Canadian high-end menswear icon Harry Rosen kicked off this year’s CIBC Presents Entrepreneurship 101 lecture series with a dynamic Lived It Lecture on “Creating customers for life.”

After discovering his passion for retail at a young age, he sought to build the vision in his mind’s eye about how and where men would like to shop. To this end, he created what he envisioned would be a men’s club for shopping over 55 years ago. Realizing that men were too intimidated to admit that they were ignorant of fashion, he set out to be their approachable and trusted expert on the subject — an expert who would anticipate their questions before they even had to ask. It was upon this brilliant insight into the psychology of male shoppers and their needs that he built his brand using the tagline “Sometimes even the most sartorially confident man needs an expert opinion.”

In addition to providing high quality clothing and knowledgeable salespeople, he also offered superior customer service by encouraging his salespeople to know everything about their customers and keep detailed records on them. While brands today seek more and more to communicate with and customize their products to their customers, it was actually a wildly innovative idea in the fifties and sixties when advertising was one-directional communication from company to customer and service was more ‘one size fits all’.

His first store grew by word of mouth and through relationship-building despite its more out-of-the-way location. But his big breakthrough came when he began advertising with iconic ads that posed the questions that men wanted to ask but wouldn’t: “How wide should be cuff be? The knee? Ask Harry.” By starting a conversation with his customers based on their needs and wants, he succeeded in making them customers for life: making Harry Rosen a trusted brand and the world of high end menswear accessible to Canadian men.

Harry can still be found in his flagship store in downtown Toronto on Saturdays. Now that’s customer engagement.

Downloads and Resources

Weren’t able to attend the class? Need some notes or want to look something up? Click below for all of the goodies from the lecture. Watch the video and the slide presentation below.

Entrepreneurship 101 2009/10 – Week 2 – “Lived It” with Harry Rosen from MaRS Discovery District on Vimeo.

Keri Damen

Keri leads the strategic design, development, marketing and expansion of cutting edge business programs in the areas of entrepreneurship, innovation, marketing, HR, management and leadership at U of T’s School of Continuing Studies. See more…