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Facebook Goes Public – Nine Things You Should Know About Facebook’s IPO

Facebook could be worth nearly $140 billion by today’s market close

The social network priced its shares at $38 apiece, valuing the company at $104 billion. The average first-day “pop” for a technology company is 32 percent; if Facebook follows that trend, it’ll be worth $137 billion by day’s end. But there’s little about Facebook that’s average, including its public offering. This is the technology’s biggest initial public offering and history’s second-biggest IPO, period, and it will raise about $16 billion. Statistics suggests that the first-day pop—if there is one—will be more modest than average.

A lot of the smart money is getting out

Early investors such as the venture capital firm Accel Partners are selling an unusually high number of shares.Nearly 60 percent of the stock sold today comes from insiders, compared to 37 percent for Google (GOOG) when it went public in 2004. Goldman Sachs (GS) is selling about half its stake, far more than the firm initially planned. “If you really thought that 12 months later the stock would be 50 percent higher, you wouldn’t leave that on the table,” Erik Gordon, a professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, told Bloomberg News.

To justify its valuation, Facebook will need to annoy its users …

Thanks in large part to General Motors’s (GM)decision to de-friend Facebook, there are a lot of questions about the efficacy and future of Facebook’s ad-dominant revenue model. And it has high expectations to live up to: The $38 price gives Facebook a whopping 107 price-to-earnings ratio. (For comparison, Apple’s (AAPL) is around 13.) To dramatically boost ad revenues, the two best options are either to put more ads on the site—which would annoy users—or find more places to put ads. The latter means creating a network of ad inventory across the Web, much the way Google’s Doubleclick sells ads and places them on sites like that of the New York Times (NYT). This would give Facebook far greater reach, but could also give users the creeps. Imagine updating your Facebook status (“Really loving that new Carly Rae Jepsen song!”) and then seeing ads to buy the track Call Me Maybe at every site you visit.

… or do something besides advertising

Currently Facebook’s only source of non-ad revenue is its digital currency, Facebook Credits, which people use to buy virtual goods, such as tractors in FarmVille (ZNGA). During the first quarter of 2012, payments grew to make up almost 18 percent of Facebook’s revenue—close to $200 million in total. Overall, though, fewer than 2 percent of Facebook’s users have bought virtual goods with their payments option. There’s a lot of potential growth, in other words, along with hints that a big online operator such as Spotify may begin accepting Facebook Credits in the future.

Facebook has plenty of revenue options beyond payments and advertising

Facebook is a force: It accounts for 9 percent of all online visits in the U.S., according to Experian Hitwise, a company that measures website traffic. Hitwise also says that Americans spend an average of 20 minutes per Facebook visit. Worldwide, nearly 1 billion people have a Facebook profile. As investor Chris Dixon puts it, Facebook has real assets—including “a vast number of extremely engaged users, its social graph, Facebook Connect”—and should be able “to monetize through another business model,” apart from advertising. It could create the Social Smartphone, sell data analytics products, charge for higher-res photo and video storage, or perhaps hawk vintage Mark Zuckerberg hoodies.

There’s already a “Facebook Mafia”

Heard of the PayPal Mafia? Former executives from the online-payment provider have gone on to start big-time tech firms, such as LinkedIn (LNKD), Yammer, and Yelp (YELP). (And one member, Peter Thiel, cut the first big check for Facebook.) A Facebook Mafia has already emerged, and members have founded Asana, Path, andQuora. The Facebook Mafia is real, even though the name could use some work, says Dave Morin, Path’s chief executive officer, who previously developed Facebook’s development platform. “I guess we can’t escape from calling it that,” he says.

Facebook goes where Google won’t in photos

Facebook owns one of the largest photo repositories in the world, and its facial-recognition technology is getting a workout scanning them all, with more than 300 million photos uploaded per day. Facebook stores 60 billion images, a whopping 1.5 petabytes of data. For each uploaded photo, Facebook stores four images of different sizes. The site shows as many as 550,000 images per second. This is an area that has upset privacy critics and represents something that Facebook is willing to do that even Google isn’t: Google’s Eric Schmidt said last yearthat the company had built an app that would let people snap photos of others and identify who they are but decided not to release it, due to privacy concerns. Google and Facebook both have sophisticated facial-recognition technology, but Google requires users to opt into its photo-tagging service. Facebook users are included automatically.

