Category Archives: Ben Sherman

How to Become Fashion Designer ( Part 9 of 9 ) – Preparation is Key

What You Need to Know to Master the Interview

So all that resume and cover letter preparation paid off – you’ve scheduled an interview for that company you’re dying to work for! If you’ve been following our Leaping into Fashion articles, you should have already chosen and researched the specific market you wish to work in, and focused your cover letter, resume, and portfolio in that area. Now with just a little more preparation, you’ll be ready to present to your prospective employers how you will be a great asset to their team.

Know Your Stuff

By now, you should already have a great deal of research completed for the market, and maybe even the company you’ll be interviewing in. Pull out the information you have so far and study it thoroughly. You may find that you’ll need to gather some more to fill in areas you’ve missed. Try to become familiar with as many of the following areas as possible: company history, their current collection, price point, stores they sell to, major competitors, their target customer, design philosophy, and any current news or projects in the works.

Know Where to Look

If your meeting is with a high profile company, this information should be readily available. Found in your local library and bookstores, major resource books like Dunn & Bradstreet, Fairchild’s Market Directory of Women and Children Apparel, Menswear Blue Book, Sheldon’s Guide to Retail Stores and Resident Buying Offices, and other directories can help you gather basic company information. Infomat.com is an excellent online source with a collection of related fashion industry key players, trade events, hot topics, and market research and directories. WWD.com and http://www.StyleDispatch.com are great places to look for the latest company news. And don’t forget that most companies have their own websites, which often include a company history, design philosophy, retail locations, as well as current and previous collections, and press releases. If the company is more obscure, you may have a hard time locating this information – and that’s OK. Many job listings in WWD and other publications don’t even list the name of the company! Many times, I have faxed my resume in response to anonymous ads and didn’t find out the company name until they called me to schedule an interview! In these cases, just knowing and understanding the market you want will be all you need. If it turns out the company doesn’t fall within your desired market, you’ll know that the position isn’t right for you. And if it is within your market, then you already know the product and will have no problem talking it up!

Know What to Say

Don’t expect to enter the interview and improvise answers off the top of your head. I remember going to an interview with only a loose idea of what I wanted to say, but once I was in the “hot seat”, my nerves took over and I completely blanked on my answers! If you prepare your answers ahead of time, you can make sure that you’re nerves don’t get in the way. Make a list of interview questions you’re likely to be asked and take the time to compose your responses to them. Use what you’ve learned about yourself from the career assessments we mentioned in “Setting the Course”, to answer questions regarding strengths, weaknesses, skills, values, and long and short term goals. Also be sure to incorporate your knowledge of the market and company into your responses to demonstrate your serious interest in the company.

Below are just some of the questions you should be prepared to answer:

  • Can you tell me about yourself? / How would you describe yourself?
  • Why are you interested in this position with our company?
  • What are your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?
  • Where do you see yourself five years from now?
  • What motivates you?
  • Where do you get your inspiration?
  • What do you see in stores that you think is really great?
  • If you had to predict the next big trend for the upcoming season, what would it be?
  • I see you attended (college name), why did you choose that program? How did you like it there?
  • What accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction and why?
  • How do you work within a team environment?
  • Are you willing to work longer hours?
  • How quickly do you learn?

diane-kruger-fashion-interview-magazine-1.jpg

Make sure you’re prepared to back up your responses with specific examples, or anecdotes. All the other candidates will tell the interviewer that they are creative, organized, and detail oriented. You need to make yourself stand out by telling the interviewer about the collection of meticulously hand beaded evening gowns you presented at your senior fashion show. Describe how your knowledge and skills relate to the position and how you can contribute to the company: “My understanding of garment construction will allow me to create accurate initial specs for sample development.” Also note that it’s not enough to just write down your responses – you absolutely must practice them! Rehearse aloud, in front of a mirror, or even with a friend. Don’t skip this step! Your responses should come as second nature to you during the interview – you won’t create a good impression if you take a long time to recall your answers! All kinds of public speakers need to prepare for hours and sometimes days. I remember reading that a communication coach takes her an hour of preparation to deliver 10 min speech!

