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Front Cover Contents Page
Brand Equity Brand Equity
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Consumer Segmentation & Visual Customer Profile Brand Positioning Map & Competitor Analysis Micro & Macro - Economic Factor Analysis SWOT Analysis
This is a Brand Marketing Audit focusing on the Japanese brand Comme des Garcons. In this audit Iâ€™m going to deconstruct the brands business and marketing system, focusing on things such as; ethics, yearly revenue and how its achieved, marketing strategies, the founder herself and even explore further possibilities/brand extensions which I believe would suit and benefit the brand. However, as I undertook more research it became apparent to me that Rei Kawakubo the founder of Comme des Garcons, had created an elusive empire within the fashion industry. Unfortunately meaning a lot of her privately owned companyâ€™s information is kept private. A persona for the brand which imitates that of its creator, who also refuses to undergo being interviewed or publicly speaking in regards to CDG.
Comme Des Garcon is a brand founded in Tokyo, Japan by Rei Kawakubo, Commes Des Garcons translates to ‘like the boys’ in French. Kawakubo began to develop her brand in 1969 and became established in 1973, she’s a designer who bends the rules of gender norms and opposes the expected fashion figure.
Kawakubo started the brands journey in 1969 with no formal fashion training, she begun as a stylist and pushed herself to progress, after just 7 years of being established within the industry Comme Des Garcons was already making $30 million annually, with around 80 employees and 150 break off stores. The brand exceeded expectations within the Eastern world, however it wasn’t as rapidly accepted within the Western world. It was apparent at first that the U.S and Europe were unwelcoming to the designs and it was made aware via press publications. Eventually, CDG broke through the Western mould and were eventually accepted, not only in the avant-garde sector but also in day to day life. A rise in business women within the creative industry took to Kawakubo’s designs and would wear them as office attire, even after she’d claimed her designs weren’t always created for wearing.
‘Though Kawakubo has admitted some of her pieces aren’t necessarily for wearing, people bought (and continue to buy) her $800 skirts and $1,400 blazers — even if they didn’t totally understand them.’(Kawakubo, 2017) CDG has had the ability to stay true to its outlandish roots and continue to keep producing their unconventional pieces mainly because it’s a privately-owned company; therefore, they are not relying on pleasing or tailoring their designs to investor’s expectations.
Brand Equity and Visual Identity.
- â€˜Brand equity has three basic components: consumer perception, negative or positive effects, and the resulting value. First and foremost, brand equity is built by consumer perception, which includes both knowledge and experience with a brand and its products. The perception that a consumer segment holds about a brand directly results in either positive or negative effects. If the brand equity is positive, the organization, its products and its financials can benefit. â€˜ (Staff, 2018)
Exclusivity - CDG items/products aren’t always as easily accessible as some may like, however this keeps the exclusivity with in the brand and decreases the chance of product devaluation. CDG PLAY for example collaborated with Converse, producing some trainers, which usually sell out on line once restocked, then are only restocked a couple times a year. This then creates a general buzz about the product and makes the consumer feel as though they want them more; because they’re harder to Some brands can lose sight of their customers passion for exclusivity and unfortunately fall into the trap of their increasing profit margin, rereleasing certain products too many times. This can then lead to losing a percentage of their loyal customers and devaluing the original product. I feel as though as a brand, you need to hold on to your exclusivity, if that’s one of the products unique selling points. However, some brands find this hard to do, as they lack in creativity and the power to securely drop products that will be trustworthy in accumulating high demand sales. Although, CDG have managed to prove to their continuously growing loyal customer base that they would never stray towards doing this.
? Personality - Kawakubo has managed to create a unique brand personality by staying consistent with in her theme of opposing expected gendered forms and silhouettes. Allowing people to acknowledge her creations with little implications other than the design/garment itself. She doesnâ€™t interview often and claims she lets her designs do the talking. Another element which adds massively to the personality of the brand is that a lot of the pieces werenâ€™t designed/made to be worn; but this didnâ€™t degenerate sales, it just meant that to pull of the piece your personality would have to reiterate that of the garments.
