Multi-brand retailer community model: How multi-brand retailers can create and manage strong brand communities

Kate Nightingale, Head Consumer Psychologist & Founder, Style Psychology

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Abstract: Department stores are struggling, yet a new breed of multi-brand retailers operating retail-as-service models are thriving. Brand communities are gaining popularity as a next differentiating factor in brand proposition, especially with direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands applying it so successfully and consumers increasingly searching for somewhere to belong, more often than not to tackle growing loneliness. Customers’ trust in brands is increasing, along with the need for brands to address various social issues, both at a local and at a wider social level. The current strategies for creating engaged brand communities, however, are not considering all these consumer behaviour shifts or the varied relationships that multi-brand retailers could incorporate to create more holistic, and therefore even more valuable, brand communities. This paper proposes a new multi-brand retailer community model with three important elements (human, local, brands) and describes strategies used to support each of them.


Keywords: brand community, multi-brand retailer, department stores, community, customer loyalty, employee engagement


Kate Nightingale is a consumer psychologist and human brands expert. In 2013 she founded Style Psychology Ltd, a human experience consultancy working with clients in retail, hospitality and tech across strategy, customer experience and innovation. Their mission is to create a better world by making brands more human. Their clients stretch from start-ups like sofa in a box brand Snug, through medium-sized businesses like homeware retailer Dowsing & Reynolds, to global brands like Swarovski. Kate also lectures at Regent’s University, London College of Fashion and ELLE Education. She is often approached for press comments appearing in Forbes, Retail Week and Vogue Business. Kate is often asked to deliver keynote speeches at conferences, including Future Stores, Future Branches and Retail Week Masterclass.

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