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Purpose The current rapid growth of internet-based commerce is putting pressure on brick-and-mortar retail outlets due to an urge to redefine the role of store spaces from sales channel to, among others, a branding instrument (Hines & Bruce 2008, Nobbs et al 2013). Differentiation in the fashion business being mostly based on non-tangible, emotional, produt attributes, fashion brands recognise the importance of offering a three dimensional environment in order for people to ‘experience' the brand (WGSN 2014, Lea-Greenwood 2013, Easey 2008). The increased amount of flagship and (or) concept stores must be understood in this context. However, given the need for a clearly identifiable brand identity, one could argue that, depending on a brand's idiosyncratic identity, sometimes a flagship store might be superfluous, or else it should present different features and chatracteristics. So for instance the introduction of what are commonly know as ‘third spaces' in stores goes at the expense of space where garmets could be stocked, and thus impacts an important metric like turnover per square meter. Hence, in the context of flagship stores, the questions arise of 1) should every fashion brand have a flagship store? or else: 2) given that a brand has a flagship store: is there a relationship between its symbolic value some flagship store's characteristics? Design/Methodology The methodological stance in this paper is mainly interpretative, as we aim at a richer understanding of the relationship between branding and retailing. At first a large number of qualitative data (22 interviews and 678 store observations) have been collected about characteristics of flagship stores around the globe. Afterwards the brands, owners of the stores, have been classified according to their Glue Value, i.e. according to the benefits that the symbolic value of the brand implies. We have then looked for a corrispondence between the store features and the brand that would reflect the Glue Value dimension. Findings We have found partial evidence of a correspondence between the glue value of a brand and its flagship store's characteristics. We hypothesise this might be due to two main reasons 1) brands with a lower glue value tend to profile emotional rather than functional values, and attempt to portray that in a store with mixed results (literally). Secondly it is clear that the location and ownership of the store has a major impact on the need to fulfill ‘harder'short term financial goals (like e.g. turnover per square meter). Limitations One main limitation in this study is the self-selection bias. As normally brands with a higher glue value feel the need for a flagship store , the data could be richer and results more valid if we did include data from a wider range of store typologies. Social/Managerial implications The outcomes suggest that brand owners are seldom aware of the longer-term strategic function of their stores. Especially given the growth of internet based transactions, we offer a framewokr for brand owners to rethink the role of their stores in the context of their branding strategy. Also we suggest that, as with strategy (cfr Michael Porter) making a unique and definitive choice about the role and function of a store is increasingly important for the perception of a brand's identity. Originality To our knowledge som eauthors suggest a relation between branding and distribution strategy, but little work has been done that tends to infer a relationship between a brand's characteristics and the physical characteristics of its retail outlets.
Luxury retailers are said to be leading the way with investment in instore technology (Patel 2013). As consumer decision making has shifted from the rational to the emotional and experiential (Kim et al., 2009), luxury fashion retailers are increasingly investing in experiential retailing to provide a differentiated retail experience and encourage consumers to dwell and consume. However, although academic research has identified the increasingly important role of technology in consumers' lives (Gilmore and Pine, 2002; Kim et al., 2009; Srinivasan and Srivastava, 2010), there is a lack of research on technology implementation in the luxury context; on how it could be conceived and what beneficial effects it would have on the shopping experience. The aim of this research to explore the adoption of in-store technology within the luxury retail store environment with respect to the motives and methods employed. Motives include the proliferation of e-commerce, the showrooming concept, to increase dwell time and spend instore, to enhance the level of interaction with customers and also that in-store technology can be a PR generator. There are three main methods that luxury brands have been using technology in their flagship stores and these are functional, inspirational and experiential.
Launched in 2008 and 2010 respectively, Instagram and Pinterest are two of the fasted growing social media platforms with 220 million users combined (Leverage 2014, Techcrunch 2014, Loren & Swiderski 2012). Their success is due to their simplicity and a focus on visuals rather than text, furthermore they are described as platforms with strategic potential for fashion brands (Wired 2012). Despite this, many fashion brands have been slow to engage with them. However the Huffington Post (2012) suggests that the visual social media has a wide appeal with respect to both brand positioning and increasing awareness. Recent research by Mashable (2014) highlights that referral traffic and spend is higher from Pinterest users than Facebook users, and this contributes to the rationale for study. The aim of this reseach is twofold, firstly it is to explore the reasons for the utilisation of visual social media platforms within a fashion brands marketing planning cycle, and second it seeks to identify the strategic and operational ways in which fashion brands can use them. For the purpose of this paper only Instagram and Pinterest are investigated. Using a qualitative and inductive approach, the study will use in-depth elite interviews with 6 UK fashion brands (2 Luxury, 2 mid-market, 2 value) alongside content analysis of their platforms. This will enable the research to also consider how each platform can be harnessed at different levels of the market therefore contributing to the lack of empirical applied research in this area.
In today's globally competitive and dynamic fashion environment every clothing andlifestyle brand, from the largest luxury conglomerate to the independent market stalltrader, utilises one if not more elements and principles of visual merchandising (VM). This exploratory study aimed to investigate this under-researched marketing toolwithin the context of a window display's role in communicating the brand's identityand position in the marketplace. Using a qualitative two-phase approach of nonparticipantstore observations and in-depth interviews with visual merchandisers, theresearch focused on two main elements of window display: color and lighting. Undertaking a comparison between the VM window display techniques of high streetand luxury fashion brands, the primary research demonstrated that a clear difference inapproach was evident and that this was dependent on the position in the marketplace. The paper concludes by identifying these differences.
