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Marketing Report Bethany Jenkins



1. Frontcover 2-3. Contents 4-5. Executive summary 6-7. Brand history 8-11. Brand equity 12-13. Marketing mix 14-19. Campaign shoots 20. Consumer segmentation 21. Emerging markets 22-23. Competitor analysis 24-25. Micro and macro 26-27. SWOT analysis and recommendation 28. Back cover


Cover image: Spring 2011, Vogue. Right image: Alexander McQueen store, Shanghai.



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY This is a marketing report on the luxury fashion brand Alexander McQueen, delving into the past, present, and future of the company. Through extensive research and meticulous analysing, I have concluded recommendations for Alexander McQueen to stay relevant, and potentially increase market share. In this report I have dissected the brand's past, showing how Sarah Burton has tamed and developed the once 'enfant terrible' Alexander McQueen into the sophisticated and feminine brand it is today. In memory of Lee Alexander McQueen.

Left image: Lee Alexander McQueen, The Life and Legacy. Credit: Judith Watt..


BRAND HISTORY Alexander McQueen is a London-based

fashion house, the founder of which – Lee Alexander McQueen, is notorious for his eccentric, unusual, and sometimes disturbing self-directed shows and designs. McQueen left school at the age of 16 to pursue an apprenticeship at the traditional Savile Row tailors Gieves & Hawkes, where McQueen reportedly whilst ‘bored’ wrote “I am a cunt” into a jacket’s lining… destined for the Prince of Wales. From there McQueen ventured into costume design before attending Central Saint Martin’s to complete a Masters in Fashion Design in 1992. His MA collection Jack the Ripper Stalks his Victims (featuring hair enclosed in the garment’s lining) was bought as an entirety by Isabella Blow, an established fashion journalist. McQueen

first made a name for himself in fashion through his grotesque ‘bumster’ jeans, featured in the AW95 collection Highland Rape. Highland Rape triggered McQueen’s turbulent relationship with the British fashion industry; models with torn clothing, naked breasts, and bloodied flesh were perceived as misogynistic. In October 1996 McQueen was appointed Chief Designer at French Haute Couture house Givenchy, however this was short lived due to creative differences. Whilst Givenchy’s Fall 1996 fin de siècle collection sported neutral colours and slim fitting garments, Alexander McQueen’s Fall 2002 ready-to-wear communicated the designer’s true bizarre motives for fashion. Despite this, his works under Givenchy earned McQueen the British Fashion Council’s

British Designer of the Year in 1996, 1997, and 2001 leading to him being named Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In 2000, Gucci bought a 51% stake in Alexander McQueen, allowing McQueen the freedom to leave Givenchy in March 2001. Alexander McQueen proceeded to open flagship stores in New York, Milan, London, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. The energy of raw emotions combined with contemporary romance McQueen consistently delivered portrayed a unique juxtaposition between delicateness and strength, and for this Alexander McQueen swiftly became ‘enfant terrible’ amongst the fashion industry, stating “I’m not interested in being liked”. McQueen gave catwalk

6 Above image: Voss, 2001. Vibenye Wordpress, 2014. Left image: Lee Alexander McQueen. Credit: Tim Walker, 2009.

performances like never before seen, from the SS99 spray paint performance, to the SS01 show Voss. During Voss (McQueen’s first show after leaving Givenchy), a glass box enclosing the models (used to represent an asylum) took centre stage, and the models inside, directed by McQueen to “go mental, have a nervous breakdown, die, and the come back to life”, left McQueen’s name branded on spectator’s minds.

“I find beauty in the grotesque, like most artists.” Within a decade Alexander McQueen had

gained global respect as a designer, alongside colleague and friend Sarah Burton whom after completing a placement year at Alexander McQueen during her degree, returned after graduating. Burton was made Head of Design for Womenswear at the brand in 2000. In July 2006, the company launched McQ - a more affordable diffusion line carrying both men’s and women’s ready-to-wear clothing and accessories, targeted at a younger market. Originally created as a subsidiary denim collection, McQ’s first boutique was opened in 2011 within London, and the brand’s first presence at London Fashion Week falling in 2012. McQ is considered “a celebration of a more casual and urban sportswear aesthetic” (Sarah Burton 2012), celebrating McQueen’s presence on the London street scene.

