It seems that relying solely on deep-seated customer loyalty will no longer guarantee the much-anticipated profit turnout. To survive in the cutthroat world of business, one must possess not only a thick leathery hide for criticism but also a very much good sense of the global economy. It is undeniable that the global financial crisis of 2007 has left a lot of casual casualties (in terms of businesses) in its wake and the ill effects of the initial downturn spiral of the world’s finances are still being felt today albeit some period of recovery. Even publicly listed industry juggernauts felt the pressure of cutting back spending and rethinking their already-laid-out strategies in keeping their target markets buying their wares. Such is the case of certain luxury fashion houses.
Fashion used to be a bit of a technophobic industry. Kaiser Karl [Lagerfeld] himself admitted to being a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to using the internet, saying: “I don’t use a computer; I do research with my brain, And if I want or need to — I get people to do it for me.” Fashion (and celebrity blog) darling Marc Jacobs on the other hand has developed a rather steady relationship with the internet, being an avid commenter on blogs. Designers Nicolas Ghesquiere and Miuccia Prada, however, both are clueless in terms of using the internet.
Nowadays, more high-end brands are embracing the internet and if I’m not mistaken have made it into their new marketplace of sorts. Since the tangible markets (read: boutiques) are losing their potency in generating customer interest in brands, labels are now tapping the new democratic (if I do say so myself) medium which is social media. Of course, online shopping is not exactly a brand-spanking-new phenomenon, but it is only now that these fashion giants learn to utilize it (or rather milk it of its potential in raking in customers old and new). Of course, this will not replace the joy of actually going to a store and trying on clothes but it certainly helps in ensuring patrons of easy accessibility to their products. It must be effective since a lot of labels have already begun selling online or have plans to do so in the near future — Jimmy Choo, Hugo Boss, Lancôme, St. John, Theory, Donna Karan, La Perla, among others. Prada, most notably, launched their US online store last June 30th.
The implication here to corporate strategists is to be very receptive the changing needs and interests of the publics whom they serve. Rethinking a company’s marketing and communication strategies can certainly mean a lot especially with the volatile condition of the world’s economy. This goes very much hand-in-hand with one of our lectures in class wherein company websites are proving to be a very profitable venture that brands can rely on in promoting themselves. One simply cannot adhere to very rigid and traditional marketing styles. Like haute couture, one must try to customize their strategy according to the business environment. After all, the worst thing to happen if you’re in the fashion industry is to be out of style, both technologically and sartorially.