What can we make of a brand that’s taking a look at everything else that’s happening in the retail industry and doing the exact opposite? Psycho Bunny is a men’s and children’s retailer that’s doing just that. The company actually opened in two mall locations in the past few months, when the rest of the retail world was shuttering stores, with plans to open more than 15 new mall stores throughout the year in 2021.
It’s an interesting turn of events, with so many signs pointing to the death of traditional malls. Especially from such a booming brand: Psycho Bunny brought in $40 million in 2019 and has reportedly “grown significantly since that time.”
Psycho Bunny’s burgeoning mall presence seemed like a genius move three months ago, when malls experienced an influx of traffic after the first wave of the pandemic. What we don’t know, however, is whether consumer concerns surrounding the Delta variant will alter the company’s course towards physical retail.
Let’s take a deeper look into the rebellious Psycho Bunny brand, the people behind it and why they’re making moves that defy popular retail logic.
A New Take on Preppy Gear
Psycho Bunny was built from a napkin sketch. This sketch soon turned into the attention-grabbing 4,000 stitch bunny skull-and-crossbones that gives the brand the vibrant, against the grain bent that we rarely see from a preppy retailer. Company cofounders, Robert Godley and Robert Goldman founded brand in New York in 2005. They built it from the ground up with the intention to create the perfect polo with a little something extra –– a dash of irreverence and individuality that can’t be found with traditional golf apparel, outerwear and accessories.
Built on the motto of “blending in is boring,” Psycho Bunny is laser-focused on the themes of individuality and self-expression. The company’s intuitive combinations of bright colors set it apart at the stores that carry the brand, such as Nordstrom, Dillard’s, Zappos and Harry Rosen of Canada. Psycho Bunny has now set its sights on opening its own mall-based stores in 2021.
Although Psycho Bunny is more preppy/subversive than streetwear, the brand is known to roll out the occasional limited limited-edition product drop, like the recently released Puerto Rico Bunny tee. Psycho Bunny has also collaborated with a few DJs to release playlists, as well as creating limited edition apparel collaborations with public personalities like the meme creator, Adam the Creator and hip-hop dancer, tWitch. Expect to see more of this as the brand strives to bring traffic to its mall-based stores.
I wonder if legacy department stores are embarrassed. Psycho Bunny swept in and did what, for over a decade, retailers have been claiming was impossible by bringing new, young, enthusiastic customers back to mall stores. Granted, the malls Psycho Bunny targets are class A, which means they’re on the upscale side. Class A malls are the only ones that have thus far been immune to the extinction event that mid and low tier malls have been facing recently.
By investing in creating a new experience in physical stores, Psycho Bunny is doing what we’ve been telling mall retailers to do for ages: Give customers something they can’t get by shopping online. Psycho Bunny’s recent money moves required a massive amount of agility that we don’t often see with legacy retailers.
The two Roberts who founded Psycho Bunny jumped on the surplus of retail square footage available for rent and more flexible lease agreements that became available during the pandemic to create a “retailtainment” experience. Just take a look at the trippy branding for experiential Psycho Bunny at the Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus, New Jersey. These aren’t mediocre stores created to house and hock inventory… they’re high investment customer engagement centers for the brand.
Targeting a Unique Segment of Customers
So, who is Psycho Bunny’s core customer? Based on the photos on its website and social profiles, millennial dads and their children are Psycho Bunny’s aim. The company’s fun, expressive branding spill over to its social media approach with creative initiatives like the #dadmoves TikTok challenge.
Psycho Bunny also rolled out an aggressive month-long Facebook ads campaign in 2019. The campaign targeted Lookalike Audiences, finding customers with similar purchasing behavior to Psycho Bunny’s existing customer base. Once they identified potential customers, they hit them with “Carousel Ads,” i.e., ads with more than ten photos attached. The campaign was immensely successful. Facebook Manager reported that the campaign led to a 55 percent increase in purchases, 40 percent decrease in cost per purchase, 31 percent increase in adds-to-cart, and 2.5X increase in adds to online shopping carts.
But not every brand will be able to achieve this level of success. It all starts with the product, and Psycho Bunny has targeted the niche of young millennial and Gen Z parents who don’t want to wear the same preppy brands as their Boomer and Gen X parents. Products are same quality as Ralph Lauren or Lacoste, but with enough subversiveness to entice the next generation of parents.
Future Forecast for Psycho Bunny
Remember when physical retailers offered an experience that couldn’t be found online? The time for buzzworthy experiences has come again. Psycho Bunny identified an underserved niche (of preppy yet subversive next-gen shoppers) and created a new product design to help this niche differentiate themselves. The Roberts found their retail sweet spot at the intersection between entertainment, self-expression, product quality and agility.
But the key is they identified something that hadn’t been done before and built a whole line
around it. They created a product that could stand alone and then created a culture based upon that product. Legacy retailers, listen up: Psycho Bunny is demonstrating how to succeed in malls today.