Following the death of Lee Alexander

McQueen in February 2010, Sarah Burton was promoted to Creative Director of the entire Alexander McQueen brand. In 2011, Alexander McQueen was announced as the designer of Catherine Middleton’s wedding dress, “catapulting the house of Alexander McQueen from niche designer business into household name” (J. Cartner-Morley, 2011) and adopting a tamer brand image. As of 2015, Alexander McQueen boasts a revenue of approximately £218 million, expecting to grow to 500 million by 2018 according to forecasts provided by former CEO Jonathan Akeroyd (2004-2016).




Brand equity falls under the AAKER

framework, and provides value to customers by enhancing their interpretation of the brand and products, increasing confidence in their purchasing decision and overall satisfaction. It allows the brand a personality derived from consumer perception of the brand name determined by brand loyalty, name awareness, perceived quality, brand associations, and other brand assets.

“I came to terms with not fitting in a long time ago. I never really fitted in. I don’t want to fit in. And now people are buying into that.”

Names to be often associated with Alexander McQueen include Sarah Jessica Parker, who as well as being seen in McQueen twice, accompanied Lee to the Met Gala in 2006. Four time winning Best Actress Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker is predominantly popular amongst Alexander McQueen’s current target market. One of the most influential persons to wear McQueen is Catherine Middleton, plastering the brand’s name over newspapers globally in 2011 during her royal wedding. The consistent elegance that was birthed with Sarah Burton’s takeover has created customer loyalty from mature and established women whom favour Alexander McQueen’s new brand identity of quirkiness blended with femininity.

Alexander McQueen was once associat-

ed with themes of gloom, death, and an aura of uneasiness and unstableness. This identity was built through eerie shows, their signature skull print and ‘knuckle duster’ clutch bags, and dark campaigns such as their Fall 2008 depicting a girl tangled in a bird’s nest - something considered too delicate to disturb. There is a striking contrast of this Alexander McQueen directed shoot, to the Fall 2016 campaign under Sarah Burton; the Fall 2016 campaign, regardless of being predominately black and white, it is set along the bright and free Scottish coast. Alexander McQueen sports a sophisticated logo, and classic clothing with an added quirk: the signature McQueen roots.

To understand McQueen’s name Left image: AW13 campaign. Credit: David Sims. Above image: Voss, 2001, Vogue..

Lee Alexander McQueen

awareness, I conducted a survey in which I asked a variety of people aged between 18 and 21. The first question: “Are you aware of what McQueen sell as a brand?” retrieved 70% for yes, and 30% for no. The second question: “Have you ever seen a McQueen advert?” revealed only 10% had seen an advert for the brand multiple times, whilst 30% had ‘once or twice’, and 60% had never seen one. The last question: “Are you more aware of Prada/Balenciaga than McQueen?” – this was asked to understand name awareness for competitors, as well as the brand. 50% answered yes they are more aware of the competitors, 10% are more aware of Prada only, 0% are more aware of Balenciaga only, and 40% are more aware of McQueen. The brand name is established worldwide with over twenty stores located globally including the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United States of America.

Third in brand equity is brand

responsibility. McQueen can be purchased from high end department stores such as Harvey Nichols which as of 2014 had a net worth of £70 million, Harrods: recently sold for £1.5 billion, and Selfridges with a net worth of £324 million - globally respected stores. Other fashion brands I found similar to Alexander McQueen were Chloe, Dolce & Gabbana, Yves Saint Laurent, Versace, and Louis Vuitton – some are owned by McQueen’s parent company Kering.

Fourth is brand associations. Mc-

Queen is notorious for taking risks,


and the holographic image of the then out-of-favour Kate Moss during the 2006 ‘Widows of Culloden’ show in Paris would initially have been thought to damage the brand equity, however it strengthened McQueen’s original brand equity. Whilst McQueen was alive, the brand itself was associated with Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell over Catherine Middleton. From McQueen himself engraving profanities into the Prince


of Wales’s jacket, to Burton dressing the Duchess of Cambridge blurs the brand equity – would McQueen approve of the association Alexander McQueen now has with the royal family? As McQueen fades from the brand (only kept alive in scarce but familiar dark campaign photoshoots), Burton is adopting a more household friendly image, causing a radical shift in the brand’s visual identity. Despite delicateness over doom now being

Images: AW14 camapaign. Credit: Steven Klein..

favoured, Alexander McQueen’s key brand asset still remains the image of a human skull – once associated with death, now a symbolic image within fashion.


