This analytical report of the luxury fashion house Alexander McQueen presents a comprehensive overview of the company’s background, business environment, brand positioning, trend influence, marketing mix, and communications strategy. Alexander McQueen is a unique brand characterized by its exquisite and iconoclastic fashion style, but it has evolved to become a powerhouse within the highly competitive market and offers sophisticated products which appeal to a wide range of affluent consumers. It can be argued that at its core, Alexander McQueen is one of the few brands which has stayed true to its artisan and artistic core while running a successful business without compromising its values in any element of operations while navigating the complex environment of the fashion industry.
Alexander McQueen is a luxury fashion house founded in 1992 and named after its founder, a recognized designer and couturier Lee Alexander McQueen who passed away in 2010. It is currently a subsidiary of the luxury product conglomerate Kering and continues to be a known brand in the world of fashion led by a close colleague of McQueen and current creative director Sarah Burton. The Alexander McQueen label has always been recognized due to shock tactics and experimentation in its collections, commonly with symbolism and inspiration from the natural world, while maintaining high levels of craftsmanship (Evans, n.d.). As of 2019, Alexander McQueen maintained 778 employees and annual revenue of approximately $195.3 million.
Analysis of the Environment of the Brand
The luxury fashion industry has undergone a significant market shift in recent times. Prior, the market consisted of small artisan businesses valued for high quality and craftsmanship. However, large multinational companies emerged in the industry, upturning the market. Some brands focus on heritage and superiority, being truly luxury and exclusive due to price. However, others, such as Alexander McQueen combine the perception of high prestige with reasonable prices with products that are available to middle-class consumers. Therefore, the luxury sector has rapidly increased in market size, product range, and consumer diversity in the last two decades. Furthermore, luxury fashion typically implements a slow fashion business model which differs from fast fashion. The slow fashion model is aimed at creating sustainable and ethical supply chains, which highlight the use of local resources and long product lives. However, because fashion products typically have a short shelf life, designers and manufacturers operate on tight product schedules and distribution deadlines (Kvasha, 2019).
|Political||Trade barriers, taxes, and tariffs as the brand operate in a multinational environment, shipping across multiple countries and also having contractual obligations with suppliers and manufacturers. Also, consider are intellectual property protections – as a luxury brand Alexander McQueen faces the issue of replicas and counterfeit products, but not all countries are willing to enforce IPR for a Western company against local producers. Political issues such as worker’s rights and child labor laws also arise in production as well as cause negative publicity.|
|Economic||A major economic factor is economic recessions and subsequent decline in unemployment and income. For example, the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted spending away from non-essential items combined with unique circumstances where fashion clothing was not in high-demand anymore. Since Alexander McQueen is an expensive, sometimes luxury product, it is less likely to be purchased during economic recessions in target Western markets.|
|Social||factors largely include the shift in the global consumer mindset. It is a volatile market as prior to 2020, the personal luxury goods market was steadily growing, but now there is an expected drop in demand. However, the general mindset that is shifting towards quality sustainable products does benefit Alexander McQueen is a brand. Another social aspect to consider is public recognition and social media presence where the fashion house has gained greater recognition among luxury brands.|
|Technological||In terms of technological aspects, the brand is impacted by the use of new materials and methods in the manufacturing of clothing, shoes and accessories. From a marketing and retail perspective, the rise of online shopping and e-commerce has shifted consumer perceptions and shopping habits that directly influence luxury brands that traditionally relied on real-life impact factors in live stores.|
|Legal||environmental impacts continue to center around IPR discussed previously. This goes along with contracts and obligations as well as hiring practices, to avoid human rights violations when outsourcing production.|
|Environmental||issues regarding materials sourced and production practices have significantly impacted the fashion industry. The parent company of Alexander McQueen, Kering, has pledged to become the most sustainable fashion group with a low-carbon economy.|
|Strengths ||Weaknesses |
|Opportunities ||Threats |
Alexander McQueen is a globally recognized luxury fashion brand name that also maintains a strong financial status and strong support within the Kering fashion conglomerate. It has a defined market position as a niche and unique fashion house, with high-quality products. The brand has products that are highly expensive and unavailable to purchase through its regular channels, affecting accessibility and driving up exclusivity. The brand’s extension McQ does offer a range of more affordable options to wider target markets, but still remains an expensive product for most consumers (Martin Roll, 2020). Its strive for quality and exclusivity over quantity and fast fashion allows them to strengthen its position as a truly luxury brand but severely restricts its growth potential in the mass market.
Target Consumer Segment
Alexander McQueen focuses on the Western fashion market, targeting established and professional demographics aged 25-45. The brand offers collections for both men and women, but their campaigns are primarily focused on women which is their forte. The majority of consumers reside in metropolitan urban areas, the fashion capitals of Europe and America, that typically indulge in luxury products and brands. Alexander McQueen targets fashion-conscious individuals who favor quality and recognition as luxury brands are considered esteem drivers as they generate a sense of respect and accomplishment among the affluent that recognize the value of such designs and clothing (WC-SN, 2020)
Influence of Trends
Alexander McQueen is a very complex brand, founded and long upholding the principle of rebellion and anti-establishment in the fashion industry. The fashion house both capitalized on certain trends as well as set their own standards which would often shock and overturn the fashion world. Since McQueen’s passing in 2010, with the company being led by his protégé Sarah Burton as well as being incorporated into Kering, the brand has shifted towards a middle ground of being unique but maintaining a sense of consumer-friendliness by following the latest trends. This approach has allowed the brand to prosper in an extremely competitive industry (Kruger, 2020).
Alexander McQueen is being positioned to capitalize on changing trends in fashion towards smarter aesthetics after a long dominance of streetwear. The elaborate designs and elements that are present in a large portion of the brand’s collections are fitting with the changing dynamics in the fashion which emphasize a polished and elevated aesthetic. The designs continue to represent some elements of British rebellion and sensibility while following popular themes of beauty of decay and strong femininity. However, under Burton, the brand continues to maintain its unique identity, keeping elements such as craft tailoring, knit dresses, and leather elements which have also been adopted by other fashion houses to some extent. While modern Alexander McQueen is less audacious and iconoclastic than that of its founder, it remains a work of beauty and art in the fashion industry, proving that the brand is top-quality artisan (Sutherland, 2020).
Alexander McQueen operates in a highly competitive industry that is dependent on its ability to distinguish itself in terms of fashion as well as fickle consumer demands and trends. Alexander McQueen faces competition both from within the conglomerate of its parent company Kering which owns famous brands such as Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, and Bottega Veneta, as well as other luxury companies such as Stella McCartney, Chloe, Mani, and Vivienne Westwood. Many of these companies are luxury feminine brands that target the same consumer segment as Alexander McQueen. Meanwhile, others such as Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent are more widely recognizable in the general market, having the brand equity and visual identity with broad appeal; an aspect that Alexander McQueen lacks (Cabigosu, 2020). In terms of price and quality, Alexander McQueen stands in the middle of the pack in that segment as seen in the diagram below. It is neither extremely luxurious nor extremely formal/quality – making it still a luxury fashion brand but with the availability to target consumers.
Marketing Mix of the Brand
|Product||The brand offers a wide portfolio of products targeted toward both men and women, with a focus on clothing, but also includes shoes and accessories such as jewelry, bags, scarves, and even perfumes.|
|Price||The majority of Alexander McQueen products fall under a premium pricing strategy aimed at exclusivity and a niche target market. The brand has the McQ extension which offers slightly lower prices on goods aimed at a more general public but continues to be a luxury line.|
|Promotion||Promotions occur via marketing campaigns centered around season collections as typical for fashion houses. These are online campaigns through social media and various fashion outlets and magazines. Outside of this element, the brand does not engage in active online promotion and rarely uses celebrity endorsement, focusing on gaining recognition via naturally occurring coverage and word-of-mouth regarding its unique and quality products.|
|Place||The Alexander McQueen brand products are distributed in more than 50 countries. 80 stores are directly operated forming a network along with some franchises and select department and specialty stores – all located in key strategic metropolitans of the world. Alexander McQueen also has a comprehensive e-commerce store shipping around the world. The McQ brand is distributed through international wholesale across 500 stores and offers a direct-to-consumer approach (Kering, 2020).|
|People||Alexander McQueen is a large and independent company, employing 778 people directly. This includes management, creative staff, logistics, and retail among others. The CEO of the company since 2016 is EmmanualGintzberg, a successful businessman in luxury fashion who is credited with transforming the brand into a global fashion powerhouse. One of the most important people in the company is Sarah Burton who worked with the original founder Lee Alexander McQueen for 14 years, and after his death in 2010 took over the role of creative director and has also driven the brand towards a more recognizable and broad appeal product line in the luxury fashion industry (Conti, 2018).|
Marketing Communications Strategy
With its communications strategy, Alexander McQueen aims to reach its target demographic and generate consumer engagement through the shared values of the brand. It seeks to establish and increase brand recognition while maintaining a luxury and fashion powerhouse status. The brand maintains a limited social media presence with pages on major platforms, with Instagram being the most active capitalizing on the visual elements of its product being “instagrammable” and therefore popular on that social platform. It periodically announces new products and collections using its Instagram page (Chitrakorn, 2020). However, the majority of marketing communications occur through industry-specific media which are fashion magazines and outlets, both print and online where the company publishes new collections and reviews from its fashion shows. Alexander McQueen also maintains a versatile and well-developed website that is used not only for the retail experience but for publications related to the company as well as official press releases.
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