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Advertising strategies of the fashion accessories

1. Working Title

The advertising strategies of the fashion accessories retailer Accessorize and Claire for the UK market.

2. Introduction

According to Levitt’s points, the needs and desires of consumers around the world are becoming ever more homogenized. Consequently, consumers around the world would become quite alike and can be satisfied with similar products (Muller, 1996). Hence, they can be persuaded by similar advertising message. Moreover, it also can be argued that consistent brand images can enormously influence consumers. Also, every target market is unique and consumers do vary, thus adopting the same advertising strategy will not be appropriate for all market segments.

Traditionally, advertising was considered as an afterthought, used primarily to promote companies name to the consumer (Burnett, 1993). No matter how innovative a designer’s new collection might be, how the collection is positioned for the new season, or how successful a new innovative fabric or material will be, none of these targets are achievable without consumer awareness. For this purpose advertising is used to quickly and succinctly deliver these messages to specific target group around the world (Burnett, 1993).

2.1 Justification

Advertising is the most important means for developing a brand (Mooij, 1997). Advertising has been conventionally regarded as one element of promotional mix, differentiated from other marketing communication elements such as public relation, personal selling, corporate communication, sales promotion, etc. (Hackley, 2005). Advertising can be defined through many perspectives such as from consumer perspective, businesses perspective, social perspective and in general. But a definition serving all these perspectives can be defined as non personal communication of marketing related information to a target market, usually paid for by the advertiser and delivered through mass media in order to reach the specific objective of the sponsor (Burnett, 1993). Advertising has also traditionally been the principle method of communicating a brand image, thus communication plays an important role in advertising (Jackson and Shaw, 2009).

Marketing departments of companies need to use advertising strategies and communication methods to benefit the company.  Communications is at the heart of good marketing strategies providing an interface between firms and its publics. Strategic communications is also referred as a recipe; ingredients must be added at the right time and in right quantities to gain comparative advantage (Blythe, 2003). In order to achieve these, the understanding of advertising and what it can and cannot accomplish is a necessity for the marketers (Burnett, 1993). Even with such benefits the role of advertising has not satisfied everyone related to it. Advertising has faced criticisms in the way it is used by companies to achieve their targets. Few of these criticisms are advertising persuades people to buy against their will, artificially differentiate products and creates brand loyalty, prevents new firms to enter the market and enables advertisers to raise prices in comparison to those of unadvertised products. However, these criticisms about advertising are the causes of one another for example; consumer loyalty can pose a threat to new brands entering the market (Tellis, 1998).

3. Aim

Analyzing advertising strategies used by fashion accessories retailers and their impact on sales.

4. Objectives

  • To discuss how different advertising strategies can have an effect on consumer decisions to purchase.
  • Analyze and comparing the advertising strategies used by fashion accessory retailers with a focus on Accessorize and Claire.
  • To discuss the effect of the advertising strategies used by Accessorize and Claire on the consumer.

5. Literature review

For the purpose of this project literature review will focus on three main categories which will reflect the aims and objectives. Advertising, consumer behavior and effects of advertising strategies on consumers will be discussed while maintaining the main focus on the chosen companies Claire and accessorize.

Over the years, many brands have faced the problem of conveying their message to consumers even with the availability of different communication elements such as public relations, personal selling, word of mouth, advertising etc (Jackson and Shaw, 2009). In recent years, businesses has wildly used advertising, as being costly it serves the purpose of sending message to a mass in shortest time (Wu, 2001). The delivery of the message not only serves the needs of designers, retailers, but also plays an important role for the recipients of the message. The primary goal of fashion advertising is to bring prominence to a particular company and to increase its profits (Diamond and Diamond, 1996). Advertising can be classified in three ways which is by audience, by advertiser and by intention (product and institutional).  Audience is the most obvious way of advertising as it examines the audience intended for the purpose of advertising (Burnet, 1993). Advertiser is referred in terms of who is advertising. A retailer does not get affected by what brand consumer buy as long as they buy it in their store (Burnet, 1993). Intentional advertising is further sub classified into product advertising and institutional advertising. Product advertising aim to inform or to stimulate the market where as institutional advertising creates a positive attitude towards the seller. Product advertising can provide quick response or stimulate demand over a longer period. Institutional advertising aims to establish a high level of goodwill rather than selling a particular good or service.

