Customer engagement? Ask Harry

Toronto, October 13, 2009 – Canadian high-end menswear icon Harry Rosen kicked off this year’s CIBC Presents Entrepreneurship 101 lecture series last week with a dynamic Lived It Lecture on “Creating customers for life.”

After discovering his passion for retail at a young age, Rosen began by building a 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 line: “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 for their customers, it was actually a wildly innovative idea in the 1950s and 60s when advertising was unidirectional communication from company to customer and service was much more ‘one size fits all’.

Rosen’s first store grew by word of mouth and through relationship-building despite its more out-of-the-way location in not yet trendy Cabbagetown. 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 the 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. For would-be entrepreneurs there is the essential lesson: listen to your market and make yourself and product invaluable to your customers.

To see the full hour of Harry in action at MaRS, visit

About MaRS
MaRS Discovery District ( is a large scale, mission driven innovation centre located in Toronto and networked across Ontario, focused on building Canada’s next generation of technology companies. MaRS works closely with entrepreneurs to grow and scale their ventures into global market leaders in life sciences and health care, information, communications and digital media technologies, cleantech, advanced materials and engineering, as well as innovative social purpose business.
For more information, contact:
Linda Quattrin
Director Communications
MaRS Discovery District