Free Dissertation research project:UK Online Second Hand Fashion Marketing
The clothing and textile market presents sensitive consumption patterns due to the close attachment of consumer preference, changes in fashion and other price elasticity factors. Within the changing marketing frontiers presented by information technology which embraces an online market presence, fashion marketing has adapted well for the provided global opportunity. With a special attention on fashion market online today, interesting trajectories can be isolated in terms of consumer trends of clothing and textile products falling under the second hand category.
Propelled by socioeconomic factors that define textile consumer behaviour, second hand markets with an online presence exhibit certain attributes worth studying. This is particularly important due to the changing economic times in the global arena, which is likely to significantly alter consumer behaviour and demand for clothing and textile products. In terms of the strategic position that the UK market occupies for the clothing and textile industry, an analysis of the trends of consumer behaviour against the backdrop of an online marketing approach will give a better picture of expectations in the second hand fashion in Europe and across the world.
In this discourse, the context of the UK market regarding the online marketing platform for second hand fashion is generated with an aim of identifying the driving factors for the observable trends. Alternatively, painting the picture of the direction of where one of the market leading economies in the textile industry is headed will facilitate the definition of the environment within which second hand fashion industry operates. Changing marketing tools as well as changed consumer needs will continue to significantly affect the fashion industry in various ways.
Europe was the hub of agrarian and industrial revolutions during which textile industry was established as one of the economic leaders. Textile markets in Europe were largely defined by production which was initially ready to meet the market demand that was equally driven by consumer preferences for specific fashion. During the peak periods of production, second hand market was almost inexistent in Europe and little activity was reported in such exchanges. However, there were elements of certain organizations gathering second hand textiles for the less fortunate communities for purposes of charity (Palmer 2005, p202). Most of charity beneficiaries were in the third world countries and strict movement of such products characterized developed countries textile environment making it difficult for such trade to get established.
Following periods of reductions in industrial production across Europe, the textile industry explored the opportunity presented by second hand products despite strict regulations in movement of such products. At the backdrop of the need to ensure adequate supply for fashion across the world, second hand alternatives struggled to hit the markets due to regulations that hindered such trade. Eventually, world economies that were reluctant to allow trade in second hand found it difficult to ensure supply of clothing and textile against dwindling supplies as well as picking movement of second hand fashion products elsewhere. With the arrival of enhanced marketing tools such as the internet, the spread of second hand fashion somehow exploded due to the elimination of associated tag of second hand fashion as substandard (Crewe and Gregson 2003, p212). Environmental campaigns embracing sustainable production interventions for textile material usage added to the success of proliferation of second hand fashion.
2.1.2 The Sate of the UK Second Hand Fashion Market
UK’s fashion market is increasingly inclined to the online platform according to recent observable market trends reported by Mintel (2011, para.1). According to the report, fashion consumers using the online platforms for their shopping solutions and is expected to continue to record higher figures in the future due to the use of internet for market needs. However, the report notes that over 20 percent of the internet surfers in search of fashion shopping information in the UK did not end up buying the fashion products. Whereas shoppers continue to flock the online platform in the UK, there are mixed fortunes in the actual consumption of fashion products due to a number of factors. According to general fashion consumption in the UK, there is continued reduction in sales figures particularly towards 2011 due to obvious economic reasons (Monk 2011, p6). Perhaps the recorded unsuccessful online shopping by fashion consumers will continue for a while as occasioned by the economic time in which Europe continues to be entangled in. The mixed fortunes in the actual performance of the textile industry are perhaps a representation of the developments in the economy. While the UK is not entirely entangled in the Eurozone debt crisis and complications, there are indications that the macroeconomics of the continental pressures plays a role in definition of market performance (Easey 2009, p35).
Difficult times for the conventional textile markets in the UK and continued reliance on lower cost alternatives, the environment presents the second hand fashion markets across the world. Despite the fact that the failure of the conventional market to thrive may be an indicator of a gradual death for the textile industry, market consolation from ideas of a conservationist approach makes the future of second hand fashion in the UK to look even brighter. This paints the picture of the consumer trends for second hand fashion since the prevailing economic times directly impacts on the performance of the textile industry (PWC 2010, p20). According to the findings of the report by PWC, western economies that the UK belongs to, are experiencing difficult times from 2007 and the future looks bleak.
Due to the uncertainty of the markets and the economy, the UK’s apparel market is inclined to more alternatives that are cheaper yet fashionable in terms of consumer preferences. One of the most powerful market forces driving the consumer behaviour is perhaps availability of substitutes today in the nature of cheaper second hand fashion products (Alves et al. 1995, p426). According to the authors (427), traditional market leaders in the cloth and textile industry such as the UK had a negative connotation for second hand apparels and usually associated them with poor social classes. Painting the context of the initial second hand apparel experience in the UK, the attachment with charity organizations only made it difficult for the industry to adopt second hand options for fashion.
However, within the developments in the fashion market, the class attachment was rapidly weathered due to the popularity that the industry was attracting on second hand apparel. New innovative ways to make the second hand apparel fit into the fashion platform enabled to fight off the class tag (Jack 2009, para.1). One of the best tools that have worked towards the complete elevation of second hand fashion into the market leader that it is in the UK and around the world is the internet. Information on the internet for favourable cost friendly options also coincides well with the UK market’s trends of reduced prices against volatile economic environment. Fashion on the online platform has continued to be a factor of social media interaction and advertisement that has caught up with the online shopping in the recent past (Jack 2009, para.1). According to Sender (2011, p3), the increasing application of the handheld devices technology geared towards more efficient marketing is likely to completely change the way people perceive fashion.
