Q1: Wrangler is among the top 3 to 5 brands in a crowded marketplace of over 20 brands in every department store. What did you have to do to earn that?
Magnificent Jeans, Inc. took over the helm of Wrangler in the Philippines in May 2009. The takeover was abrupt and we did not have the benefit of having a transitional phase. The brand was practically no longer existent in the minds of the new breed of Filipinos and its internal processes were all in shambles. We knew we were facing an uphill climb but we persisted with the belief that there was a good fighting chance Wrangler can be revived, banking on its name recall as an international denim brand.
First, a good team had to be assembled together. Next, we had to flush out the old merchandise and simultaneously, fix the supply chain and do the preparation to rollout the fresh stocks. All branches and stores nationwide had to be studied carefully for rationalization, expansion or relocation. A new store master file had to be put together to cover localized needs for a more productive allocation system. It took us a year and three months to fix all the internal problems. We made sure merchandise was fresh, stores looked new and all other back-end supports were in place. Over and above these initiatives, the last and most challenging task was to overhaul the brand image. Finally, Wrangler was successfully re-launched in September 2010 through a huge event in one of the popular malls.
Q2: Fashion can sometimes be a hit-or-miss thing. How do you ensure the brand Wrangler stays relevant in the marketplace?
I believe that all successful brands always start and end with great products, is synergized with aggressive marketing, correct branching categories, and has a good team and a clear strategic plan. However, as a comeback brand, I was aware that the challenge is twice over because we had a poor brand imagery to erase and replace in the minds of the market.
We repositioned the target market to the younger generation. Then, we changed our brand’s logo, came up with more experimental denim styles and fits. Heavy investments went to renovating our stores to have a new, edgier look, coupled with strong visual merchandise. To cap it all, we set out to execute several marketing innovations that totally changed the way the market perceived us.
Innovation will always be of utmost priority for my team. We continue to look for ways to improve quality, produce fresh merchandise, build exciting stores and displays and create marketing hype. The fashion retail industry is very dynamic and the battleground has become very competitive over the past few years due to the influx of imported brands. It’s important to always focus on what our consumers want and offer it to them at the best-perceived value.
Q3:What are the roles of strong geographical and/or channel strategy in enabling Wrangler to dominate?
The geography of the Philippines makes for a very interesting and challenging effort to understand the dynamics of each town and city. Each outlet/branch is carefully analyzed because we want to localize the needs but at the same time still be consistent with the new image of Wrangler in the country and globally. Certain merchandise collections are tailor-fit to a certain store profile to maximize customer’s market preference.
We are already very well entrenched in the department stores but will continue to explore expansions with our trade partners, especially in the provincial areas. Expansion in the boutiques will definitely help boost the brand’s image and at the same time, bring in the revenues. We keep an open mind for all other new distribution channels and product extensions to sustain the continuous growth and expansion of Wrangler in the Philippines.
Bestselling author Josiah Go is the Chairman and Chief Marketing Strategist of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc. (the leading marketing and sales training company in the Philippines), President and CEO of Waters Philippines (the market leader in the direct selling of premium health durable products in the Philippines) and President and CEO of PT Noah Health Indonesia. He is Chairman / Vice Chairman / Director of over a dozen companies.