This Wednesday marks three years since Australia changed its legislation to allow people of the same sex to marry and Havaianas is celebrating the occasion with a major Pride takeover activation. The Bondi store in Sydney has been painted from top to bottom in bright pink, with a giant rainbow splashed across the floor and from Friday to Sunday, from 1.30-4.30pm, there will be free ice-cream on offer, with any donations going to Minus18, a charity that supports LGBTQIA+ youth. In addition, Havai
Havaianas has launched two pairs of Pride thongs and between now and 7 March, 25 per cent of sales from every pair sold online and at the Bondi and Manly stores will be donated to Minus18. The thongs are now a permanent part of the range and have also been priced lower ($20) than the typical pair of Havaianas ($35), in an effort to make them more accessible to shoppers.
The Pride activation will run from now until Mardi Gras in March next year.
“After the year that we’ve all had, we wanted to do something fun and is a celebration of Pride and marriage equality in the lead up to Mardi Gras,” said Nicola Jones, Havaianas marketing manager and head of visual merchandising. “It shows the LGBTQIA+ community that we’re a safe place and we completely support people. We want to be super inclusive. We’re for everyone.”
The Pride collection is now part of the permanent Havaianas range. Image: Supplied
It’s no secret that consumers now want to see brands genuinely support social causes and community spirit. According to the Australian Leadership Index, shoppers expect brands to show leadership in this regard, said Jason Pallant, marketing lecturer at Swinburne Business School.
“Consumers are also increasingly preferring brands that support social issues that align with their own values. It’s now beyond a unique marketing angle, it’s a critical part of a brand’s values,” he observed.
Indeed, it’s not enough for retailers to simply sell rainbow-themed products to support the LGBTQIA communities, added Jana Bowden, associate professor of marketing at Macquarie University’s business school. Retailers need to recognise that standing by community values is a long-term commitment that needs to be visible from shopfront promotion and product development to employee engagement and initiatives.
“Inclusion and diversity is not just about the product being sold. Nor is it solely about the displays, ads, social media platforms and so on. All touchpoints in the customer journey matter and all touchpoints support an inclusive shopping experience,” she pointed out.
“Decking the Havaianas store out in a pink, developing pride product, demonstrating commitment to cause through donations to Minus 18 show that diversity and inclusion are at the heart of the brand, and that this is not a peripheral, tokenistic nod to inclusion and diversity.”
Who doesn’t love free ice cream? Image: Supplied
The future of physical retail
As restrictions are lifting in Australia, a number of retailers have recently opened new store concepts, many of which are focused on experiences to lure customers away from online shopping. Rebel’s new RCX stores in Parramatta and Doncaster feature football pitches, e-gaming and basketball courts, while Mecca’s new Sydney flagship store offers customers 50 different beauty services and workshops.
According to Jones, retailers need to work even harder than before to get people in-store.
Havaianas is passionate about supporting community causes. Image: Supplied.
“It has to be exciting and customers have to want to come to the destination. It’s really important that we offer a safe space in terms of Covid, but it has to be something that people want to Instagram or tell their friends about,” she said.
“You can’t just sell the product anymore, there has to be more to it. That’s a major part of this whole campaign. Do you want to come in here and get a free ice-cream? Maybe take a selfie in the mirror, tag us and share it? And who doesn’t love free ice-cream?”
“While online has grown dramatically there is still a crucial role for physical retail post-Covid. The key is utilising physical retail spaces to engage consumers, create memorable experiences, and ultimately immerse them in a brand and its products,” said Pallant.
“The Havaianas Pride event seems to tick those boxes by creating a likely memorable experience linked to an important social issue.”