Assessing the French Connection Brand

Each week in association with retail and marketing consultancy Pragma, MarketingWeek.co.uk looks at a high-profile UK brand, assessing its performance against a range of criteria and offering suggestions to improve its overall score. Marks for each section are given out of five stars, while the overall rating is given at the end of the review.

Brand**

French Connection has suffered over the last few years due to a significant shift in positioning from the younger FCUK branding to a more expensive and stylish label. This has resulted in the alienation of former customers. Confusion over the brand positioning remains; this does not bode well for sales as recovery may be slow. A strong marketing campaign that clearly outlines the ‘new’ brand would be instrumental in aiding this recovery.

Experience***

Stores are slick and modern. Glass, pine and chrome dominate the store meaning the store is in keeping with the re-branding that has taken place. The layout is functional and staff are helpful and friendly. It may be suggested that it may be beneficial to display the products more creatively.

Product***

At the time of research stores were in full sale mode, having started significantly before the majority of high street stores. The products are of a high quality and the winter collection is strong, with items such as the ‘serpent dress’ receiving press coverage. However, strong winter ranges in Warehouse, Reiss and M&S which have a similar target market means that French Connection requires something unique in order to both retain and pull in customers.

Value Positioning**

The entry price point of the offer is a key barrier for customers. For those growing up with the FCUK brand, £20 would be sufficient to buy into the brand. However the entry price for the majority of the range is now around double that. There are few pieces in the £25-£35 price range, which makes the brand less accessible than it once was. In a high street where the middle market is suffering a squeeze from value and premium retailers, originality is key.

Recommendations

1. Continue to develop the product, offering unique iconic pieces that stand out on the high street.

2. Consider sub-brand(s) that offer a more affordable product.

3. Consider tweaking store layouts to highlight key products, offer outfit suggestions and highlight hot items.

French Connection ***

www.pragmauk.com

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