Marketing starts with…?
We all think that marketing begins once the garments are designed. The designer decides about the images and the look he wants to convey and creates a marketing strategy around that. But we are so wrong! Marketing begins with pricing and deciding how much of a certain piece will be available!
Why? – Because in fashion it is all about exclusiveness and luxury!
The Rules of Consumption…
In most economic fields we can observe the phenomenon of a good being more desirable the cheaper it is and it becomes cheaper the more there is of it. So as the price raises people are likely to switch their consumption away from it and substitute it by a less expensive alternative. In fashion, however, we can observe the snob effect.
The snob effect refers to the situation where demand for a certain good for individuals of a higher income level is inversely related to the demand for the good by individuals of lower income level.
What does that mean? It means that our desire to possess something unusual, expensive or unique makes us buy goods of low practical but high economic value. The less of an item is available, the more we want one copy of it, the higher its snob value.
Nescience Can Become Expensive
The paradox is that we mostly do not even notice that our purchasing behavior is influenced by price and supply rather than a certain threading technique, longevity or fabric like we keep telling ourselves.
For instance, a bag is a bag. Whether it has the Louis Vuitton label on it or not is not crucial to the characteristic that we can put our stuff in it and carry it around. And let me tell you the quality is not that different, either. I have seen these ridiculously expensive (and in my opinion ugly) bags falling apart!
Brand Loyalty versus Snob Effect
Now, some may argue that there is more to it. It is not just a bag, it is Louis Vuitton! That people buy it because they simply like the brand or even prefer it over all others. Nevertheless, no brand is unique and there are always plenty of others that have earned their reputations by producing both efficacious and innovative products. What it really is that we desire is a brand that rides on the “fashionable-celebrities-love-it-wave” or the “anybody-fashionable-should-have-one-wave”. This is something more and more brands build their marketing strategy upon. Make it expensive, produce only a restricted number of it and have a lot of fashionistas wearing it in public.
I hate Mainstream!
In my opinion, this is stupid and shapes the picture of the industry in the wrong way. Fashion is about exclusiveness, true. But it is not about mainstream. Originally, taste is something that varies from person to person, so clothing worth buying should, too. As soon as everybody has it, I do not want it anymore. I sold my Longchamp at ebay and laughed at my friend when she proudly presented her Louis Vuitton bag.
So, for marketers there is a fine line between making something a snob product and turning it into mainstream. You can never be sure how successful your product image creation is so that you will never know how many are actually going to save money for months to buy your item. From the moment on that too many people own your product you will lose a great part of potential buyers that do not want to go mainstream.
A New Trend – A New Challenge
Interestingly, it seems like the designers do not care about this portion of clients. Even Karl Lagerfeld is thinking about making an affordable line after his collaboration with H&M in 2004. He said: “My dream is to turn the whole house of Lagerfeld into this kind of mass business, because I am at the peak of luxury with Chanel and Fendi. Being at both ends of the market is the height of luxury.”
It appears that designers consider it a great challenge to avoid the snob effect. Maybe the reason is, as with every other artist, that they want their creations to be seen and especially worn by masses because it is sign of success to be able to appeal to more than just a few.
But I say it is a sign of success to be able to create something so unique and special that it appeals only to the taste of a few. And those people do not necessarily have to be snobs – they are just the ones with good taste…