3 Ways to Align Your Marketing Strategy with Your Retailer's


Retail co-branding gives both brand and retailer exposure and credibility with audiences they may not have been able to reach on their own. But aligning brand and retail strategies can be a challenge with significant effects on the success of the partnership. Before you begin a new partnership, and even if you currently work with retailers to do co-brand marketing, take a step back and examine these three areas that are crucial to successful retail co-branding strategy.

Understand Your Target Audience Segments

You know who you’re trying to reach. But what do you actually know about them? Go beyond demographics and get to know the actual people within your target audience.

  • Use Detailed Personas. Create personas that show the pain points of each group you’re targeting. Describe their decision-making process. Identify what’s important about your product to each persona.
  • Go Beyond Demographics. Your target customer might be women in their mid-30s with a household income over $100k. But is she a cost-conscious mom trying to find some room within her budget for herself? Is she a busy professional that wants the best? Is she style-conscious? You can’t know the answers to these questions without researching beyond demographic statistics.
  • Know Why Your Brand Matters. It’s not enough to simply identify your target market. You also have to understand what problem is resolved by your product. Know what makes this group choose your product over the others in the marketplace.


Knowing who your target segments are and what makes them tick is crucial when planning marketing tactics with your retail partners in mind.

  • Understand Your Retailers. Different retailers appeal to different buyers. If you understand who you’re trying to reach, you’ll know where and how those people prefer to shop.
  • Align Audiences. Make sure there is a natural fit between the retailer, your audience, and the values of that audience. When all three are on the same page, the co-branding you do with a retailer will have a much higher rate of success.

Build Your Customer Journeys

Brands that improve their customer journeys see their revenues increase by 10 to 15 percent, while also reducing their costs to market to those customers. However, you can’t improve the customer journey until you know what it is. Don’t forget that each target persona has a unique customer experience which must be reflected in their customer journey.

  • Learn Your Customer’s Approach. How they identify needs for new products, how they conduct research, and how they eventually buy informs your customer journey more than demographic factors.
  • Starting the Journey. What’s the trigger that causes a persona to look for a new product? Maybe something breaks, or maybe the customer’s style changes. Or maybe the customer hasn’t kept up on what’s new and wants to get up to speed.
  • Gathering Information. How does your persona learn about the options available? Do they browse social media for inspiration? Do they go to industry-specific resources to understand the latest features? Do they ask friends and family for recommendations?
  • Consideration. Perhaps your persona likes to go into the store to see and try out the item they’re contemplating. They may also order a sample or product demo. Or, especially in today’s marketplace, they may prefer to stay home and look for ways to interact with products virtually or wait until after they purchase to interact, with the expectation of convenient returns if it doesn’t work out.
  • Making the Purchase. What’s the most important factor that makes a particular persona buy? Will they wait for a sale, or do they just want it right now? How much does price matter to them? Do they look to others, via social media or influencers, for approval or confirmation before buying?


Understanding each of your persona’s path to purchase will help you as you work with your retail partners. You’ll be able to develop campaigns that hit at the right points with the right message. Here’s an example of how retailers and brands can work together to attract a customer whose journey is already mapped out.

  • Early-Stage Communications. At the awareness level, customers are becoming aware of their issue or need, and are most receptive to brand messages focused on their pain points. Co-branded communications with customers should be brand-specific, with subtle mentions where they might find that brand at retail.
  • Middle of the Journey. Customers are comparing options at this point, and it makes sense to overtly tie the brand and retailer together, cementing the retailer as the customer’s destination when they’re ready to check out the product.
  • Closing the Deal. What pushes customers over the edge into a purchase is typically the opportunity to get a great deal on a great product and brand—be it a bundle, a savings event, a coupon, or a gift with a purchase. These promotions most often happen at the retailer level, so they should take center stage to encourage the customer to purchase the brand from that retailer.

Align Unique Selling Propositions

Your unique selling proposition (USP) is what sets you apart from the competition. This should influence the story your brand tells about itself, as well as the journeys of your customers.

  • Adapt to Changing Situations. Different personas respond to different USPs at various stages of their journey. For example, superior customer service may be important to one persona during consideration, as they like to talk to brand or sales representatives and have lots of questions. Another persona may find customer service most important when they’re making a decision, because they want hassle-free returns. Be sure to account for this in your internal analysis, documentation, and implementation.
  • Monitor Change. Your USP might not be unique after a while, especially if competitors try to imitate your approach. Additionally, your USPs might not resonate with personas in the same ways as before as their buying behavior changes. 

If your USPs align with those of your retail partner, it’ll help you to create seamless marketing strategies that resonate even more powerfully with your audience.

  • Synergy. The brand and retailer appear as equals and true partners.
  • Equal Impressions. The customer develops an equally favorable opinion about both the brand and retailer, without one taking precedence over the other.
  • Increased Loyalty. Customers with positive experiences will be more loyal to both the brand and retailer for future purchases. This loyalty also lends itself well to cross-selling and upgrades.

When both sides of a co-branding partnership target the same personas, have the same philosophy about the customer journey, and have comparable USPs, your marketing strategy is much more likely to be successful. You’ll not only see success in increased revenue, but also in more satisfied customers who are likely to tell others about their experiences and become repeat shoppers in the future.

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