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Breaking down the Bonobos marketing breakdown | Part 2

Walmart are in a sticky situation, after investing $310 million in struggling menswear brand Bonobos. And they really shouldn’t be because this has the potential to be a great brand, making great products.

So where are they going wrong?

Well, you’ll remember that last week I took a look at how Bonobos failed to impress after my first moment of commitment: booking my Guideshop appointment.

This week I’m going to show you how things went from bad to worse…and the three lessons we can use to create a great Loyalty Loop. Oh, and I’m going to go undercover in NYC to do it. Exciting, huh?

The Miami Guideshop appointment

But first things first, back to Miami and my Guideshop experience.

Now you might remember that this is how Bonobos pitches their in-store Guideshop experience:

"Every Bonobos Guideshop location is outfitted with a team of knowledgeable, stylish, and witty guides that will give you as much attention as you want or don't want, to make sure that you leave feeling like your best-dressed self."

My wife and I arrived about two minutes early for our 2pm appointment, both pretty excited. We walked in and two guides at the cash register welcomed us with a lacklustre, “Can we help you?”. I said, “Yeah, we have a 2pm, 60-minute Guideshop appointment” and got a plain old, “Okay” from one of them in return. The guide just stared at us like we were supposed to make the next move. He didn't check the computer, he didn't know my name, he didn't welcome us, nothing. Sad face. Immediately I went from like a 50 on the consumer enthusiasm scale to a zero.

Why? Because it turns out a Guideshop experience is exactly like every other retail experience in the world. I can walk into Brooks Brothers, or J. Crew, or Vineyard Vines and get exactly this kind of experience. After all the hype, so far, it’s turning out that a Guideshop is just a normal store.

Loyalty Loop lesson 1: Be different

If you’re going to market yourself as different, you have to BE different. You can’t just tell us, you have to actually show us. Most brands market themselves as different, as something new and exciting, then do exactly what Bonobos has done: the same old stuff everyone else does.

So have a think about what you’re doing differently after your moments of commitment. For example, if you set up a 30-minute meeting with one of your consumers and you do what everybody else does at the beginning of that call, like brief introductions and a run-through of the agenda, you are not showing me you're different. You're creating an average experience from the get-go. So find a way to show me you're different.

Loyalty Loop lesson 2: Try to re-inspire

So I’m still in Miami, and the guide, who I’m just going to call Miami Matt, cannot be bothered. Instead of being excited about helping me find a whole new style (the reason I drove an hour there in the first place!), he looks and acts as if I’ve interrupted his Sudoku marathon. He has literally zero interest in helping me out.

This whole thing is turning out to be just a normal shopping experience, only I don’t get to go home with the clothes. Now, if it had been a different kind of shopping experience it would seem like shipping my clothes home for me was actually a cool feature. Instead, now it just feels like an inconvenience.

Over the next 30 minutes in the store, my wife and I have to drive the entire experience — the only time we notice Miami Matt perk up is when we told him that we wanted to purchase two $600 suits. It was all pretty disappointing.

And here's the Loyalty Loop lesson number two. Our job with every consumer is to constantly re-inspire them, to create new moments of inspiration as efficiently as possible. You see, Miami Matt could have sat us down and told us exactly how this experience is going to work. He could have laid out a bunch of great outfits that we could look at and create new moments of inspiration with every one of those outfits until we were dying to add them to our cart. So what are you doing to re-inspire your consumers when you welcome them into your hotel or kick off one of those client calls, or start that product demo? 

Loyalty Loop lesson 3: Maximize the honeymoon phase

Okay, so Miami was a bust but do you know what? Every business, and every employee, can have a bad day. Cue my undercover adventure to the NYC Bonobos store. I want to see if the experience is the same in every store.

And unfortunately, it was.

I even went in wearing one of my new $600 suits, and barely got a reaction. Which brings us to Loyalty Loop driver no.3: maximizing the honeymoon phase. You see, it’s not when you buy the product that you’re most excited about it — that moment comes when you first wear or use it. And it’s the ideal time to reinforce the brand experience and increase brand loyalty. All the NYC guide had to say was, “I noticed you’re wearing one of our suits, it looks great!” Better yet, he could have created a new moment of inspiration by saying something like, “you know what else would look great on you?” and he could have showed me something to complement the suit.

Have a think about how you’re maximizing your customer’s honeymoon phase — the after party glow moment — and what you could do to reinforce the brand experience, and even create new moments of inspiration.

So how are Bonobos shaping up so far…stylish, I guess. Knowledgeable? Nah. Witty, not even close. Giving us as much attention as we want? No, not a chance. And, if you can believe it, after I get home, my Bonobos experience gets even worse when I decide I have to return one of the suits.

Find out why, and discover the insane hoops they make me jump through on the next episode of the Loyalty Loop. 

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