Know How to Dress

Suits usually aren’t necessary for interviews unless you think you can make it work without appearing too stiff. A trendy interview outfit can be pulled off if you know more about the company, and dress for their market. For example, if you’re interviewing with a company that specializes in career wear for women, you’ll want to dress more formally and present a polished appearance. If you’re interview is with a casual sportswear company, your outfit can be a little more relaxed, but not too casual – you are still on an interview! If you have little or no information about the company you’ll be meeting with, it’s better to dress more moderately. No matter what, your ensemble should reflect your professionalism to make a good first impression. Your outfit should be fashion forward and express who you are without overdoing it.

Master the Interview

Equipped with your killer portfolio, your knowledge of the company, and your personality, you’re prepared to enter the interview and show ‘em what you’ve got! Greet your interviewer with a firm handshake and steady eye contact. Mirroring your interviewer is a good way to gain rapport and be accepted. This doesn’t mean copy the interviewer exactly, (that would be creepy!) just subtle reflections will do. Mirror the way she or he sits; use the same tone of voice and sentence phrasing. If the interviewer asks “From where do you draw your inspiration?” You can respond “I draw most of my inspiration from…” Answer questions honestly without bragging or exaggerating. If you’re asked any questions that you don’t know the answer to – be honest and say you don’t know! For example, if you are asked how to create a vector mask in Illustrator, reply. “While I am proficient in Illustrator, masking is one area I am not yet familiar with, but I would love the opportunity to learn.” Convey to your interviewer that you know school training is very different from actual industry expectations. Employers are looking for a candidate that won’t be difficult to train, or take up too much training time. Someone who learns quickly and is willing to go the extra mile is a worthwhile candidate for the employer to hire.

Express your interest in the company, and your flexibility and eagerness to learn and develop within the field. And then, there are the no-brainers for any interview:

  • Always arrive on time, preferably 10-minutes earlier since some companies will ask you to fill out an application or additional paperwork before you meet with the interviewer.
  • Bring several copies of your resume since you may be interviewed by a team or panel.
  • Don’t discuss salary, work hours, vacation time, or benefits during a first interview unless the subject is mentioned first by the interviewer.
  • Don’t appear overzealous. Due to the competitive (sometimes backstabbing) nature of the fashion industry, some professionals are insecure and threatened by competition. You don’t want to appear like a possible contender.
  • If you are asked what your expectations are, give a range instead of a specific number and add that you are flexible. (Do your homework on what you should ask for – visit http://www.stylesalaries.com to make sure your range is reasonable with salary trend of the current market.)
  • Always ask for a business card for each person you interviewed with at the end of the meeting.

Ask Questions

At the end of the interview, you will likely be asked if you have any questions. You should always have some questions ready to further demonstrate your interest in the position. You can also use this as an opportunity to learn first-hand information about the company, or review a topic that was discussed earlier in the interview.

Some questions you may want to ask are:

  • How would you describe a typical day on the job?
  • How many people are on your design team and how is the department organized?
  • How will my job performance be evaluated, and how often?
  • What is the potential for growth and advancement within the company?
  • Where do you see the company headed in the next few years?
  • What is the next step in the interview process, and when can I expect to hear from you?

Remember that you are not the only one being interviewed. While the interviewer is trying to determine if you are the right match for the position, you should also be deciding if the company and the position are the right fit for you!

Post Interview

As soon as you get home from the interview, write a thank you note and email it to the interviewer(s). In addition to thanking the interviewer for taking the time to meet with you, you should also reaffirm how your skills and qualifications make you a good match for the position. Try building on some highlights from the interview. Always send out thank you notes right away. It’s pointless if it’s received days or weeks after the interview! Even if you are no longer interested in the position, send a thank you note anyway to thank the recruiter for their time. You always want to leave a favorable impression; you never know when you may encounter the contact in the future! Many job seekers don’t bother with thank you notes so yours will get noticed immediately.

