The summer of 2003 was spent deciding how to revive Rasurel, the swimwear line of one of France's leading designers, makers and marketers of lingerie and swimwear, Lejaby. One proposal seriously under consideration was the repositioning of the Rasurel brand.
While industry growth had been slowing since 2000, margins remained high compared to other types of apparel. The main challenges facing the Rasurel were the sudden proliferation of lower-cost competitors, and changing tastes in its core customer base. The brand had become seen as old-fashioned and lacking the essential ingredient for the French market: design creativity. Under investment in human resources and marketing had prevented Rasurel from adequately supporting its brand image. The marketing mix had not evolved since the brand's glory days in the mid-80s when it was the choice of young and fashionable customers. The problem had been exacerbated by the launch of a series of inconsistent collections. Concerted action needed taking immediately if the summer 2004 swimsuit line was to succeed.
The L'Oréal Chaired Professor of Marketing Innovation and Creativity Amitava Chattopadhyay provides a case illustrating the challenges and opportunities inherent to developing an effective brand repositioning strategy in a mature, yet steadily fragmenting market. Rasurel needed to decide whether to offer a line that would hopefully appeal to its most consistently loyal base, mature women, or reposition itself towards younger buyers. The latter tended to spend more, but generally showed far less brand fidelity.
In order to better appreciate the vagaries of the modern market, Rasurel hired a leading marketing company. This firm provided a breakdown of the French feminine swimwear market into five key segments, highly diverse in underlying desires, technical characteristics, and costs for producers. Since nearly all manufacturers only launched one line per year, miscalculating could well prove near fatal.
Fortunately, Rasurel had associations with Lejaby that it could readily leverage. The two divisions shared sales forces, and Rasurel profited from its sister firm's broad distribution network and presence in high turnover sales centres, especially department stores and small, independent boutiques.
But critical decisions demanded immediate attention, particularly regarding pricing and distribution. Should the firm's current price range be maintained in the event of repositioning? The Lejaby sales force tended to concentrate on the core lingerie collections when meeting retailers. Could distribution of Rasurel improve with a new sales strategy?
This case is designed for use in marketing modules for both MBA and executive classes. It provides a comprehensive overview of the issues involved in brand repositioning, especially as they relate to realignment of a firm's value delivery network in support of its rebranding tactics. These involve a delicate balancing act between preserving the brand's essence, while offering a product line, supported by an appropriate marketing mix as well as supporting organizational infrastructure capable of delivering on the current needs of the key target segment.