Facebook’s new campus could be cursed

Late last year the social network moved into a 57-acre site in Menlo Park that was previously inhabited by Sun Microsystems. Sun’s fortunes soured shortly after the computer company took up residence there. The same thing has happened, in different times and places, to software-maker Borland, Silicon Graphics, and even Apple (which nearly went bankrupt three years after it moved into its current Cupertino, Calif., headquarters at 1 Infinite Loop). The good news: Companies that move into pre-existing campuses seem to fare better. Google, for instance, took up residence in SGI’s old digs.

Up north, Facebook is the only thing better than hockey

Facebook is one of the top two websites in every country except China. The social-networking site is most loved in Canada, where it wins 12 percent of all online visits.

Source: Businessweek.com

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Creating a Green Fashion Label

When consumers shop for groceries, they tend to review the nutrition label and ingredients list on the food package to obtain dietary information. This food label system helps people make an informed decision and lead healthier lifestyles. Shouldn’t consumers have resources for making similar choices when shopping for apparel products? According to the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act (TFPIA), all apparel products should have a label that includes: fiber content, country of origin, manufacturer identification, and care instructions.

 

However, the clothing label may not be informative enough to educate consumers regarding what processes were used to make the product and what environmental impacts those processes may have. One of the common myths consumers may believe regarding apparel products is that natural fiber products are more environmentally friendly than synthetic fiber products. Considering the fact that the textile and apparel industry is a major contributor to environmental degradation, it is important to provide more informative, easy-to-read labels for apparel products, responding to consumers’ growing concerns about environmental issues related to their consumable products.

From interviews with five apparel design personnel in two companies (although these opinions cannot represent all designers’ and merchandisers’ opinions), our research team found that they were aware of the environmental problems associated with dyeing and textile processing. However, interestingly, they did not regard themselves as responsible for correcting these problems.

They also indicated that the biggest determining factor for apparel designers and merchandisers when deciding where to obtain materials for production is the availability of materials from suppliers who have had a long–term relationship with the company. It seems that environmentally friendly materials were not their main concern. They added that if they were sure that their target consumers would be willing to purchase environmentally friendly products, they would practice sustainability. Without certainty, they did not want to take the risk because using green materials costs more. The industry personnel felt that there was nothing they could do as designers or merchandisers to address environmental issues, believing that environmentally friendly production was beyond their ability.

Do consumers agree with these opinions? To explore consumer opinions about green apparel products and purchasing behaviors, a serious of focus group discussions were conducted with 32 consumers. Although organic fibers and other green apparel options are already available in the market, participants demonstrated a lack of knowledge about these products. Interestingly, several respondents knew of organic clothing only in terms of simple items, such as T–shirts, while others did not even know that organic or green apparel was an available option.

In addition, the respondents agreed that if there were more information about green apparel products available, they would be more prone to buy them. They felt skeptical about current eco–claims because labeling of green apparel is voluntary and no general rules have been implemented for apparel product labeling. They added that current labels on green clothing did not offer an adequate amount of information to consumers. They were unsure of exactly what “environmentally friendly” meant and how the products they had seen were environmentally friendly. Additionally, most of the participants agreed that a well–established eco–label for apparel products would increase consumers’ knowledge of environmental impacts from apparel production and foster consumers’ green apparel purchasing behaviors.

Regarding willingness to buy green apparel products, they mentioned that they would be more likely to purchase green apparel products if they were cheaper and more readily available. Respondents indicated that they would not buy a less attractive environmentally friendly garment with the label attached to it over a more attractive conventional product. Therefore, before emphasizing green aspects, products should meet the quality expectations of consumers.

Based on these two investigations, the research team suggested that a labeling system could be used to reduce the information gap between producers and consumers. Green labels for textile and apparel products can facilitate choices for consumers making environmentally responsible purchasing decisions by motivating and/or educating them (D’Souza, et al., 2006).

