From your local watering hole to Nordstrom’s, microbranding is making a big impact in retail. Microbranding is brand recognition experienced by small-scale businesses in a particular marketplace. The expansion of the internet marketplace, including websites such as Etsy and Kickstarter, allows small businesses to use various methods to tailor its product and target niche markets directly. Not to be left out, “Big Box” department stores are making space on their shelves for in-demand microbrands.

Kickstarter, a well-known crowd source funding site, allows an entrepreneur to tailor its products to consumers by introducing an idea to the marketplace then asking the marketplace to fund production. LIV-Swiss Watches placed one of its most recent watch designs, the Genesis X1-A, on Kickstarter with a goal of $40,000. The X1-A hit the $40,000 goal in 34 minutes and currently has 2,169 backers that have pledged $1,119,029. Backers receive a Swiss watch that may not have the same cache as other higher-end luxury Swiss watches, but the $500 pledge is tiny compared with the price tag of some Swiss watches that may cost thousands of dollars. Not only are backers buying the watch, but they are also “buying-in” on the company. The consumer knows that the pledge contributes to getting production up and running and experiences the feeling of having been among the exclusive backers/investors that were part of the overwhelming success of the product. The consumer is not just buying a product, but rather there is a relationship that goes beyond the normal consumer retailer interaction.

A major factor in achieving success through microbranding is the direct interaction between the consumer and the retailer. Pledging a contribution to a product is just one way of establishing a relationship between the retailer and consumer. Over the last twenty years, micro-breweries have used microbranding to take market-share away from the Anheuser-Busch and other giants in the industry in order to earn enormous success. Breweries like Dogfish Head Ale use labels to tell the story of their brewery and their beer to create a dialogue with consumers. The Delaware based brewery has a Grateful Dead American Beauty pale ale and Robert Johnson’s Hellhound On My Ale brew to share not just a shared love of beer, but also a love of music with its consumers. By using storytelling and infusing consumer’s other interests in its product, Dogfish Head Ale is one of numerous breweries that has carved out a unique voice in a once homogeneous industry and found success.

As some once-small businesses find success through microbranding and begin to grow, there becomes a need to expand. Major department stores such as Nordstrom’s are providing financing and floor space for expanding online stores like customized shoes retailer Shoes of Prey. The collaboration between Nordstrom’s and Shoes of Prey accommodates consumers that want the customized options provided by online retailers with the immediate attention and satisfaction that can only be provided by a brick-and-mortar location. As the debate continues to rage regarding whether online or brick-and-mortar will reign supreme, partnerships between traditional department stores and microbrand online retailers are hoping for massive consumer appeal.