. Berlin: Springer LS: N Global. New Consumer Summit Report 2016. [pdf] London: The Future Laboratory. Available from:

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BRANDING & BRAND MANAGEMENT [Accessed 20th September 2016] Maiki, R. (2015). Ana Andjelic: Experiential Retail, LS: N Global. Available from [Accessed 20th September 2016] Moore, G. (2012). Fashion promotion: building a brand through marketing and communication. Lausanne: AVA. (Basics Fashion Management, 2).

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Appendix I Interview Goodall, S. (2016) Client Director/Partner. Interview with OPX Brand Strategist. 26 October. Q: When working with clients on new or re-brand development do the brands incorporate the importance of the customer experience into their brand strategy? A: Yes - they certainly should. We generally think about two big drivers - business goals and customer needs. If you meet both in a balanced way you are usually in a good place. Every business should have a clear set of goals and priorities - without that there's no direction or momentum but if you want success you have to be very clear about customer needs too and that means the whole customers experience. We'd see customer experience covering the total interaction with the brand, from big things like how a shop/website is designed or what the products are like, to small details like how someone greets you when you walk in or answers a query online. It all matters. Also worth bearing in mind that for many businesses the experience their customers want won't be uniform. Understanding who different types of customer are, what they each need and what factors they have in common is really important. Q: Would you say customer experience has become more of a fashion/focus for branding and advertising agencies in recent times than in the past? A: I think it's always been important to success but the way it's done has changed principally because of digital. It's introduced new ways of thinking about customers through things like customer personas and user journeys, all of which are underpinned by access to data and analytics. In the past agencies often relied on what their clients told them about their customers alongside some standard market research input. Now there's a constant feed of data that can be broken down and looked at in different ways. It's much more nuanced, with greater opportunity to develop, test and refine customer experiences based on clear data not best-guess work.

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Q: Have you found digital integration important to brand building in terms of communicating effectively B2C? A: Yes as mentioned above its key now. You have to think about the total customer experience across every channel - online and offline. The challenge is that you can't control it all as tightly now. Pre-digital when most branding was expressed via print it was possible to achieve very tight consistency. These days, when much of your brand is expressed across channels you can't fully control (like Twitter or Instagram) what you are aiming for is coherence rather than tight control. That means having a clear, distinctive thread running across all channels, with enough flex for customers to engage in the ways they want to. Q: How important is it that a brands social media and sales channels work effectively? A: Really important for B2C, particularly for areas like fashion where there is a changing visual product. Social offers a chance to build a dialogue with customers, providing them with content they are interested in and inviting them to discover more. You do have to be careful though not to just sell, sell, sell, offering a mix of content that engages your audience is much better. Cycle cafe/ bar Look Mum No Hands! is a good example. They sell branded merchandise (cycle caps, t-shirts, pants etc.). They do feature these products on social but mix this up with stuff about events, comments about cycling issues, funny stuff their customers have shared with them etc. Getting that mix right is what turns social into an effective sales channel. Q: How effective do you think customer focus groups are in the development of a new brand? A: They are useful but they aren't the whole solution. They are best when you have something more complex to explore that can't easily be covered through quantitative surveys etc. So as an example – we asked to create a new brand and name for a scheme rating the quality and sustainability of new homes. Our initial instinct (and the client's) was to go for a name that felt fresh and digitally-savvy like 'Hoot'. However, when the scheme was discussed and explained during customer focus groups they fed back that they didn't want that at all. They wanted something simple

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and authoritative that they could trust. On that basis we ended up going with the 'Home Quality Mark'. It's been a big success and getting that feedback was really important to getting things right. One other point on this. I think this kind of research is useful if you are trying to introduce something that is a development or an improvement on something people know. So if you are wanting input on a nicer tasting instant hot chocolate it works really well. If on the other hand you are really breaking new ground with something people aren't familiar with or know they want, then focus groups aren't much use. I suspect for example that if before its launch you'd asked people for their reaction to the i-Pod you have got a very mixed reaction. Henry Ford's words on this subject are still really true. “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.� What can brands do to eliminate negative feedback? I'm not sure they should eliminate negative feedback; I think they should just deal with it really well. The truth is no brand is perfect and sometimes things go wrong. If a customer takes time to complain about something, it’s an opportunity to put it right and potentially build strong customer loyalty. If you think about times when you've complained about something those companies whose staff respond quickly, take responsibility, do what they say they are going to do and ultimately resolve your problem (and perhaps offer you something to say sorry too) generally end up in a stronger position than they were in before you brought anything at all. Training and empowering staff is the key thing here. Waitrose are brilliant at this.

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Appendix II Survey Monkey Questionnaire on Customer Retail Experience using the Likert scale.

Cos Survey Monkey Overview “Secondly the COS shopping and service experience (purchase touch point), there is a lack of customer interaction and engagement at point of purchase which could be addressed through social and community initiatives and the use of invisible technology to improve how the customer interacts with the brand instore and online and to optimise stock and operational efficiencies.” (K, Ryan.2016 p.25)

“The company (the H&M Group) announced increased long-term investment in its online presence in January 2015, but its digital business looks under supported; it takes the position that the internet is a “complement” to its stores, which may be imprudent in the long term.” (Euro Monitor 2016 p.9)

“These experiences affect the decision making process based on product judgement, attitudes, preferences, purchase intent and recall (Hoch et al 1989; Hoch et al 1986; Huffman et al 1993; Brakus et al 2008; and Holbrook 2000). This is a pre-purchase touchpoint and interactions that drive awareness and differentiation (Parkes et al 2016).” (K, Ryan.2016 p.22)

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Appendix III Negative examples of Cos uncontrolled social media customer feedback


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Cos Organisational overview Based in London - the first COS store opened on Regent Street in 2007, followed by the launch of the online store in 2011. The brand is now available in select locations across Europe, Asia, North America, the Middle East and Australia. From 2009 to 2014, Cos grew from one percent to three percent of H&M Group’s total revenue, an increase of $132 million to $625 million in sales according to estimates by Euro monitor (Euro monitor 2016). •

Sales SEK 54,341 million including VAT – increase of 2% in SEK; +5% in local currencies

Profit after financial items SEK 7,002 million (8,435)

Continued substantial long-term investments within IT, online and new brands

Continued focus to grow through physical stores and e-commerce – integration between stores and e-commerce

(H & M Tele-conference 2016) In 2016 the H&M group majorly focussed on expanding COS opening an additional 39 stores and moved into four new markets: Bahrain (via franchise), Luxembourg, Hungary and Canada, with COS stores opening in both Toronto and Montreal. With a current total of 177 stores, 32 Store Markets and 19 on-line markets in 30 countries, COS is a globally established fashion brand. Global brand valuation leader Interbrand identified the H&M Group 21 amongst its 2016 top 100 global brands with a higher brand value than Facebook and Ikea (Interbrand).

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Additional supporting materials Reflective Blog: Pinterest link: Drapers Multi Channel Customer Insight report 2016 Databases Euro Monitor Mintel Interbrand WARC Film: JDA Software – Powering the Seamless Customer Journey GS1 – Delivering Seamless Efficiency for the Apparel Market Hso – Microsoft for retail are you ready for what’s next?

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COS Branding & Brand Management Marketing Report  

In this report the aim was to understand the brand strategy of Cos and the effect of the brand strategy on customer experience, to look at a...

COS Branding & Brand Management Marketing Report  

In this report the aim was to understand the brand strategy of Cos and the effect of the brand strategy on customer experience, to look at a...