‘Though Kawakubo has admitted some of her pieces aren’t necessarily for wearing, people bought (and continue to buy) her $800 skirts and $1,400 blazers — even if they didn’t totally understand them.’ (Lieber, 2017) Kawakubo even established that the garments weren’t always created for wearing, yet this still didn’t stop people doing so even in the earlier years. [Referring back to S2. P2 reference 1] This is when art really began to turn into fashion.
“The more people that are afraid when they see new creation, the happier I am,” (Kawakubo, 2012) Her aim is to create emotion when designing a piece not to stimulate financial attachment or for it to become a wanted fashion. Her desire is not for people to want her clothes, but for people to fear them, birthing a range of eccentric individuals who form the CDG following. It is trusted that she will never conform to the idea of fashion,
Kawakubo’s product portfolio doesn’t just consist of specific products; it’s dissected into the contribution of sub-brands, the revenue accumulation of Dover Street Market and then product diversity. * Cash Cow The sub brand that regulates the highest annual revenue for CDG would be the most commercial/ main stream of them all; CDG’s PLAY bringing in 12% alone. It’s the lowest entry price sub brand and has recently taken off within the streetwear sector of fashion, we currently see it fall into the same genre as; Supreme, Palace, Anti Social Social Club and Bape. Demonstrating the sheer diversity within the Comme Des Garcons consumers, as the PLAY consumers are stereotypically at the other end of the spectrum to the Comme Des Garcons Homme PLUS consumers, not only due to price bracket but also due to the desired style. ‘Sub-brands have contributed to the steady growth of Comme des Garçons’s business; sales rose from $130 million in 1999 to $150 million in 2005 to $180 million in 2008. Revenue has since jumped another $100 million to more than $280 million today.’ (Lieber, 2017)
*Star Kawakubo is also the founder of the 5 Dover Street Market stores, allowing herself to house not only her brand but a range of others, birthing a huge shopping experience which begun in London but has spread to locations such as; Ginza, New York, Singapore and Beijing. This allows her to be in full control of at least one source of shopping experience regarding her brand, and is endearing other outside consumers who may enter her stores for additional guest brands. Accumulating 35% of CDG’s annual revenue, Dover Street Market is by far the most vital asset. Focussing not only on fashion, but appreciating art alone as well as the art of fashion. Allowing the power of visual merchandising to take over and influence the costumer. “Comme des Garçons was never about everywhere, and for everyone,” adds Wilson. “It’s not a Calvin Klein or a Ralph Lauren business — it was never getting the point of selling underwear. It’s about being in the know, about being fashion-literate, and being confident enough to appreciate what any sane person would look at and think, ‘What on earth?’” (Lieber, 2017)
*Dog Being unable to find any other statistics regarding the success in the sales of the CDG products, I decided to deconstruct the financial reliability of the products myself. What I’d predict to be the dog would be the jewellery. It lacks slightly within the theme of CDG and is what I would deem as expectant for male jewellery, therefore not opposing the gender norms quite eccentrically as expected. Therefore it doesn’t fit the brand, and isn’t something I’d say they specialise in, in comparison to their other creations.
*Question Mark Perfume to most; a necessity. CDG have a range of perfumes that they paired with the Spanish beauty group Puig to create and endorse. “The perfume business is responsible for revenues of about $10m a year.” (Joffe, 2014.) That’s just under 4% of their current annual revenue, it’s something which could be improved as they’re not yet a household perfume name, yet are showing potential in the perfume industry. Plus perfumes usually are reasonably priced for good low entry-level priced products for customers.