Keep at It!

Sometimes, interviews don’t always go as well as planned. I can’t even tell you how many interviews I left thinking “I totally screwed that one up!”, or “I’m not getting that one for sure!” It happens to the best of us so don’t beat yourself up about it! Becoming comfortable with and mastering the interview process takes time and practice. The more interviews you go on the more confident you’ll become. Don’t take rejections too hard. Job-hunting is very difficult and it’s completely normal to face rejection more than once – especially within the super competitive fashion industry. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t an excellent candidate; it just means that the employer couldn’t match your skills with the needs of the company. Stay positive, and always put your best efforts into preparing for each interview, and the right position will come along in no time!

 

Source: Designernexus.com

Read also:

Leave a comment

Filed under Advertising, Ben Sherman, Business, Design, Fashion, Fashion Competition, Fashion Designer, Fashion Exhibition, Fashion Industry, Fashion Internship, Fashion Jobs, Fashion Marketeer, Fashion Marketing, Fashion Mercendising, Fashion Photographer, Fashion Retailer, Fashion Stylist, Fashion Themes, Interactive Marketing, Interview, Lookbook, Make-Up Artist, Market Research, Marketing, Marketing Manager, Marketing Strategy, Men's Fashion, Merchandising, Networking, Niche Market, Personal Stylist, PR Manager, Promotion, Research, Target Market, Trends

Fashion Marketing: Using the Marketing Mix in the Fashion Industry

CASE STUDY, BEN SHERMAN

Original source: http://www.thetimes100.co.uk/case-study–using-marketing-mix-fashion-industry–135-327-1.php

INTRODUCTION

Ben Sherman is a globally recognised lifestyle brand. It has grown from its business beginnings in quality shirts in Brighton in 1963 and is now sold in 35 countries around the world. It has expanded into the USA, Europe, and Australasia.

In 2004, Ben Sherman was acquired by the American-based company, Oxford Industries. This group is an international apparel design, sourcing and marketing company that features a diverse portfolio of owned and licensed lifestyle brands.

Ben Sherman’s name has always been closely linked with the British music scene and with fashion. Its customers are young and at the forefront of style.

Throughout the years high profile customers include musicians, models, actors and bands, such as Blur, Oasis and the Kaiser Chiefs.

The growth of the brand can be traced through changes in musical taste and this is a key part of Ben Sherman’s marketing strategy.

As a young person reading this, you are a central market segment of Ben Sherman’s target market. A market segment is a group of people with similar needs or characteristics, such as age, gender or lifestyle. For example, you like music, you like fashion and you are willing to spend money on top brands that deliver the quality and image that you want.

As the company founder Ben Sherman said in 1963: ‘Looking good isn’t important, it’s everything.’

Ben Sherman has developed a balanced marketing mix. This is often referred to as the 4 P’s – product, price, promotion and place. By getting the mix right, the company ensures that its products reach the market segments it is aiming the brand at. This approach helps the business remain competitive and extends its market share and influence.

The marketing mix is like a cake recipe. Most cakes need the basic ingredients of eggs, flour, sugar and milk. However, a child’s birthday cake will require a different recipe to a wedding cake. The key is to combine the ingredients to get the right cake for the right occasion. The marketing mix works in exactly the same way. The key ingredients of product, price, promotion and place are all necessary for the appropriate marketing of the product. Ben Sherman chooses the right combination of each element to satisfy different customers’ needs.

PRODUCT

Ben Sherman has to decide whether to:

  • create a product and then market it to target customers (product-orientated) or
  • find out what the market wants and then provide it (market-orientated)

To achieve both, the company produces a wide product range that appeals to all its target market segments. The range includes casual clothes, formal wear, denim, footwear and lifestyle accessories, such as underwear, watches, bags, belts and fragrances.