As mentioned earlier, just as the nutritional facts and ingredients are listed on food packages, the apparel label can include customized information on how the content of a specific product and its production processes impact the environment. Our research team identified six sustainability aspects of apparel products as the key information that would be beneficial for consumers to know from the green apparel label: organic, biodegradable, safely dyed, fair trade, carbon footprint, and recycled. Creating eye–catching symbols accompanied by brief explanations for clarification, which convey the key aspects of sustainability within the apparel industry, will be necessary. This design will make the labels easy to read and serve as a convenient reference for consumers.

If the standardized and easy–to–read label is commonly used in the textile and apparel industry in the future, it will educate consumers about green products and their effects on our surrounding environment. By becoming more knowledgeable about green products, consumers will be able to make more informed purchases of environmentally responsible products. In addition, educated consumers will drive businesses to practice more sustainability. Adopting the easy–to–read, informative green label will help retailers promote their eco–friendly strategies. As people continue to show interest in green products through purchases, the availability of various green products will increase, resulting in growing diversity in the retailing industry.

This educational research brief is from the University of Delaware (Fiber Online Journal).
Creating a Green Label for Reducing the Gap

Authors:
Dr. Hae Jin Gam is an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences at Illinois State University. She was a fashion designer in South Korea until 2001. Her doctoral research was in the area of sustainable apparel design and production development and was funded by the Environmental Protection Agency. Her current research interests include sustainability in the apparel and textile industry, apparel product development, consumers’ eco–friendly purchasing behavior, and the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Dr. Yoon Jin Ma is an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences at Illinois State University. Her research interests include social responsibility in apparel consumption, manufacturing, and retailing; consumer behavior; services marketing; and scale development. She received the Student Best Paper Award at the doctoral level from the International Textile and Apparel Association (ITAA) in 2008, the Best Track Paper Award in the textile and apparel/international track from ITAA in 2009, and the Paper of Distinction Award in the consumer behavior track from ITAA in 2010

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Case Study – how market research supports the new product development process

Market research is the process by which businesses find out about customers’ needs, wants and desires. It makes possible the successful development of new products.

This study shows how an international company, Beiersdorf, combines market research with new product development on its NIVEA Deodorant brand to provide exciting new products that better meet consumer requirements.

Beiersdorf has a clear goal – to be as close as possible to consumers, regardless of which country they live in. Developing superior consumer insights is fundamental to the continued future success of Beiersdorf and its international brands like NIVEA, Eucerin and Atrixo. These are the result of more than 120 years of experience in research and development.

Beiersdorf has launched many new brands and products into a variety of countries and categories. Being an innovation leader has allowed Beiersdorf actively to shape its markets and set new trends. These product launches have led to long-term global growth.

THE KEY STAGES OF MARKET RESEARCH AND NEW PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

Market research involves the systematic gathering, recording and analyzing of data about customers, competitors and the market. This links marketers to consumers by supplying essential information to solve marketing challenges and help with marketing decisions.

Market research helps a company create and develop an up-to-date and relevant portfolio of products.

Creating new products

Beiersdorf’s international Market Research team is based at company headquarters in Hamburg, Germany. The team’s objective is to be the voice of the consumers within the organisation. High-quality market research has helped secure the long-term future of the business. Analysing and understanding the data gathered on consumers’ behaviours, needs, attitudes and opinions minimises the risks involved in making marketing decisions.

Market research in a global organisation needs the help and support of the company’s overseas affiliate companies. Most affiliate companies (in the UK for example) have dedicated Market Research Managers. how the npd prosses worksThey help the central research team in gathering and interpreting consumer views. These views provide information or insights that ultimately result in the development of new products suitable for a global market.

This case study follows the development of a new NIVEA Deodorant called Pearl and Beauty aimed at young women. This case study will give you a clear picture of how market research has helped New Product Development (NPD).

IDENTIFYING CONSUMER VIEWS AND PRODUCT NEEDS – WHERE TO START?

Market research should start with the consumer and serves two purposes:

1) To inform companies about consumer needs and desires. What are the trends in the market? What do consumers want?

2) To give consumers the opportunity to talk to the providers of products and services so that their views are taken into account.

questions that need answering

Businesses exist in a fast-moving world with increased consumer choice. It is essential that a company knows its market and its consumers before developing any new product. Lots of questions need answering.