High-end brands which I believe are recent competitors of Comme are; Vetements, Off https://hypebeast.com/2017/4/ White and Supreme. Iâ€™ve come to this consupreme-comme-des-garconsclusion mainly throughshirt-2017-spring-summermy own understanding and deconstruction of current fashion collection trends and through the analysis of the art of dress, within my current surroundings. I came to notice amongst the Asian community within university a lot of the Chinese and Japanese students were sporting a variety of these streetwear brands. I then began to scrutinise their choice of dress more often, I continued this practise for around 3 weeks up until the current date, which led to my assumptions of this newly found competitor sector market being validated. These brands are commissioned in Dover Street Market and have been in collaboration with CDG at some point. The commissioning of the brands in DSM is a great marketing incentive by Kawakubo, sheâ€™s targeting likeminded consumers who may not be direct consumers of CDG, but she knows show interest in a similar fashion, this could then redirect their initial sale from the opposing brand to hers, regardless if that is successful or not if a sale is made she still benefits, as sheâ€™ll still receive commission.
CDG is also renowned for their multiple collaborations with all kinds of different brands, this is good because it opens-up their brand to a wide range of potential customers, even ones who arenâ€™t on the CDG spectrum. It also allows Kawakubo to create a legion of allies within the industry. I read a study on why itâ€™s important to convert your competitors and rivals into allies within a work like environment and thought this was relatable back to the fashion industry. I believe Kawakubo abides by similar rules to achieve further success and greatness with accumulating great public relations and press regarding Comme and DSM.
‘Rivalries can be so destructive, it’s not enough to simply ignore, sidestep, or attempt to contain them. Instead, effective leaders turn rivals into collaborators—strengthening their positions, their networks, and their careers in the process. Think of these relationships not as chronic illnesses you have to endure but as wounds that must be treated in order for you to lead a healthy work life.’ (Uzzi & Dunlap, 2012) Another positive side within their consumer segmentation is that CDG are evidently already steps ahead of opposing brands, executing sales in current emerging markets. China alone is accounted for almost half of the spending across the global luxury market and is expected to have a global growth of around 28%, this will be comforting news for CDG as they already hold a safe seat within the Chinese fashion sector, meaning they don’t have to pursue greater campaigns to break into the industry.
Brand Positioning Map.
Competitor Analysis. After looking into other opposing brands, it came to my attention that Commes Haute Couture is one on its own. I strongly feel as though they don’t have any competitors within that sector and are a completely standalone brand. This became more apparent when I looked in the recent MET GALA which was themed in honour or Rei Kawakubo and her CDG brand. However, it became apparent that neither the attendees or designers understood the memo and lacked in creativity or were maybe even scared to enter the realms of Comme. Regarding CDG’s more accessible ranges, I came across a competitor that is a London brand – Egg Trading. After looking through Egg’s current ranges it was noticeable that throughout their different collections we see a type of consistency with in their clothes; which look quite simple yet manage to distort the conventionally expected silhouette of the female form. However, this is not their main focus or a unique selling point of theirs, like it is CDG’s. This then reiterates the fact that even other daring designers will rely on the safety of society’s accustomed expectations within the fashion industry to hold them up as a brand when needed. Another way Kawakubo manages to eliminate competitors is by creating them herself. In the fashion industry she is seen as a long-standing philanthropist, Kawakubo doesn’t just think of CDG when spotting unignorabel creativity, she sees the potential in
others; works hand in hand with them to create a brand of their own, under the umbrella; but allows them to be independent brands in the industry. This begun in 1992 with her first protégée being Junya Watanabe who began his career with CDG as a patternmaker. ‘As with much of what Comme des Garçons does, these offshoots defy easy characterisation. There is nothing that ties them together in purely aesthetic terms. What they do have in common, however, is a set of values. “It all comes from the same source: the desire to create something different. Our kachikan, or sense of values, goes into everything the company does. Not just clothes but everything. It has to be new. It has to be creative,” Joffe, told BoF in a wide-ranging interview back in 2013.’ (Rabkin, 2015) So, when looking for possible break off brands she’s not always looking for ones who suit her style or who have taken the form of the CDG mould literel, she’s looking for the same brand ethos and authenticity in something that prides itself on being different, creative, exclusive yet still reliable. Although, if she was ever to for-see these potential creative as probable competitors she’s executing the competition wisely by investing in them before they can afford to invest in themselves, plus to them it would be too good of a platform into the industry for them to pass by.