A strong brand image ties the product range together. Each collection has an umbrella theme. In 2007, the product theme was ‘This Sporting Life’ and the marketing theme was ‘British music and style’.

Product life cycle

Ben Sherman uses major fashion shows to launch its collections to the press.

The fashion year has two cycles – the spring/summer season and the autumn/winter one. The fashion industry is highly competitive and fast-moving. Fashion products tend to have a short life cycle.

This means the time between the launch of a product and the point at which that product is ‘mature’ is very quick. Competition amongst fashion retailers forces businesses to refresh their ranges a number of times in a year. This topping up modifies the product as it reaches the maturity stage. The boost of a new product or style then extends the life of the range. Products need refreshing to avoid the dip in sales during the Saturation stage of the life cycle which could result in an early decline. The additions and changes help sales rise again, earning extra sales revenue and profit, as well as maintaining the Ben Sherman brand in the market.

PRICE

Ben Sherman has to assess which markets its products are aimed at and set a price to match.

There are a number of pricing strategies that a business can use for its products including:

  • cost based pricing – where the selling price is set to cover the cost of manufacture.
  • market orientated pricing.

Market orientated pricing covers several different approaches:

  • market penetration, where a new product is priced low to attract a high volume of sales
  • market skimming – where a new product has premium pricing to give high revenues whilst the product is unique in the market
  • premium pricing, where there is a uniqueness and exclusiveness about the product so that it can command a high price
  • economy pricing, which tends to be for no-frills, basic products, where the cost of manufacture and marketing are kept to a minimum

The price of a product relates to its perceived value. Lower priced items will expect a higher volume of sales, whilst fewer sales of luxury products may achieve the same revenue through higher pricing.

A ‘product map’ shows where products are positioned in the market.  Each product type behaves in a different way.  Customers are willing to pay more for ‘aspirational’ products, such as designer wear.  These products or brands show that those who own or wear them have a degree of success in their lives.  These brands are not price sensitive, as people are willing to pay premium prices for individuality or for the latest styles.

Low price brands often copy the market leaders and may be generic own brands, such as those produced by supermarket chains. The main purpose of price here is to indicate value for- money and such brands do not expect customers to show loyalty.

Ben Sherman produces mostly medium-price range products. Its position in the market for clothing is shown on the product map diagram. The mix of product and price is clearly evident here. These brands are identifiable by their quality and style.

Ben Sherman uses brand identity images like the plectrum logo and the Ben Sherman script label in subtle ways. Its products are good quality and individually styled and therefore the price reflects this. There is a relationship between product quality and price (revenue per sale). The pricing also impacts on the level of sales. Ben Sherman’s pricing best matches aspect B.

PLACE

This refers both to the places where Ben Sherman products may be bought and to the channels of distribution used to deliver the products to these places. Place is not always a physical building such as a retail outlet or shop, but includes any means by which the product is made available to the customer.

A business has to balance getting enough of its products to its target customers against the problems or costs of distributing them.

For a premium or luxury brand, making the products too easily available might reduce the perceived value of the brand.

This illustrates the need to select carefully how the marketing mix is put together to match the product to the needs of the target market. Ben Sherman limits where its products are sold and keeps a tight rein on how they are sold and its distribution channels. This creates a unique Ben Sherman experience wherever customers buy its products.

Distribution channels

Ben Sherman uses three traditional distribution channels. Each has distinct characteristics and different strengths and weaknesses:

  • its own stores – where the brand is strongest, but requires investment in property, stock and sales people
  • independent fashion stores – whilst offering a unique or more specialised sales channel these outlets carry limited amounts of stock. Also, the costs of processing, e.g. for delivery and administration, are relatively higher for smaller orders.
  • department stores – will buy centrally but may want discounts if they order in bulk, reducing Ben Sherman’s profitability

Ben Sherman works in close partnership with department stores, creating ‘shop-in-shops’ – a unique concept where the customer feels that they are in a Ben Sherman store. The store shares its marketing information about what types of customers are purchasing and which products are most in demand. This enables Ben Sherman and the department store to provide the relevant stock to maximise revenue.

