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Penshoppe turns to global names to boost image

/ 05:00 AM July 09, 2017

Family ties: Alice Liu is flanked by sons Bryan and Brandon

Penshoppe, the youth-oriented clothing brand, made news with its 2017 global ambassadors—Kaia Gerber, 15-year-old daughter of supermodel Cindy Crawford, and 22-year-old social media star Cameron Dallas.

When these global ambassadors post about their collaboration with Penshoppe on social media, their international followers start researching on the Filipino brand.

They also enhance the brand image not only in the Philippines but in its stores in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

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Their addition to Penshoppe’s illustrious roster, which includes Kendall Jenner, Lucky Blue Smith, Mauro Maurer and Gigi Hadid, is more than just gambling on new faces.

It reveals how the brand’s mother company, Golden ABC, keeps adapting to the times.

“Kaia and Cameron have a strong young following. We are able to show that the brand has the ability to refresh itself constantly,” explains Alice Liu, Golden ABC executive vice-president.

“We deliberate on whether we should take a risk with this face or not. I always say, ‘Let’s try it. If it doesn’t work, we move on to the next one. That’s how we should be operating as a business,” she adds.

Penshoppe began as a t-shirt company in 1986 in Cebu set up by Alice’s husband, Bernido Liu, Golden ABC’s CEO.

It has since spawned other brands—Oxygen, Memo, Regatta and ForMe.

It has withstood stiff competition from foreign high street brands by enhancing visual stands, merchandise assortment and operations.

“Being a local allows us to understand what the market wants,” says Alice.

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As the market of smaller brands shrinks, Penshoppe and other Golden ABC brands are able to absorb their customers.

“There’s actually a lot of money in retail. There are just more players,” she says.

To expand business potential, Golden ABC opened stores in Indonesia, Thailand, Bangkok, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

These stores are run by local franchisees or retail partners. Plus, through shopping sites of Lazada and Zalora, the brands have built a following in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan despite the absence of advertising in these countries. By yearend, Golden ABC will have a combined 900 sites here and abroad.

“Each country has its own distinctiveness and so we adjust to that. Different religions influence their perspective on fashion, so we try to be sensitive to that. While some are emerging economies, we believe that they will recall our brand when their standard of living and purchasing power improve,” says Alice.

Golden ABC maintains its dynamism by tapping the next generation.

The Liu couple’s sons, Bryan, digital marketing manager, and Brandon, Penshoppe’s product development manager, have been exposed to the business since childhood.

This enabled them to make informed decisions even before joining the company.

The siblings are both graduates of the University of Sydney and receive no special accommodation.

“Behind them is a strong professional team that has been with us for so long,” says Alice.

When Bryan entered the company in 2014, there was only one social media coordinator while different brand marketing teams did their own digital efforts.

A graduate in digital marketing, he saw opportunities for synergies.
He points out that social media has become the main channel to reach out to the millennial customers who want to be dealt with as individuals.

“Our market has a lot to share. They are not shy about talking to other people online –some to people they’ve never met. They are willing to share details that you don’t normally share with strangers. Our market is well informed about events across the world, trends and celebrities. They have high expectations,” observes Bryan.

Hence, the brands fortified their social media process across different channels.

The five brands have a total of 13.53 million followers of which the flagship brand Penshoppe has 6.23 million.

Bryan recently developed the Penshoppe app to add value to the millennials’ encounter with the brand. “With new technologies, you can actually extend the experience of shopping not just within the store but you also can send them promotions and product details through the phone. They can now shop not just within the store but outside of the store or on the way to the store,” he says.

Social media is also the platform for customer feedback.

“Most of what we do stems from being able to actively use that feedback to bring more value to our customers,” says Bryan.

To make the millennial customers feel rewarded through social media, they get first dibs on the latest deals, new collections or news of Penshoppe’s celebrity endorsers.

The loyalty program was recently launched through the Penshoppe App.

“It brings the brand even closer to them,” says Bryan.

Meanwhile, Brandon has been putting his stamp on Penshoppe’s products.

He observes that its market looks up to the brand as a trend indicator and appreciates the quality of the clothing at an affordable price. “Penshoppe caters to individuals with different appetites for fashion. While we have our trendy key pieces such as denim jackets, embroidered tees and resort shirts, we also have a strong basic line,” he says.

Brandon’s department keeps refreshing Penshoppe’s staples—t-shirts, caps and denims—by improving the fit and trying different fabrics and technology and introducing premium styles.

“With the travel bug trend, Penshoppe’s pieces are more timeless, comfortable and easier to mix and match,” he adds.

With his finance background, Brandon keeps his eye on the numbers.

“The big word is data—and its correlation to the bottom line. Everything becomes more transparent so we can make better decisions. I examine efficiency and make sure that we maximize our given resources to provide a certain level of sales,” he explains.

Although Bryan and Brandon look up to different mentors in different departments, they will ultimately revert to their parents.

Brandon adds that he looks up to his late grandfather who helped improve health care in Cebu.

His legacy of serving the community is one of the pillars of Golden ABC.

Growing up, the Liu siblings were raised to give back and join outreach programs.

It was important for them to work in a company that shared their values.

“Corporate social responsibility to me is essential. We’ve been blessed with an organization that is able to influence and create value not just for our customers but to society,” says Bryan.

One of Golden ABC’s CSR programs, Get Up, invites the employees to volunteer for programs.

“Being respectful and generous to one another, our business partners and the people around us make it easy for us to get involved with our Get Up or CSR programs,” says Bryan.

Adds Brandon, “My dad gave us a perspective of using business as a tool to contribute to improvements in society, community development, arts and culture and environment. It’s a way of giving back and making the community grow.”

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