Micro and Macro-Economic Factor Analysis. Some of the macro environmental factors that will affect CDG the most going into the future are: ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------Political – One of the main things that will always put pressure on any brand is ‘Geopolitical instability’ “Geopolitical instability, terrorism, Brexit, and stalled trade deals will all increase a pervasive sense of uncertainty in the global economy” (McK-BOF, 2017). ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------Economical - After suffering and exiting recessions the employment rate has increased allowing consumers’ disposable cash margins to flourish, leading to rising sale rates within the luxury fashion industry. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Social – The biggest social factor that has benefitted CDG the most would be the expanding acceptance within things such as the non-binary community, allowing the acceptance to her gender opposing garments to snowball. “According to official statistics, the proportion of the UK population who define as non-binary when given a choice between male, female and another option is 0.4%, which is 1 in 250 people (Titman, 2014). ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------Technological – The on going improvement and increase of importance around social media, the brand don’t focus on this, but as the social dependence increases they need to consider updating their online presence. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------Environmental– A huge focus which is beginning to circle to planet is the concern for the sea and the creatures that live among it. Some designers have begun to express empathy for the global state and have focussed on collections using materials created from plastics retracted from the sea. CDG could utilize the materials already on the planet than creating more; this would also suit their persona of being different and outlandish by using the unexpected/unknown materials of the sea.
SW The main strengths of CDG are: -
The main weaknesses of CDG are: -
> One of the strongest assets is Dover Street Market, which has recently expanded globally, bringing in the biggest proportion of revenue.
> The accumulation of brand awareness is minor due to the lack of brand marketing.
> Theyâ€™re well respected within the industry after achieving an outstanding brand report, due to an ongoing superlative company ethos, in alignment with the dependable products they produce. > The tightened relations built with numerous designersâ€™ thanks to the many collaborations incurred throughout the years, expected and unexpected, demonstrating inter-brand diversity and relations.
> The use of social media is minimal and inconsistent; it doesnâ€™t reiterate the brand identity as well as other platforms such as DSM and their brand website. > Without research or in-depth knowledge people may struggle to grasp an elaborate understanding of the brands ethos and view a clear translation of their intended values.
The opportunities that CDG could take: -
The threats that CDG could be faced with: -
> They could document up and coming fashion shows or exhibitions on snapchat and create a new following, accumulating a higher attention rate of generation Z. Snapchat is also selective so the individual would chose to add them, this doesn’t detract from the exclusivity and doesn’t force their brand upon anyone who doesn’t chose it to.
> When Kawakubo has to step down or retire (with her being 75 years old) a new CEO will have to take over, potentially altering the company, devaluing the ongoing authenticity that the brand has established; as seen in many other brands when passed over.
> They could consider bringing back discontinued successful products as one off limited edition returns, this will create brand nostalgia for the long standing loyal customers, as well as give new ones a chance to purchase something which they missed prior to joining the following. It will also emphasise on the exclusivity if it’s only re-released once.
> They may see a decline in sales within DSM London when the UK leave the EU, as many consumers may see a decline in disposable income due to the rise in prices of certain necessities. > In the far future if they don’t do anything to increase their brand marketing and don’t begin to use social media, they may get left behind as a brand as the generations begin to pass and the world becomes even more technologically dependent.