MARKETING MIX Alexander McQueen’s current product

portfolio includes clothing, jewellery, shoes, bags, and their iconic scarves which can mostly only be purchased in store, and their perfume extension is available through stockists.

street fashion stores. I would consider the skull scarves to be a ‘cash cow’ amongst the BCG matrix. Affordable, always on trend, and traditional it offers consumers a moderately priced Alexander McQueen experience.

Alexander McQueen is renowned for the The brand’s current star product are brand’s skull print scarf, the iconic symbol scarcely used in fashion beforehand has trickled down into high

their shoes; through online research I discovered Alexander McQueen’s shoes (from high heels to trainers)

are frequently favoured. The dog product of the brand remains their perfume. Kingdom, his first scent released in 2003 was, reported to be “a musky-oriental so heavy on the cumin that some hours after spraying, you could mistake it for body odour” by Vogue beauty and health director Nicola Moulton (2016). Although McQueen perfumes have been greeted with dismay, Moulton outlined that the brand’s newest

12 Above image: SS18 campaign. Credit: Jamie Hawkesworth. Right image: AW16 camapign. Credit: Jamie Hawkesworth.

perfume achieved “the grandeur of a huge oriental or a bold hyper” with “nothing sweet to cheapen it” suggesting this dog product could produce revenue in the future.

The question mark product of the

brand, I would propose is the McQ brand as an entirety. Despite being introduced as a more affordable extension of Alexander McQueen, McQ sports exceptionally similar price tags, and substandard promotion. Upon McQ’s debute in London Fashion Week 2012, Burton asserted “we have to define what it is and who she is. McQ should be about things that are very connected to the roots of early McQueen” (2011): the LFW show proved true to McQueen roots, I found myself captivated by the familiar dark themes and engaging performance.

"McQ should be about the things that are very connected to the roots of early McQueen." Price Alexander McQueen pricing strategy

falls under two categories: skimming pricing, and premium pricing. Their latest collections are set to premium pricing to indicate the exclusivity and offer it to a niche target market, however former collections are set to skimming pricing to make them available for a wider variety of markets, whilst still preserving exclusivity.

Promotion Alexander McQueen promotes through mostly online campaigns released for new season collections; these are shared through various fashion

magazines and fashion websites, on their website, and through their social media pages.

The first stage of the AIDA pro-

luxury brands, however campaigns such as SS17, and Peeping Tom, and keeping an up-to-date Instagram attract attention, fabricate interest, and keep the brand relevant.

motion model is the cognitive stage: attention. McQueen’s campaigns are renowned for being visually arresting; the SS17 campaign is set in the “emotive and extreme landscape of Iceland”, it provides duality between “the rugged and the romantic” (Alexander McQueen website). The music is eerie and erratic, creating the campaign to be easily recognisable as an Alexander McQueen one; the themes correspond with the McQueen Instagram, online store, and previous campaigns. Once attention is gripped, interest must be secured. It is essential for campaigns to appear on brand from music, visuals, to content, and ensure their product is prominent. The young female model teamed with womenswear clothing filters through Alexander McQueen’s typical target market.

Alexander McQueen scarcely uses

celebrity endorsements (the intense ‘Peeping Tom’ 2014 campaign with “classic” Kate Moss one of few), McQueen himself once stating: “I don’t court celebrities, they come to me”. Interest must build into desire to ignite the final stage: action. The SS17 campaign is promoting a new collection carrying new trends and a luxury stamp that reaches to customers psychologically (Alexander McQueen products are not a need, but a want), and they desire to achieve the esteem needs exclusive items offers.