Ben Sherman also has its own stores around the world and opens new ones each year. It has a long-term commitment to expanding globally. Although the stores represent a big investment, they are important to the company in controlling its own sales environment and increasing profit. The interiors of its flagship stores reflect British style and identity through use of antique furniture, music memorabilia, photographs and the Union Jack flag.

For a limited time in 2007, each store worldwide displayed a specially designed Gibson guitar in a dedicated window space decorated with and inspired by the Ben Sherman product, brand and music influences. Gibson is the world’s leading guitar specialist and created for Ben Sherman a set of 20 collectable limited edition guitars. Each unique guitar was then sold at auction online to raise money for charity. Ben Sherman used the guitar auction online to link the physical worldwide stores to the Internet. The company transmitted news of the auctions and bids via the Internet and gained online, national and regional press.

Ben Sherman also uses newer channels of distribution. It relaunched its website http://www.bensherman.com in February 2007 to provide a more interactive experience for customers to encourage them to spend more time on the site and shop:

  • The site provides an online ordering service.
  • It offers news updates for customers on the latest Ben Sherman products.
  • The website helps to create an online ‘community’ of people who like Ben Sherman products.
  • It gives relevant context for Ben Sherman products by providing video and music links, for example, the top 10 records of the 1970s.

This helps to build the brand philosophy and values.

The company sees its online services as particularly important in reaching customers now and in the future.

PROMOTION

The purpose of promotion is to obtain and retain customers. It covers:

  • ‘above-the-line’, which is using independent media to reach a wide audience easily, but over which the company may have limited control, for example, magazine advertising. This reaches a mass audience but can be hard to measure its impact.
  • ‘below-the-line’, which uses media over which the business has control, for example, direct mailing. This type of promotion can be more cost-effective and give more measurable response rates.

Ben Sherman uses both above-the-line and below-the-line promotion to help inform customers about its products. Through this information, it increases the customers’ desire to buy its products.

Promotional activities

Some people think of promotion as being just advertising – but advertising is only one aspect. Promotion may also include:

  • direct mail – for example, catalogues, newsletters you may receive by post or email
  • exhibitions or events – Ben Sherman has a high profile at fashion events and music events, for example, sponsoring a series of live gigs to support new British music in collaboration with with Gibson guitars and music channel MTV
  • sales promotions, such as discounts, money-off coupons or competitions
  • public relations – perhaps through press conferences or by participating in charitable events, such as the Gibson Guitar auction for Nordoff Robbins charity
  • sponsorship – Ben Sherman sponsored the ‘Best Breakthrough Artist’ category at the 2007 Q Awards
  • product placement – Ben Sherman gives clothes to famous people so that they create publicity when they wear them. This is seen as an endorsement for the product. Amy Winehouse and Ricki from the Kaiser Chiefs have been used to promote Ben Sherman products by wearing them at high profile events and featuring in the printed press
  • branding – you can see the Ben Sherman brand in the layout and decoration of its stores, its links to music, its advertising campaigns, packaging and point-of-sales displays

CONCLUSION

Ben Sherman is a brand that appeals to the youth market. Its responsiveness to changing tastes in fashion and music throughout the last fifty years has provided it with a unique heritage of quality, personality and style. This has made Ben Sherman into a great British icon, reflecting British culture as it does business across the world.

Whilst each element of the marketing mix is important in its own right, the right balance of the four elements is critical.

A business must clearly understand its target market – the customers at which it is aiming its product range – to ensure that it has the marketing mix balanced to appeal to this market.

Ben Sherman’s continuing global growth and high profile in music and fashion demonstrates that, as far as the marketing mix is concerned, it has got the balance right.

Leave a comment

Filed under Ben Sherman, Case Study, Fashion, Fashion Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Mix, Place, Price, Product, Promotion