Consumer insights drive New Product Development. This information takes into account their behaviours, attitudes and beliefs. It is an expression of their wishes and desires. Businesses use consumer insights to create opportunities for their brands. It is the starting point that enables brands to fit meaningfully into consumers’ lives.

Across countries, consumers are different in terms of culture and lifestyle. NIVEA’s challenge was to find similar insights from consumers across different countries. This was used to optimize product development.

Secondary research

In the deodorant category, NIVEA used many secondary research sources to discover consumers’ views and their need for deodorants. These related to different markets and were supplied by local country market researchers. These included:

i. A consumer Usage and Attitude study. This had been conducted a few years earlier across various markets (UK, France and USA).

ii. An external study by Fragrance Houses. This covered the importance of scent and fragrance to people’s well-being and mood.

Primary research

The research team felt therefore there was not enough recent knowledge about the consumer in the secondary research. They commissioned some primary qualitative research in key markets (Germany, France, UK and USA). This was aided by the local Market Research Manager. The aim was to understand the motivations for using deodorant amongst the female consumer.

Primary research is used when there is no existing data available to answer your questions.

The research involved small discussion groups of females. This helped researchers understand the beliefs and motivations of this group. There were several main findings:

  • There is steady growth in females shaving. They wanted to look after their underarms throughout all seasons (not just in summer).
  • Women cared increasingly about the condition of their underarms.
  • Women desired attractive, neat underarms. This symbolised sensuality and femininity.
  • The deodorant segment remained focused on functional rather than beautifying products.

Results of the research

The market research revealed an unexplored market potential for NIVEA Deodorant. The brand did not have a specific product that addressed ‘underarm beauty’ for the female consumer. No direct competitor was offering a product to meet these needs. So there was a clear opportunity to develop a new product. This would fit across different markets and with the current NIVEA Deodorant range.

TURNING CUSTOMERS INSIGHTS INTO PRODUCT CONCEPTS

Consumers showed a need for a ‘beautifying, caring deodorant’. The team generated ideas on how to address the consumer need.

From these ideas the marketing team created ‘product concepts’. These describe the product benefits and how they will meet the consumer needs. Several concepts were written in different ways. These explained and expressed unique product attributes.

The company needed to know which concept was preferred by prospective consumers. It carried out market research to test whether the concepts would work. The research was conducted amongst the desired target market. For Pearl and Beauty, the desired target market was 18-35 year-old women who were beauty-orientated, followed fashion and looked for products with extra benefits.

Quantitative research on the concept was carried out in two test markets (France and Germany). An international company like Beiersdorf must test products in more than one market to assess properly the global appeal.

The concepts were tested monadically. Monadic testing means that the respondent of the test is only shown one concept. This stops the respondent being biased by seeing many variations of the same product concept.

A number of criteria were used to test the concepts:

1) Deodorant category performance measures. These included wetness, dryness, and fragrance. The new concept must deliver generic core benefits.

2) Product attributes specific to the new product and NIVEA core values. The new Pearl and Beauty product has additional benefits to a ‘regular’ deodorant. For example, it leaves your skin feeling silky and gives you beautiful underarms. Consumers needed to understand and see these benefits.

3) The product needed to be relevant and motivate a consumer to purchase it.

The team chose the ‘winning’ concept. This best conveyed beauty while remaining relevant to the deodorant category and NIVEA brand.

Next the research team tested various name ideas for the product and developed different designs for the packaging. Packaging design plays a very important role in helping to communicate the image of the product. Pearl and Beauty needed to communicate femininity and sophistication. Pink was a natural colour choice for the packaging. They also used a soft pearlescent container to emphasise the ‘pearl extracts’ in the product.

Various design ideas were tested using quantitative market research. In addition, this helped to predict the volume of the new products that would be sold, the optimal selling price and the level of switching from existing NIVEA Deodorant and competitor products.

TESTING THE PRODUCT, BRAND POSITION AND ADVERTISING

Testing

The stages described so far produced a product concept that consumers felt was relevant and which they were willing to buy. The next stage was to test the product on actual customers. Many product launches fail, despite great advertising. A big reason is because the product fails to live up to the promises made.

