From selling to selling the right product, from just capturing more customers to having a satisfied customer, from luxury to sustainable luxury, from customer exploitation to customer awareness – the turn of the century saw a lot and has much more to come.
With improved consumer consciousness and a higher level of education there has to be more concentration on product rather than the media communication. More importance is placed on capturing and retaining customers that promoting the right product. It is important to have a right product before have the right advertising. Right product does not just stand for quality and value for money but also the appropriateness of the product at a particular time.
The product should target the right customer base and should keep in consideration “the mood of the people”. For example at the time of recession, luxury should not be emphasized on in terms of advertisement. Such an advertisement could result in boycott of the brand. Concentration on getting the product right will not just result in satisfied customers but also will eventually attract more customers. Innovation of the product to build marketing into the product is the next step.
With increasing emphasis on ethics and corporate social responsibility the performance actions of a company that influence a consumer to buy the product are to change from the famous “4 P’s of Marketing” by Professor Neil Borden of the Harvard Business School to a new concept of “5 P’s of Marketing”.From Product, Promotion, Price, Placement to Product, Promotion, Price, Placement and Principle.
Principle – The code of conduct of the company, the social responsibilities and ethics will hold an important stand in the consumer’s decision of buying a product. More environmentally conscious products will penetrate the market. A customer would not like to buy a product if it is made by workers who are not paid sustainable wages or buy a product which is not dyed with eco friendly dyes. If a company is known for malpractice the consumer will put aside other factors and make a wise choice to stand against the product. Strategies like “one rupee to rural education on purchase of this product” will gain popularity.
With fashion moving from a common foundation for all at a certain period of time to individualism, targeting a common market could result in depriving the customer of choices and mass rejection. The customer would be more bold and independent; hence catering to customer preferences at a fast changing pace will be a necessity. The famous fifteen days lead time of Zara, the 300 new styles every week of Hennes & Mortiz are good examples to state here. Fashion symbolizes change; hence the common lead time of three to six months will gradually become unacceptable.
A concept of “by the customer, of the customer and for the customer” is emerging. An example of this would be “www.threadless.com”. In this one can design a shirt and put it for public view. The public can vote for the best design and that shirt would go into production. This gives the consumers satisfaction in terms of choice and also a sense of control. There is a dire need of innovation of processes that will allow the customer to choose their product or service.
Marketing on the internet started with online consumer surveys and moved to online retailing. A lot in this is still unexplored. In reference to the pace of technological advancements, in the later half of the century a 3D virtual shopping experience is a possibility. With the internet fast becoming a popular channel of retailing, the concept of e-tailing (electronic retailing) in fashion is captivating the consumers. Internet is catering to the convenience of the consumer. With e libraries, online catalogues and made to order the customers have a lot to choose from. With increasing value of time over money, a customer prefers to pay a little extra for delivery at doorstep. This is a topic of intense research in garments because for new customers fit preferences are difficult to infer.
Customer segmentation should not be based on differences but on similarities. The popularity of online social networking could help define a different league of customer segregation. With likeminded people forming groups and communities on Facebook, Orkut and other social networking sites a method of customer segregation could be devised based on the groups and communities.