The final stage of AIDA is action;

the brand has convinced the consumer and communication a sense of urgency. The SS17 campaign is fast paced and unfocused: those who reach the action stage will have appreciation of the sporadic fashion industry, understanding trends swiftly change. Action is not always achieved for



Images: SS18 campaign, Credit: Jamie Hawkesworth.



Images: SS17 campaign. Credit: Jamie Hawkesworth.


Images: Peeping Tom campaign, 2014. Credit: Steven Klein. 18


CONSUMER SEGMENTATION The key factors to understanding a brand’s consumer include who, their morals and values, and shopping habits – from this a brand can determine their advertising choices, political associations, colour palettes, and celebrity associates. Alexander McQueen currently targets established and professional men and women (geodemographic) aged 25-45. Although Alexander McQueen offers products to all genders, their campaigns mainly targets women through using female models and extensive advertising for women collections.

The majority of their consumers mostly reside in main capital cities and would indulge in other lavish

products and brands, this influencing the brand’s store locations. The brand targets those who are fashion conscious (psychographics) and favour quality over quantity, as well as their own and other people’s opinions of themselves. Exclusive brands such as Alexander McQueen attract customers who appreciate an in-store experience, often impulsively purchasing – luxury brands are considered ‘esteem needs’ amongst Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: consumers fulfil respect and a sense of accomplishment as opposed to self-actualisation, or love and belonging.


EMERGING MARKETS As well as understanding the current consumer segmentation, it is vital for a brand to research emerg-

ing markets; this allows the brand to identify and predict trends, guide advertising, and understand any cultural/social evolutions. The shift from baby boomers to millennials is a particularly important factor for Alexander McQueen to consider as generation x and millennials enter McQueen’s consumer segmentation.

The popularity of social media and rise of elite young adults in the spotlight introduces an opportu-

nity for brands to communicate to new markets. As well as this, Alexander McQueen must examine future key territories: China is expected to have a global growth of 28% by 2025, India 23%, and Pakistan 2%, as well as the predicted key cities by 2025 which includes Tokyo, New York, London, and Hong Kong (Benjamin, 2018). Communicating to these emerging markets can be done through targeted marketing for example D&G’s 2016 Abaya collection sporting hijabs. To appeal to emerging markets, Alexander McQueen must adapt: a boom of luxury in Middle East led to mature women favouring feminine grandeur products - Alexander McQueen now has four stores in Dubai mall, Qatar, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates however offering the same products as within the UK; they are targeting a niche market in other countries.


COMPETITOR ANALYSIS Evaluating competitors and their

strategies can determine their strengths and identify their weaknesses. Alexander McQueen’s competitors include Stella McCartney, Chloe, Chanel, Marni, Saint Laurent, and Vivienne Westwood. The three main competitors most similar to McQueen in products and pricing are Chanel, Stella McCartney, and Chloe, all of which are luxury feminine brands reaching out to the same target markets. Chanel dominates the perfume industry, something McQueen is yet to penetrate. As well as, this Chanel has a strong brand equity and visual identity, maintaining brand loyalty amongst consumers of the same target market as Alexander McQueen.

Stella McCartney is renowned for the


lavish quality and wide variety of products available, leading to more possession of market share. With a more affordable price than Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney is a more feasible option for consumers, however not as exclusive. Chloe offers an even more affordable option for luxury fashion consumers, with a familiar name through more marketing (such as celebrity endorsements), and popular fragrance giving Chloe a larger market share in comparison to Alexander McQueen.

Other competitors are Vivienne West-

wood and Marni. Vivienne Westwood has a solid and consistent visual identity (something Alexander McQueen has lost) including an easily recognisable logo and asserted brand equity, although targets a more niche market than Al-

Above image: AW17 campaign. Credit: Julia Hetta.

exander McQueen with a lesser grandeur essence. Marni has a loyal niche market with high quality products, however with low brand awareness, and high production costs I would not consider Marni to pose a sizeable threat to Alexander McQueen.

Another competitor to be considered

is Saint Laurent – considerably higher in price, Saint Laurent is an elitist luxury brand with a widely recognised logo and traditional style. Saint Laurent is often seen on ‘current’ celebrities, keeping the brand relevant.


