"It's a whole new rodeo" for Wrangler, which found that its younger customers were straying. Its 10-year-old premium Western brand 20X had begun as a contemporary style, but as it remained popular with its aging market, younger shoppers could not see themselves wearing the brand. Instead, they were following the herd into mass merchants and specialty stores.
So Wrangler, a division of VF Corp. (Greensboro, N.C.), asked Whole-Brained Creative (Granville, Ohio) to re-energize the brand, repositioning it to grab the attention of shoppers in their teens and twenties.
Whole-Brained's consumer research found that differentiating the genders for this age group was very important. "The existing 20X products had the same packaging, look and feel," says the firm's president, Scott Sommers. "When the men's and women's merchandise was next to each other, customers couldn't tell the difference between the two. Women were offended - they didn't want to wear masculine clothing."
To differentiate the looks both in product design and shop concept, Whole-Brained created a new 20X logo with a bold, prominent "X." The men's logo features a dark blue palette with Roman script; women's is a bright red in italic; and non-gender-specific appears in olive.
"We also wrote the tagline, 'It's A Whole New Rodeo,' which captures what our research told us," says Sommers. "This set the stage for presenting the newly styled product, more suitable for everyday wear - looser, baggier and more in tune with fashion for men, and more feminine than traditional Western clothes for women."
In addition to the logo and packaging, Whole-Brained created a three-tiered shop-in-shop merchandising program for the Western specialty channel. Different retail environments in this channel required a variety of options, so designers came up with three shops to make the concept affordable to anyone who markets the Wrangler product. Traditional cowboy elements were blended with more modern materials.
"We call it industrial-meets-Western - the urban barn," says Sommers. "Shop A is the largest program, with graphics, lighting, fixtures and flooring to help build the brand. Shop B is scaled down a bit, requiring less square footage and fewer fixtures. Shop C is smaller yet, entry-level or for stores that don't do a ton of 20X business. Denim is typically merchandised on the back wall, but with these shops, retailers can place the jeans right up front."
Whole-Brained designed a variety of fixtures (made by National Mallfront & Design, Phoenix) that combine industrial and vintage with a Western, edgy feel. Research showed that new and shiny wasn't cool for the target market, so every surface is raw or weathered. The fixtures were designed to house both folded and hanging merchandise, face-out or sleeve-out and display outfit presentations to cross-sell jeans, shirts and accessories. In addition, each fixture features space for signage and has the 20X logo built in, sprayed on or stamped in.
The Whole-Brained point-of-sale program required graphic imagery illustrating younger lifestyles and attitudes. "We helped develop the 20X Celebrity Search, a contest open to all members of the National High School Rodeo Association in North America and Australia," says Sommers.
Photography of the winners was taken in and around the rodeo with dune buggies, rock climbing, in ATVs and urban settings and even on a simulated beach. The result was a library of lifestyle images that reinforce the brand's rebirth.
"From product to ticketing, graphics, shop design and photography, it's a whole new rodeo for Wrangler and its retailers," says Sommers.
Client: Wrangler/VF Jeanswear, Greensboro, N.C.
Robin Rich and Edyie Brooks-Bryant, senior marketing managers
Starr Faircloth, marketing coordinator
Tara Jenkins, in-store coordinator
Design: Whole-Brained Creative, Granville, Ohio
Scott Sommers, president/creative director
Laura Sommers, vp/copy director
Dan Stanek, strategist
Dave Butler and Shonna Dowers, graphic design
Outside Design Consultant: Mark Scott, Los Angeles (lifestyle photography)
Fixtures: Whole-Brained Creative, Granville, Ohio
National Mallfront & Design, Phoenix
Flooring, Lighting, Props and Decoratives, Signage/Graphics: National Mallfront & Design, Phoenix
Photography: Ty Woodhall, Octane, Tempe, Ariz.