Consider the following:
Now, ask yourself: just by how you feel looking at the two “exhibits,” Which would you buy? This is how Rapha has separated itself from the rest of the field. It isn’t making products that are better, necessarily, it’s creating a lifestyle that is more appealing.
In this interview, Rapha founder Simon Mottram says, “What we wanted to create was a brand for a certain type of person that was absolutely for that person. So it was everything to some people and nothing to some people.”
“It was such a risky proposition to say you could go into a market called cycling apparel and accessories, which nobody knew. Ten years ago, people just weren’t thinking about it. And to say that, with no experience of garment manufacturing or Internet retail, I could come in and sell clothes to men online around cycling, and do it at a price that was 30-50% higher than anybody else in the market using the principles of luxury branding.”
And in cycling, they’ve achieved it. Granted, not everyone loves Rapha. But they don’t need everyone to love them. Heck, they don’t really want everyone to love them. And because they’ve been so successful at establishing a luxury brand, they’ve been able to branch out, making documentaries, sponsoring teams, sponsoring rides, etc.
At the end of the day, when consumers are shopping, it isn’t just about the product. Sure, a crappy product will put you out of business: having quality is still the most important part. But you can have all the quality in the world, but if you market like Exhibit B shows, you won’t get far. Consumers are searching for a lifestyle, and it’s you (or our!) job to create that.