According to Monk (2011, p6), there is a high propensity for fashion consumers to seek online shopping options purely based on the aspect of saving on money. Online platform is cheaper in addressing various shopping needs due to the ease with which shop displays can be accessed online. It is particularly important for fashion alternatives to achieve a better display concept than many other products, which is highly enabled by the online platform. Generally, fashion adverts on the internet are coupled with high end graphics of the products which not only present a better view on the screen but also make it cheaper than the physical visitation of the fashion outlet. Shoppers nowadays find it easier in the UK to visit the online market displays since it shops may even be a flight away which dramatically reduces on costs. Alternatively, if a successful online order is achieved, the online fashion marketers will always provide free delivery services. When compared with the ordinary physical access to a fashion outlet, delivery services are likely to reduce on the cost of carrying the product back home when delivered. With difficult economic times in Europe and the UK however, the cost of the ordered product is likely to be scaled up to cater for the cost of delivery in certain aspects.
In terms of saving on time, the online platform is perhaps one of the most effective alternatives that the modern fashion shoppers could ever imagine. Technology has enabled people to operate virtually every aspect of their personal business at the comfort of their hand held devices (Sender 2012, p3). At the comfort and convenience of the consumers, it is likely to be more common for the shopper to have more extra time since time management is enhanced by online shopping. In view of the ease with which the online platform has enabled transactions to occur within a short time, shoppers are likely to increasingly adopt online shopping for fashion which can be tiresome and time consuming if conducted otherwise.
Fast fashion presents a rapidly changing appearance and existence of fashionable apparel which can only be possible if fast hand information is availed to the consumer. Due to the reliability of the internet in delivering quick market news to the consumers, it is apparently the most appropriate channel for modern marketers to reach out to the consumers (Bosshart 2006, p18). The nature of fast fashion today is such that the lifespan of the products is even shorter to fit in the high turnover of innovativeness which makes the anxiety in the market even stronger. In such an environment, according to Kaiser (1985, p5), the high rate of innovation leads to newer discoveries in the industry that almost immediately render the released fashion obsolete. This type of a market conditions the consumer to be heavily dependent on the market information in order to discover the latest fashionable apparels, which can only be obtained within the concept of an information oriented platform such as the online marketing. Consumer behaviour in fashion in the information age is thereof under the influence of the fashion frenzy created around the market, which when coupled to the other market factors driving the consumer to the cheaper and friendly alternatives, lands the fashion consumer on online shipping.
Short life cycle that accompanies the fast fashion affects the volumes of used clothes entering the market. Within the context of the prevailing times in environmental consciousness towards textile products contribution to conservation, reuse of such products is currently enabled by the thriving rebranding and reproduction industry. According to trendwatching.com (2011, para.2), consumers can now face the reality in obtaining value from the past purchases and industries based on trade-in models are no longer confined to machinery and motor vehicle industries. One of the most promising attachments that the fashion market has with the fast segment of the industry is distribution of information of the availability and reduced cost of the products which was not the case before. This makes the online platform as one of the most powerful tools in the second hand fashion marketing.
According to Wang (2010, p8), fast fashion cycle is defined by the fast moving times in the general period of time that the fashion dominates the market. Introduction of a new fashion is usually paved by innovation, a period of proliferation of the fashion follows while in the market until there is a general plateau during which the fashion becomes acceptable. After stagnation during acceptance, the fashion then enters a decline period during which it slowly enters into obsolescence. While the introduction to obsolescence may take some considerable duration of time in conventional fashions, the fast fashion as discussed above have a shorter period during which these processes are constricted. Generally, the three main processes are introduction, acceptance and decline which may take some time depending on the type of fashion as enumerated by Solomon’s fashion model. After the decline of the fashion from the market, the used fashion products become less acceptable as the social setting in which they are used drastically changes. Reuse of these products creates the new market for the second hand fashion.
Under the in terms of acceptance for the fashion, different types of fashion exists which differentiate fast fashion from other types based on the time taken for complete acceptance. The easiest fashion to become acceptable and adopted into the fashion scenes is the fad whose uptake is the most rapid. Fast fashion is next in acceptance with two other fashion types following namely moderate fashion and classics respectively. Apparently, the life cycle of these products is inversely spread with attributes of acceptance across the market (Gaynor and Liz 2006, p8). Apparently, the easier the acceptable the product is in the cycle, the shorter the period of time it has during which it remains fashionable in the market. Consequently, the shorter the time the fashions life cycle, the faster it heads to the exit door out of the market. Within the context of material use and environmental concerns, it is easy for the fast fashions to affect environmental sustainability campaigns thereby getting a befitting route into the second hand market where their performance is revived. Some additional processing and rebranding may be necessary in order to enhance the entry of second hand fashion products into the life cycle model. However, with newer technologies and marketing strategies, it is possible to enhance performance of these products in the Solomon’s fashion market model.
Online second-hand clothing could be a new marketing tool to executive cooperate social responsibility and to invite customer to support sustainability of the world. The internet offers a rare opportunity for fashion to integrate consumer behaviour and preferences into the core of the industry than it before. Shared cultural values on fashion can now be communicated through the internet particularly the social media to boost the performance of second hand apparel than it was before (Rabolt and Solomon 2009, p424). Whereas consumption in the fashion industry continues to remain attached to preferences and sociocultural constructions, it will increasingly be important for the internet to spread information regarding fashion. Under a well informed market created by the information age, consumers will enjoy with fewer bias and stigma about consumption of second hand. The future looks promising for second hand fashion due to the prevailing economic trajectories pushing global consumption to constricted budgets which fall within the reach of fashionable second hand products. Self image improvement through sharing of consumption information on the internet is likely to contribute to better consumer experiences with second hand fashion.
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