Lilly Pulitzer: A Classic on the Cutting Edge

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Lilly Pulitzer: A Classic on the Cutting Edge

By Jordan K. Speer - 11/25/2015
It’s likely most of you know the founding story of Lilly Pulitzer. But what you may not know is that in 1984, after 25 years, Lilly closed the business, and it lay dormant for 10 years before the rights to the trade name were purchased in 1993 by Scott Beaumont, co-CEO of Lilly Pulitzer, and his partner, co-CEO James Bradbeer Jr. The two industry veterans were “ready to take it on for the next generation,” said Beaumont, in a keynote presentation at Apparel’s Executive Forum, held recently in New Orleans. (Lilly Pulitzer is now owned by Oxford Industries, which purchased the company in 2010 for $60 million.)

Keeping the brand relevant has required staying modern on multiple fronts — the brand, the consumer, product, distribution and omnichannel, communications, and technology — all of which, said Beaumont, demand this: “Your company’s internal rate of change needs to exceed its external rate of change.”

Today’s external pace of change is swift, with “more changes in the past five years than the prior 30. … Consumers have much more power than they’ve ever had. … Changes in social media, the way information travels, e-commerce, digital — they really matter,” says Beaumont. The competitive environment is changing quickly and if your company’s internal rate of change is not faster, it will not succeed. Consider the failures of Kodak, he noted, which was a leader in photography, but didn’t keep up with the changes in digital, or Blackberry, which underestimated the impact of touchscreen.

“If your org chart looks the same as it did five years ago, if you’ve got the same people sitting at the same desks doing the same jobs, if your reporting systems look the same … for example, if your line items in advertising look the same as they did five years ago, if you don’t have line items for email marketing, SEO, social media, display advertising — your internal rate of change is not keeping up with the external rate of change, you’re losing ground, you’re falling behind.”

Standing out in a competitive marketplace requires clear brand positioning that sets you apart from everyone else.

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