The Market Research Team conducted a product usage test. A de-branded sample of the proposed new product was given to the target consumer of females in several countries. De-branded means the deodorant was in a blank container so that the consumers did not know who made the product or what type it was. Very often consumers form opinions about products and services from advertising and packaging. This can sometimes be very strong and creates a bias in what they think of a product before trying it.

The consumers were asked to use the new deodorant for a week. They kept a diary of when they used it and scored the performance of the deodorant against a list of criteria. These included:

  • Did it keep you dry all day?
  • Did you have to reapply it?
  • Did you like the fragrance?
  • Did it last all day?
  • Was the deodorant reliable?

Consumers applied the ‘de-branded’ deodorant under their right armpit and continued to use their current deodorant under their left armpit. This helped the users gauge if it was as good as or better than the brand they normally used. This gave a measure of how likely the consumer would be to swap brands.

The results of the test were very positive. Most consumers loved the fragrance and the feel of the product on their skin. They felt it performed as well as their current deodorant. Most said they would swap their brands after trying the product.

Brand positioning

Now the marketing team had a new product idea that consumers liked. It had a name and packaging design that were well received. They now needed to check how this fitted with the rest of the NIVEA Deodorant brand positioning and range.

The brand position is the specific niche in the market that the brand defines itself as occupying.

The NIVEA Deodorant Pearl and Beauty adds a touch of feminine sophistication and elegance to the NIVEA Deodorant brand’s personality. This built on the core deodorant positioning. It made NIVEA Deodorant more appealing, modern and unique to trendy, young female consumers.

Using qualitative research to inform advertising

The next stage was to brief an advertising agency to develop communication to support the launch of the new product. Through market research the team could check whether the advertisements positively supported and communicated the new product.

The company conducted qualitative research on some advertising ideas amongst various groups of the target consumers. It presented ideas in the form of ‘storyboards’ of what a TV advert could look like. The objective was to evaluate which were the best ideas in terms of:

  • Did they stand out as exciting or different?
  • Were they relevant to the consumer?
  • Did they communicate the right things about the new product?
  • Did they persuade the consumer to want to purchase the product?

Evaluating success

Once the product is launched and the consumer can actually purchase it, the research process does not stop.

Continuous consumer tracking can be carried out to find out consumers’ views of the new product. This involves interviewing people every day to find out whether they are using the product, what they think of it and why they would purchase it.

Beiersdorf uses other, secondary data sources such as consumer panel data and EPOS (electronic point of sale) data. These monitor the sales effectiveness of the product throughout the launch phase and through the product life cycle.

CONCLUSION

New product development should start with an insight based on consumer needs.

Throughout the NPD process, market research is a valuable tool for Beiersdorf to check viability and minimise the risk of the product launches.

Being an international company, it is essential that Beiersdorf develops new products using the insights of consumers across markets and cultures. This ensures the products are relevant to a large number of global consumers and will deliver the maximum return when launched.

This maximises return on investment for the company and results in happy, satisfied and loyal consumers


Source: thetimes100.co.uk

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Stripes for Summer: Women’s 2011 Fashion Trend

2010’s infatuation with military fashion was heavily influenced by army and air force styling, meaning naval influenced pieces hardy got a look in. As the military trend winds down for spring 2011, we turn to new influences – but that doesn’t mean the nautical shall be overlooked entirely. For those fashionisers who are nautically inclined, Spring 2011 still has something in store. Don’t think of it strictly as a nautical military trend, however. Rather, in 2011, it’s the classic navy and white colour palette, worn as dominant stripes.

navy stripe clothing
Striped summer dress at Jil Sander SS11

The Style

Note that I didn’t say bold stripes, but dominant stripes. While navy and white stripes are a must for the look (though black and white can also work in 2011), the real key to Summer’s take on nautical stripes is that they dominate the outfit. While they do so in the below look easily (though the plum Doc Martens still seem somewhat heavy), in other outfits it’s about drawing attention to the stripes above all else in the outfit.

navy stripe clothing
Striped summer dress snapped in Sydney by Vanessa Jacman.

As an illustration of the point be sure to look at the inspiration picture below; while most looks rely on bold stripes, you’ll see that the trend is just as effective when the stripes are thin. Hence for Summer 2010 look for dominant stripes, not necessarily bold ones.