According to vignali (2009), the purpose of advertising is to inform, persuade and remind. Advertising is also observed according to the media by which it is used to send message to the consumers. The media used for the purposes of advertising are press (magazines, daily papers), TV, Radio, external advertising, direct mail and the internet. Advertising in magazines have been regarded as one of the most effective methods, because it can be finally tuned to the target market of the magazine. In specific magazine, fashion brand/ retailers advertising can match their target market with the magazine target market effectively and inexpensively (Lea-Greenwood, 2002) e.g. accessorize have been targeting their customers especially through magazines.

Generally advertising is assumed to have the potential to shape consumers beliefs and behaviors. Researchers have demonstrated that hierarchical effects of advertising have impacts on purchase intention (Mitchell and Olson, 1981). Consumer attitudes toward advertisements and their attitudes toward brands may shape their purchase intentions (see De Pelsmacker and Van Den Bergh, 1996; Mackenzie et al., 1986; Mitchell and Olson, 1981; Percy and Rossiter, 1992; Shimp, 1981). Advertisers reliance upon the use of sexual imagery and text to attract consumer attention is increasingly common in today’s saturated media culture (LaTour and Henthorne, 1994; Reichert, 2007; Reichert and Carpenter, 2004; Severn et al., 1990; Streitmatter, 2004).

This approach to advertising in which sexually explicit messages are purposefully invoked to challenge social mores – is an example of provocative or “shock” advertising and it’s not surprising that many of the studies examining the impact of sexual content in advertisements upon consumer behavior have focused upon apparel as a product category (Andersson et al., 2004; De Pelsmacker and Van Den Bergh, 1996; Ve´zina and Paul, 1997) (e.g., Grazer and Keesling, 1995; LaTour and Henthorne, 1994; Severn et al., 1990; Ve´zina and Paul, 1997). Although Bailey and Hall (1992, p. 15) have identified shock advertising as “one of the most effective” approaches to selling commodities in the contemporary marketplace, empirical evidence about the efficacy of sex appeal as an approach to promoting consumer goods. Advertisements featuring lower levels of sexual intensity may fail to attract consumers’ attention, whereas those featuring higher levels of sexual intensity may distract the consumer from focusing upon the product being promoted (Alexander and Judd, 1978). Fashion opinion leaders have been recognised as important to the spread of new clothing fashions for a long time.

Sometimes consumers become especially interested in and preoccupied with clothing and fashion so that their interest, experience, and knowledge and are then referred as opinion leaders for others (Goldsmith, 2000).

The tendency of consumers to pursue dissimilarity from others in the marketplace via product and brand acquisition and usage for the enhancement of the individual’s self and social image is referred to as consumer need for uniqueness or CNFU (Tian et al.,

2001). Consumer need for uniqueness is a multidimensional construct consisting of three factors which are Creative choice counterconformity, Unpopular choice counterconformity and Avoidance of similarity. The advertising industry is held responsible for creating fashion norms such as “tweens”, and marketers exploit the tendency of children to look forward to growing up, choosing slightly older children as role models (Linn, 2004).

Accessories have been proven to be the most resilient sector of fashion retailing in recession with growth of 3.2% in 2009 and have added nearly £0.5bn to sales value between 2005 and 2009 (Verdict, 2009). The accessories sector of fashion has always been woman dominant and accounts nearly for 73% of all accessories expenditure. Within the last decade, clothing specialists have used accessories as a vehicle for growth and discovered accessories to be a necessity for fashion followers. Accessorize remain leading specialist despite facing tough competition from clothing specialists, Accessorize has managed to hold on to a share of 7.4% in 2009 (Verdict, 2009).

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