Consumer Fashion Brands Case Study

Executive Summary

The Funky Threads Company (FT thereafter) addressed the Brand Fashion Incorporated (BFI thereafter) for help in studying the possibility of launching its new business in Asia-Pacific region and in determining the preliminary profile of its target customer in the region mentioned. Based on the results of the preliminary research carried out by the FT prior to addressing the BFI, the latter managed to determine the potential target customer profile for the FT, and this profile was focused on the ambitious and highly valued person, with either low or middle income levels. This person prefers more expensive products of the higher quality to the low priced but low-quality goods. Australia turned out to be the most probable residence of the FT target customer in Asia-Pacific region. Based on these preliminary data, the BFI recommended the FT to carry out the more detailed and specific research in which the FT should study the fashion market of Asia-Pacific region. The FT should inquire about the competition, supply and demand, pricing, and market development trends, as well as the demographics of the market to see the correlation of the total number of fashion customers to the customers fitting into the preliminary target customer profile developed.

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Introduction

Launching a business in a new market is always a challenging task that demands proper preparation and considerable effort from the side of the company that plans such a step. Therefore, when Funky Threads (referred to as FT thereafter) addressed out company Brand Fashion Incorporated (BFI thereafter) for the help in analyzing the Asia-Pacific market, it was a clever step for FT (Aaker, 2007). On the basis of the case background and the data of the preliminary research carried out by the FT, we can now recommend the new research project to be conducted by the company in order to develop a profile of the FT target customers in Asia-Pacific region.

To do this fully, we start this business report with the consideration of the FT preliminary research results and move on to determining the main management problem and the basic objectives for the new research. Next, we proceed to determine the type of information necessary for the research, the type and methodology of the very research as well as sampling and data analysis techniques. Then we outline the possible limitations and caveats of the proposed research, and conclude with specific recommendations to the FT.

Background to the research

Needless to say, being rather concerned about its further development in international markets, the FT carried out the preliminary research in the Asia-Pacific region by its own forces (Aaker, 2007). The special questionnaire was designed to inquire about the buying habits and other market related data of the consumers in the region under discussion. The following three objectives were identified as the major ones for that preliminary research:

  • examine potential loyalty in the target market and the factors that influence loyalty;
  • understand how attractive the FT brand is, what is the most attractive attributes;
  • provide a preliminary profile of target consumers in the Asia‐Pacific region (Aaker, 2007).

The major tool selected by the FT for the research included the Independent Samples T-Test, Levene’s Test for Equality of Variances, t-Test for Equality of Means, and the Chi-Square Tests (Easton, 2009; Fisher, 2009; Gay, 2006; ITL, 2009; Price, 2000). The 170 respondents were asked about their likelihood of purchase of the FT products, and were than grouped according to below presented criteria. The major findings of the preliminary research can be integrated in the following tables. Table 1 reflects the group statistics, retrieved with the help of the Independent Samples Test, on relation between the FT brand’s attributes and the likelihood of purchase intention displayed by the customers in Asia-Pacific region (Coote, L and Stephen, 2005, p. 548):

Table 1. Relation between the FT brand’s attributes and the likelihood of purchase intention

Attribute Purchase Intention Number Mean Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean
Potential loyalty to FT No, not likely 27 2.6519 .59380 .11428
Yes, likely 143 3.6000 .68792 .05753
Distinctiveness of FT No, not likely 27 2.8148 .97109 .18689
Yes, likely 143 3.4336 .85492 .07149
Attribute Purchase Intention Number Mean Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean
Prestige of FT No, not likely 27 3.4321 1.06142 .20427
Yes, likely 143 3.6340 .81967 .06854
Visibility and Recognisability of FT No, not likely 27 3.5926 1.07450 .20679
Yes, likely 143 3.9563 .86262 .07214
Matching your perception of FT with your self-image No, not likely 27 3.1259 .85602 .16474
Yes, likely 143 3.5105 .81558 .06820
Attractiveness of FT No, not likely 27 3.7593 .85057 .16369
Yes, likely 143 4.2675 .66386 .05551
Relevance of FT to you No, not likely 27 2.6000 .92819 .17863
Yes, likely 143 3.2014 .79629 .06659

The above table shows the connection that the FT managed to find out between its brand’s attributes and customer activities. According to the survey of 170 respondents, the most important attribute of the FT for the customers in Asia-Pacific region was the attractiveness of the brand, which had the mean of 4.2675, and was followed by the visibility and recognisability of the brand (mean = 3.9563). At the same time, the attractiveness of the brand and visibility and recognisability of the FT had the highest negative mean among all the FT attributes in question – 3.7593 and 3.5926 respectively. This fact allows speaking that the attractiveness, visibility and recognisability of the brand are the most important attributes of the FT for its potential customers in Asia-Pacific region as these points attracted the attention of the questionnaire respondents most of all. Moreover, Table 2 shows what personalities tend to buy the FT products in most cases:

