The Changing Fashion Market in the Late Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
When the supply of fashion items becomes so enormous, the consumer tends to choose the leading brand, which means that others are left behind. And to establish real credibility is no simple matter.
Marketing and promotion
In the fashion industry, two main developments have taken place over the past ten or fifteen years that are driving profits and opportunities for expansion: e-marketing and the expanding Asian market. In global terms, by the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, fashion made up more than 7 percent of world exports. This suggests the prominence of fashion in the international marketplace.
Interestingly, marketing surveys 1 indicate that, by 2014, China will be the largest consumer market in the world, having overtaken the Japanese and American markets. Marketing firm Galloway and Mullen forecasts that Chinese consumption is to increase to $14.6 billion by this time, with 80 percent of the buyers aged 40 years and younger.
The Chinese eCommerce market quadrupled from 2006 to 2009, and Galloway notes that 2010, in particular, ‘had been a seminal year for the luxury industry’ worldwide (McMahon and Morley, 2011: 74). Arguably, this is a result of the growing market in both China and India for luxury goods, which includes fashion, electronic products, and prestigious cars.
To capitalize on this new Asian market, fashion designers, corporate designer labels, and producers of luxury fashion brand accessories such as perfume, cosmetics, handbags, and shoes began to open more outlets in mainland China. For example, in June 2011, Prada, listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, announced that its stores in mainland China were responsible for a 74 percent increase in profits and that it planned to open twenty-fi vex more stores there.
Undoubtedly, this fast-growing cultural shift in the fashion industry’s global marketplace will have enormous implications for future marketing strategies. In the West, during the 1990s, retail sales enjoyed uninterrupted growth, but by the turn of the millennium, global economic instability and downturn became apparent.
Despite the resulting downturn in sales, media personnel was still flocking to the fashion capital to capture the latest collection showings. ‘The end of the 1990s saw 2,000 journalists from more than 40 counties, 100 television stations, and 400 radio stations in Paris covering the hundreds of ready-to-wear shows’. The Los Angeles Times reported that ‘The global strategy of branding and merchandising that has dominated the luxury sector for the last decade is falling away in favour of more authentic, localized experiences.
Luxury brands are borrowing ideas from the fast-fashion world—opening pop-up shops, launching limited-edition collections, even mixing it up with the mass market’ (Moore, 2009). The year 2008 marked a critical point in retail selling, and new marketing and promotion strategies were employed.
However, fast-fashion retailing strategies employed by mega-stores such as Zara, H&M, and Unable proved successful, and Jackson and Shaw’s Mastering Fashion Marketing argued that the diversification of supermarkets into fashion, following the success of ASDA’s George brand, presented a serious challenge to both clothing retailers and fashion brands. It was in the e-marketing field that there was greater evidence of increased sales, as ‘more fashion brands were revisiting e-commerce as a credible distribution channel.