Recommendation After researching CDG it has come to my attention that this brand is more of an art form than a brand, that is dependent on setting unheard of trends. It’s clear that they don’t rely solely on stand alone cash cows, but rather the independent creations; increasing the consumers want for originality and exclusivity. So, rather than create a physical brand extension, I’d look at increasing their marketing sector. CDG’s doesn’t market products, but rather commission’s art and uses that accompanied with their logo. One piece I came across was a poster using a fine art piece by Abraham Mignon - Still Life with Fruit, Fish and a Nest from 1675 accompanied by the lyrics from Love Comes Quickly - Pet Shop Boys. This piece of marketing I believe is genius, it’s reaching out to fine art enthusiasts, Pet Shop Boys/ Electropop lovers and the usual CDG consumers. It’s a mysterious poster which shows no indication of what the brand is about, apart from that they believe in the power of art, in many different formats.
So my suggestion is for them to invest in some Artificial Intelligence, a piece of software that has the power to think for itself without the use of coding. It would collect the information of an individual based on their browsing and create a marketing piece tailored uniquely to them and their interests and then either suggest a product, an exhibition or a trip to their most accessible DSM store. The information would be built up of different factors i.e. most listened to song, websites they frequently visit, their location and other art interests. They would then have the opportunity to download their personalised poster, or have it printed and sent to them in postcard, poster or t-shirt form (at a cost). This is marketing which has the power to then create free marketing for itself, as people posting the images, or putting up the poster version or wearing the t-shirt is the extended equivalent to free advertisement.
JOFFE, A. Lunch with the FT: Adrian Joffe In-text: (Joffe, 2014) Your Bibliography: Joffe, A. (2014). Lunch with the FT: Adrian Joffe. [online] Ft.com. Available at: https://www.ft.com/content/4ce0c520-7d35-11e3-a579-00144feabdc0 [Accessed 12 Feb. 2018]. LIEBER, C. The Vast, Mysterious Empire of Comme des Garรงons In-text: (Lieber, 2017) Your Bibliography: Lieber, C. (2017). The Vast, Mysterious Empire of Comme des Garรงons. Racked. Retrieved 4 January 2018, from https:// www.racked.com/2017/4/26/15434296/comme-des-garcons-brands
KAWAKUBO, R. Rei Kawakubo: Exclusive Q&A In-text: (Kawakubo, 2012) Your Bibliography: Socha, M., & Socha, M. (2012). Rei Kawakubo: Exclusive Q&A. WWD. Retrieved 31 January 2018, from http://wwd.com/fashion-news/fashion-features/rei-kawakubo-qa-6486260/ PRATAP, A. PESTEL/PESTLE Analysis of the Fashion retail industry In-text: (Pratap, 2017) Your Bibliography: Pratap, A. (2017). PESTEL/PESTLE Analysis of the Fashion retail industry. [online] Available at: https://www.cheshnotes. com/2017/09/pestelpestle-analysis-of-the-fashion-retail-industry/ [Accessed 8 Feb. 2018]. RABKIN, E. The Children of Comme In-text: (Rabkin, 2015) Your Bibliography: Rabkin, E. (2015). The Children of Comme. The Business of Fashion. Retrieved 1 February 2018, from https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/people/the-children-of-comme
Staff, I. Brand Equity In-text: (Staff, 2018) Your Bibliography: Staff, I. (2018). Brand Equity. [online] Investopedia. Available at: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/brandequity.asp [Accessed 24 Jan. 2018]. TITMAN In-text: (Titman, 2014) Your Bibliography: Titman (2014). Cite a Website - Cite This For Me. [online] Allabouttrans.org.uk. Available at: http://www.allabouttrans.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/non-binary-gender-factsheet.pdf [Accessed 8 Feb. 2018]. Uzzi, B. and Dunlap, S. Make Your Enemies Your Allies In-text: (Uzzi & Dunlap, 2012) Your Bibliography: Uzzi, B., & Dunlap, S. (2012). Make Your Enemies Your Allies. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 5 February 2018, from https:// hbr.org/2012/05/make-your-enemies-your-allies
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COMME DES GARCONS - BRAND MARKETING AUDIT