Chrysler's Athleisure Line Is a Lesson In How Merchandise Changes Brand Perception
In the age of social media influencers, every business has to also be a lifestyle brand. No matter what your primary function as a business is, whether it's food service or making cars, you have to create something that people can easily wear or use to showcase your logo. If those people are young, that's even better.
Chrysler is joining the growing list of automotive companies expanding their branded merchandise capabilities in the hopes of creating a brand aesthetic tailor-made for the 21st Century.
You might remember Ford just hired Henry Ford's actual descendent to head up its branded merchandise endeavors, Harley Davidson just started working with hypey brands like Yeezy, and Tesla has been on the cutting edge of promotional marketing for years now.
Chrysler isn't reinventing the wheel with its merchandise collection, mostly offering athleisure products. But, for a company whose brand identity is luxury vehicles, having luxury apparel and lifestyle products makes sense (and is more affordable than a car).
The @Chrysler brand is keeping you comfortable this summer with the launch of its new Athleisure Merchandise Collection. For the #Chrysler consumer on-the-go, check out the new line of shirts, leggings and more at https://t.co/QShyIaC4pp
— Stellantis North America (@StellantisNA) August 23, 2022
The first release, the Athleisure Merchandise Collection, is made up of eight pieces: hoodies, long sleeve T-shirts, leggings, a zip-up jacket and a canteen. All of these are basically your run-of-the-mill lifestyle brand starter pack, and all of the apparel is co-branded with Ogio. The athleisure bubble is yet to pop, and the abundance of hybrid work schedules or full work-from-home has only increased demand for comfortable yet functional apparel pieces.
The design elements are all minimal, eschewing Chrysler's usual silvery logo in favor of just a "Chrysler" wordmark and the small Ogio logo.
What Chrysler hopes to do here is appeal to a younger crowd who might have thought of its cars as belonging to an older generation.
"The Chrysler brand has always been about ingenious style and functionality with a focus on providing solutions to make things easier for our customers' busy lifestyles," Chrysler brand CEO Chris Feuell said in a press release. "This special collaboration truly embodies what the brand represents, with the ultimate goal of creating high quality and modern products that enable consumers to be comfortable while on the go, with practical sophistication."
Chrysler is using apparel, rather than changing its entire automotive design and production plan, to appeal to a buying group that it likely feels it's not reaching. It's a heck of a lot cheaper to manufacture apparel than it is to roll the dice on brand new car ideas.
It shows the power of well-thought-out merchandise, and how it can shift customer perception of a brand without that brand having to reinvent themselves completely. It also shows that just about every brand under the sun right now needs to start investing in some sort of branded product right now, lest they be left behind.
Clearly Chrysler's competitors like Ford and even Harley Davidson have thought about how they can reach new buying demographics, or at least be in the conversations they weren't included in before. The answer isn't always changing the company completely. Sometimes it's just making really good apparel and lifestyle products.