(Source: Entrepreneur Philippines | 12 August 2016)
Despite being one of the oldest in-house brands of the SM Store, Parisian, a line of shoes and bags for women, remains to be in fashion, thanks mostly to the multi-pronged measures undertaken by the retail giant in the last nine years.
This was revealed by Eugene Saw, the head of SM Store’s shoes and bags department, when he spoke during the first day of the recently concluded National Retail Conference. In his speech, “Transforming a Brand: Parisian’s Cinderella Story in the Digital Age,” Saw said that the decades old Parisian line—despite intense local and foreign competition—continues to net billions of pesos in annual sales. Saw credits this on-going success to SM Store’s recent attempts to strengthen the line’s merchandising team, grow its marketing team, rationalize its brand identity and expand its inventory to introduce new design concepts and attract various clients.
“It has not only survived,” Saw said. “It is now widely considered a brand that the millennials look up to.”
Best foot forward
In a video Saw presented during the plenary, it was stated that the Parisian line is one of the pioneer in-house brands of the SM Store which, during its earlier days, was known as the Shoemart Department Store. The first SM store was launched by local business magnate Henry Sy, Sr. during 1958 and Parisian soon became one of its primary brands, an accessory to SM’s intergenerational expansions from one store in Quiapo, Manila, to the over-200-outlet juggernaut that it is today.
To sustain the brand’s longevity, however, Saw said that it was necessary for SM Store to take huge steps in marketing Parisian. These steps, he said, began about nine years ago starting with changes inside the organization.
An example of these is the incorporation of specialist personnel selling Parisian shoes. Calling these personnel “the most effective Parisian brand ambassadors” who are “armed with the latest product trends,” Saw said that the inclusion of these personnel at the frontlines allowed SM Store branches to effectively discuss their products to shoppers. Complementing these adjustments were the renovations made inside their stores to ensure that the brand is well represented.
“This made sure that customers will have a complete shopping experience whenever they look for the right pair of shoes for different occasions,” Saw said.
Changes have also been made on the merchandising front. Saw said that back end updates included the incorporation of people who can relate to Parisian customers. “Whereas before we have a roster full of experienced veterans with an average age of 50, with tenures of not less than 25 years with the company, we now have a more balanced mix of employees with a good understanding of what the latest fashion trend is all about,” he said.
Changes to the Parisian line’s merchandising also included the simplification of the brand. Expounding on this, Saw retold the story of Parisian Jr., a now-defunct subset of the Parisian brand that once catered to younger customers. Saw said that the subset has “outlived” its purpose and was therefore incorporated into the main brand.
“That decision benefited us in a lot of ways,” he said. “For marketing, it allowed us to focus our budget in pushing a sole Parisian brand; for merchandising, it eliminated a lot of style duplication. And for selling operations, it allowed us to have better use of the selling space with more efficiency.”