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Why M.M.LaFleur & Perigold are teaming up to sell each other’s products

Apparel brand M.M.LaFleur has long furnished its retail stores with Perigold, using its high-end furniture pieces to furnish dressing rooms and serve as fixtures. The aesthetic has been such a match that customers take notice; during a store opening in Boston last fall, a customer raved over a soft white boucle chair. They purchased it on the spot after founder Sarah LaFleur sent them the link.

That led to a novel online and in-store partnership that launched this week between M.M.LaFleur and Perigold. Each brand will highlight complementary products and curated looks on its own website, with the styles linked to each other’s sites. In M.M.LaFleur’s seven physical stores, customers will be able to order any of the Perigold pieces on display in the shop via a link on display. That includes items like rugs, art, upholstery and decor.

For each company, it’s a chance to expand their reach with a like-minded consumer. Perigold, launched in 2017, is the luxury arm of online furniture retailer Wayfair and curates furniture and decor that’s more expensive than its parent company. M.M.LaFleur, launched in 2013, is a women’s apparel company that has been growing its store base over the last year. Its most recent location opened in Philadelphia, with a Chestnut Hill store forthcoming this year.

“Our customers were coming in for the curation of their wardrobe, and naturally gravitating toward the sense of style we were building with Perigold furniture,” Maria Costa, director of brand and integrated marketing at M.M.LaFleur, told Modern Retail. “It was very obvious here there was an enormous acquisition opportunity.”

Brand collaborations are plentiful this season as brands look to join forces to find new audiences — whether that’s a shop-in-shop, co-branded merchandise or in-store services. By teaming with a brand that may have a similar customer demographic, a company can expose its product to lookalike audiences in the hopes of getting a sale down the road. Floral delivery company The Bouqs Co., for example, is testing out a shop-in-shop at a handful of Whole Foods locations in California, a move that helps same-day distribution and raises brand awareness. Other recent examples of unique in-store collaborations include athleisure brand Sporty & Rich hosting a spa from Ameon at its New York City flagship.

Melissa Gonzalez, principal at retail designer firm MG2 and founder of The Lioneqsue Group, said more brands are looking to collaborate as a way to differentiate their value proposition. “When you think about what consumers are craving, it’s really being a part of a community,” she said. “When brands are purposeful, they think through what that lifestyle would be, and they give you a more holistic experience around that.”

From a strategy perspective, not only does a collaboration help save on acquisition costs but it can lead to a stickier customer. “When you’re more inventive about these strategy partnerships, instead of just getting them in the door to know your brand the one time, the value proposition you’re delivering is such stronger,” she said. And if a customer ultimately purchases from a brand that they were introduced to, “they’re going to remember your brand facilitated that.”

For M.M.LaFleur and Perigold, teaming up is also a way to stave off the pain of high customer acquisition costs. Building the special sections on their websites may be a more affordable opportunity than blasting out social media ads. “It’s gotten so inefficient,” Costa said of internet ads. “You have to keep playing in those spaces for now.”

Each brand will earn affiliate revenue off of purchases that originate from their respective sites. But there’s the less quantifiable benefit of building awareness for long-term gains. Costa said that while the team will be tracking affiliate revenue and traffic, the bigger goal is to get more awareness over time.

“We think of our stores as consideration hubs,” Costa said. “For us and for Perigold, it was really important to have customers move much more quickly through the funnel.”

Nancy Soriano, head of brand, editorial and partnerships at Perigold, said she has worked in the interior industry for more than a decade and had never been a part of a partnership with an apparel company. But thinking out of the box is the move right now, with companies wanting to find new ways to acquire customers. Soriano said M.M.LaFleur and Perigold aim to host live events together at the stores in the latter half of 2024. “We’re a national brand, and we want to speak to a national audience, but there’s power in a local activation,” she said.

The pairing comes at a time when Perigold is being positioned as a potential growth engine for Wayfair. The parent company doesn’t break out earnings for the brands under its umbrella. But the online retailer overall has reported positive EBIDTA for the last four quarters. CEO Niraj Shah mentioned the luxury platform on the latest earnings call in response to a question about what’s helping drive the business at this time.

Overall, Soriano said M.M.LaFleur made sense as a collaborator because each brand has a similar focus on craftsmanship, quality and functionality. “You really want to be authentic when you hear partnerships — and make sure there is clear alignment in the brand profiles, missions and demographics of the audience,” she said.