In a time when resources are stretched, time is money and consumers have more choices (and shorter attention spans), partnerships make good business sense. Whether they’re traditional or non-traditional, expected or unexpected, collaborations can build brand awareness and boost your audience considerably. And because you’re combining resources, efforts and customer bases, it’s a highly effective way to get more bang for your buck.
Partnerships can help companies raise their profile, gain new customers, open up new streams of revenue and/or spread goodwill. In particular, retailers might want to consider partnering with a product company, nonprofit, restaurant, other local business or even another retailer.
Here are some examples.
Even if you never try a mustard-flavored Skittle, the recent unlikely partnership between French’s Mustard and Mars candy company is one you’ll likely not forget soon. And that says a lot in today’s information-saturated world.
Their recent collaboration on a limited-time flavor generated an incredible amount of coverage on traditional and social media, generating millions of views for both companies and increasing brand awareness. It successfully boosted the audience for both companies since it involves a legacy brand and a brand that appeals primarily to young people. And since it was so unique and cleverly promoted, many people not connected to either brand likely read or saw something about it.
It’s actually the fifth year in a row French’s has partnered with a food company on a mustard-inspired item. As for Mars, it made sense for them because “Skittles is always looking to inspire moments of everyday happiness and deliver unexpected ways for fans to experience the brand,” said Ro Cheng, Mars marketing director.
Expanding Your Reach
Some may think all retailers compete against each other, but sellers can actually expand their reach by working together. It’s a concept that seems to be gaining steam recently thanks to large-scale collaborations such as the ones between Kohl’s and Sephora, as well as Target and Ulta Beauty.
More recently, Lowe’s and Petco announced they are expanding their pilot partnership. By the end of 2023, there will be Petco store-in-store options offered in 300 Lowe’s stores. The program focuses on expanding access to pet supplies and veterinary care in rural communities.
“Our initial pilot program with Petco resonated with our existing, loyal shoppers and introduced new customers to Lowe’s,” said Bill Boltz, Lowe’s executive vice president of merchandising. “Partnering with top brands that our customers know and trust, like Petco, allows Lowe’s to continue elevating and localizing our curated assortment to ensure we have the right products in the right markets.”
“We’re delighted to bring Petco’s pet care expertise, combined with our health and wellness merchandise and veterinary services, to even more pet parents as we scale up to hundreds of Lowe’s locations across the country,” said Amy College, Petco chief merchandising officer.
Celebrating Local Communities
Partnerships aren’t just for mass market retailers. In many cases, small businesses may have an easier time experimenting with partnerships in their communities. But the end result can be just as compelling.
“At the end of the day, small business collaboration is all about creating win-win relationships with other small businesses who serve similar audiences,” according to Shopify. “You don’t have to have some massive partnership: reach out to other small business owners and try a small-scale business collaboration.”
Using a strategic goal as a guide, local retailers can think about people, businesses or organizations in their communities who complement their area of expertise, can help them expand their audience or serve a community need. These could be individuals like artisans, decorators, chefs and wellness experts, as well as organizations such as product companies, other stores, service-oriented companies and non-profit organizations.