Saturday, August 22, 2020

Relationship Status - It's Complicated...

As normal continues to recede into the rearview mirror, now seems as good a time as any to examine the ever-changing nature of the Brand/Retailer relationship.

Remember the good old days?  Brands would reach out to retail partners, and either through a visit to BaselWorld, or repeated visits to the retail partner's store an agreement would be reached. At first it was COD, then 30/30/30, and then - when the retail partner really felt that the brands should "kiss the ring" it became memo (you give us the watches, and maybe we'll pay you if they sell).

And back when customers might not feel that they were taking some serious risks by visiting a retail store, the store had a lot more muscle to flex.

Oh, what a difference 5 months and a major pandemic can make!  

The relationship between brands and retailers has been symbiotic since the early part of this century. And who had the most juice in that relationship tended to vary a fair bit. Certain retailers who went Deep South at the drop of a hat were not only tolerated, but lauded by certain brand managers.  And these retailers were smart enough to know that while they could go all Earl Scheib on some less than sexy midlevel brands -
Shamelessly borrowed from the worldwide infoweb
They couldn't do that with their anchor brands such as Patek or Rolex.  But now, well, let's just say that the winds of change are starting to swirl.

Brands (those that can) have mobilized in an effort to sell directly to their retail partners customers. Retailers that used to blow off their brand reps and avoid paying their invoices are now, suddenly a bit more motivated.  

Or more accurately, they should be.

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