What’s in a fashion marketing campaign?
This article explores the components of a fashion marketing plan and how fashion brands can enhance their marketing strategy. Fashion marketing is concerned with meeting the needs, wants, and demands of your targeted consumer, and these goals are accomplished using the marketing mix.
Fashion marketing is distinct from fashion public relations in that fashion PR is solely concerned with communications and how the brand communicates with and resonates with it’s targeted consumers.
A fashion marketing plan focuses on four essential concepts: 1) product development, 2) distribution management, 3) communications, and 4) cost. In order to implement an effective marketing campaign, the marketing mix must be consumer centric and focused on niche markets rather than catering to mass markets. This concept simply means that the marketing strategy and implementation should have consumers and their needs, wants, and demands in the forefront and with a very defined market that it intends to target.
Niche marketing is more focused and cost-effective and allows the marketer to focus on a particular market segment. Otherwise, a mass marketing campaign is all over the place and lacks a defined consumer to market to.
As an example, imagine if the luxury brand Louis Vuitton was a mass retailer and did not cater to a niche market. Essentially, this would mean that Louis Vuitton would market its products to the masses, when in fact this is unrealistic. Louis Vuittton’s price point does not allow the brand to cater to the masses, which is why the brand channels all of its marketing communications to the luxury market. However, that does not mean that the brand is off limits to consumers who do not exactly fall into the luxury market; it just means that the communications strategy and the brand identity would resonate more with consumers in the luxury market. This approach allows the business to remain competitive and effective in its strategic approach.
Components of a Fashion Marketing Plan
1) Product Development
The most important component of the product development phase is not the product itself. The product is just the byproduct of this phase. The most important component of this phase are the consumers. Consumers dictate all the components of the marketing plan, and consequently, dictates what the product is. Keep in mind that today’s highly competitive global marketplace requires that businesses are consumer centric and focus on serving consumer’s needs. Consumers dictate what the pricing strategy will be, the points of distribution, the communications strategy, and the final product outcome. In the example given above regarding Louis Vuitton, the targeted consumers dictate what the associated cost and value will be for the brand.
There are two orientations of the product development phase. The business can be product-oriented and choose to develop products first then market it to its targeted markets. Alternatively, the business can be more market-oriented and segment its markets first to determine their specific needs, wants, and demands then create the product to meet those wants.
Due to the transient nature of the fashion industry, fashion marketers are under short marketing cycles since product needs are seasonal. As the seasons change so do trends and tastes. Consequently, marketers are required to constantly adjust their product offerings with time.
2) Price: Cost vs Value
The pricing strategy strictly relies on the market segmentation. With a consumer centric marketing focus, the pricing strategy would take into account the associated costs to the consumer and the value afforded to the consumer. Pricing may vary based on the market segment and their perceived value of the product or brand. A consumer buying a luxury brand perceives the product to be more valuable and in turn is willing to pay more for the product compared to a price-sensitive consumer or a product that is mass produced with minimal differentiation.
3) Distribution Management
The distribution strategy determines the convenience and availability of the product. Traditional distribution channels for fashion brands include branded flagship stores, independent retailers, department stores, and online distribution. The more distribution channels used the more intense the brand’s exposure and the greater the availability to consumer markets.
4) Promotions & Communications
The promotional strategy entails how the brand will attract its buyers and the series of activities used to communicate to the targeted consumers. The activities in this phase include developing the brand and its identity, sales promotions, public relations, product placement, advertising, event marketing, and sponsorships.
1940's Women's fashion was a time of great restrictions on design, fabric, and trim materials. The war forced clothing designs to be simple yet it also forced manufactures to be creative with what they could use and invent new materials. The 1940's brought about new women's fashion inventions many of which are still around today.
- The girdle. Prior to the 1940's a women's shape was made by metal boned corsets. In the 1940's the girdle was invented as a form of tummy tuck underwear. It shaped just the middle down to the hips and created the smooth hourglass silhouette associated with vintage fashions. The girdle was uncomfortable and was eventually replaced by nylons or no shaping undergarment at all. Today the girdle returns with body shapers, control top stockings, control top underwear and other suck and smooth foundation garments. They name may have changed but these garments are just updated girdles in disguise.
- Wedge shoes. Leather and wood was needed for the war so shoe designs had to get creative. The solution was cork. A cork sole was used for shoe heels and then wrapped in a pretty fabric, mesh or even reptile skin. It was economical and allowed a taller heel then what was considered a safe heeled pump. Today wedgies come in and out of fashion, particularly in summer, when wedge sandals hit the beaches.
- Rayon. If you didn't know, Rayon is a synthetic fabric. It was invented and became very popular in the 1940's. Up till then wool, silk, and cotton was what clothing was made of. Silk and cotton were needed for the war so Rayon was used instead. It could be lightweight like silk or heavy like wool. Today rayon is still used in fine fabrics, especially in summer.
- Nylons. Prior to the 40's women's stockings were made of silk. They were very delicate and needed frequent mending and hand washing. Dupont then invented nylon and thus "Nylons" became a brand name for stockings. Today nylon is still used to make all kinds of hosiery and fabrics.
- The Zipper. Thanks to new inventions of the 1940's women can zip up clothing instead of using buttons, snaps or lacing.
- Plastic. Although various forms of plastic had been around since the 1920's it wasn't until the 1940's that they really took center stage in the fashion world. Jewelry was made of Bakelite plastic in big colorful designs. Handbags, makeup case, and household items were being made of Lucite. You may not recognize these plastic names but I am sure you are aware that plastic is everywhere in fashion- from cute barrettes to zippers to purse handles.
- Shoulder pads. You may think that the 1980's were the first decade to use shoulder bags. They actually go back much farther than the 1940's but as a regular fashion accessory for women the 1940's were the first. They used shoulder pads in dresses, jackets, and blouses in order to square off the shoulder for a boxy military feel. The 1980's were heavily influenced by 1940's fashion and thus shoulder pads came back in style.