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Table 2. Relation between psychographics and the likelihood of purchase intention

Attribute Purchase Intention Number Mean Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean
Success is very important to me. No, not likely 27 4.41 .747 .144
Yes, likely 143 4.57 .633 .053
I mostly buy well known brand names. No, not likely 27 3.04 1.126 .217
Yes, likely 143 3.30 1.094 .092
Other people take my opinions seriously. No, not likely 27 3.63 .792 .152
Yes, likely 143 3.70 .760 .064
I look for quality Not likely 27 4.30 .869 .167
Attribute Purchase Intention Number Mean Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean
and value for money when shopping. Yes, likely 143 4.34 .822 .069
I feel more comfortable in a group than alone. No, not likely 27 2.78 .934 .180
Yes, likely 143 3.20 1.025 .086
I am concerned about how others perceive me. No, not likely 27 3.26 .859 .165
Yes, likely 143 3.62 .985 .082
I am a stylish and fashionable person. No, not likely 27 3.70 .724 .139
Yes, likely 143 3.55 .870 .073
I have a good idea of where I want to be five years from now. No, not likely 3.85 1.262 .243
Yes, likely 3.75 1.160 .097
I want to spend some time working overseas. No, not likely 4.30 .953 .183
Yes, likely 4.19 .971 .081
Attribute Purchase Intention Number Mean Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean
I have a busy social life No, not likely 4.19 .786 .151
Yes, likely 3.76 1.070 .089
I resent being given instructions/orders. No, not likely 3.52 .893 .172
Yes, likely 3.20 1.011 .085

According to Table 2, the FT products promise to be especially popular among ambitious people who want quality for the money they pay as far as the highest likelihood mean figures are observed in the responses of people who value success, and are ready to spend money for high quality products only (4.57 and 4.34 respectively). Finally, the Table 3 reflects the demographic factors observed in the FT preliminary research.

Table 3. Chi-Square Tests for Demographic Factors (Gender, Income, Region)

Factor Difference Point Measure (number/percentage) No, not likely Yes, likely Total
Gender Male Number 13 48 61
Factor Measure (number/percentage) No, not likely Yes, likely Total
Percent 48.1% 33.6% 35.9%
Female Number 14 95 109
Percent 51.9% 66.4% 64.1%
Income Less than $5000 Number 11 49 60
Percent 40.7% 34.3% 35.3%
$5000 to $9999 Number 4 34 38
Percent 14.8% 23.8% 22.4%
$10000 to $14999 Number 7 29 36
Percent 25.9% 20.3% 21.2%
$15000 to $19999 Number 3 16 19
Percent 11.1% 11.2% 11.2%
$20000 and higher Number 2 15 17
Percent 7.4% 10.5% 10.0%
Factor Difference Point Measure (number/percentage) No, not likely Yes, likely Total
Where From Australia Number 19 82 101
Percent 70.4% 57.3% 59.4%
New Zealand Number 3 9 12
Percent 11.1% 6.3% 7.1%
Asia Number 4 46 50
Percent 14.8% 32.2% 29.4%
Other Number 1 6 7
Percent 3.7% 4.2% 4.1%

Thus, on the basis of the three tables presented above, the preliminary profile of the potential customer of the FT in Asia-Pacific region can be formulated as follows. The customer displaying the likelihood of purchase in the FT is a female (or male, but in fewer cases) caught up by the attractiveness, visibility, and recognisability of the brand; she (he) is also an ambitious person that values her (his) work and money and looks for the high quality products. She (he) is an Australian and has the income of less than $5000. However, this is the result of the preliminary research and further work is needed to establish a more specific and credible customer profile and add focus and credibility to the research by widening its scope.

The management decision problem

Accordingly, on the basis of the data retrieved during the preliminary research by the FT, the new management decision problem appears to be the most sufficient for the next, and the final, step of the research proposed to the FT by BFI. This management decision problem concerns mostly the market environment that the FT is supposed to face in Asia-Pacific region in case if it launches its business there. So, the new management decision problem is whether the market for fashion products in Asia-Pacific region will be favorable for the FT. To solve this decision problem the company’s management will have to use the preliminary customer profile, resort to the comprehensive study of the market conditions in Asia-Pacific region, and the examine the demographics of the market, i. e. the presence and the number of the customers potentially fitting in the provided preliminary profile of the target customer.

