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    HomeLifestyleCan Your Company Be a True Lifestyle Brand?

    Can Your Company Be a True Lifestyle Brand?

    Afraid to take a page out of the lifestyle brand playbook? Those days are done.

    This is the first in a multi-part series on the rapid evolution of maturation of “lifestyle brands” and how their customer- and community-first strategies are redefining what it means to be a successful business.

    It’s become cliche to say that the pandemic is ushering new ways of conducting business. One that hasn’t been talked about enough and has recently been an obsession of mine is how the path to sustained growth — by growth I mean more market share and revenue — has changed dramatically over the past few years. Any entry level textbook on entrepreneurship and scale will tell you that first you need to have an excellent product with market fit. You find customers, nurture them into loyal customers, and then you either refine or expand said product, or take your learnings to develop new products.

    That path is done. Welcome to the era of purpose-fueled growth.

    Businesses Are Defined By the Power of Purpose

    Businesses are increasingly being defined less by the quality of their products and more by the power of their purpose. This is changing how business should plan for growth.

    Today, after taking the plunge into entrepreneurship with an excellent product, the next step is not to build out as large a target market as quickly as possible and then refine and expand products, but to go in the opposite direction: Build a niche brand, and then build a lifestyle brand.

    In 2008, WIRED magazine co-founder Kevin Kelley wrote an influential article about brand building entitled “1,000 true fans.” Kelley argued that an entrepreneur needs only about 1,000 true fans — those defined as raving repeat customers — to build a successful business for themselves. This, in essence, is the underlying foundation of what are now called “niche brands”: Build not a good product for many, but a perfect product for few.

    With the rise of highly personalized ad targeting campaigns made possible by innovations in marketing technology, niche brands saw unprecedented success in the 2010s. Brands such as Jacamos (clothing for tall men), Lefty’s (products for left-handed people) and August (services for homeowners renting out their homes) generated bottom lines and legacies for which their founders could be proud.

    Related Article: 3 Ways CX Can Become a Driver of Business Strategy

    Lifestyle Brands Stand for Something

    However, for the uber ambitious entrepreneur, niche brands beg the question: is it possible to tap into the power that comes with a highly curated customer community and combine it with the awareness of much larger brands? The answer, as we’ve seen most recently, is with the rapid rise of what I call “lifestyle brands.”

    Lifestyle brands are just as customer- and community-driven as their niche brand counterparts. And therefore, they are just as defined by the consumers with whom they don’t do business. For example, in the niche brand world, a right-handed person would try in vain to find a good pair of scissors on Lefty’s. However, lifestyle brands define who their communities are and aren’t on purpose and mission, not product. Many lifestyle brands cater to righties and lefties, but in different senses of those words.

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