Above image SS18 collection. Left image: Resort 2017 collection. 24

MICRO AND MACRO Micro factors are internal to a

brand, issues such as suppliers, employees, media and marketing, and customers. Macro factors are external to a brand and cannot be dealt with by the company; PESTLE factors, sociocultural, demographic, and the physical environment. Through my research, the presiding political factors I found that affect my brand are those concerning trade barriers and taxes, legal requirements, and IPR (intellectual property) protection. Fashion brands that trade within the UK must act in accordance with the Government’s Trade Tariffs, including the country’s regulations they trade in. Alexander McQueen ships across most European countries, thirteen American states, eight African countries, as well as Australia and New Zealand. Alexander McQueen will also need to meet any tax regulations within its trading countries. Another political factor is IPR protection: intellectual property can include a brand name, and a design/look of products. Being a designer brand, Alexander McQueen often faces counterfeit products, as well as products that do not infringe the brand’s IPR but are similar in appearance (replicas). Replicas of the brand’s skull print scarf can be bought from most high street fashion shops, as well as mimics of their ten-inch Armadillo heels. In 2016, Alexander McQueen faced backlash from UK designer Christine Kendall who claimed “her company’s designs were unfairly taken and copied” however their lawsuit failed to stand ground.

Economic factors Alexander Mc-

Queen must take into consideration include unemployment rates within their target market, recessions, and emerging markets. Alexander McQueen targets those already established in life; if they want to consider expanding their target market they must evaluate employment rates to deter-

mine a suitable time to reach out to potential customers. Unemployment rates within the UK has fallen to 4.3% (The Guardian, 2017) throughout the past year, and with it expected to continue falling Alexander McQueen has an opportunity to gain more customers. Bexit has sparked looming financial issues within Britain, it being suggested the UK is headed for a recession by Azad Zangana, senior European economist at Schroders who stated “"This is not sustainable in the medium-term and should lead to an even greater slowdown in household consumption. This greatly increases the risk of recession" (2017).

"We consider sustainabilitiy to be the Kering seal of savoir-faire." Social factors to affect Alexander Mc-

Queen chiefly include changes in consumer mind set: global personal luxury goods market has had a healthy grow reaching £230b in 2017, consumers are now favouring quality over quantity benefiting Alexander McQueen’s marketing strategy. As well as this, potential customers are being influenced by celebrity endorsements and social media more than before, offering Alexander McQueen an opportunity to benefit from the changing sociological environment with scrutinised research. Alexander McQueen has an established ecommerce presence including a website, however it does not take full advantage of the rise in popularity of social media.

to take beneficial action: in 2017 Kering adopted a new strategy “in the aim to be the most sustainable fashion group” (Kering, 2017). Kering has stated it will “support the drive towards a low-carbon economy and help shape the future of luxury as sustainable and to operate within the “planetary boundaries”. The strategy includes a range of subheadings including ‘CARE fort the planet’, ‘COLLABORATE with people’, and ‘CREATE new business models’. An independant online comapanty that specialises in ranking fashion brands according to their sustainability (Rank a Brand) named Alexander McQueen a 'D' category brand: "brand owner Kering has started taking sustainability into account. Still a lot more could be done". Kering has also been named "Most Sustainable Global Corporation" by Corporate Knights Global 100 index: “We consider sustainability to be the Kering seal of savoir-faire, a criterion in all business decisions, traversing all departments and areas of our supply chain,” said Marie-Claire Daveu, chief sustainability officer at Kering (2017).

The escalated environmental issues pressing the fashion industry has encouraged luxury fashion brands




Alexander McQueen offers niche

products renown for being unique and high quality, leading to them being desirable. Their brand has a strong name recognised globally, as well as a high financial status and support, and a defined market position. Although the skull print has trickled down, it remains a symbol of Alexander McQueen.

Despite an asserted global pres-

ence, the brand only has twenty-one stores worldwide with many of their products not available to purchase online, affecting how accessible they are to customers. Their products remain exclusive and are not affordable to the mass market, restricting their market growth and potential target markets (although being a luxury brand strengthens their brand image).

