By Katie Griffiths

Prince Harry has made his first official public appearance with Meghan Markle, at the Invictus Games in Canada, setting off fresh rumours that the couple are about to make their relationship more official.

Could we soon be looking at a Royal bride-to-be, coming hot on the heels of the announcement of another royal baby?

If we are, brands should take note.

Just six years ago, as Ms Middleton prepared to marry Prince William, the “Kate effect” was in full flow.

Sales of products connected to the future Duchess of Cambridge were staggering. A £650 Burberry trench coat she wore sold out within a day, as did the navy blue Issa dress she donned for the official engagement press call. The blouse from Whistles and dress from Reiss she selected from her own wardrobe for engagement portraits were re-released to meet demand. As for the Links of London earrings she bought some time before the photos, the catfight that broke out in a New York store over the last pair says it all.

Brands not favoured by the Duchess of Cambridge cottoned on to her selling power by publicising lookalike products for a budget price. Sales of a £22 Asda version of the Burberry coat reportedly jumped by 300%, while Peacocks reported a 95% rise in sales of a fascinator hair accessory in a similar style to one she was seen wearing. QVC and Ernest Jones both produced replica engagement rings and TK Maxx followed Tesco’s lead in producing a wallet-friendly copy of the now famous Issa dress.

So what will Brand Meghan look like?

Perhaps in preparation for her royal romance going a step further, the actress shut down her lifestyle website, The Tig, in April and ended her marketing partnership with Canadian retailer Reitmans.

Meghan was named as their brand ambassador in August 2015, long before she was a big name. The deal was part of a larger strategy for Reitmans to revitalise a tired brand, and to attract younger customers – without alienating the older women who still make up a core target market for the apparel retailer.

Over the course of the partnership, stores saw an increase in younger customers. The brand believed part of the actress's appeal was that it was "hard to say what age she is" and though she is very beautiful she was also "relatable”.

In ads, Meghan showed off outfits and declared: "It's Reitmans. Really!" – implying that the clothes looked much more fashionable than the brand had been known for, or that their lower price point would suggest. 

London-based consultancy Brand Finance has estimated that the Duchess of Cambridge was responsible for £152 million in added sales in 2015 for clothes that she was seen wearing or other brands she was known to buy.

According to the firm, an advertiser would have had to spend £114 million to buy the kind of exposure that members of the Royal Family get for free through news coverage.

Such as, for example, rumours of another royal wedding on the horizon...


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