Welcome to the the Ivey HBA Retail Marketing Management blog. Retail marketing is an exciting, dynamic, important, and very visible aspect of the overall field of marketing. Throughout the year, students will be posting comments regarding contemporary retailing issues. Although this is intended to be used by Bus 4411 students, industry marketing professionals are also invited to join in if they like.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Clemens en August – “Its like a rock concert”

Clemens en August, the Munich-based fashion retailer is coming to London, England on April 2nd – for four days only. The brand relies on a retail strategy whereby clothes are never actually sold in stores. And online shopping? That will require a password. The website clearly states that "The webshop is only for customers who visited us on tour 89." The 'tour' refers to the trunk shows that are set up twice a year, in fashion-saavy cities such as Berlin, New York and Tokyo. The goal of Clemens en August’s unconvential retail format is to create a sense of exclusivity, while offering fashionable pieces at affordable prices.

From the perspective of a shopping psychologist, this strategy successfully satisfies the social needs of buying that inevitably accompany fashion retailing. Customers can make a date with friends to attend the shows, enhancing the experience and increasing the time spent shopping. The brand has also been successful in associating itself with high social status celebrities, such as Sienna Miller and Lily Cole. An August en Clemens tuxedo even made a recent appearance at the Oscars – potentially one of the most prestigious forms of recognition a designer can receive.

The company’s founder, Alexander Brenninkmeijer, has compared the strategy to the likes of a rock concert, perfectly in line with the minimalist and rock flavor that the clothes embody. The temporary stores are often set up in museums or art galleries, creating an environment that feels high-end and luxurious, and is completely unique from the traditional and often annoying shopping mall. And while the brand is exclusive and feels high-end, the prices do not reflect this. The company is able to avoid costs associated with owning or renting retail space, and does not have to incorporate traditional store markups. Additionally, all advertising is done through word of mouth and media buzz, completely cost-free for the company. During a recession, the concept of a luxury label at a low price point will be especially attractive to fashionistas and recessionistas alike who aren’t willing to give up a new spring wardrobe, but may not have the finances to support it. To further promote the value that is being offered, Clemens en August’s tags display the actual price against the price that would have traditionally been charged if sold at a large retailer. For a men’s tuxedo, this is a difference of $1,072.

So will this creative strategy work? In my opinion, yes. Women will be attracted to the social status that surrounds attending and 'being seen' attending the shows. Men will be equally attracted to the opportunity to do a season’s worth of shopping in a time frame that cannot possibly exceed four days. Consumers who have become increasingly frugal in their spending habits will also be more likely to forgo saving their latest paycheck in order to capitalize on the limited time offering. Chicago and Los Angeles have already made requests to be included in the next World Tour, and with the declining profits and mounting pressure placed on struggling retailers; the pop-up store format may prove to be the next generation of shopping medium.


No comments: