Friday 8 May 2009

Real Consumer Insight Part I

Diane, 55. 'My favourite dress I bought from Karen Millen, which I bought for a Christmas do at work and I love it! It’s just pretty because it’s got all different bits of fabric in it. I’ve also got the matching shoes and handbag.'

Tracey, 50. 'I like to wear jeans when I go out in the evening and I love this top from Warehouse because its great for dressing them up.'

Helen, 45. 'My favourite top is from Monsoon, another of my favourite stores. They do really well for tall girls. Everything fits really snugly at the top and then it goes down and then it goes past the bits at the bottom that you don’t really want to show. Its crisp cotton, I wear it with white linen trousers or I can dress it up for the races. So it’s just really versatile and their clothes wash well.'

Kathy, 61. 'My favourite item is this leather jacket I had tailor made in Spain. The leather is so soft and I've had it for years now.'

Zandra Rhodes meets M&S

“Rhodes will launch her range of clothes, accessories, holiday wear and lingerie, on May 7 this year. She has taken the summer dresses and kaftans that sell well in M&S and has meshed them with her trademark bright colours and bold flower motifs.”

Of all the collaborations that M&S could make, this really doesn’t fit. They have missed their core market again! Although mature women grew up in the 1970’s it doesn’t mean they want to wear the same things the next time round. These women want structure, fit and flattery. In my opinion, M&S is better off avoiding the gimmicky celebrity collaborations (previously jumping on the sex and the city bandwagon) and hold out for a meaningful meeting of minds with the likes of Donna Karan or Carolina Herrera.

Yves Saint Laurent: Edition 24

Given a choice, Yves Saint Laurent designer Stefano Pilati says he would much rather see plenty of women walking around in his designs than erect some enormous brand temple.

Pilati's newest project: a permanent, season-less and sharply priced collection of YSL essentials dubbed "Edition 24", helps fulfill the brand's promise of not only inciting desire, but serving women with a complete wardrobe for modern life.

The collection, which can be assembled into 24 looks, comprises all the elements a fashionable woman might need for an overnight trip, from oversize sweaters to a chiffon dress that can be rolled into a ball and tossed into a roller suitcase — also part of the line.

"Timeless" and "versatile" were the words Pilati used repeatedly to describe the range, which includes some of the most iconic styles of the founding couturier (patent trenchcoats, safari jackets, tuxedos), plus plenty from Pliati's three-year reign at the house, part of Italy's Gucci Group. There's even an item from the Tom Ford era — silk T-shirts — among Pilati's earliest output as women's design director. (He joined YSL from Prada Group in 2000 and succeeded Ford in 2004.)

“It's about building a wardrobe; finding everything you need. And it's not necessarily linked to the direction of a season.”

(From WWD)

Spring 2009

Autumn 09

This is a far more successful and enticing take on a capsule wardrobe, unlike the M&S attempt.

YSL are so sure that these staple items will be a success that they have announced that all Edition 24 styles are available for reorder. There is nothing more heartbreaking than falling in love with an item, wearing it to death and then not being able to replace it. This is often common with the more mature market as some find the perfect product is few and far between.

It is imperative that high street brands are constantly monitoring the actions of high end brands as means of inspiration.


Wednesday 6 May 2009

Westfield Part II

WALLIS have created a rather eye catching window with mannequins positioned around a glowing star, celebrating the festive season in December 2008. Styling has remained rather youthful yet modest cuts encourage mature women to enter and see more. The attraction is maintained by the framed images to the left of the entrance which is a nice touch. Wallis would do well to have more mannequins in-store for inspiration.

NEXT in Westfield has really updated its look. Most Next stores are severely lacking in mannequins and styling inspiration, but this Next has upped its game offering mannequins and in-store graphics throughout. However, some of the styling is a little OTT for Next's typical consumer and the introduction of the animals is a tad too much. Unfortunately the clear perspex images hung inbetween the mannequins and the woodland animals create a bit of an eye sore. The consumers eye is so distracted that it may just give up! Next could work the folk trend successfully for an array of consumers of all ages, unfortunately this hasn't been translated effectively.


Westfield Part I

As part of research for the publication a trip to Westfield shopping centre was in order, demonstrating the latest developments in Visual Merchandising for mature women:

COAST has maintained a feeling of space in a rather narrow store by opening up their window, allowing you to see straight into the store. They have also experimented with different levels and presented outfits on mannequins in various positions to maintain visual interest.

