The Secrets of Becoming a Top Accessories Brand

Most people don’t spend too much time thinking about accessories as anything more than simple add-ons that play supporting roles to increase the benefits of their favorite products. But those of us in the accessory manufacturing business see the show differently: our inventions are the stars.

Yet, in the consumer technology industry, where innovation is busting at the seams, simply being a star doesn’t always translate into success. And for new brands, especially, becoming a household name may seem an impossible goal. I’ve learned that success is attainable through a recipe of one part creativity, one part dedication and a dash of optimism.

Before reading on, pause for a moment and put yourself in the shoe’s of your customer. Think about the dizzying array of choices consumers have: something to suit every taste, items that offer different features and benefits, all at varying price points. As consumers we crave that breadth of choice, and in our hunt for enhancement products, we demand it. From a manufacturer’s perspective, that’s the beauty of our business.

Because of a vast range of needs, there are endless opportunities for brands to develop products that fill many holes. Yet on the other hand, with so many choices, it becomes critical for manufacturers to find a way to shine brighter than the rest – to be enticing enough to be the product plucked from the shelves. But how? That’s the million-dollar question. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.

Shoot for the Bull’s Eye

Those of us in the accessories business know how tempting it is to want to offer it all, thinking that will increases our chance to touch as many people as possible with our brand. If you’re the manufacturer of phone cases, perhaps it makes sense to offer cases that extend battery life, are waterproof and come bejeweled in every color of the rainbow. While there’s a certain upside to being everything to everyone, that strategy can also take your eye off the ball—and that’s especially true for new brands trying to break into a crowded space.

Suggestion: hone in on the thing(s) you do well, and do that better than anyone else. In our case, rippling the waters of the sport headphones category required a unique design (one that doesn’t block the ears) and an equally nontraditional way to transfer sound (bone conduction). Don’t be afraid to pioneer a new category with your product in order to carve out your niche.

Solve a Problem

The accessories that withstand the test of time do more than just add value; they solve a problem. Brands that bring products to the table that don’t solve a need won’t have a chance at establishing name recognition or long-term loyalty. For example, we found that a problem for many sport headphone users was safety and discomfort. Tip for new brands: take that concept one step further and shape the brand to become synonymous with a solution.

Utilize all Available Resources

Building a brand is a big job, so it’s important to take advantage of every resource available. Invest in membership with organizations that offer assets and deliver networking opportunities. We’ve found great value in becoming a member of CEA. It offers companies of every size benefits like research that can highlight market opportunities, educational websites packed with instructional tools and even media opportunities that can establish a brand’s name in the public domain.

Draft your Team Wisely

A brand is only as good as the team behind the scenes, so choose the best people for every job. Many new brands begin with a skeleton staff of just the critical basics. The backbone should be an executive team you trust will stay on mission. Customer service is key and should be owned by your most patient, compassionate and resourceful personality. When it comes to sales, representative forces allow brands to cover more ground efficiently. But choosing sales representatives should be more strategic than a simple territory puzzle. Choose representatives that believe in your brand, that stand behind the solution you offer or even serve a niche channel. When you get to the point of finding retail and distribution partners to deliver your product to the masses, choose those that value quality and whose principles mirror yours.

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Comments
  • Robert Heiblim

    Nicely put Bruce, good solid advice.

  • Danny

    Robert: I liked your article on accessories and product development and building a brand name. Having been in the accessory business for 30 + years as V.P of Recoton( at one time in the 90’s the largest accessory company) and now consulting for a few new companies. You are right on target the field is crowded and the players are crowding the arena. As I observed at CES the Apple fatigue coming in to the market place and the pitfalls which come with that.
    But it is the accessory business that pumps up the margin in a field that eats it’s young with price erosion.As a former buyer and V.P of sales and marketing each day bring challenges and the opportunity to develop new products and programs to enhance hardware and the bottom line. Some of the largest retailers still miss the boat with lackluster attempts in this area of 50% plus profit. If you would like to discuss some of the issues just reach out……………