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Inexpensive designer wear is a paradox but is the reality of our times. JCPenney has recently launched a new collection of designer brands. Splash from the landmark group has introduced a flash Ramadan Collection. Walmart now collaborates with designers of repute such as Norma Kamali, who create an exclusive affordable line for the store. H&M and Target are also foraying into exclusive designer collections. Introducing affordable exclusive designer collections is a new strategy to hedge against tough times for both the parties.


Most designers know that in such difficult times their customer base erodes. The customers who earlier had an extra income to splurge have pulled their purse strings tight. With an ever increasing need to penetrate the markets, designers now understand that they need to target the mass market and hence create a new line to hedge against specific consumer segments. Moreover, the designers save costs by not venturing into new product lines all by themselves.

On the other hand, retailers are cashing in on the need of today’s consumer, who want fashionable products but cannot afford or do not want to spend thriftily on apparel & lifestyle categories. The retailers urge the designers to go for patterns that will satisfy these consumers and further complement the line by launching a collection of fashion accessories like jewelery, scarves, belts, totes and handbags. Designer apparels are priced at as low as $20 which is easily within the reach of these customers.

This is the new win-win-win strategy. For the consumers it is an under control clothing budget with designs meeting their aspiration, for retailers larger customer base, increased customer satisfaction & more revenue and for the designers more visibility plus increased business.


October 30, 2009 at 7:11 pm 2 comments


Only a magnificent time piece can offset the rawness of a wrist, and of late watches tell you more than just the time. There was a time when watches were worn as part of one’s personality, the time when the likes of Breguet were born. These classic time pieces were destroyed, though only for a limited time, by ugly looking digital watches that looked like calculators. Sense prevailed and a decade ago the beautiful time pieces resurfaced. The marketers instilled the belief that watches are not worn just to tell the time, but as timeless memoirs of a time gone by. Watches are your past, your present and your future. The glamor these time pieces put on your wrist are the captured moments of your beautiful life, deeply connected to your personality.

breitlingThis articulate emotional projection of these premium luxury watches lures many a men and women. The message: Watches are worn to sooth the senses, to give a sense of fulfillment and to take you back in time. Watching time is supposed to be a relaxed spiritual ritual not a loud statement. Such is the charisma of owning a Breitling, a Patek or a Muller. They do not say that you have arrived, but say that you are immortal like your memories. The craze, the emotion, the desire was not created in a day, the beauty was not advertised, but very carefully the marketer reflected the art, craft and craftsmanship at exhibitions held deep in the caves of alps, to create an exclusivity unheard of, to appreciate the hands that created the masterpiece. The focus is not on who can afford it, the focus is on who can adorn it.

This perception is extended to the retail environment. A single watch portrayed under a focused spot light and a gold card displaying craftsmanship details of the watch and its exclusive elements telling you there is something more than just a watch staring at you. The consumers of such products take time to go through the minutest of details as if they are imbibing the essence of the watch, getting to know its personality and aligning it with their own. Such is the magnetism of this new trend.

October 24, 2009 at 2:51 pm 2 comments


Health and beauty segment is slated to grow due to impending recession. Since people will refrain on spending on big ticket items such as home renovation or improvement, and more emphasis will be given on looking and feeling good. Hence, the growth prospects for smaller indulgence items like HABA (Health Aid Beauty Aid) are high. Further market is enjoying demand boom for natural/organic products because of so called increased awareness towards environment and social responsibility.

menThe growth in this sector is further fueled by increasing number of male shoppers as men are giving increased importance to their looks. Both the large and niche retailers are cashing in on the trend and have increased their focus on this category in different ways. Large retailers have increased their exposure to the market by offering huge variety preferably at a low cost while niche players are introducing new products such as organic creams, glitter soaps, watermelon bath all at just the right price and right time.

A depressed soul no matter the gender would certainly like to take a dip in some relaxing aromas.

October 21, 2009 at 12:56 am Leave a comment


Walk into a Kouton store and you will be bewildered looking at the display price tags on ordinary looking garments. A common solid white shirt for INR 2000/-. At that price, you may not even want to look at these garments – let alone the thought of purchasing them. But then your eyes move to the promotion stickers (see below) that announce a discount of 50%+40% on the balance, a whopping 70% discount on the MRP. Further into the market, you find a Cantabil showroom giving away 3 shirts for a price of 1, and so does Charlie Outlaw by selling 2 jeans at 50% on the MRP of one.

mockpricingA trip to these stores is enough to make you realise the shift in pricing strategy that I will refer to as – “Mock Pricing”. Such discounters purposely mark up goods to create a perception of high quality or high performance in a consumer’s mind. But the reality is at the price quoted the goods won’t sell, so now you discount the good heavily. Thus, an INR 2000/- shirt will now be available at INR 600/- after a 70% discount. This is an excellent price for this particular product.

The irony is that the customers are getting hooked by this strategy – A good quality product at throw away price. Moreover, this strategy no longer seems limited to brands like Kouton, Cantabil or Charlie Outlaw. The year that passed by forced consumers to restrict spending and search for value deals. So large as well as the smaller retailers are now considering mock pricing as a part of their strategy along with aggressive promotion-led sales strategies.

Intentionally marking up products higher than required does allow products to be sold profitably and compete better with the well entrenched brands, but the question is till what discount levels can the strategy work.

With numerous brands adopting the strategy; mock pricing looks like another bubble waiting to burst.

October 13, 2009 at 12:53 pm 2 comments


In the past, we had more of visual pollution like crazy signage, ugly interiors, supermarkets besides supermarkets and others. But today, what is the retailer doing to create a pleasurable experience for the customer?

Your customer’s journey must be seductive, eye-catching and captivating. Whatever be the size of a retail sales area the experience needs to be a totally sensory one and that’s the “Barry White Effect” where you romance the customer. A slow, steady and consistent arousal of passion in customers. And this begins with the visual communication: the initial lust.

RetailWhere ever I see these days, there are sensual lights, eye-catching colors, exotic decors and elaborate wooing;  a creation of moods to be exact. It is, as if the retailers just learnt to capture an inherent human need of lust.

Of lately the look is mischievous, with a dash of mystery to arouse you, and we, connect to it in a flash of lightning. Of course, each brand chooses to activate a different set of emotions. Some tingle the romantic sensations, some the eternal naughtiness, some the sophisticated aura, few the shyness and many the wild-dark side.

madonnaLook at the Louis Vuitton “Madonna In & Out Store” decor. You might wonder what’s with a pair of hot legs and an equally hot bag…..well both satiate. The same is with open spaces and curvy interiors. This is how wild a brand visual communication can get.

Retailers will go all out to romance their customer and get them down on their knees, begging for more.

October 12, 2009 at 4:01 pm Leave a comment

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