A Case Study in Brand Differentiation (in multichannel direct marketing)

Jim’s note: Originally written for Catalog Success Magazine.

As a long-time “big and tall shopper,” I only shop from a handful of companies. Two of these happen to be Rochester Big and Tall and Casual Male XL. While owned by the same company, both have positioned themselves to different segments of the big and tall market. Rochester sells more upscale, pricier, higher-end merchandise, while Casual Male offers more affordable apparel. In my opinion, both have done an excellent job of differentiating themselves brandwise on their Web sites and in their stores with the products they offer.

With so little to choose from as a certified “big guy,” I buy from both and am on both of their e-mail lists. This week I received e-mails from both companies, and to my amazement — and a bit of horror — they were essentially the same message and offer. Both carried the same subject line (We want you back! SAVE 20% NOW on your order), showing up in my inbox on the same day within a few hours of each other. And when you open them, you get the same offer (although Casual Male’s offer allows you to “grab” a coupon).

I assume that other big and tall folks out there got the same offer as well. So doesn’t this work directly against their branding? Am I hypersensitive to this because I’m in the business? Does this matter to the average consumer? Take a look at the e-mails for yourself below, and let me know your thoughts.

Rochester Big & Tall EmailCasual Male XL Email

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