Ultimately, the company’s success all boils down to the quality of its products. “The product tells the magic and expresses happiness,” CEO Michael Buckley says. “Customers always remark how happy the brand makes them feel.”
The company’s products are widely distributed and can be found in boutiques and large department store chains. In addition, it has an 11-store, eight-state network of retail locations, including flagship stores on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Los Angeles and on Bleecker Street in New York City.
Finding an Edge
Robert Graham products stand out thanks to uniqueness of design, color palette, textures, embroidery, appliques, fabric, presentation and the exclusive nature of product availability. From denim to socks to knits, and from yokes to the cuffs to the stitching, Robert Graham says it has built a following of loyalists and collectors who take pride in the number of styles they own.
Robert Graham feels that it has a number of advantages in the marketplace. It is a full men’s lifestyle brand from head to toe, encompassing a collection of woven shirts, sport jackets, polos, sweaters, t-shirts, jeans, non-denim bottoms, shorts, swimwear and outerwear.
In addition, Robert Graham continues to supplement its product offering through licensees in many categories, including dress shirts, neckwear, eyewear, belts, wallets, hats, hosiery, jewelry and footwear. It will launch fragrance and a men’s underwear and loungewear collection in 2015 along with other lifestyle categories to round out the experience.
The company has been recognized for its efforts within the industry. For example, it was named the American Apparel and Footwear Association 2014 Menswear Brand of the Year.
Technology has played a crucial role in Robert Graham’s success. Initiatives include implementation of a sales interface system, adding a digital catalog to its website, and promoting the brand via social media channels with links back to its website. Email marketing, email prospecting, the creation of a mobile- and tablet-friendly site, and CRM development are also important parts of Robert Graham’s technological strategy.
“Technology also helps keep our inventory scaled and managed,” Buckley says. “It is very important to know how much Inventory we have on hand and in each location. Our system helps allocate the right product mix to the right door.”
Technology has supported the company’s marketing efforts, which are helping to fuel Robert Graham’s continued expansion. Elements of its marketing strategy include event marketing at key stores, shops-in-shops with themes and value-added elements, strategic brand partnerships and advertising in key publications.
In addition, establishing a company culture that is built on entrepreneurship and accountability has been important in fostering Robert Graham’s growth. “We are a small brand that is continuing to grow day-by-day,” Buckley says. “Every employee is a contributor and wears several hats with exposure to many areas. I believe in taking a hands-on, empowering, ROI-centered and analytical approach to each project.”
The company believes it has been able to find talented people by networking with like-minded industry professionals and empowering its team members. Ongoing training helps employees learn and advance. Robert Graham has successfully retained many employees through an incentive bonus structure based on success and performance, and it keeps people motivated by making them the owner of their projects from inception to completion.
Never Staying Put
Robert Graham certainly faces challenges, such as competing with the sale-focused consumer psyche. To combat that mindset, the company is encouraging its prospective customer to focus on high-quality craftsmanship and luxury goods through communication and marketing messages emphasizing the uniqueness of product ownership.
“Our non-mass approach to product keeps us in the niche marketplace and encourages our loyal and educated customer to enjoy our styles as wearable pieces of art and to think outside the box,” Buckley says.
In the years ahead, Robert Graham says it will do all it can to ensure customer retention and loyalty. Its Collector’s Club is being re-launched in the fall to cut across every touch point. It is revamping its loyalty efforts in ways that will connect to more than just the hard-core collectors who have more than 100 shirts. Robert Graham will provide more access to everyone from novice collectors who own one style all the way through to the collector who has a closet dedicated to the brand.
A number of ongoing projects should help Robert Graham’s ongoing evolution. It is opening new shops-in-shops with wholesale partners, expanding licensed product categories, and looking for more international distribution and presence. In addition, it is opening new directly operated retail stores in key markets at the same time that it is enhancing and adding to its digital flagship experience with added value content and robust product offerings.
The company will also work to make sure that its products stand out and catch the customers’ eyes. From eclectic fixtures, quirky visuals, and vintage and custom props to nostalgic memorabilia, brand-intrinsic color palettes, and vibrant, artistic touches, Robert Graham says it will ensure that its merchandising efforts grab the customer’s attention.
“In select stores, we have a denim wall, footwear display and other category-focused curated sections for ease of consumption,” Buckley says. “Our stores tell a cohesive story. To make it easy for our customers to shop, we try to have a good representation of all of our product categories on our floors at all times.”