Vanella Jackson wonders whether Dr Martens’ recent IPO will affect consumer perception of the brand, and looks at how it might continue to protect its brand status as it moves forward and expands.
Dr Martens’ January IPO was was eight times oversubscribed, so big news in the city. Consumers, however, don’t really care about the stock market – but they will notice if their much-loved, iconic British brand changes direction.
It all depends on the company’s growth strategy. There’s always a crisis point when owners hand over and sell a company, but it depends on the direction the management are going to take. Do they have the same priorities? Will they stick to the true nature of the brand strategy? There’s always a risk of that changing.
Dr Martens is a fantastic brand when it comes to sticking to what it originally set out to do; it is all about tradition and authenticity. But what it has also managed to do is constantly reinvent what that means and stay relevant. Its future will depend on how well it continues to adapt and re-interpret that traditional authenticity to meet current consumer needs.
Right now, those needs are about what people will value coming out of this period of craziness that we’re all in. What are consumers going to want? We’re seeing consumer values shifting quite considerably at the moment. One of the things that is definitely emerging is brands becoming more socially conscious and behaving more responsibly – and Dr Martens is a brand that is already ahead of that trend.
It has also been very personalised and very targeted with its marketing, without compromising the quality of the product. The familiar style doesn’t have to be the same for everybody – witness, for example, the launch of a range for young kids, creating boots in fantastic fashion colours and with celebrity endorsements.
Dr Martens’ sales figures have continued to rise despite the impact of COVID-related restrictions on its high-street stores (group revenues for the six months to September 2020, at £318.2m, were up 18% on the previous year). The company has been selling more of its products directly to consumers, allowing it to improve the way it talks about its brand, and in doing so collect valuable consumer data.
This is a trend that’s been accelerated throughout the current pandemic. It gives a brand an opportunity to have a more one-to-one relationship with its customers and understand more about them and what their interests are. That opportunity to get the right product, perfectly tailored and personalised to an individual, is only going to grow as e-commerce continues to flourish. Any brand that isn’t looking at that is going to miss the tide.