Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

High-profile partnerships couldn’t help this brand generate high revenues. Find out why! [Tuesday: Return Driven Strategy]

December 26, 2023

Miles Everson’s The Business Builder Daily speaks to the heart of what great marketers, business leaders, and other professionals need to succeed in advertising, communications, managing their investments, career strategy, and more.

A Note from Miles Everson:

Having spent over three decades in business and consulting, I’ve honed my management skills through a very helpful framework: Return Driven Strategy (RDS).

This pyramid-shaped framework is composed of 11 tenets and 3 foundations that help firms attain true wealth and value creation, as well as implement effective business strategies.

Today, we’ll talk about RDS’ third tenet: Target and Dominate Markets.

Continue reading below to know why targeting the right market matters to a business’ bottom line.

Miles Everson
CEO, MBO Partners
Chairman of the Advisory Board, The I Institute

Return Driven Strategy

Partnerships with renowned companies are often seen as one of the keys to dominating new markets, enhancing offerings, and delivering services more effectively. However, even high-profile collaborations fail to achieve high returns and end up incurring those involved with huge financial losses.

To know how this can happen, we’ll be taking a look at the case of a prominent athleisure brand that incurred heavy financial losses despite teaming up with big-name companies.

Ivy Park: Where did things go wrong?

Beyoncé Knowles-Carter launched Ivy Park in 2016.

According to the renowned pop star, the motivation behind the establishment of her brand was her desire to “push the boundaries of athletic wear and to support and inspire women who understand that beauty is more than your physical appearance.”

Photo from ELLE

Ivy Park collaborated with Topshop in 2016 and Adidas in 2019 as part of its goal to grab a sizable share of the athleisure market. As part of this endeavor, the brand sold tops, bottoms, swimwear, and accessories like headbands.

Despite having partnerships with those notable brands, Ivy Park failed to meet its sales targets and incurred substantial financial losses as a result.

The Topshop collaboration led to losses of GBP 5.4 million in 2016 and GBP 2.8 million in 2017. Meanwhile, the Adidas partnership that was expected to reach USD 250 million in sales, only managed to achieve USD 4 million in 2022.

The Adidas partnership’s downward trend of sales continued, earning only USD 63 million against an earlier prediction of USD 335 million. Because of this, the sports brand and Ivy Park ended their partnership in March 2023.

So, where did Ivy Park go wrong?

Photo from Robb Report

Industry observers noted that Ivy Park wasn’t able to reach and attract the attention of its target market effectively, resulting in poor sales. Additionally, the brand’s pricing strategy became a roadblock for potential customers.

For reference, the brand’s products cost between USD 25 to USD 250, a price bracket that was too high for the average consumer, according to pundits.

To make matters worse, the quality of Ivy Park’s products wasn’t up to par against its competitors that had offerings at significantly lower prices.

In general, athleisure brands tend to have mass appeal. However, given these findings, it’s no surprise that Ivy Park struggled financially even though it partnered with huge companies like Topshop and Adidas, and conducted marketing campaigns that involved notable figures like Zendaya and Reese Witherspoon.

Simply said, not even high-profile partnerships can save firms that do not target and attract the right market.

You Can’t Get High Returns if You Don’t Target the Right Market

In the book “Driven,” Professor Joel Litman and Dr. Mark L. Frigo stressed the importance of RDS’ third tenet: Dominate and target markets. According to them, businesses should:

“Identify markets where there is higher potential for the business to provide unique offerings to fulfill those needs.”

Viewed through the lens of RDS’ third tenet, it can be said that Ivy Park’s inability to identify a market where they could provide unique offerings to customers was the reason behind the failure of the brand to reach its sales targets.

Since the brand couldn’t isolate a market segment with needs that it can uniquely fulfill, its high-profile partnerships and marketing strategies didn’t work out the way they were intended to.

What happened to Ivy Park simply shows that sometimes, collaborations with high-profile companies can and will fail, especially if a brand’s target market is unclear in the first place.

Remember: By knowing your target market, you can easily tailor offerings and align company goals to customer needs. Doing so sets the stage not only for higher returns, but also more successful partnerships.

We hope you enjoyed today’s “Return Driven Strategy!”

If you’re looking to gain a better understanding of Return Driven Strategy and Career Driven Strategy, we highly recommend checking out “Driven” by Professor Litman and Dr. Frigo.

Click here to get your copy and learn how this framework can help you in your business strategies and ultimately, in ethically maximizing wealth for your firm.

(This article is from The Business Builder Daily, a newsletter by The I Institute in collaboration with MBO Partners.)

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Tuesdays: Return Driven Strategy”

In the book, “Driven,” authors Professor Joel Litman and Dr. Mark L. Frigo said that the goal of every long-term successful business strategy should incorporate the combined necessity of “making the world a better place” and “getting wealthy.”

That is why they created Return Driven Strategy and Career Driven Strategy—frameworks that were built to help leaders and professionals plan and evaluate businesses so they can also help others achieve their organizational goals and career goals.

The frameworks describe the plans and actions that drive returns for anyone in an organization such as independent contractors, marketers, brand managers, communicators, and other people in any field. These actions lead to the creation of wealth and value for customers, employees, shareholders, and the society.

Every Tuesday, we’ll highlight case studies, business strategies, tips, and insights related to Return Driven Strategy and Career Driven Strategy.

In planning, building, or managing brands and businesses, these strategies, case studies, and guidelines will help you choose what specific actions to take and when to take them.

Hope you found this week’s insights interesting and helpful.

Stay tuned for next Tuesday’s “Return Driven Strategy!”


Kyle Yu
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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