Brand has to be available both mentally and physically. Mental availability gives customers reason to think about your brand, before they are even considering of making a purchase. For achieving mental availability, brand message has to be clear and easily remembered.
For example, when you think about purchasing new quality sexy women’s underwear, first thing that might pop into your head is “Victoria’s secret”. Of course you can also think of many other stores and brands such as Change lingerie or a department store selling lingerie, but that is exactly the type of mental availability brand has to gain – to be there, in people’s mind, when they think about a different products, and be memorable for the future reference.
Physical availability on the other hand, are the products themselves on shop shelves and in stock (image above, Volcom online store), that customers can get where and when they want the product. It is the breadth and depth of distribution in time and space. (Gebert 2015).
With the brand strategy, you need to decide how broadly you want to distribute your label and brand items. Do you want to be always available, in store and online? How quickly is your brand going to respond, if the most popular items are sold out and what is the next step?
For example, many luxury handbags brands will distribute one of their latest models with only one piece per store. It makes the handbags more desirable, unique and increases the value of the bag. It makes the bag available everywhere, but not for everyone.
Another relatively recent example is H&M x Balmain collection. There was only a limited amount of sizes, per shops, per country worldwide. So even though H&M has many shops in one country, the collection wasn’t available everywhere. Even H&M website had limitations, that you were able to purchase only one item per product from this collection. With these limitations and narrowed availability, Balmain collections we’re sold out very quickly. (Mondalek 2015)
So what do you need to do?
If you are a designer, you need to create a time-frame of how long does it take for your design to actually end up into the store. Remember, your products can be promoted before they even hit the store, to gain that mental availability through advertising and different marketing strategies.
With this time-frame, you can easily see, when your designs go into production (factory) and how long will it take to get them in to the stock. You don’t want to keep your customers waiting for too long from the moment you promote to the actual point when your customers want the item to be available for purchase.
If you own a retail store or an eCommerce store, you should ask from different brand owners what are their delivery dates, and can you possibly re-stock on the items you’ve chosen to sell. It is important to act quickly, so you don’t end up with empty shelf’s.
By learning your customers shopping habits, and how they perceive the needs of new products (eg. when exactly your potential customer thinks of buying a new winter jacket?), you can create brand and product awareness by analysing collected data.