Alexander McQueen’s extension McQ

imal information about current collections and campaigns. As offers a more affordable option well as this, the brand has limitto a wider target market, comed celebrity endorsements (Kate bining original McQueen roots Moss and Katherine Middleton with modern day fashion. As well the only prominent public figures as this, their Instagram keeps the to be associated) and runs risk of brand fairly relevant within the losing relevance in the modernised social media world and builds fashion world. Their shift in visual communication with potential identity blurs the brand equity, customers. Although Alexander and campaigns that promote AlexMcQueen has expanded globally, ander McQueen as a dark and deeply they are restricted in success due emotional contradict their delicate to cultural differences globally. and feminine collections. The cusIf they were to expand to lower tomers the adverts interest are less markets this taints their luxury brand identity, and if they were to likely to take action due to the different styles between capaigns and saturate global markets Alexander McQueen would need to adapt their collections. Limited sizes available in their products excludes a wider clothing lines. market of those size fourteen and above – plus size models are Alexander McQueen’s social media increasingly being accepted into marketing strategy is substandard the fashion world putting luxury in comparison to other competdesigners under the spotlight to itors; although they maintain a cater to plus size consumers. current Instagram, it reveals min-

Alexander McQueen as a brand could develop into existing and emerging markets through:

Engaging with younger markets using a range of social media websites. Introducing a more up-to-date Instagram and adapting to Snapchat especially during new seasons/LFW. This ensures the brand remains relevant day-to-day and offers opportunity for a bigger following. • Endorsing a celebrity that shares a similar visual identity to Alexander McQueen. Choosing someone popular amongst their target market, as well as relevant to the current fashion world - stategically dressing the celebrity before releasing a campaign shoot. • Including culturally different styles into collections, making these available in their Middle Eastern stores. • Through meticulous research, focus their visual identity and stabilise their brand equity.

Left image: Spring 2017 menswear. Credit: Julia Hetta.


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I. Kottasova (2017 June 30th). Is the UK headed for a recession? Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/2017/06/30/ news/economy/uk-recession-brexit/index.html D. Pinkney (2017 October 25th). Global Personal Luxury goods market returns to healthy growth. Retirved from http://www.bain.com/about/press/press-releases/press-release-2017-global-fall-luxury-market-study.aspx TFL (2017 January 27th). Kering Adopts New Strategy in Aim to be the Most Sustainable Luxury Group. Retrieved from http://www.thefashionlaw.com/home/kering-adopts-new-strategy-in-aim-to-be-the-most-sustainable-luxurygroup Rank a Brand (2017). How Sustainable is Alexander McQueen? Retrieved from https://rankabrand.org/sustainable-luxury-brands/Alexander+McQueen L. Marfil (2018 January 23rd). Kering Named Most Sustainable Global Corporation. Retrieved from http://wwd. com/fashion-news/fashion-scoops/kering-most-sustainable-global-corporation-11122255/

IMAGES http://britishproducts.com/a-british-fashion-icon-the-life-of-alexander-mcqueen/ http://www.cpp-luxury.com/alexander-mcqueen-opens-new-store-in-shanghai-at-iapm-mall-xuhui-district/ alexander-mcqueen-open-new-flagship-store-in-shanghai-at-iapm-mall-xuhui-district/ https://vibenye.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/alexander-mcqueen-voss/ https://www.timwalkerphotography.com/portraits#33 http://ftape.com/media/alexander-mcqueen-aw13-campaign/ http://www.vogue.it/en/shows/oddities/2014/07/alexander-mcqueen-fall-winter-2014-2015-ad http://www.alexandermcqueen.com/experience/en/category/ad-campaigns/ http://www.alexandermcqueen.com/experience/en/category/ad-campaigns/ http://www.alexandermcqueen.com/experience/en/category/ad-campaigns/ http://footwearnews.com/2017/fashion/designers/alexander-mcqueen-fall-2017-mens-shoe-collection-297432/ http://footwearnews.com/2017/fashion/designers/alexander-mcqueen-fall-2017-mens-shoe-collection-297432/ https://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/resort-2017/alexander-mcqueen/slideshow/collection https://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/resort-2017/alexander-mcqueen/slideshow/collection https://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/spring-2017-menswear/alexander-mcqueen



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Alexander McQueen Fashion Brand Report  

Alexander McQueen Fashion Brand Report