The Pieces To Wear in 2011

Don’t think of this Summer stripes just as a clothing trend: you can work them into any part of an outfit (just not all at once, please). As you’ll see in the inspiration gallery stripes can dominate an outfit in everything from hats to killer mini-dresses.

striped hat
Striped summer hat snapped byJak and Jil.

2011’s return of bell bottoms – a style which originated with the sailor pants of the US navy – also presents the perfect opportunity for creating nautical ensembles. And of course a striped top with flares is a combination that also lends itself to a perfectly 70s inspired look.

stripes with flares
Striped top and flared jeans at Fidelity Denim SS11

To Nautical Or Not To Nautical?

While Summer’s navy and white striped fashion trend isn’t a true take on navy inspired fashion, it’s likely to appeal to those who are in to the nautical aesthetic. If that’s you and you’re after some inspiration look to Anja Rubik’s sailor inspiration from the June 2010 issue of Vogue Korea. The shoot utilises the season’s stripe trend in the form of a dominant blazer, but takes the nautical motifs to far less subtle proportions.

anja rubik navy

Layering

The natural inclination for layering nautical pieces in an outfit is to do so with complimentary colours (read ‘navy and white’). And I can’t fault that logic. It’s the easy option. But may I offer up one piece of inspiration that differs from the safe? Clashes of stripes with other patterns or prints, for example this shot of Nataliya Piro in Cosmopolitan magazine mixing (admittedly non-dominant) stripes with florals. The stripes don’t dominate, but in a crowded room the look certainly will.

stripes with florals
Nautical stripes with floral print.

Source: Fashionising.com by Daniel P Dykes

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ASOS, The product life cycle and online fashion

Asos Case Study

Original Source: http://www.thetimes100.co.uk/case-study–the-product-life-cycle-online-fashion–134-364-1.php#ixzz16QnxWcb9

INTRODUCTION:

ASOS.com is the UK’s market leader in online fashion retailing. It offers own-label, branded fashion and designer goods. Its headquarters are in Camden Town in North London. ASOS.com originally stood for As Seen on Screen. The company was set up in June 2000 with just two people to bring the latest fashion trends to shoppers as quickly as possible. It has rapidly grown to become the UK’s largest independent online fashion retailer. It stocks over 22,000 product styles on its website and introduces up to 1,000 new products to its ranges each week. The ASOS.com website attracts over five million visitors a month and the company currently has around 1.2 million active customers (that is, people who have bought in the last six months). It was named Online Retailer of the Year in 2008 by Retail Week Awards.

ASOS.com provides high fashion clothing for women, men and children, as well as footwear, accessories, jewellery and beauty products. It aims these primarily at a target audience of 16-34 year olds. However, as the company continues to grow and diversify its product ranges and increase awareness, it appeals to a much wider online fashion market. Over 20% of its current customer database is aged over 35. Each week ASOS.com delivers 70,000 packages to the homes of its online customers. 

ASOS.com has been able to exploit the increasing popularity of online shopping to help the business grow. According to research from IMRG UK, an organisation which tracks online sales:

  • around 50% of 16–24 year olds buy clothes online more than once a month
  • 30% of women have bought clothes online
  • the total UK online spend in 2007 was £42.0 million
  • there were 26 million UK online shoppers in 2007. 

Online shopping provides customers with the convenience of making purchases whenever and wherever they like. ASOS.com’ use of technology helps to increase sales by providing easy navigation around the website and helpful tools like the ‘catwalk’ option so items can be seen on moving models. The business also benefits from its visionary approach to traditional retailing by not having high street stores. This keeps its staffing and property costs down.

This case study shows how ASOS.com uses the product life cycle to ensure its product portfolio continues to meet the needs of its customers and provide up-to-date fashions in the fast-moving online retail industry.

THE PRODUCT LIFECYCLE

The product life cycle shows the stages a product goes through over time in relation to its sales. Whilst individual products have their own life cycles it is important also to understand wider market trends. The retail market also follows a life cycle. In the UK the total retail market is in a mature state with growth slowing down. Retailers have to compete hard, shown by declining sales in high street stores.

