You’re the one that I want
Brands that have a narrow product range or even just a single product, are enjoying increasing success. These brands range from the luxury end with Shrimps’ faux fur jackets and Mansur Gavriel’s bucket bags (seen above), to the more mission-orientated purchases of Chinos from Spoke and swimwear from Triangl.
Part of the reason for the greater presence of these brands is social media. Kiini creator Ipek Irgit said of her narrow swimwear offer that a wider range “wouldn’t have had the chance to grasp the attention of the social media culture of our times.”
Perhaps more importantly, social media has allowed mono-brands to more effectively market their products to their target customers. This particularly helps menswear products: without Facebook algorithms, Spoke’s carefully calibrated range of chinos or Casavva’s flannel shirts would be unlikely to grab the attention of such a large number of male shoppers, many of whom are less interested in browsing a full range.
Having fewer items also provides more space to tell the product’s story. Toms paved the way in this regard, committing space to telling customers of its ethical mission that larger ranged brands could less afford to do. As attention to sustainability has grown, so too have mono-brands building on this message, such as Nudie Jeans and Organic Threads.
While having a high street store for a single product becomes less viable, that doesn’t rule out the opportunities of having a physical presence. As many single-product companies consider their brands to be focused around authenticity and uniqueness, pop-up retail, which reflects these characteristics very effectively, provides a great opportunity for a physical space.
The risks to mono-brands are perhaps obvious; without diversification, only the most timeless or practical product can support a brand’s long-term existence (Think Crocs - we can each decide for ourselves whether Crocs is timeless or practical…)
This begs the question of how best to diversify, and when. Answering these questions requires a robust brand framework and a commercial strategy that guides when an expansion should take place.
So while some mono-brands have made continuing success from one product (think Canada Goose, Toms), others have diversified with success. Shrimps now offers pyjamas and Mansur Gavriel has started to sell shoes, coats and knitwear.
Compare these to unsuccessful diversifications: Havaianas, famed for flip flops, started selling wellingtons in 2013. Samsonite attempted to sell outerwear. These examples evidence the importance of understanding your customer and what your brand means to them. Having one product is enough to get consumers’ attention, but getting a range expansion wrong risks devaluing that halo product.