With gender fluidity shifting from sign up forms to gender neutral bathrooms it is only time this movement will be fully introduced into the high-street retail environment. As well as couture fashion brands, such as Gucci embracing the social movement, it will emphasise the trickle-down theory. As both marketing and fashion both reflect and integrate with society, it will take an impact. Two main trends that have shone through on social media is the concept of being gender neutral and to be gender aware. With high fashion, such as Selfridges already causing implementation and have a newly launched Agender department and their focus being on shopping freedom and on what they want to wear and not have to worry about gender boundaries. The space contains no gender mannequins to not influence but allow the consumer to shop for themselves. It has proven extremely popular and has proven so far that it could be so much more than a trend or a FAD. A store that is currently out of focus from this upcoming craze i s French Connection. French Connection’s founder, Stephen Marks, was known for being 15th i n the founders British ranking in the rich list. However last year the founder did not even make the list as currently the value of French Connection’s shareholding has dwindled as well as its retail er’s sales, profits and popularity. Showing it the brand has recentl y proven not to be as popular as it used to be. As in 1997 to boost the popularity and reboot the brands ego and popularity Marks decided the company needed a new revaluation and so he hired Trevor Beattie to be in control of the marketing for French Connection. What inspired hiring the so called bad boy of advertising was after he almost crashed his car after seeing the seductive ‘Hello Boys’ advertisement for Wonderbra. Which inspired him to have a more outrages marketing technique. This collaborating of Beattie and French Connection is what lead to the rebrand of FCUK. At the time the rebrand was extremely popular and created somewhat of a craze, the slogans created from FCUK meant the company’s shares and sales took a massive up rise. Which had even taken the brands value up
to £500million. However, last year it has proven to be a FAD as according to the Telegraph, French Connection is now only valued at £32.7million. A massive downfall for the brand. As this could be due to from the branding shifting from the younger FCUK branding to be a more expensive stylish label which has led to confusion over the brands positions and consumer market. Although a strong marketing campaign that outlines a ‘new’ brand and campaign would be helpful to aiding recovery for the brand and sales. As well as a whole new mis en scene for the stores. With the current stores being slick and modern, decorated and structured through glass, pin and chrome dominating the stores. The store layouts are more functional and bland and could be beneficial to display its products more creatively to bring in the attention of consumers . With very few pieces of clothing being in the £25-£35 price range, making the garments more expensive than it once was when FCUK was brand was at its peak. With competitive high-street stores, these prices in the middle market will be suffering to be selling so to deal with competition with ought changing its price boundaries would have focus on originality and innovative as a key tactic.
A marketing concept in response to the research of French Connection would be offer unique iconic pieces that would stand out on the high street and against its competitors as well as current with not just fashion trends but also social media. Especially as French Connection describes itself as ‘driven by innovation’ it needs to start truly reflecting its motives and becoming ahead of the trends. Using marketing techniques such as the self-concept to relate to the customer’s needs. As an improvement to brands it can start offering a sub-brand that can offer a more affordable lifestyle and be reflective on a new innovative drive on creating a new atmosphere not just in store but online as well. As the pricing is currently too expensive for the current market that it is targeting to so creating a cheaper sub brand can also make the other garments in store look more premium rather than the whole brand being perceived as expensive. This would change the store layout to highlight more key products and the sub-brand, which could offer more outfit suggestion as well as a better in store experience. For the online marketing concept, it will be heavily focused on social media marketing as this is a big influence on current trends and has a big impact on fashion today. This way the brand can keep ahead and in keep with current social issues. Having an Instagram, blogs and forums can create and optimize consumers to drive traffic to a company’s website as well as simply create an increase to exposure and brand awareness. Which also can be shared by consumers to increase its reach through Viral Marketing. Through the online website a website link to a blog will be created which will feature links to the latest news articles on gender and the LGBT community. This will show that brand is genuinely fully involved and interested with what its promoting as well as hearing the consumer’s opinions with the use of hashtags and comments sections. That can also create viral awareness.
The concept for the in-store idea will be based around environmental therapy. Environmental therapy has been shown to make consumers happier by having purified air around them. This then resulting in a boosted mood as well as a reduced stress level. This can be reflective on the French Connections stores and its core values as it can show stability, growth and cyclical change. With not just the branding and packaging but the store embracing interior like instore lighting. With a recent study (Lux 2017) that suggested that in store lighting can actually help guide a customer through store and increasing the average spend per customer. The brand embracing this shopping experience can represent its core values of accepting change and growth within the brand. So, the consumers are more comfortable within themselves and the store. The benefits of having such an instore experience as well will offer a unique selling point against French Connections competitors and making a strip into the store more inviting than other and shopping online. As well as making the consumer want to spend more time in store but also outlining the sub brands goal of making the genderless collection of being comfortable as its optimized potential. Mock up designs of the brand will be surrounded the idea of French Connection being natural and environmental therapy. Creating logoâ€™s and patterns surrounded by flowers and leaves to express the brands ambitions and focus. The sub brand then being name FCnatural as well as hashtags following this name. The garments of the collection will all be denim as this is never out of fashion but is also easily gender neutral. Focusing on that this is not just a trend but a social concept here to stay. As well as this the collection of denim garments are aesthetically pleasing alongside with the store designs surrounding nature.
On reflection of the development and success of the marketing concept it is a good base for consumers to start social media trends with the online blog and website, such as the hashtags e.g. #fcnatural. This will create a successful awareness and buzz around French Connections new launch. The whole mis-en-scene of the brand relaunch is surrounded on environmental therapy that would be a successful as it is a unique customer experience. This has proven successful with other brands by using marketing techniques such as guerrilla marketing that has always proven
itself successful and catches consumerâ€™s attention. This will give French Connection a big impact over other competitors and create more attention the brand. However, what could be improved would be creating a bigger stall and even a pop store in places such as London to create even more publicity. As the more publicity, would mean more the consumers understanding the brand and its ambitions, with the launch of the sub brand fcnatural. Overall this had been proven to be a successful marketing technique linking to other stores such as Selfridges which has also benefited from it. This way of innovative design and marketing for French Connection is industry leading as it can be proven once again for French Connection that a changeup of marketing can benefits its profits and become socially aware to consumers once again. This will be industry leading as well due to a sub brand creating such big media attention and detail to its store. The concept of it being a genderless connection does have a global appeal as the likes of Japan have already have had big trends of genderless clothing and completely genderless clothing retail spaces such as â€˜Phluid Projectâ€™ in Manhattan opening. Proving the genderless clothing concept is here to not only to stay but is here globally.
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