Brands as retailers: A smart idea?

A debate at RetailWire about the merits of brands running their own retail stores, in addition to outside distribution. I’m all for it, as long as the company in question leverages its retail expertise to help its accounts drive more profitable sales:

The best example of a brand selling its product in its own stores while distributing to other channels is Apple. The Apple Store has done wonders for the company’s brand image and pricing power in the marketplace, and consumers see very little discounting in other channels like Best Buy, Target and Walmart.

But walk through any mall and you will see other examples of brands following their own retail path. Many of these are accessory businesses — shoes, watches, handbags, and so on — and some of them are at “better” rather than designer price points. What many of these brands have in common is better control over their own product development and brand image, helping them to build leverage and avoid becoming promotional “footballs” in department stores and elsewhere.

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