Friday 29th April, 2016

But does it suit you, sir?

Troubled times for high street brands highlights the need for an audience-led approach to be front and centre, says Matt Forster from the GR PR team.

I can’t remember the last time I wore a suit to work and I can’t recall ever seeing any of the other guys in the office wearing one. Before the thought crosses your mind - it’s not just because we’re creative types. More than a third of UK professionals no longer sport a whistle while they work. And if fashion shows are any kind of indicator, then the future looks bleak for the corporate armour, with less than one in ten shows during this year’s New York Fashion Week featuring them.

So, if the popularity of the suit is in decline, it’s not too surprising that off-the-peg tailor Austin Reed is feeling the pain.

When the iconic brand, which suited Winston Churchill, first opened its doors more than 100 years ago – it was a disruptive innovator which democratised the suit. However, in recent years it has been left in the wake of high street retailers possibly more in tune with the sartorial needs of modern man.

All businesses exist to create value for their customers and the more value they create – the more successful they are. An important way of ensuring that you continually create value is to understand what your customers are looking for so that you can make sure you’re providing it and importantly, show them you’re providing it.

That may sound obvious, but how many of us can put hand on heart and say they’ve really thought about what their customers need? Yes, we probably have an idea. Yes, people are buying our products and services. So we must be doing something right, right? But do you know for certain? When was the last time you checked your thinking? When was the last time you checked in with your audience? Because as Austin Reed has been finding out, needs can change.

An audience-led approach should be front and centre for all meaningful brands who want to communicate meaningfully. It’s through understanding what our customers are looking for and how we provide a solution – both functionally and emotionally - that we develop meaningful and relevant content which inspires belief and initiates action. And if communications is going to add value – it definitely needs to be generating a response.

At the end of the day, styles and trends may change – but we’re all still looking for something that suits us.