Despite fierce competition between retail brands, we seldom find products or places that truly make a difference, show a unique personality and engage people in the long run.
With this series of posts, I would like to introduce you to some of the brands and places that, according to me, really stand out from the crowd, thanks to their vision and their values, but also through operational excellence.
I would like to start with a brand I find amazing and inspiring : RAPHA
Let’s face it. I love sport and fashion. From that perspective, Rapha can be considered as a success story.
In the sport business, the big corporations such as Nike, Adidas or Reebok are dominant thanks to their ability to introduce an amazing number of exciting innovations every year on mainstream sports. However, niche brands, such as Rapha, prove their ability to celebrate the core values of their discipline in order to build strong and deep connections with their communities.
RAPHA was born in England in 2004 thanks to Simon Mottram, a former marketing consultant for luxury brands. From the very beginning, Simon Mottram’s motto was to give birth to the most sophisticated bike outfits and accessories in the world.
For those of you who like cycling, one of the toughest sports on earth even for those who practice it occasionally, you may have already experienced Rapha’s products and appreciated their quality and performance. Note that Rapha is proud to be the official equipment supplier of the Pro Sky-Team, which Kenyan leader, Chris Froome, has won two editions of the Tour de France in 2013 and 2015 (even though these victories are sometimes related to doping suspicion).
It is true that numerous other niche cycling brands such as Pearl Izumi, Mavic, EKoi and Giro are providing bike lovers with high-performance products, but they are far from competing with Rapha when it comes to style, design and brand management.
Just as well as luxury brands (Simon Mottran former experience makes sense here), Rapha has created an outstanding and seamless marketing ecosystem that boosts and supports the brand desirability.
Rapha is basically an e-commerce company with high-standard customer service, and the brand has opened a few stores around the world (New York, London, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Sydney…) which are called Rapha Cycle Clubs. These clubs, made for bike culture lovers, engage visitors in the warm atmosphere of a mix of a coffee shop and a bike store.
Unfortunately, there is no Rapha store yet in Paris but the brand has planned to open one as soon as it finds the right location to do so. It has to be noted that you can actually find a shop that sells a very decent range of Rapha products: “En Selle Marcel“, located in the 2nd district of Paris. By the way, this store is worth a visit for retail lovers, which I assume, most of you are.
With the Rapha Travel service, Rapha offers once in a lifetime journeys on the greatest roads of Europe, Japan and the United States. The brand goes even further with Rapha Bespoke for those who need made-to-order trips.
Rapha has also created an exclusive Cycling Club that reunites a global community of bike passionates. Rapha Cycling Club is an active riding and racing club designed to create a global community of like-minded, passionate road riders.
Thanks to a $160 mobile app subscription, you will connect directly with your fellow club members to participate in club rides and also get access to limited edition exclusive equipments.
The whole Rapha products and services are powered by unparalleled and beautiful brand contents. Photos and videos that showcase each and every initiative of the brand are up to luxury brand standards.
To wrap it up, Rapha combines relevant strategy and operational excellence. Rapha definitely deserves the Yellow Jersey.