In contrast, the online retail industry is a young market still showing huge growth since its introduction period between 1998 and 2002. Between 2004 and 2007, total retail growth was just 4.6%, whereas online retail grew by over 130% in the same period. One of the big changes that occurred was a move by businesses from selling from a catalogue to direct selling online. This is clearly illustrated by the growing market share of ASOS.com. 

In the fashion industry there is a fairly short product life cycle because trends and tastes change regularly. For example, the ASOS.com website features a range of own-brand dresses which are a ‘must-have’ fashion item for the summer of 2009. The product life cycle for an ASOS.com own-brand dress typically follows the following sequence:

  • Introduction – The dress is made available to customers on the website. Fashion leaders adopt the new item. ASOS.com initially gives a lot of prominence to newly launched products on its website, for example, by having links directly to these items from the homepage and weekly newsletters.
  • Rapid growth – ASOS.com needs to ensure adequate stocks so as not to disappoint customers. Once the item moves into the growth stage it tends to promote itself as customers see the item in newspapers and magazines. 
  • Maturity– At this stage, ASOS.com will remind people about the product online, through for example, trend features on the website and in its newsletter. It may order more stock to ensure supply. For example, one dress from the summer 2008 collection is still selling well and has regular repeat orders.
  • Saturation – At this point, ASOS.com may decide to reduce the price to clear remaining stock. Sales provide an opportunity to make space in the warehouse for new products.
  • Decline – people become tired of the item or it is replaced by a new product. Fashion and trends have moved on.

There is a stage to the life cycle before the product is introduced – Development. In this phase, the ASOS.com buying team choose materials, styles and colours to produce a dress design. Suppliers then produce and distribute the goods to ASOS.com’s warehouse in the UK ready for introduction to the market. 

ASOS.com regularly introduces new products as customers demand the latest trends they have seen in magazines and on fashion catwalks. Introducing a new product involves considerable costs:

  • New stock needs to be purchased.
  • The website needs to be updated with pictures of the new fashionable items.
  • The ordering system needs to be updated.
  • The items need to be promoted through the website, newsletter and magazine.
  • There is the risk of an item selling poorly.

At the start of the life cycle, costs for a new product will be high whilst revenues are low. However, during the growth period revenues start to outstrip costs and contribute to the business’ profitability. The life cycle in fashion can be a matter of days. Limited 100 – a collection created in collaboration with students at London College of Fashion – sold out in five hours.

PURPOSE OF THE PRODUCT LIFCYCLE

Knowledge of how the life cycle works is particularly important for a company like ASOS.com. The fashion industry is fast-moving and the individual product life cycles may be seasonable. This means that some items will only sell well during parts of the year. In addition, the lead time on the production and buying process means that ASOS.com must plan a season ahead. Fashion designers launch their new clothes collections in the same way. So, during winter 2008, ASOS.com would already have chosen and been planning for the promotion of its summer 2009 collection.

However ASOS.com enjoys an extended product life cycle due to the fact that the business has a large international market. In the southern hemisphere the seasons are the other way round to the UK. This, combined with an increasing trend to take winter holidays in sunny countries, means that summer items, such as swimwear, sell right through the year. Other items sell at unexpected times. For example, Ugg sheepskin boots would normally be considered a winter product. However, a few years ago, celebrities wearing them at pop festivals in the summer means they now sell all year round. As an online retailer, ASOS.com is not restricted in terms of space. It can offer products at times when high street retailers have to send certain categories of goods back to the warehouse. For example, ASOS.com’s Holiday Shop performs very well at Christmas time.

Understanding the product life cycle also gives ASOS.com managers greater control.

  • They are able to predict when revenue will flow in and calculate the profitability of product lines.
  • They can plan the introduction and withdrawal of products. Some product lines will be highly seasonal. Other products such as classic blue jeans will have much longer life cycles and provide regular long-term revenue for the business. Managers therefore need to plan the appropriate type and level of promotion for different products.
  • They can support products through the entire life cycle. They can plan pricing strategies to extract as much revenue as possible at every stage. For example; promotional discounts can be used to encourage large numbers of people to purchase a new product when it is launched. Premium pricing may apply to a new limited edition dress.  Price reductions are often used at the end of the life cycle when the item is less popular and sales are declining.