The research problem and key objectives

As a result, the BFI moves on to the proposal of the research problem that will, if properly studied, provide the FT with the information necessary for making a decision about launching (or not launching) its business in Asia-Pacific region. Thus, the further research needs to study the market conditions and demographics factors that might affect, either positively or negatively, the performance of the FT in the market of Asia-Pacific region. Drawing from this research problem, the following research objectives can be established:

  • carry out the marketing research in the fashion markets of Asia-Pacific region including the potential competition, market shares of the major players, and expected developmental directions;
  • study the demographics of the Asia-Pacific fashion markets in the context of the preliminary profile of the FT target customer;
  • analyze the findings of the marketing and demographic studies;
  • identify the market of Asia-Pacific region as either favorable or unfavorable for launching a branch of the fashion business in it;

This research problem and objectives are designed to help the FT decide if Asia-Pacific is the fitting region for launching its business, and achieving these objectives demands a specific research design discussed further.

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Research design recommended for the new research project

Type of research

The most fitting type of research to use for the FT purposes will be the quantitative method that allows greater flexibility and variety of operations in, simply to put it, dealing with figures (Adcock and Collier, 2001, p. 529). To study the market, competition, supply and demand, demographics of the market, etc. the FT will have to deal with the data of Asia-Pacific market performance and competitors’ development. According to Hopkins (2000), quantitative research fits this purpose the most as it “is all about quantifying relationships between variables”. The research should combine the descriptive and exploratory elements as it will be focused on both observing the current market condition and inquiring about its past and future development trends (Shuttleworth, 2008). Thus, combined descriptive and exploratory quantitative research is recommended for use by the FT as this research type will enable the company to see the dynamics of the market development and make conclusions from it (Ouyang, 2009).

Type of information

The information needed for the recommended business and demographic study of the market will mainly include the statistical data showing the performance of the fashion products market in Asia-Pacific region including the market shares of the major players, the figures of their performance, supply and demand data observed in dynamics over at least the last 5 years, pricing policies observed in the market and the dynamics of prices. As well, the FT research should focus on the study of factors that allegedly influenced the change of prices for the fashion products at a certain period of time and under certain conditions. Finally, the recommended research needs to focus on the competition development in Asia-Pacific region, which will allow the FT to forecast, at least approximately, its perspectives in the region and to make a decision on launching its business there or rejecting the idea and looking for the more favorable market environment.

Method of data collection recommended

Based on the research type recommended and the necessity to collect the above stipulated mostly numerical data, the methods of data collection recommended for the use by the FT include three major techniques (Bryman, 2006, p. 99); they are the study of documentation issued by the major market players of the fashion products market in Asia-Pacific region, study of the market demographics through the examination of the most recent census carried out in the region, and finally the research of the factors that apparently condition the market development through questionnaire surveys and documentation reviews (Matveev, Rao, Milter, 2001, p. 111). More specifically, the FT should carry out a pilot study of the Asia-Pacific market that would include documentation review and the survey of the definite sample of the consumers regarding their experiences in the fashion market in this region over, at least, the last five years (Blumburg, 2008, p. 29). These steps will allow the FT to move on to the more detailed documentation review and the study of the competition in Asia-Pacific market for fashion products.

Sampling technique

On the basis of the data retrieved during the preliminary research by the FT, the target population of the recommended research is the group of Asia-Pacific region inhabitants that displays the likelihood of purchase in the FT, female or male (gender is the least differentiating factor in this respect), caught up by the attractiveness, visibility, and recognisability of the brand (Galloway, 2009); this group is also made up of ambitious persons that value their work and money and look for the high quality products. According to the geographical factor, these people are Australians and have the income of less than $5000 (Herek, 2009). Drawing from this, the random sampling should be used as a sampling technique in the sampling frame of the low and middle income Australian population interested in fashion and value the high quality products (Brewerton and Millward, 2001, p. 92). However, assuming that the preliminary research data might be erroneous to some extent, the stratified sampling might also be used to study the attitudes of people having higher incomes and having other values in their lives (Bogdan & Taylor, 2005, p. 187).

Plan of data analysis

As the quantitative research presupposes the collection of the quantitative data, the data analysis techniques will include, as Iman (2009) argues, should include the statistical analysis, both descriptive and inferential, de-synthesizing of the dependent and independent research variables and seeing their correlation and causation, cross-tabulation of the survey’s results, and an association technique, i. e. the tool to relate the retrieved results of the research with the objectives of the study and see if the research problem is successfully solved (Onwuegbuzie, 2000, p. 17). The plan of the data analysis will be as follows:

  1. Consider the research results and calculate the survey responses according to the specifically designed measurement scale;
  2. Carry out the descriptive statistical analysis of both survey results and data retrieved from the documentation review;
  3. On the basis of the descriptive statistical analysis, conduct an inferential statistical study to see the relations between the dependent and independent research variables;
  4. Present the analyzed data in the form of a cross table that illustrate the relations between the data retrieved and the phenomena of the objective reality.

