Fashion Marketing – Fashion Stores Meet Niche Marketing, Pareto, and the Long Tail

Fashion Marketing news: A slew of studies, data, and articles seem to point out the growing success of niche sites, especially in the fashion industry. Hype or Fact? How can big online retailers and local fashion stores benefit from internet niches?

I like reading about pragmatic ideas to boost online sales of fashion goods, from apparel to accessories. I think that too much time is wasted in theorizing about internet marketing, and not acting about it.

Yet, I am going to talk about hard-core statisical studies and hype. Why?

Because I found in this month’s INC. magazine an article about niche marketing that made me connect together a lot of issues facing local apparel stores as well as big online fashion retailers.

Make money online by not carrying best-sellers

First, the article titled “A world without bestsellers” dabbles with buying patterns specific to internet consumers.

These patterns make up the Long Tail. You may or you may not know about it. For a concise explanation, go the Long Tail page on Wikipedia. Let’s just say that consumers can find and buy online products that a regular store could not carry. For instance, 40% of Amazon.com’s book sales reportedly consist in unknown titles that your regular Barnes and Noble cannot afford to carry in the bookstore next door.

The same seem to apply to fashion goods. For instance, in the INC. article, Zappos’ Tony Hsieh says that:

“Today the company sells more than three million products across 1,000 brands. The top 20 percent of products account for half of revenue, the bottom 80 percent, the other half.”

So, at Zappos, the 20 best-selling items represent only 50% of the revenues. This is a far-cry from the usual 80/20 rule that usually applies offline, when the top 20 best-sellers make up 80% of the revenues. The 80/20 rule is drawn from the works of economist Pareto.

Online sales of fashion goods make Pareto Principle redundant

This is the gist of a February 2007 study called “Goodbye Pareto Principle, Hello Long Tail: The Effect of Search Costs on the Concentration of Product Sales.” It was written by researchers at the Sloan School of Management at the MIT. Better, this study is based on “several years of sales data at a private-label women’s clothing company that offered the same merchandise through its catalog and its Internet store.”

Fashion goods are really at the forefront of this trend. Think about all the sites of the specialty sites that have sprung up, from sites selling discontinued lines of products to sites selling only to a sub-demographic. Buyers will turn to the web for hard-to-find glasses or for styles that regular retailers would deem too original to carry.

A company called Niche Retail is specialized in doing just that. The company says that they actually avoid carrying best-sellers, as big retailers can usually manage to kill the business by discounting the most sought-after items. By the way, Niche Retail’s logo reprents the Long Tail graph.

Style is a personal matter. Fashion professionals did not wait for the Long Tail theory to launch niche product lines. But the internet does offer interesting further niche opportunities:

– established brands and big online retailers can find relevant niche sites for some of their product lines

– local fashion stores are indeed niches themselves; they can use the internet to get more exposure

Big brands and retailers going after niche consumers

This very site spends time presenting you new fashion blogs, new fashion sites, and new fashion communities (see Fashion 2.0). Because fashion can get very personal, it has always been a good conversation topic. Now, the internet allows you to become a fashion critique in a snap. Big fashion actors can go after these niche sites to get their attention.

For instance, niche TV channels are popping up on the internet, due to the low barrier of entry, as reported in this article of the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper gives the example of clothing chain Express sponsoring the Ford Models web tv. I would add the example of “Ask a Gay Man”, the colorful and popular fashion critique show on YouTube (see my previous note on the subject), which has gotten founder William Sledd a TV deal with Bravo.

But you not have to be big to go after these niche sites. For instance, Ujeans, a made-to-order jeans company sponsors competitions on social network site StyleMob (“a new community for street fashion inspiration”).

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Why Fashion Shows Are Reaching Out To Everyone And Not Just The Elite

Now I’m sure that you know what a fashion show is but have you ever been to one? Most of you probably think that fashion shows are only for the rich and I will admit at one time that was mostly true but of late I have seen that change immensely. These fun functions have been geared more for the Rich at “Heart” as well as the Rich of pocket book. So if you enjoy fun, fashion and your own piece of the fashion world then get out and partake in one.

“Why should I attend a fashion show?” Well you don’t exactly need a reason to attend one as long as you remember that they are for everyone and anybody. And if your feeling uneasy and have a fear of the unknown join some friends and attend one or better yet go alone and gather up the fashions for you while making new friends. Need other suggestions, read on

You may not wind up making any purchases from the numerous designers carrying their latest trends but one thing for sure is you will learn what is popular and selling. And this alone is a great reason to attend especially if you own or run a clothing store, fashion store or even a clothing accessory store. You’ll want to make sure your stores are selling what is selling nationally and locally and stocked with the latest fashions. Attending any fashion show can help improve your business, by becoming the store that is sought after for stocking the styles and fashions most wanted in your area.

For those of you that do attend fashion shows for business reasons, including fashion consultants, you may want to think about attending a fashion show. While these shows are basically immersing us with the latest fashion trends, you will also encounter upcoming designers and their fashion trends as well. Fashion shows are a great source of knowledge for improving one’s fashion sense and whether your business is one of providing expert knowledge of fashion or wanting to appear as such, you best attend. Fashion shows are not only formatted for the demur frame but can also focus on plus sized clothing, work wear, swimwear, eveningwear, weddings, men, and teens.

Those businesses’ that are fashion related most definitely benefit from fashion shows. But that is not to say that you cannot also benefit from attending fashion shows. If you want to look your best and learn how to use the latest trends to accomplish that you may want to attend a fashion show. If your wardrobe is lacking or you don’t really know how to put your wardrobe together to make the pieces you purchase work better together and go farther have no fear there is a fashion show out there to help you learn what you need. You will find that the more you attend fashion shows the more your closets begin to work better for.

All learning and business sense aside Fashion Shows are a fun time. And everyone at one time or another is looking to have a good time. Why not incorporate that with a few friends and you have a fun filled fashion experience. Did you know that fashion shows are held in numerous locations as well as formats? Well of course you know they are held in the fashion capital cities like New York and Paris, but these fashion shows can also be held locally. If you’re up for attending these shows in New York, Paris or even at your local shopping mall, a memorable and fun experience will surely be had by all of you.

Remember “Why do I have to attend a fashion show?” Well, you really do not need to have a reason to attend a fashion show. If you want to attend even if it is to see what it is all about you will want to start making plans to attend as soon as possible.

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