PROMOTION

Promotional activity helps a business to provide potential customers with information about its products with a view to making a sale. ASOS.com is a market-orientated company. ASOS.com’s Customer Relationship Management system helps it to understand its customers and their buying patterns. This means how different age groups and most importantly, how different attitudes affect what appeals to customers and influences how they will spend their money. User information enables ASOS.com to target its promotional activity. ASOS.com gathers information about its customers and what types of fashion they like from its website registrations. For example, two women of the same age can have entirely different purchasing habits and fashion styles. This information helps ASOS.com decide where and how it will promote its products. ASOS.com’s Public Relations department will target advertising to a broad range of publications simultaneously, such as Harper’s Bazarre, Vogue, Elle, GQ or The Times newspaper. As part of online registration, customers provide email addresses. ASOS.com sends out email newsletters with updates about new products and offers twice a week to over 2.7 million customers.

By analysing a database of what its customers typically buy and how often they purchase, ASOS.com is able to target promotions directly at particular segmentsof customers. ASOS.com estimates what products will appeal to individual customers. It then targets promotions to customers on an individual basis. For example:

  • a younger customer who has in the past bought low-rise jeans may also be interested in buying a fitted leather jacket
  • a customer who has bought a dress from ASOS.com’s Black range of products may also have the spending power to buy designer shoes and handbags.

Measuring the response to promotional activity is very important. A number of key performance indicators are used to measure effectiveness. When ASOS.com sends customers emails about a new product, such as blazers, it needs to know:

  • how many of these emails are opened
  • whether they are clicked through (read to the end)
  • how many of these convert into sales.

From evaluating these figures, ASOS.com can get a picture of how many customers are exposed to this promotional method and what sales are being generated as a result. Other important measures include the number of people using and purchasing from the ASOS.com website. If use is high and growing, it shows continued growth of the market.

EXTENSION STRATEGIES

ASOS.com makes it easy for people to buy online as it has a huge range of own-brand, high street and designer labels on one website with a single basket check-out ordering service. Leading clothes designers and fashion houses choose to sell their clothes through ASOS.com because they know that this is a good way to reach a wide, international audience and generate revenue. ASOS.com is continually seeking to outperform its competitors and increase its market share. It does this by providing customers with choice, value, service and fashion credibility. It also needs to be aware of how the life cycle of its entire product range can be managed and extended to maximise revenues.

The Boston Matrix model helps ASOS.com to assess the value of product categories and plan strategies to manage them. 

  • Poor performers such as last season’s items that are now in decline or products that fail to launch are referred to as Dogs – sales are poor and profits low.
  • Question Marks are new items that have been launched and may do well.
  • Stars are the items that are growing quickly and could go on to make a lot of money.
  • Cash Cows are items which are good earners and have been so for a while. For example, basic T-shirts and ASOS.com’s own-label dresses continue to be popular year after year. These items have reached maturity and stayed there.

ASOS.com’s challenges are to:

  • convert the Question Marks and Stars into Cash Cows of the future by increasing or extending promotion
  • manage the Dogs either by removing the item and cutting costs or reducing the price to sell quickly or re-using the materials in these garments to make new ones.

The profits earned from Cash Cows can be used to develop and promote Stars and Question Marks.

CONCLUSION

Fashion is a rapidly moving market. ASOS.com demonstrates the growing trend for online shopping with increasing numbers of visitors and purchases on its website year-on-year. ASOS.com meets the needs of its target audience by providing an exciting and continually updated website with regular new fashion items. Being able to target customers through personalised customer communications is a vital aspect of its promotion strategy.

It also continues to enhance the range of product areas it offers, such as kidswear and maternity clothes, launched in 2008 and 2009 respectively. ASOS.com also continues to develop the range of services it offers, for example, its ‘Style with substance’ initiative ensures customer emails are responded to within one hour. By understanding its customers’ needs and the life cycle of its products, ASOS.com is able to provide a product offering which ensures customers keep returning to the ASOS.com website.

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Filed under Case Study, Fashion, Fashion Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Mix, Online, Product Lifecycle, Promotion