R.I.P. Nau

R.I.P. Nau

I never pictured announcing that a Brand Worthy of a Weekend has gone out of business, but this post is exactly that. Groundbreaking sustainable clothier Nau announced on Friday that, due to an inability to raise another round of capital, they are closing up shop. Click here to read the note from the Nau team or the Treehugger coverage.

It’s been almost 48 hours since I read the news, but I haven’t yet posted, because I’m not sure what to say. I recently heard that the Evanston, IL location of another WOM favorite, Cereality, should also be referred to in past-tense. What do we learn when brands with great Word of Mouth bone structure fail? Here’s the start of a list:

  1. Novelty is enough for me to try you once and to talk about it. If this is what you provide, I hope you are in a place that will constantly expose you to new audiences like tourists. Everyone else needs a strategy for encouraging repeated, valuable engagements with the same set of customers over time.
  2. Sustainability is important to customers, but a huge part of the population is not willing to pay “extra” for it – especially when times are tough. One of the reason the Leonardo DiCaprio light bulbs do so well is that they save you money in the process of drawing less energy.
  3. Let them see you sweat. If your business needs something – press, referrals, investors, testimonials, etc – let your loyal supporters know so they have the opportunity to rally to your aide. Honestly, if I had know last week that Nau needed help, I would have let my networks know and bought items myself if I thought it would have kept them around to fight the good fight another day.

What are your takeaways?
P.S. Good news for shoppers – remaining stock is 50% off at nau.com

5 Replies to “R.I.P. Nau”

  1. Very, very sad to hear that about Cereality, but at least it’s not the whole chain (minimal as it is). I drove two hours to Philly when I first heard about it, just to go there for dinner.

  2. I love the idea of “Let them see you sweat.” It seems to me that this goes against every bit of conventional PR wisdom but seems like an incredibly smart strategy for getting passionate supporters up and moving. Thanks for the great insight!!

  3. Thanks for letting me know. Ever since you posted about them I have been reading their blog. i also picked up a great b-day gift for my little bro, who was quickly becoming a fan.

  4. I’m obviously really sad to see NAU go. Not how I wanted to start my Friday. For what it’s worth, that’s a great sale they’re having. Get it while you can.

  5. Got the chance to see Ian from Nau speak at the Retail Advertising Conference in Chicago in January and he was pretty inspiring (I also found myself admiring his shirt). We field-tripped to the Chicago store and spent some time and money, but I found myself thinking that the brand and the business model kinda got in the way of the merchandise itself. I agree with much of what you’ve noted, particulary point #2. That said, I doubt we’ve heard the last from Ian and the Patagonia/Nike expats: they were just a moment ahead of their time.

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