Limitations and caveats

Needless to say, the recommended research design is not ideal and displays its drawbacks. The latter include, first of all, the potential errors of the study results that might be manifested in both purely mechanical errors occurring during the data analysis and the survey errors resulting from the sampling drawbacks. Another important research drawback is the limited access to certain documentation that the FT would need to review as a part of the research. The major fashion market players might prefer not making their performance reports public and this will make reaching research objectives more complicated.

Conclusions and recommendations

Concluding this report, it is obvious that the task of launching a business in a new market requires serious attention from the side of the company intending such an action. In case if the company is unable, or possesses not enough resources, to research all the factors that would impact its business in the chosen region, the company, like the FT in the case under consideration, addresses the consulting company for assistance. As a result of the work carried out by the BFI, it is recommended to the FT to conduct the research in the fashion market of Asia-Pacific region to see such important factors as the market conditions, pricing and competition in the market, and the demographics of the fashion industry in Asia-Pacific. The latter point is especially important for the FT as its preliminary research allowed the company to obtain the profile of its target customer in Asia-Pacific region, and the further study of the market demographics will allow the FT to see if its business in this region will be of any benefit. To assist the FT as much as possible, the following specific and actionable recommendations are articulated.

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First of all, the FT needs to either agree on the preliminary customer profile determined by the BFI or modify it using its own vision and research. Having the clear understanding of the target customer, the FT needs to study the market in the region it chose for launching the business. The study of the market should include the review of all accessible documentation on the market development, competition and pricing dynamics in the fashion market of Asia-Pacific region and the conduct of the survey of the randomly selected sample of the local customers to see both their attitudes towards the market and towards the emergence of the new force, i. e. the FT, in it.

The next recommended step for the FT is to develop the measurement scale for survey data analysis and establish the milestone figures according to which the market development in Asia-Pacific region will be assessed and correlated with the goals and opportunities of the FT in this market. At the same time, the FT should study the demographics of Asia-Pacific fashion market on the basis of the preliminary target customer profile and determine if this region is a fitting location for launching its new business.

Reference List

Aaker, et al. 2007, Strategic Market Management, Wiley; 8 edition.

Adcock, R and Collier, D 2001, ‘Measurement Validity: A Shared Standard for Qualitative and Quantitative Research’, American Political Science Review, vol. 95, no. 3, pp. 529-546.

Bryman, A 2006, ‘Integrating quantitative and qualitative research: how is it done? ’, Qualitative Research, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 97-113.

Blumburg, B 2008, 2nd edition, Business Research Methods. London: McGraw-Hill.

Bogdan, R., & Taylor, SJ 2005, Introduction to qualitative research methods. New York: John Wiley.

Brewerton, P. and Millward, L. 2001, Organizational Research Methods. London: Sage.

Coote, L and Stephen, A 2005, Consumer fashion brands, University of Queensland, pp. 547 – 552.

Easton, VJ 2009, Target Population and Sampling, STEPS. Web.

Fisher, A 2009, Chi-Square Test, PSU. Web.

Gay, LR 2006, Educational Research: Competencies for analysis and application. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill.

Galloway, K 2009, Sampling, Tardis. Web.

Herek, GM 2009, Introduction to Sampling, UCDAVIS. Web.

Hopkins, W 2000, Quantitative Research Design, Department of Physiology and School of Physical Education, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. Web.

Iman , A 2009, Techniques of Data Analysis, Centre for Real Estate Studies. Web.

ITL 2009, Levene’s Test for Equality of Variances, Engineering Statistics, NIST. Web.

Matveev, A.V., Rao, N., & Milter, RG2001, Developing a scale to measure intercultural communication competence: A pilot study in multicultural organizations. Paper submitted to the International and Intercultural Communication Division of the National Communication Association, Atlanta, GA.

Onwuegbuzie, Anthony J 2000, ‘Expanding the Framework of Internal and External Validity in Quantitative Research’, Annual Meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Educational Research, pp. 1 – 62.

Ouyang, R 2009, Basic Concepts of Quantitative Research, Kennesaw. Web.

Price, I 2000, Independent Samples T-Test, Common Statistical Tests, School of Psychology University of New England. Web.

Shuttleworth, M 2008, Quantitative Research Design, Experiment Resources. Web.

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