HOBBS has also left the store window open plan but has displayed the garments on a traditional dressmakers mannequin. Often used as a strength or USP for luxury brands, Hobbs is promoting an air of heritage. This is especially effective today when considering the current attitudes of the consumer. The credit crunch is encouraging a more considered and sober approach to shopping, seeking quality and longevity.

Hobbs has also successfully tapped into a trend in the lifestyle of mature women: Travel. Even out of season, (this photo was taken just as Spring was developing) Hobbs is referencing a favourite past time that mature women often enjoy all year round. This creates excitement and temptation to enter.

M&S is the perfect example of seeing Westfield as an opportunity to update. The first M&S image is of the Per Una window in Westfield. The second image is of the M&S in Oxford Street.

Westfield have invested in rotating mannequins allowing the consumer a 360 degree view of the clothing displayed, promoting good fitting garmetns as nips and tucks would be impossible to hide on a rotating mannequin! Mannequin poses are unique and confident, eye catching... as are the spring window graphics. Complete and colourful outfits are displayed including matching accessories promoting a whole look which is often appreciated by the consumer.

The second image presents M&S almost surrendering to the credit crunch with their dress for less campaign. The mannequins take a far less imposing stance and the styling is far from eye-catching. With competitors over the road such as H&M, M&S must employ their Westfield innovation more centrally in order to successfully compete with more youthful brands who are often successful in tempting the mature woman.


Thursday 23 April 2009

Great Reads...

In addition to Insight, I thought I would post some additional items that mey be of some use to you when targetting mature women.

#1. Inside Her Pretty Little Head by Jane Cunningham and Philippa Roberts.

This offers an understanding of the female pshyche and explains why a lot of today's marketing techniques are excluding the female market.

#2. Prime Time Women by Marti Barletta.

This book demonstrates a great understanding of mature women who Marti says are in their Prime Time. It explains exactly how important this consumer is to the survival of many brands.

#3. Viewpoint: The Eve-olution Issue.

Don't miss this issue if you want a strong understanding of how the female market is changing, including their success in a business environment and how women have embraced the web.

#4. Ageless by WGSN.

This article is not purely female focused and at time refers to consumers over the age of 65 but still gives a great insight into their attitudes towards a variety of topics such as customer service and marketing.

A Sneak Preview...

Editor’s Note

Times have changed. The UK consumer has less money to spend and in the retail world, times are hard.

However, there is one consumer who can afford to treat herself. She is sitting on a property of substantial value and Mintel suggests that the weekly average expenditure of over 45’s has risen from £415 in 2000 to £476 in 2005.

This demonstrates a 14.7% increase that is likely to increase further in the future. (Mintel, Fashion for the Over 45’s. November 2006) Over 45’s are encouraged to spend because the temptation to save has become less and less appealing with the drop in interest rates.

She is the mature woman*.

The previous strains on her disposable income such as supporting her children and feeding a family are disappearing and she now has more time and cash for herself.

Unlike her preceding generations this mature woman has different demands and has presented retailers with a problem. Having witnessed the fashion revolution of the 1960’s she experienced the zeitgeist in-store: creativity, theatre and innovation. Alongside this the boutiques offered relevant, trend-led clothes and impeccable service.

This consumer is a modern woman, she knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go out and find it.

Frustrated by actions (or in some cases, a lack of action) taken by the brands who were supposed to serve her market well, she began to look elsewhere. The mature woman discovered the likes of Zara, H&M and Gap; often foregoing high quality service and garments in order to seek out the clothes and styles that she desires.

Insight offers brands a chance to regain this consumer’s interest and trust. It features the perspectives of various women across the UK covering topics such as the shopping experience and their own sense of style. Alongside this, interviews with industry professionals will offer invaluable advice regarding retail, design, merchandising and promotion.

This isn’t about finding a quick fix; but really thinking about the whole brand experience on offer – choosing the best designs, displays and directions for your consumer.

The customer is always right – all you have to do is ask!

Emily Trimmer – Creative Director of Insight.

*Throughout this report the term ‘mature woman’ will refer to female consumers living in the UK and aged between 45 and 65; and socio-economically classified as ABC1.