In Honor of New York Fashion Week #NYFW
Recently I finished a fabulous book that analyzes fashion brands titled Fashion Brands, Branding Style from Armani to Zara by Mark Tungate (MT). It was A. maze. ing. And not just because I love fashion. Almost every topic covered in each chapter could be aptly and promptly applied to any aspect of marketing. (Of course, we all know that the fashion industry is generally the forerunner to anything novel or exciting in marketing—although there is that technology industry too.)
In the conclusion of the book, Tungate lays out his predictions regarding the direction fashion was going to take, and, though the second edition of this book was published in 2008, his predictions are right on. Because of this, I wanted to analyze each of his predictions and how they apply, not just to fashion, but also to marketing and branding. (All quotes below are from Mark Tungates' book in the Conclusion section pages 247–251.)
Consumer as Stylist
"The days when consumers were loyal to brands are long gone."
How true! Isn't this the marketer's main challenge: to somehow persuade consumers and user to become loyal to their brand, their product? But consumers seem to want to customize things their own way without necessarily buying everything at the one-stop-shop: mass customization.
Reactivity and Personalization
More than ever before we are seeing consumers who want to interact with brands, participate in product design, be part of a launch—just to be involved in some way. Large, successful brands, like Pepsi, Coke and M&Ms, seek to actively engage their consumers in constant conversations via social media, contests, online games, and the like. Consumers want brands that offer products in response to their feedback. Marketing communications are no longer a one-way message to the prospective consumers, but a two-way channel where consumer opinion pulls more weight.
I also think particularly here of the demand for Apple products. When will the new iPad 3 come out? The iPhone 5? The push for more, better, now is our current cultural zeitgeist.
"Younger shoppers zap from one brand to another, playing them off in terms of quality and price. Thanks to the web, they are better informed than ever before—and they certainly won't be fooled by advertising."
Here we can specifically identify the millennial generation (AKA the "digital native"), a generation that is larger than any before it and has been brought up in a marketing and advertising-heavy world. They "get" marketing messaging, hence the increasing need to try innovative and stand-out techniques to gain attention.*
"Performance is likely to become a brand component."
Here Tungate's example was the recent appearance of 'faux vintage' clothes that are actually made to look vintage. In the wider world of marketing, brands are beginning to experiment with content curation where brand advocates and brand journalists emphasize the part their brand plays in the overall dialogue that is informed consumption. How products perform and how they are made is becoming just as important as what they do.
"...shopping is no longer a functional task. It is a form of entertainment...These branded environments have become destinations..."
Ever been to Las Vegas? Visited an Apple store? Point made.
"The internet has not supplanted the desire to pop out to the shops."
Whether the consumer wants a branded experience, like that offered in branded buildings, or just wants to get out of the house, brick-and-mortar stores are still as viable as before. Consider your own shopping techniques: there are things you will buy online, and there are other things you will most definitely not buy online for various reasons. This means businesses will have to figure out a way to make their branding consistent across not just the digital web or a brick-an-mortar store, but both, and maybe even interactively (think QR codes, FourSquare checkins, mobile coupons).
"...the 21st century equivalent of an itinerant salesman...He lets the faithful know when he'll be in town through his website..."
Have you heard of pop-up shops? You will. Target just announced they will host boutique shops from various high-end brands that will appear, and then disappear, in their stores in the next year. They and, it's rumored, Walmart will also start to incorporate various mom-and-pop, local operations in this fashion as well. Is your mind blown yet?
The End of Age
"Age has ceased to function as a reference point for marketers."
And hallelujah is my response to that. Tungate goes on to say it so well: "These days, a 36-year-old is just as likely to be a single DJ with a skateboard as a 25-year-old is likely to be married with two children. Mothers shop alongside daughters; fathers wear the same brand of jeans as sons."
Has branding and marketing fulfilled Tungate's 2008 predictions. Yes! Now, I have to wonder, what predictions are the fashion-savvy making now that will affect our tomorrow? I'll let you know when I get an inkling.
*Marketing to Millennials: Brand Recognition - EContent Magazine http://www.econtentmag.com/Articles/ArticleReader.aspx?ArticleID=79648