PROJECT: Charming Charlie, a women's fashion accessory boutique based in Houston, Texas, with only seven locations, had to attain certain performance benchmarks over the course of a year in order to secure financial backing for its planned expansion into new markets. To better reach their financial objectives, Charming Charlie retained Freed to create marketing initiatives that would increase awareness for the brand, drive traffic to existing and new stores, and establish a brand platform that would position them as a national player well into the future. Through research results gathered from focus groups, customer surveys and demographic data, Freed determined that the client had several challenges, including no visible brand identity among consumers, an inconsistent look across stores, and the brand suffered from a "discount warehouse" image among its target audience.
SOLUTION: Freed began Charming Charlie's brand makeover with a new logo that conveyed the stores' fun yet elegant shopping style. From there, every customer touch point was upgraded or newly created to reflect the new image, including signage, advertising, sales promotions, rewards program, in-store displays, shopping bags and jewelry tags. With a limited budget, advertising concentrated primarily on promoting store openings in new markets, which was focused on initiating newcomers to the brand and inviting them to experience the fashion wonderland that was coming to town. In the Houston market, the campaign strategy centered on heavy use of radio in combination with several newspaper inserts promoting the fashion stores during the holidays. In order to encourage repeat visits, the agency made it convenient and worthwhile to join the retailer's loyalty program, including using coupons to entice customers to register, thereby building a large database of Charming Charlie fans that were kept updated on store promotions.
RESULTS: Freed's brand makeover was successful in changing the perception of Charming Charlie as a "chaotic bazaar" to that of a stylish, yet uniquely affordable, fashion accessories boutique. As a result of the buzz generated by the advertising campaign, the retailer saw average stores sales increase across the board, double-digit same store sales increase during key sales seasons, and highly successful store openings in new markets followed by sustained sales, all of which helped place Charming Charlie on target for all its growth goals and plans for continued expansion. Since Freed's complete overhaul of the brand and marketing strategies, Charming Charlie can now be found in 23 states across the country with just under 100 stores, and more locations being added each month.