In the hypercompetitive world of apparel, most retailers avoid catering to a too-specific market. Not so for Linda Maslechko, co-founder and CEO of Calgary-based clothing chain Triple Flip. The key to success for her company is the single-minded focus Triple Flip places on its customers: the very specific—and very fickle—segment of tween girls.
Although a risky retail strategy, lavishing attention on a particular group of consumers can work well if that group loves you back. If the retailer hits all the right notes, a limited customer base can turn into a rabid core of loyal advocates. And by deepening that relationship, as Triple Flip does, through events, marketing campaigns, contests and blogs that get customers involved, the retailer can build a community around its brand.
As a mom of three girls, Maslechko knows all too well how hard it can be to find clothes for tweens. "I know when I shopped with my daughters, it was never fun," Maslechko says. Clothes didn't fit their shapes or they didn't appeal to the aesthetics of this in-between group. To stay on top of rapidly changing tastes and trends, the company holds customer focus groups a half-dozen times a year with girls and parents, and store employees are always engaging with the girls about what they like and what they need. "Our design team is constantly hearing feedback from the field," says Maslechko.
The clothing sizes reinforce the message that Triple Flip understands this age group. Because tween bodies can range from little girl to nearly woman, Triple Flip designers have plotted 400 measurements and come up with their own range of sizes. "Manufacturers look at this and say, 'No, this can't be right,'" Maslechko explains. "But it's absolutely right for our market."
Beyond the clothes, making the girls feel involved and special is what the Triple Flip experience is all about. The moment shoppers walk into a Triple Flip store, they see giant photos of girls just like them wearing Triple Flip clothes. The company uses its customers in its marketing, and its annual "Be a Flip Girl" contests have become marquee events in which each store selects girls to model clothes for professional photo shoots. The stores even play up the uniqueness of each change room so that trying out the different rooms becomes a new experience. "Girls go into the change room and they come out dancing or doing handstands," says Maslechko.
With 26,000 Facebook fans and a constant stream of photo uploads and chatter on the store website and blog, Triple Flip's social-media presence is absolutely essential to creating a feeling of involvement and belonging around the brand. Customers, dubbed "Flip Girls," post pictures every day of themselves wearing Triple Flip clothes; some even submit design ideas. Their enthusiasm is infectious, says Maslechko, and it creates a feeling that "fun and exciting things happen here."
Read the rest of the retail report for more winning strategies.