Over the last five years the notion of ‘third space' or ‘place' has started to become referred to within a retail context (Nobbs & Manlow 2014). Third space is defined by Mikunda (2004: 11) as “somewhere which is not work or home but a comfortable space to browse, relax and meet people, even enjoy a meal”. In the fashion sector there is an increasing trend for retail and culture/leisure activities to be housed in the same space as means of drawing customers into the store and tempting them to stay for longer. However there is a lack of both empirical and conceptual research on this emergent concept (Oldenberg1999). The aim of this study is to investigate the notion of third space in practice from both a brand and consumer perspective with respect to identifying the motives and methods for its adoption. Experiences form an integral part of third space as they activate psychological experience mechanisms (Mikunda 2006). This study will consider the motivations for stakeholders to invest in third space environments using the chosen case study fashion brand Urban Outfitters. This retailer has a history of creating unconventional store formats which blend music, lifestyle and fashion products under one roof. In 2008 they created a development called Space fifteen twenty in Los Angeles which was a curated mix of ownbrand and lifestyle brands and featured food, art, vintage and programme of events aimed at the hipster community. In 2014 they opened a store called Space 98 in Williamsburg in Brooklyn which used the same formula, a carefully selected space with an art gallery, revolving pop up stores and a bar and restaurant (WGSN 2014). The research methodology utilises a qualitative approach in the form of store observations, in-depth interviews with store and head office staff, the architect and also snapshot exit interviews with patrons of the store. The results are audio recorded and analysed using thematic content analysis. The outcome of this exploratory technique will provide a 360 degree perspective of the concept in action. The results of the study will be useful for academics and retail marketing practitioners interested in the impact of store formats on consumer behaviour and brand identity.
Social media has radically altered marketing's ecology of influence. Moreover, through the rise of visual social media platforms in recent years, marketers are facing new challenges. Adopting an exploratory approach, our study combines interviews and content analysis to explore the managerial perspectives to brand storytelling through visual content site Pinterest and to assess its potential as a strategic marketing communications tool.
Research Context The term User Generated Content (UGC) refers to a wide range of consumers' contributions shared through digital and social platforms. These contributions can take the form of blogs, articulated collections of images, homemade videos (or even “homemade advertising” campaigns) and various types of product reviews and product usage demonstrations (Berthon, Pitt, & Campbell, 2008; Fader & Winer, 2012). In a previous study, we reviewed the OECD (2007) official definition of UGC to encompass the evolving and more holistic nature of this phenomenon. We defined UGC as “content in the form of text, sound, visuals or videos, which has been created by or in collaboration with consumers and disseminated through social platforms across various digital and non-digital channels. UGC can be centered on a brand, product or service or revolve around a topic/issue of interest to the consumer. It can be either solicited as part of commercial or non-commercial initiatives or contributed spontaneously by the consumer” (Montecchi & Nobbs, 2012). Marketing managers are now facing a completely different landscape where the more traditional approaches to brand promotion “are giving way to a messy tangle of market-based communications consisting of multiple authors including customers, competitors, observers, employees, and interested collectives” (Muniz Jr. & Schau, 2011). In this context, UGC is a clear representation of how the balance of power and control has shifted from brands to consumers (Sheehan, 2010; Pires, Stanton, & Rita, 2006; Berthon, Pitt, Plangger, & Shapiro, 2012). Amongst the various sectors which have benefited from a constant growth of digital channels and consumers' online engagement, the luxury industry has shown some astonishing results. After an initial skepticism, major luxury organisations have embraced digital channels from both a distribution and marketing communications perspective, following the success of online pure-players such as Net-A-Porter. With online sales projected to grow steadily, luxury brands need to learn how to engage more effectively with a new generation of hyper-connected customers by re-addressing the balance of power and control they want to manage. Purpose of the Research By building on Smith, Fischer, & Yongjian (2012) framework for the analysis of UGC, this research aims to map the features of brand related UGC across three social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) with a particular focus on the luxury product/market context. Through the analysis of a sample of brand-related digital contributions, a set of customer profiles will be constructed to highlight further targeting opportunities for luxury brands. Three brands operating at global level (Louis Vuitton, Rolex and Burberry) will be selected as the context of this investigation since these generate a significant level of consumers' discussion and engagement on digital media. Methodology The research design is based on observational netnography and content analysis (Ertimur & Gilly, 2011; Kozinets, 2002). A sample of 100 consumers' contributions for each brand, published on each of the three selected platforms, will be analysed for a total of 900 pieces of UGC. The framework which will be used for the analysis is derived from the research conducted by Smith, Fischer, & Yongjian (2012). It allows researchers to explore the level of customers' self-presentation, the centrality of the brand in the content shared, whether there is an attempt to a brand-directed communication and associated responses and whether the content is more factual or emotional. The brand sentiment in each piece of content will also be measured. The results of this analysis will be used to construct a multi-dimensional set of customer profiles by building on the UGC typologies identified. This will provide luxury brands with an effective tool to enhance their market segmentation and targeting capabilities.