The Society Shop’s Unclear Positioning: An Obstacle to Success

The Society Shop’s Unclear Positioning: An Obstacle to Success
Massive billboards along highways and in cities advertising ‘2 pairs of shoes for €199.50’ might seem too good to be true. Even if these are indeed quality shoes, the message is confusing. The ‘AEX’ stunt, offering suits at the closing price of the AEX index, matches the target audience’s expectations, associating the business suit with the stock exchange. But then, visiting their website, you find jackets priced at €1,500, leading to confusion about the initial perception.

To address this positioning dilemma, we compare The Society Shop’s positioning with two other renowned menswear stores.

The Society Shop Positioning

Starting as a shirt shop in Amsterdam in 1936, The Society Shop expanded rapidly post-war, boasting 40 stores in the 1980s. However, the 90s saw a decline, leading to a management buy-out in 1995. Attempts to rebrand, including a short-lived name change to Soc13ty, highlighted ’13 secrets’ of their tailored clothing, yet the original name was reinstated after two years due to the rebranding’s lack of success.

Contrastingly, Oger Lusink, former commercial director at The Society Shop, founded his own Amsterdam fashion store in 1990, gaining national fame for exclusive suits. Oger successfully positions itself in the high-end market, emphasizing its exclusive collection. This is in stark contrast to Suit Supply’s focus on affordability and convenience with its Italian suits. Both Oger and Suit Supply maintain a focused communication strategy, despite exploring other areas like Oger’s entry-level Red Suit and Suit Supply’s custom-tailoring service, Suit Up.

The Society Shop, aiming for a market position between high-end customization and affordability, fails to clearly communicate its identity. Despite its emphasis on tailored service and ’13 secrets’, the marketing focuses on discounted suits and shoes, leading to a misalignment with its claimed market position. This ‘blind spot’ suggests a mismatch between market perception and actual identity. Unfortunately, with Suit Supply and Oger comfortably occupying the market segments The Society Shop struggles to define itself between, it’s unlikely that the market will reconcile this discrepancy on its own.”

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